Mar 012024

PART 1: Just a Quiet Day in the Office

I went into the office to work on Wednesday because I had dinner plans that evening in Market Square with some work pals, current and past. It was storming and raining and windy – a perfect Just Stay Home weather cocktail – but Wendy was going in too, so I put on my big girl pants and sucked it up. It was nice going through my jewelry though, and choosing what to wear since I haven’t been accessorizing much since 2020. The little things. I even popped on my engagement ring that I rarely wear because I still haven’t gotten it resized, since I was going to dinner with THE LADIES that night.

As usual, it was empty there. Just Wendy, Lucas, Terry, and me. With the occasional interloper from other floors, like Beth, who walked by and merrily said, “Hey Erin!” to me. I don’t know why this stopped me dead, but for some reason I didn’t think she actually knew my name?! So, I giddily Jabbered Amber, who was like, “But you’re the girl she gave her mother’s wig to!” OK, this is true. You probably don’t forget someone’s name after that.

This was apropos of nothing. Back to the story.

The day was slow and quiet. Finally, around 6:oo, Wendy popped over and said, “Hey, come with me to the parking garage so I can get my car keys before it’s too late, and then we’ll start walking over.” I was kind of excited about this because I haven’t been in the parking garage in probably 10 years, and again – the little things! As we took the elevator down to the lobby, Wendy was struggling with her multitude of bags and accidentally hit the emergency call button, sounding off an alarm and the crackle of the disembodied, tinny voice of a security guard asking, Hello, hello, is there an emergency? Wendy was all flustered, yelling back, “NO I DON’T KNOW HOW THAT HAPPENED I DIDN’T PRESS THE BUTTON”

“One of your six bags pressed it, Wendy,” I said, and she was like NO, MY BAG WOULD NEVER.  Anyway, it gave the security people a good laugh when we got down to the lobby. I had my hands up saying IT WASN’T ME! and Wendy’s bag is also still not owning up to it, but then it turned out that one of the security people was being trained so it was a “good learning moment.”

Next, we had to take a different elevator down to the garage. Wendy finally realized she needed help with her bag situation and asked me to hold one for her, so now I looked like a mini-Wendy with my own giant crossbody body; one of her monster bags on my right shoulder; and, in my left hand, a bag of Girl Scout cookies that I bought from Wendy’s daughter. I was sweating from the exertion. After Wendy got her key on one level of the garage, we walked down a stairwell to where her car was parked and she finally dumped at least 75% of the bags in her car and then we were finally free to walk to Pizzaiolo Primo in Market Square.

It’s a short walk, but holy shit had the temperature dropped since that morning, Larry! I at least had the foresight to bring a jacket but I was still shivering. We arrived 20 minutes before our reservation, so we sat at the bar. I was already very uncomfortable because it was a tight space and I had my huge bag with my work laptop and everything else in it, plus this bag of cookies!! and there was just nowhere to set everything. So, with my bag on my lap, I was trying to rummage through the pockets of it for my wallet when I immediately noticed that…


You want to talk about when a cold sweat might immediately spring forth? Apparently, this is one of those times.


“So I just LOST MY ENGAGEMENT RING,” I croaked, hysterics boosting my voice higher with every word.

“What??” Wendy cried, and then swooped into my purse, pulling everything out and placing it on the bar while I am now standing up, fully in the way of all the servers coming in and out of the kitchen, acutely aware of how close all of the tables of diners are to me in my time of panic, patting myself down, rummaging through the empty pockets of my jacket, looking on the floor. Now I can feel my eye twitching and for some STUPID reason, I am SO CONCERNED about “how this looks,” “making a scene,” “having the contents of my purse on the bar for all to see.” WOW, WHERE DO I GET THAT FROM, GRANDMA. I’m on the edge at this point, the room is closing in on me, I feel like I’m going to be sick, I need to bolt.

“I’m going back to the office to look,” I whispered hoarsely in someone else’s voice.

“I’ll come with you,” Wendy said, starting to gather her stuff but I stopped her.

“I don’t want to ruin dinner for you!” I said, and thankfully at that moment, Jill arrived so I didn’t feel guilty leaving Wendy alone. So, I used this as my opportunity to escape and run back to the office, having a near-miss with a questionable man raving about something in the middle of Market Square. I don’t remember the jog back except for being pissed that the back doors to the building were already locked and I had to walk around to the front. I DID NOT HAVE TIME FOR THIS.


First I searched the floor of the elevator Wendy and I had used, then I went to our floor where I dumped everything out of my bag in the office space I was using that day. I was SO ANGRY AND FRANTIC, ripping everything out and slamming it on the table and then shaking my empty bag out but the only small, loose item that dropped out with a “tink” was an errant salmakki-flavored FISHERMAN’S FRIEND cough drop from Finland.

