Life Happens: The five stages of panic

April 28, 2011 at midnight
Updated April 27, 2011 at 11:28 p.m.

By Aprill Brandon

There are a lot of firsts when it comes to marriage. The first time you kiss as husband and wife. The first dance. The first fight. The first time you lose your first fight. The first time you bring back up the original fight a few months later in a vain effort to try to win this time.

And, it's inevitable: The first time you lose your wedding ring.

Luckily, I managed to make it a whole year and a handful of months before the latter finally happened to me (which is pretty amazing considering I've lost my actual husband before ... twice). But when it eventually did happen last week, it was the longest 20 minutes of my life. An exhausting 20 minutes in which my body and mind went through the five stages of panic.

See, contrary to popular belief, panic isn't just panic, one singular feeling. There are actually different levels you go through, when say, you mess up big time at work, or accidentally post something embarrassing online (like that video of you singing Lady Gaga in your underwear ... not that I've ever done that ... or anything ...), or yes, when you lose your wedding ring.

For instance, the 20 minutes in which I thought I lost my ring looked something like this:

Stage 1: Denial

No. Oh, no. No, no, no. No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no ... no, no, no. This can't be happening. There's no way I lost my wedding ring. I just had it. Right? Right. Right? I remember taking it off last night when I was chopping that onion. And I don't remember putting it back on before heading to the emergency room for stitches.

It has to be here somewhere. No need to panic.

Stage 2: Anger

Where are you!?! Stupid ring. What a ludicrous, antiquated tradition anyway. "Hey, I love you, let's get married, here's some expensive jewelry." Ridiculous. Why not give each other household appliances or several cases of booze or something useful that you actually need in marriage?

And what was he thinking anyway, buying such a nice ring? What, suddenly he's Donald Trump? Hey, I'm no fool. I saw that "Blood Diamond" movie with Leonardo DiCaprio. People probably died because of that stupid ring. I don't want that kind of violence on my hands!

This is all HIS fault!

Stage 3: Manic-Depressive

OK, OK, I'll just search every room. And under the couch. And the bathroom counter. And the closet. And the porch. And the car. And the foyer. Wait, do we have a foyer? Maybe it fell off when I reached for something in the fridge? Nope? OK. Well, maybe that stupid dog ate it. Buffy! Get it in here! Don't you run away from me! Bad dog! Come here! Why are you cowering in the corner!?!

Oh, what's the point? I'll never find it. And then I'll have to tell him I lost it. And then he'll hate me. And then he'll want to divorce me. And then I'll die a lonely old spinster without even a ring to remember the good ol' days. This is the worst day of my life. I might as well just curl up and DIE (*dramatically throws self on bed and sobs).

Stage 4: Lame Excuses

Alright, just calm down. I'll just tell him the dog ate it. Hmm ... although that could mean a rather uncomfortable couple of days sifting through poo for no legitimate reason. OK ... or I could just say I'm getting it cleaned. Buy me a couple extra days. Except ... what do I say if I still can't find it?

I got mugged! That's it. I'll tell him I got mugged. A gang of thugs cornered me and took the ring. But then left my purse and wallet?

Ugh. He'll never believe that.

Aliens! I got abducted by aliens. Who could blame me for losing track of my ring when probes are involved, right?

Or maybe, I could just tell him I lost weight and it flung off my hand? That's plausible, right? Oooh, except he'll never buy that since the six-pound nacho challenge at El Guapo I attempted last Tuesday.

Stage 5: Acceptance

Well, it's official. The ring is gone. I'll just have to break the news to him and deal with the consequences. It was a beautiful ring but hey, our love is stronger than just some symbolic jewelry. We are devoted to each other and that's all that matters. Besides, we can always just save up some money and buy a new one and this can just be some funny anecdote I write in a column ...

Ahhhh! There it is. YES! Oh yes, yes, yes, yes. Oh, you beautiful ring! I'll never lose you again! Never, never, never! I'll never even take you off again! Maybe I'll even get you surgically attached to my hand! Or put a tracking device inside the diamond!

(Naturally, that last part is the elusive Stage 6: Relief and Empty Promises).

Aprill Brandon is a columnist for the Advocate. Her wedding ring is now duct-taped to her finger.



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