DEAR ABBY: I admit it: I am scatterbrained. I'm forgetful when it comes to events and information that affect me personally, although I have the odd ability to remember facts and trivia. It is a source of frustration and amusement to others that I can remember details about the Battle of Actium, but can also lose my car for several days because I forgot where I had it parked.




Now things have gone from comical to critical. I had been planning to propose to my girlfriend of three years, and I have lost the engagement ring. I bought the stone some months ago. It's a rare green sapphire that she helped select. I had it set without her knowledge a few weeks later. When the ring was completed, I hid it in a small space behind a drawer in my desk.




This month I planned to pop the question. But today, when I looked behind the drawer, the ring was gone. The worst part is I don't know if I moved it myself. Did I hide it somewhere else because I was afraid she might discover it? Or did I take it out to look at it and forgot where I set it down?




My forgetfulness has caused friction between us before. I want to propose, but I don't want our engagement to be forever associated with another irresponsible mistake on my part. What should I do?




"" FORGETFUL IN CHICAGO




DEAR FORGETFUL: You have several options. The first is to fess up and tell your girlfriend what happened. If she's going to accept you for better or for worse, she deserves to know what she's getting into. If she loves you, she'll forgive you.




The second is to go through your office with a fine-tooth comb and get it organized. This will increase your odds of finding the ring. The third is to start looking for another rare green sapphire.




Last, but not least, schedule an appointment with your doctor for a complete physical and neurological checkup on the chance there is a medical reason for your forgetfulness.




Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.