“FFFFFUUUUUCK!!!!!” I screamed, squeezing my hands into muscle-quaking fists. It was nearly 6:30 at this point so I assumed I was alone on the floor and just let it alllll out.

Catching my breath after whatever number freak-out that was, I had lost count, I left my office and retraced my steps around the floor. I hadn’t gone anywhere during work hours except to the bathroom and kitchen, but there was no trace of a ring. I got so fucking angry in the kitchen though, thinking of how every goddamn  time I used the sink that day, I was so careful to take ALL of my rings off and set them far aside on the counter. The sink at work is one of those “inSINKerator” deals and at one point during the day, I was washing my coffee cup and imagined having to stick my hand down there to search for a lost ring and then having to live the rest of my life with a hook-hand. This was a real life thought I had that day!! My mind was trying to subconsciously tell me, “Take that ring off now and lock it up somewhere because you’re slated to lose it later.”


When I circled back to my office,  the cleaning guy was in there.

“Oh!” he said, startled. “Someone is here! I was wondering where all that stuff came from!” he laughed.

“I LOST MY RING,” I said to him frantically.

“Oh man, and I just emptied your garbage!” he said. “Here, let me sift through….” and he started to dig through his garbage receptacle but I was like, “Look, I didn’t throw that much away today, I know it’s not there. I know I lost it outside,” and then the hopeless overtook me again and the tears sprung up and he’s all, “Oh, no, look, I’m gonna help you! I lost my class ring here once and I know how shitty—excuse my language—that feels!”

So we searched the small, mostly empty office because no one works there full time in person anymore so there wasn’t much to overturn. But still, his presence was very calming to me, and it was a connection I didn’t know I needed at that time.

“Hey, I’m Erin by the way.”

“Monty! Lamont!” he said and then fist-bumped me.


“Hey, Erin,” he said, startled to see that I was still here.

“I LOST MY RING!!!” I cried, back to needing a fainting sofa.

“Oh,” Terry stuttered uncomfortably. “Do you want a box of Girl Scout cookies?” He held up a bag of no less than 10 boxes that he had bought from Wendy.


But instead, I just quietly said, “No thank you.”

“You got any pecan in there?” Lamont asked.

“Um….let me see,” Terry said, and then proceeded to take all of the boxes out and display them on a counter.

Lamont chose a box of Thin Mints.


After Lamont promised to keep looking and turn it in if he found it, we said goodbye and I made my way to the parking garage, where I called Henry and screamed, “I LOST MY RING COME PICK ME UP.” Because there was no fucking way I was going to dinner at this point. You on a diet and want something to help you curb your appetite? LOSE YOUR ENGAGEMENT RING!

I walked all around the garage. In the stairwell that seemed like forever and a day ago when I was commented on how freshly painted it appeared. All around Wendy’s car. By the door to the office where Wendy picked up her keys.

Nothing but dirt and gravel and things I don’t want to think about.

Now Wendy is calling me. “I’m on my way back to the office to help you!” she said, sounds of traffic and the same man in Market Square screaming in the background.

I tried to get her to go back to the dinner. This wasn’t her problem and I didn’t want dinner to be ruined for her. I told her it was fine, Henry was on his way and I was just going to go home. “It’s gone,” I said in defeat. “I know I lost it outside somewhere and there is no chance in hell it’s going to turn up now.” That cold air probably helped it slide right off and I never even felt it.

“I’m almost there,” Wendy said. “I’m by McCormicks—” and I looked up from where I was standing on the sidewalk and saw her walking toward me, so this was happening. I walked over to meet her, and as we continued to walk back toward our office, she tripped and fell hard! It was just like a stumble-to-the-knees but a face-down sprawl and now I’m REALLY feeling like the biggest asshole ever, and I’m crying, “OMG ARE YOU OK THIS IS ALL MY FAULT!”

Two women passing by also stopped to help but Wendy was like “I’M FINE” and got up on her own and then some black gentleman across the street was yelling, “ARE YOU OK??” and I called back, “She’s fine!” because he wouldn’t stop yelling, and then he goes, “OK BECAUSE I HAVE A PHD IN—-” but then I couldn’t hear what he said over the traffic, which is probably good because I have a feeling it was something crude, but also I really do want to know, a PhD in what?!!?

I was so worried that she was injured and all she cared about was helping me find a ring that doesn’t even have that much monetary value so at this point I’m just like, “Fuck this ring, it’s causing more harm than good at this point” but she was already marching toward the building’s entrance where we ran into Megan who had just arrived to town from the trolley.

