In search of a married man

Power-fetch at the soccer fields zapped Big Girl Dog of enough energy that she wouldn’t want to eat the walls again for several hours. We were on the half-mile walk trek home when the girl simply sat down at the curb and put her chin on the asphalt. Her concession to fatigue set in motion a series of events that even 48 hours later I find interesting.

Big Girl Dog is a 50-something-pound six-month-old puppy. She’s smart and talented enough that I have hope she’ll someday not be the F4 to my trailer park. For now, I keep her on a short leash–literally. The tether itself is six feet long, but there is a “traffic” handle less than a foot off the collar. We use that one.

As BGD’s head went to the ground, so followed her collar, her leash, and my left hand. So followed my eyes to my left hand where I saw a distinct lack of bling on my ring finger. The shock of that realization was only dwarfed by what I saw next. Before that’s revealed, however, we should make some mention of the male fear of losing his wedding ring.

Not to tread on any matters that may portray me as a sexist, but I think I’m fairly well-grounded in the belief that a woman’s fear of losing a matrimonial ring is set firmly in economics and sentimentality. A woman’s wedding ring is often attached to a diamond of some worth that was probably some sort of engagement symbol back in the day, and hence is worth a great deal more–financially and emotionally–than a man’s wedding band. For a man, there is little monetary worth assigned to a ring. It cost a fraction of the combo-engagement-wedding ring around his wife’s finger. No, for a man, the ring’s worth is made up almost entirely of…well, let’s just say it. Fear. Well, love and fear. But mostly fear.

Now, I know several men who love their wives very much and have no need to wear a ring. I, however, choose to wear my ring at nearly all times that I’m not performing some activity that may result in me losing the the thing. If you’re anything like me, you know that moment, that moment described by one of my friends as a sort of Christmas Story slow motion “Oh, fuuuuuuuuuuuudge…” sputtering that results from seeing a bare ring finger. Unless I simply to forget to put the ring back on after getting out of the shower or something, you’ll probably see me wearing a ring. At my age and nearly eleven years of marriage, I don’t need a wedding band for other women to know I’m married. I have the gray hair, paunch, and thousand-yard stare that evidence most long-married men. In eleven years, there have been only a few times I honestly thought I lost my ring. The worst was after a particularly ugly night in Monte Carlo (the ring was under my tube of toothpaste, of course). The most recent was 48 hours ago while walking Big Girl Dog.

There I stood in the oncoming traffic lane of a suburban street and looked for two horrible seconds at my finger. In that two seconds, I tried to recall the last time I’d seen my ring (I wasn’t sure) and the last time I’d been anywhere I could irretrievably lose it (five minutes before at the park, or, heaven forbid, 24 hours before in Brazil and under the influence of heated game of Wooly Bastards…don’t ask). Two seconds of panic is about all my 37-year-old heart can handle these days without some sort of unconsciousness and embarrassment, so imagine my relief when mine eyes saw the glory of that sparkling ring sitting among the leaves on the curb.

Relief in my world usually lasts the sixty seconds it takes for some other calamity to present itself. I picked the ring up from the ground and slid it onto my finger. It fit and at first looked identical to my own. Something wasn’t right, but I couldn’t–and forgive me for this one–put my finger on it. The biggest issue was that on my way to the park, I’d walked on the other side of the street. There simply wasn’t any reason my ring should be in that very spot that Big Girl Dog gave out and dragged my hand, eyes, and fear to my ring finger.

I wore the ring the rest of the way back home. By the time I’d reached my front door, I’d decided that my ring was sitting at my bedside and the one on my finger wasn’t quite thick enough to be mine. I confirmed my suspicions within a few seconds of getting back in the house. My ring was where I’d put it before I went to bed the night before, and the ring on my finger belonged to some other guy who at that very moment was probably trying to explain to his wife why he wasn’t wearing his wedding band.

Or was he? A missing wedding ring is a fantastic little mystery, as it turns out. I ran through the scenarios in my head.

The ring was stolen and then dropped by the thief.

The owner got mad at his wife and threw his ring out his car window.

The owner wife got mad and threw the ring out her car window.

The ring belonged to a dead man, and his widow lost it as he she wandered lonely and lost through my neighborhood.

A man’s wife left him for a lover, and the jilted husband spent months wearing the ring in hopes his wife would return, until one day he finally went for a long run, acquiesced to the terrible reality, and simply let the ring fall from his finger.

Or maybe there was just a guy walking his dog who dropped it when the pooch got tired and plopped down in the street.

The ring now sits in the drawer of the desk under this computer. My wife and I are making efforts to find the owner. I don’t suspect we ever will, but I hope we do. I really, really do.