The symbol may be lost, but the meaning is still there

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Husband-and-wife journalists Bob Miller and Callie Clark Miller share the same small house (still), work in the same office (again) and somehow manage to cling to their sanity (barely). Older and wiser (she's wiser, he's just older), the Southeast Missourian sweethearts offer their views on everyday issues, told from two different perspectives.

SHE SAID: In our nearly three years of wedded bliss, I think I can safely say that Bob has gallantly hogged the bulk of the "Oh crap!" moments. He's the forgetful one who can't stay organized. I'm the one who never does anything wrong. This arrangement has always suited me fairly well.

Two weeks ago, that changed. I never forget anything. Ever. Can't afford to, what with my husband's thimble-sized memory. He actually bought a little book in the grocery store line last year called "Improving Your Memory for Dummies," or something like that. Don't waste your money; it didn't work.

But exactly 18 days ago, I lost something. Something big. Well, actually, it was something small, which is why it's been so darn hard to find. I waited until Day 14 to tell Bob. For two weeks, I walked around with my left hand in my pocket, afraid to let him know I'd misplaced the symbol of our undying love. That's right. My wedding rings.

I'm working my way through the five stages of grief on this one. I started with denial; not even bothering to actually look for them in hopes that the two diamond-bedecked white gold bands were lingering somewhere obvious that I just hadn't come across yet. I can't even clearly remember the last time I was wearing them, other than at my folks' house Labor Day weekend.

A week went by; I went through my purse and my jewelry box. Another week went by. "They're not actually lost until you know for sure you're never going to find them. They're just misplaced," a friend at work advised. I think there might be a time limit on misplaced, though.

Finally, last Saturday night before going out for dinner, I mentioned to Bob casually that I might have mistaken the rings' whereabouts. I'd really dreaded 'fessing up, for two very good reasons: No. 1, I always give him a hard time about constantly losing his keys or his belt. No. 2, Bob is always giving me a hard time about how nonchalant I am with my rather expensive rings. They've never fit properly, despite three resizings, so I tend to chuck them in the front pocket of my purse on my way home from work.

"You're going to lose those one of these days," he'd chime. So not only have I lost the symbol of our undying love and a grand's worth of jewelry, I've now proven Bob right. That may be the worst part of all. He gets to play the I-told-ya-so game. That's MY game.

I've worked my way through denial and have moved on to the bargaining, digging out my grandmother's plain gold wedding band to wear so that my left hand feels less guilty. I'm really not a fan of gold jewelry, so it is some form of penance. I really believe the rings will show up somewhere (back at the denial stage); I've now been through both cars, the couch, kitchen and all my pants' pockets to no avail. But somewhere, some day. In the meantime, I'm banking on the undying love thing.

HE SAID: A couple of months ago, I read a story about how Russia planted a flag under the North Pole, symbolically staking claim to the oil-rich Arctic.

Let's get a few things straight. Yes, the rings are a symbol of unending love, blah, blah, blah. But my wife is way more valuable than the oil-rich Arctic. And those rings were my flags.

Do I own Callie? Of course not. Regular readers of our column know that my wife will be owned by no one and certainly not me. But I worked hard, very hard, in tricking this cute and talented woman to marry me.

Dear reader, look at that picture at the top of this page. Ever wonder what the princess is doing with the ogre? Yeah, me too.

But now my flags have disappeared into the abyss, and I don't like the thought of that.

It's not that I don't trust Callie. I do, of course. But there's a certain old-school, testosterone-induced pleasure that comes my way when I see those rings on my wife's left finger. Part of that is because she has pretty hands. Part of it is because of the symbol of our commitment to one another. And part of it is because I know how much money I spent on those blasted things, and I'm pretty proud of the bling I could buy her. For all those reasons, it annoyed me that Callie was taking them on and off all the time. I told her so. And I told her she'd lose them one day. Now the rings are lost. An entire tax refund gone. I told her so. I told her so. I told her so. You know, that doesn't feel as good as I thought it would.

Bob Miller is the Southeast Missourian's managing editor. He has never lost his wedding band because it's stuck on his finger. Callie Clark Miller is the online/special publications managing editor. She is currently reading Improving Your Memory for Dummies. Contact them at bmiller@semissourian.com or cmiller@semissourian.com.

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