She took one look at me and had a *yikes* look on her face before I even had a chance to wail, “I LOST MY ENGAGEMENT RING!!!!”

“We’ll meet you back at the restaurant,” Wendy calmly said to Megan and I was like, “YOU WILL, I WON’T. I AM GOING HOME TO DIE. HENRY IS ALREADY ON HIS WAY.” But Wendy was like, “OK I am going to continue to ignore that” and led me back up to the 10th floor where she STUCK HER HAND DOWN THE KITCHEN SINK DRAIN WHILE I STOOD THERE BEGGING HER NOT TO. Don’t worry, she’s a trained professional (a/k/a adult) so she knew what was she doing which is how this remained a tale of only one person losing something.

After searching the garage again, we went back up the street where Wendy continued to hound me to come back to the restaurant. “Let’s just go back and have a nice dinner, it’ll take your mind off it.” I was still resisting when….


Henry pulled up to the curb and looked alarmed and tentative because I’m not sure he fully knew what was going on still. I opened the passenger door and hurled my bag at him because seeing him reminded me that he was the one who got me a ring in the wrong size in the first place (I had to wear it on my pointer finger and even then it was still too loose!!) nevermind the fact that it was me who kept putting off getting it resized so now I am pissed off and projecting it on Henry.

“WELL ARE YOU GOING TO PARK AND HELP ME LOOK??” I screamed and then he and Wendy had a silent exchange where they communicated many sentiments with just their eyes, and then Wendy closed the passenger door and he drove away, presumably to park, I don’t know, I hated him and never wanted to see him again at that point.

Now Wendy and I are standing alone on the sidewalk and I start CRYING which I hate doing in public but also, it’s downtown Pgh post-pandemic, some white bitch crying on the sidewalk is not worthy of a second glance.

“It’s an omen!” I wailed, channeling my best desperate dating show contestant. “I’m never going to get married!”



Wendy, desperate for all of us to have dinner together,  now lures me back to the restaurant under the pretense of “retracing our steps again and looking around the sidewalk” which turned into “OK let’s just go back inside the restaurant and you can leave your contact info with the bartender in case you lost it in  there and it turns up.” Jesus, she was still in GIRL SCOUT MODE after helping Summer sell cookies, I guess.

We get to Market Square and that same guy is still there, yelling his grievances into the sky.


Now I’m inside at the bar, the bartenders are talking to me about the ring but it all sounds like underwater word bubbles, I just want to leave. So after I write down my number, I go to push the open and Wendy is like, “Just come upstairs to the table and say hi to everyone.”

I’m like, Jesus Christ Wendy, no one cares if I miss a dinner, I see or talk to these people regularly! They will be fine! I will not be missed!

I finally give in because she is being relentless. I walk upstairs to “say hi, omg” and everyone at the table is just sitting there, frozen, looking at me with terse smiles because they know I AM IN A MOOD and I feel so stupid and self-conscious, still doing the body shudder / post-cry sniffle and I just feel disheveled, you know? Not really wanting to be in a crowded restaurant, but whatever, here I am, hello now can I go.

But then as I’m looking around the table, it slowly (and I do mean slowly) dawns on me that….this was a bridal shower dinner.

They took our ordinary for-no-reason dinner and centered it around me, managing to keep me completely in the dark.

And of course, I would go and lose my engagement ring 20 minutes before a dinner in honor of my upcoming maybe-nuptials.



I still want to go home though because now on top of everything else, I’m embarrassed and mortified and just feel terrible that I ruined for everyone what should have been a nice night. Gooooo, Erin! At least it wasn’t as bad as when I had a huge blow-out fight with my mom at her house and then drove back here only to find that some of my friends had planned a surprise party for my 21st birthday and I flipped out and couldn’t calm down and they ended up taking me to Mercy Hospital in an attempt to 302 me.

That was an…event alright.

Anyway, Wendy managed to steer me to the guest of honor seat and was like, “Just sit down and we will pack all this stuff up for you and then you can leave,” and Regina flagged down a server for a bag and Marlene was patting my shoulder while I was gulping down ice water. But you know what? In that short amount of time, Marlene had made me start giggling a little and then my shoulders started to lower from my earlobes one centimeter at a time, and the next thing I knew, I was saying in a small voice, “OK, I’ll stay.”


“She’s staying!” Regina called out in case Jill and Megan didn’t hear from the other end of the table, and then Debby was like, “Yay! Do you want to put on your veil—”

“NO,” I interrupted firmly. LOL.

