CLINE: Happily ever after not only for the movies

Todd Cline

Todd Cline

"Everybody loves to hear this story," Shannon Volkodav said. "Everybody loves a happy ending."

Which is why we'll start at the end and work back. Why we'll tell you Shannon's husband Tony has his wedding band again, how it led to a sentimental moment, a reaffirmation of their marriage. Why you should be careful with your jewelry when going to the lake, and how it's always worth it to try even when others might tell you the chances are "slim to none."

Now that you know the story's conclusion, we can get to its inception. Because you can't have a happy ending without the proper drama setting it up. We want the guy to get the girl, the hero to save the day and everyone to ride off into the sunset. But first some other guy has to want the girl or a bad guy or a bad situation has to create a day that needs to be saved, giving poignancy to that sunset ride.

You need a setup, something to pull you in. Like losing your wedding ring at Lake Lanier Islands.

Newly married, Gwinnett residents Shannon and Tony Volkodav were at the lake last week with Shannon's children. Playing on the inflatable obstacle course in the lake, Shannon tried to pull her husband into the water. "Horse play" -- her words -- ensued, and somehow the wedding ring that had only been on his finger since June 1 came off.

A small silver ring in a large, murky lake is not a good combination. But Tony tried his best, coming up with only a handful of muck. He borrowed a face mask and made two dives but had no luck. The ring, Shannon said, was not that expensive; its value was sentimental. And now it was gone.

(In the movie, this is the time where a voiceover and a montage of scenes from the past provide the back story. In lieu of that, the important thing to know is that Shannon and Tony knew each other years ago, but were not in a position to be anything more than friends. Which is why the June wedding was so joyous, and the loss of the ring so deflating. Now back to the story.)

"I talked to a staff member and they said they knew a guy who dives," Shannon said, but it seemed like a long shot at best.

She couldn't get in touch that afternoon but called the number again the following morning, finally contacting Ben Mann. The Lanier Tech student from Flowery Branch said he was happy to look for the ring, but didn't have much hope.

"Slim to none," he said. "(Shannon) called me and was really upset. I knew it was important to her."

A former staffer at Lake Lanier Islands, Mann decided to make a business out of his hobby of diving. So he founded Bottom Dollar Scuba Service, specializing mostly in finding sunglasses, wallets and anchors. He had never found, or really looked for, jewelry.

But less than two hours after receiving Shannon's call, Mann couldn't believe his eyes. About 20 feet or so away from where he was told the ring was lost, a shiny object caught his eye. It was a bottle cap, which Mann picked up only to discover a wedding band sitting under it.

"I was hoping it was the ring, but it wasn't where they said it would be," Mann said.

Mann texted Shannon a picture, but she already knew it was her husband's ring by the diver's description.

"It was disbelief," Shannon said of learning Mann had found the ring. "It was almost impossible to believe it was true.

"(Ben) is my hero."

Though he's the hero of this story, Mann doesn't have the leading man's line. That belongs to Tony, a pragmatic man who ordered a new wedding band that he doesn't need the day after he lost his ring at the lake. He didn't know that Mann had found the ring until later that night when the family surprised him at dinner.

Stunned, he rebounded with a line seemingly out of one of those romantic comedies starring Meg Ryan or the like: "Getting this ring back tells me something I already knew -- that we were meant to be together."

Cue music, fade to black. Just like in the movies.

Email Todd Cline at todd.cline@gwinnettdailypost.com. His column appears on Wednesdays.