Max said hello to 2019 with a small, breathy and somewhat fishy “awoo” and desperate protestations against trying out one of his Christmas presents, a new soapless shampoo with the scent of Japanese cherry blossoms.
As you may have guessed, the Alpha Japanese Female was responsible for that choice. In any case, his resistance was futile and a fresh, clean Malt greeted the New Year.
The AJF welcomed the Year of the Pig with a trip to her favorite Japanese book shop.
By the way, some call it Year of the Boar, Year of the Baby Back Rib, Year of the Police, or Year of the White Male in General but for me,”Year of the Pig” works just fine.
But I digress.
The shop is called “Book Off” which sounds like a poorly pronounced insult to me. Book Off buys and sells used Japanese language books and is an economical source of reading material for the AJF who is a voracious consumer of Japanese historical fiction, which is not my cup of green tea.
As for lucky ole me, I welcomed the New Year with one of America’s traditional activities: changing over health insurance plans.
This task is deceptively complex and involves quite a bit of time at the computer, registering on new web sites, inserting and transferring loads of data and personal information, all the while shuffling through records for ID numbers and such.
Just when I thought I had completed my job, I was advised that a “personal representative” would make a follow-up phone call to confirm my information and validate my identity, presumably to the insurance company since I don’t need no stinkin’ third party validation. #oldguystoo
Sure enough, the phone rings and it’s the “personal representative,” which has the same meaning as “a call center employee in Bangladesh who can barely speak English but swears her real name is Sylvia.”
Sylvia greets me and starts by asking a series of questions to prove, to paraphrase the immortal words of Popeye the Sailor Man, that “I Yam Who I Yam.”
“Did you ever live on any of the following streets,” followed by choice of five. Easy, peasy, japanesey that one.
“Do you currently have an auto loan for a Mercedes Benz vehicle?” Gales of laughter ensue. Uh, sure, and the key to my wife’s Porsche Panamera is in my other pants. “No.”
Several more questions follow, but nothing particularly challenging since I am, well, me so I know the answers. Then comes the “bombshell” question as NBC News likes to say.
“What is your birthstone?” Long silence on my part as I struggle to accept that question. I mean, who the heck asks a guy what his birthstone is?
Having lost much of my patience I started to respond as I imagine 90% of all American males would respond: “How the ffff…would I know?” Fortunately, I caught myself after “How” and stifled the erupting intemperate remark thus preserving what little respect Sylvia might have had for me.
Happily, since everything else checked out the insurance company was willing to accept that I was indeed me. So, Max and I went to refill a prescription just to test the system. Bingo! Smooth as hummingbird thigh. Sylvia’s got game.
Problem was, the new dispensary is CVS which is legendary for the length of its receipts. Mind you, the cost of the drug to me was zero. The cost of the cash register tape could be measured in fallen trees.