Who made my magic ring disappear?



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“Have you seen the magic ring? did you put it somewhere How did it go away?

I hate to admit it, but I got my 4-year-old granddaughter, Laila, through third grade. The ring gave mystical powers to our fight against evil wizards – without it our world might be doomed, or at least our fantasy game.

The missing talisman was actually my bar mitzvah ring, a gift from family friends in 1967. With a square design and my initials etched in gold, it barely fit on my pinky finger and sat mostly in a royal blue box for 55 years. But I hated the thought of such a keepsake being thrown away by a toddler.

Leila shrugged. “Somewhere, Poppy,” she said, not where I was hoping.

It wasn’t the first piece of jewelry lost in our home. Months after I got married in 1981, I got a bump on my finger from my wedding ring. It went into the freezer along with other treasures labeled “hamburger” — a trick my mom picked up from homemaker columnist Heloise. A perfect hideaway until my wife Sarah defrosted the freezer and forgot the ground beef trick. I’ve been ringless ever since.

In 1982 I spent time with the Yiddish writer Isaac Bashevis Singer, who took an interest in Sarah, particularly when she told him she had lost a gold chain bracelet. The Nobel laureate had no doubt who was responsible. “A goblin stole it – they love to steal valuables,” Singer said, assuring us that the unseen troublemaker would return it when he got tired of playing with us mere mortals. After searching every corner of our apartment, the bracelet turned up deep in my in-laws’ sofa called the playpen – the devil surely knew what it did.

Lost and Found works in mysterious ways. Sarah once misplaced a Cartier watch that I gave her for a milestone birthday. She was nervous to admit his absence and found a replacement online at a deep discount – I had no idea. After many months, the original appeared rolled up in a sock. At that point it was too late to return the replacement and so our daughter got her own Cartier decades before she qualified for such a watch.

There is a wonderful story by Nathaniel Hawthorne called The Ancient Ring, about a gentleman whose fiancee asks him to write a legend for the engagement ring he gave her. Inspired by the stone’s red glow, he invents a story about the Earl of Essex playing with the ring while awaiting execution in the Tower of London. The ring falls into the hands of one of Cromwell’s soldiers, then the hands of an Ironsides cavalier and even Walpole’s mistress before crossing the Atlantic and ending up in a church collection in New England and finally in the glass case of a Boston jeweler.

Hawthorne would have been intrigued by what happened to Sarah’s engagement ring, which blew out of its setting in 2002. It had been my grandmother’s, through grinders in Antwerp and African mines. There was no way such a small gem could be found – its disappearance reflected the tension in our marriage of three children at the time. But then, weeks later, it turned up at the bottom of a juice box buried in Sarah’s purse – proving our kids were the sweet glue of our lives.

I kept pushing Laila about the magic ring. Was it in the bed, a drawer? I prayed she didn’t drop it down the toilet like I once did with a friend’s ring in elementary school. Suddenly, weeks later, it appeared under a Kleenex box. I hope the leprechaun enjoyed himself.

Mr. Ripp runs a public relations firm in New York.

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