I refer you to the 1989 Steve Martin film Parenthood. At one of those awful “kidz zones” that America does so well, the Buckman family are feasting in the clown-infested restaurant. Suddenly, their son, 8, realises he can’t find his dental brace (or, as they call it, his “retainer”). The waiter has cleared it away with the rubbish. The kid starts to wail. Cut to Mom and Dad scrabbling through the bins to find the mouth furniture. Up to his elbows in muck, Dad (Steve Martin), curses and tells Mom (Mary Steenburgen) he has had enough; they should just buy another retainer. She looks at him as if he needs sectioning and says: “It cost $200. If you lost $200, you’d keep looking.” He ponders for a second and resumes his search with authentic enthusiasm.
I mention this because last week, I lost my wedding ring. Sitting at my desk at work, I happened to look at my hand and there was a smooth indent on my finger where my ring had been. I went a little cold.
Regular readers will recall last year’s exercise in level-headed frugality which was my wedding (we’re not cheap, but those extravagant, I’m-richer-than-you-weddings make us both gag), so I should stress that my ring was not expensive. Less than a hundred pounds. Nothing like that retainer. But, brother, was I worried. I looked everywhere, on my hands and knees in the newsroom. The good news was that I hadn’t gone outside, so it had to be in the building. Also, I had a habit of twirling it around my finger and sliding it off and on when I was thinking, so this produced an (admittedly tiny) window of opportunity when I would have lost it.
But there was no sign. I spoke to lost and found, the cleaners: nothing. On and on it went, for six days, during which time I still hadn’t told my wife. Obviously. I started planning to buy another one and replace it without telling her. But I had visions of those bad sitcoms when the kid’s budgie dies while Junior is at school and the parents buy a new one without telling the bereaved. But the kid always twigs. The budgie’s always green when it should be blue. So I spilled the beans… and to my surprise she was remarkably chilled about it. Thankfully (for me) a year or so ago she had lost a nice necklace I gave her, so I guess she didn’t have a leg to stand on. And while I’m not suggesting you “disappear” a gift you have given your beloved, it is a useful insurance policy, should you ever lose anything they give you. Just a thought…