May 8, 2002
Putting My Finger On It

OK. Something's different this morning.

It's too early to try and figure out exactly what it is -- I've only been awake for eleven minutes, and ten and a half of those minutes have been spent here in the shower, lathering/rinsing/repeating/lathering/rinsing/repeating -- but something is definitely *off.* 

I just can't put my finger on what it is.

Blearily, I squirt another dollop of shampoo into my hand -- I've lost track of how many 'latherings' I'm up to, frankly: I probably won't have to wash my hair again until Labor Day -- and that's when it hits me. The thing that's 'different' this morning is my naked left ring finger.

My wedding and engagement rings are gone.

I am instantly, painfully awake. How can my RINGS be missing?? I never take them off, ever! That's been my policy since the day that David and I got married: as proof of my undying love and devotion and anal-retention, I, SecraTerri, will NEVER take my rings off!

Except when I'm making meatloaf.

But that's only because I don't want to end up with salmonella or botulism or whatever the heck it is you can get from raw meat. Grandma always used to take her wedding band off before she made meatloaf: in fact, I think that's the only time I ever saw with her without it. She would set her gold wedding band on the kitchen windowsill, as she smooshed the meat and the eggs and the Campbells Tomato Soup together, and then as soon as she was finished packing everything into the loaf pan to congeal, she would wipe her hands on her apron and slip the ring right back onto her finger. ("Don't tell your grandpa," she'd say to me with a wink. And then she'd give me the meatloaf spoon to lick.)

Maybe that's what happened. Maybe I took my rings off while I was making meatloaf, and I simply forgot to put them back on afterwards.

Except that we haven't had meatloaf in six months.


I hurriedly rinse the shampoo out of my hair, turn off the water and kneel down in the tub, poking my finger into the shower drain and swirling it around ... just in case the rings slipped off my finger while I was lathering/rinsing/repeating. But there's nothing in the drain. (Nothing except for half a spider, a misshapen sliver of Zest Deodorant Soap and a big clump of really really clean hair, anyway.)

This is so weird. I swear, I never ever take my rings off, except when I'm making meatloaf.

Or when I'm applying "sunless tanning lotion."

I hate sunless tanning lotion. I really do. In spite of the 21st Century marketing/packaging/price tag, it's still just QT in a groovier bottle. ("What do you get when you go to bed with QT?" "Orange sheets!") But I use it anyway,  although only on the three inches' worth of tan-resistant/lily-white leg visible between the hem of my Spandex Capri pants and the tops of my cycling socks. Otherwise my legs look like bowling pins. I've learned, through painfully embarrassing experience (see: Wedding Day 2001) that if I don't take off my rings before I apply the sunless tanning lotion, I wind up with a messy, tell-tale orange stripe on my ring finger. 

Maybe that's what happened. Maybe I took my rings off while I was applying sunless tanning stuff, before a bike ride, and then I walked off and forgot about them.

Except that I ran out of sunless tanning lotion last August.


I yank my bathrobe on, tiptoe into the bedroom where David is still snoozing, and check the oversized coffee cup that sits next to the bedroom TV. The coffee cup is where I toss keys, spare change, flotsam from the bottom of my purse, odds & ends of jewelry. Maybe I threw my rings into the cup last night, while I was changing out of my uncomfortable work clothes. I frantically poke through the mess, hoping to uncover the missing rings ... but the only "treasure" in the cup this morning is one pearl earring, a UPS InfoNotice and the key to my wind-up chicken.

OK. Now I'm starting to panic, ever-so-slightly. What the hell did I do with my rings?? I NEVER take them off, except when I'm making meatloaf, or when I'm using sunless tanning lotion.

Or when I'm washing the dishes.

Sometimes I take them off before I wash the dishes ... mainly because both rings are getting too big. (Do people actually lose weight in their hands? Or does platinum stretch with wear?) I'm terrified that one of these days, when I'm not paying attention, one or both rings are going to slip right off of my Palmolive-slick hands and disappear down the garbage disposal and get mulched with the next load of coffee grounds. That would be a bad thing. Plus I don't want to wind up with another detergent rash. For the first few years of my first marriage -- the "Diaper Years," as I refer to them -- I never removed my $60 Jafco wedding band. Over time I developed a bloody, itchy rash on my ring finger that never completely healed: you can still see the outline of it, like a rose-colored shadow, twentysome years later. Just to be on the safe side I've gotten into the habit of taking off my rings before I put my hands in contact with cleaning products. 

Maybe that's what happened! Maybe I was getting ready to wash the dishes, and I took my rings off and stuck them away somewhere safe.

Except that *I* don't actually do the dishwashing in our household: David does.


I am now officiallly freaking out. I NEVER take my rings off, except when I'm making meatloaf, or when I'm using sunless tanning lotion, or when I'm washing dishes.

Or when I'm coloring my hair.

Or when I'm putting on a new pair of pantyhose.

Or when I'm changing a fax toner cartridge.

Or when I'm scooping the guts out of the jack-o-lantern. 

Or when I'm sorting the recycling. 

Or when I'm ...

Oh hell.  I'm ALWAYS taking my rings off, aren't I?

I sit on the edge of the bed, head in hands, attempting a quick mental regroup. I've looked in all the most obvious places. I don't have time to look in the UN-obvious places: I've already lost fifteen minutes of precious Getting Ready For Work Time this morning, and there is no more time to fritter away. Today is Day Three of "All Drive Cylinder Density Reports/All The Time" Week at The Dirt Company, and I need to at least take a running stab at getting into the office on time. I lift my head from my hands, resigned to going to work with a naked ring finger ...

... and there on the floor at my feet are my engagement and wedding rings. 

Right where I dropped them over the edge of the bed the night before, apparently.

Mind you: I have no conscious memory of doing this. (A premature *Senior Moment* brought to you, no doubt, by those two tablespoons of Benadryl I took at bedtime to help me sleep.) Breathing a noisy sigh of relief, I slip the rings onto my finger and head to the kitchen to pour a cup of caffeine. Time to get my day rolling in earnest.

Now all I have to do is find my glasses.

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