So instead, Debby snapped her fingers and before I knew it, a glass of wine was being slid in front of me. And after the first glass, you know what? “I’m ready to wear the tiara now,” I said and everyone was like “Yay!”

“And the vei—” Debby started.


I did agree to the “bride-to-be” sash though.

“Oh shit! I forgot about Henry!” I laughed, and then texted him: I’m staying now.

I know, Wendy told me. Thanks.


I wonder what it looked like to the other diners, the table decorated beautifully, gifts, flower petals, and then here comes the guest of honor looking like she just found out her favorite Kpop group is disbanding before being forced to look at Trump’s nudes. Depressed and traumatized.

When we were all getting ready to leave, the bartender walked past and said, “Happy…..birthday? Con…..gratulations? Not sure what you’re celebrating but I hope it’s great!” She looked so concerned about how to approach me though, because I’m sure I looked beaten down and exhausted, but I was also wearing a tiara and had bags of presents like maybe I just reached the End Game of some dark and intense work initiation that had me running around the city on a quest to find a lost object the size of a nickel and the color of the sidewalk while pitting me against random co-workers trying to thwart my progress by pushing Girl Scout cookies on me and ending with the final round of seeing how many temper tantrums I could throw without getting fired by the Final Boss.

I love these ladies. <3 Honestly had no expectation of anything bridal-related happening since this doesn’t even feel real to begin with. Also, I’m so sad that there’s a water glass blocking my HAECHAN photocard in my badge holder (amazing I didn’t lose that as well that night.)

I forget who it was that asked if Henry was mad about the ring and I was like, “Henry? Mad? LOL.” I believe Henry’s low-key response was, “It’s just an object. You still have your finger. We’ll get you a new ring.” He’s already contacted the jewelry on Etsy and she said she does have a similarly-shaped raw diamond on hand so she’s going to make a new one and said there’s no obligation for him to purchase. I’m trying to look on the bright side here, and maybe instead of a bad omen, it’s a good thing. Because that ring had so many bad, traumatic feelings attached to it caused from the BOTCHED PROPOSAL at the Cure concert. So maybe a new ring will be good. And maybe this new one will be even prettier than the first! WHO CAN BE SURE.

Look at this card that Megan made me! The inside said “congratulations” written in Hangul and Marlene was shocked and awed that I could read it. I’m glad my preschool-level Korean impresses someone! I love that Megan gave Henry aka Herbert a backwards cap and his soju flavor is blueberry since he hates blueberries but has spent the last 20+ years suffering through blueberry-flavored desserts that I ask him to share with me. 

Also, Megan got me this “love” LED sign!!

And Wendy’s “something blue”!

Debby got me a series of fabulous framed prints, and Marlene got me this quirky yellow and black paint-splattered tea pot that looks perfect in the kitchen. And Jill and Regina contributed to the Korea fund.  AND during all of this, Henry texted me from home that he secured our appointments with the US Embassy for March 26th in Seoul, so that is one giant hurdle down toward actually “getting married” in Korea. We have been waiting on pins and needles for the Embassy to open up appointments for the week we’ll be there, so this was perfect timing. This and my wonderful friends saved the night. Thanks to Wendy’s persistence too, because I was seriously so close to pulling a runner when she wasn’t looking but she was so freaking vigilant until she finally got me upstairs in that restaurant.

So far, I’m 2 for 2 with miserable, unhappy ugly-crying in public at my marriage-related events. Yep, that tracks.

Looking back, it’s now really funny when I thought that the dumbest thing that was going to happen that day was when I accidentally ingested molten wax because I used a DISPOSABLE WAX CUP in the coffee maker at work. It was already melting as I frantically tried to transport the coffee to a regular coffee cup and then I had this weird wax residue all over my hands.


The next day, I couldn’t stop thinking about Lamont and how good he was at helping me calm down, and how much he genuinely seemed to care about finding my ring. So, I called the cleaning service company and told the lady who answered about my tragedy (lol) and how kind he was to me and that I just needed someone to know that, because it’s not always common these days. She was so happy that I called and thanked me for letting her know, and that she would pass it on to his supervisor. She was like, “I love this, we need more positivity in the world!” and I said, “Yes, and less Karens!” It was a nice phone call, but then I was reminded of years ago when a cleaning guy from the same company accidentally broke some dumb thing on my desk that I didn’t even care about and had to fill out an INCIDENT REPORT and I kept telling our facilities lady (THE SAME ONE WHO REMEMBERED MY NAME ON WEDNESDAY, THIS POST HAS COME FULL CIRCLE!) that I truly didn’t care and didn’t want him to get in trouble but I don’t know if he did or not!?! I should have called then, too. Ugh.

Say it don't spray it.

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