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Oh God, the ring. Somewhere in a cavernous jewelry case in a Lord & Taylor in Maryland, an evil loop of white gold, sapphire, and diamonds is waiting for me, glistening, grinning, mocking. I’ve been haunted by this little shit for some time; my girlfriend—the ring’s chief ally—has been perfecting her sales pitch for most of our six-year courting process. But how to explain to dear Jennifer that the chasm between now and “Will you [ugh] me?” is filled with so many equally glistening castration devices? Maybe Douglas Stone, Sheila Heen, and Bruce Patton, authors of Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most, can ease my troubled soul. These Harvard Law School professors claim their new how-to tome will relieve the tension of life’s trickiest dialogues. Yeah, right. Foolish bastards: They’ve never gone up against this ring. Ask about the chapter pertaining to “devastating instruments of doom” when Stone, Heen, and Patton speak at 6 p.m. at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden’s Ring Auditorium, 7th & Independence Ave. NW. $30. For reservations call (202) 357-3030. (Sean Daly)