Thursday, November 13, 2008


This morning I got a call from SWMBO. Surprisingly, she was calling from the school’s landline, not her cell phone. And the reason for that was rapidly revealed: She had inadvertently left it on the table at the restaurant last night. Could I run over there after breakfast and retrieve it?

I confess to feeling a momentary spike of irritation. “How the hell could you forget your cell which you seem to be permanently attached?” I thought. But I said nothing... and that is as it should be, for I, too, have inadvertently left valuables behind. I, too, know that feeling of panic, the panic you feel when you realized that something that should be in your possession has gone missing.

When Elder Daughter and I were in Japan earlier this year - we arrived there seven months ago today - we spent our first couple of days in Tokyo. After our second night in the Ginza, we vacated our room and checked our bags with the bell desk, with the intention of wandering around by the Imperial Palace and Hibiya Park before heading out for Kyoto.

We grabbed a late lunch at a little restaurant in Hibiya Park, taking in the scenery and enjoying the hazy sun of a warm afternoon. And that’s when I noticed, to my horror, that my college ring was missing.

I wear my wedding ring on my left hand and my college ring on my right. The wedding ring (thank Gawd!) was there...but the other ring was, inexplicably, not.

Suddenly, a pleasant lunch with Elder Daughter threatened to turn into a Panic-Fest. Where the fuck was that ring?

It was not loose enough to fall off. It was highly unlikely that someone had yanked it off on the subway. This wasn’t Rome or Madrid, it was relatively crime-free Tokyo. All I could figure was that I had left the damn thing in my hotel room, a snafu that could only be explained away as a jet lag-induced Brain Fart... because I always keep my rings together and put them both on at the same time.

Well, we had to go back to the hotel to retrieve our baggage before leaving town, so I decided to relax and place my trust in the legendary honesty of the Japanese.

In the States, I would have been worried, and rightfully so.

It wasn’t all that long ago that the Missus and I had been staying in Savannah, and she inadvertently left her Moon-Boot leg splint in the room. We did not realize it was missing until we got back home, whereupon SWMBO called the hotel to locate it. No soap. But something didn’t smell right... and a few more phone calls established that the housekeeper had, upon finding the splint, simply chucked it out instead of turning it in. [In case you’re curious, that lapse in judgment cost the hotel $200.]

But this was Japan. When we got to the hotel, I explained my situation. Within minutes, the manager brought me my ring, all carefully cleaned and sealed in a little plastic bag. Was I relieved? You betcha.

As if that were not bad enough, when we returned to the States, we stayed in Crystal City, hard by Reagan National Airport. The next morning, we took the jitney from the hotel to the airport, from where Elder Daughter would take the Metro home while I would grab my flight back to Atlanta. But as I was ready to get off the jitney, I realized that my camera bag was missing.

Great Balls of Burning Excrement!

I had put the bag in a chair next to the check-out desk...and had walked away without it. This, after having schlepped my bags all over Japan for ten days. Another jet lag-induced Brain Fart, this time of Massive Proportions. My heart was in my mouth and my anus was all a-pucker as I rode the jitney back to the hotel, where (Hallelujah!) the bag was still sitting right where I’d left it. I had had visions of someone simply walking away with over $1,200 worth of camera equipment...and 850 irreplaceable photographs. Now, just a huge sense of sweaty relief (and a brief frisson of national pride. Hey, Americans are honest, too!)

So, this morning, I couldn’t really be pissed off at She Who Must Be Obeyed... not without being a complete and utter hypocrite. For all of us leave things behind every so often...and in this case, once again, there was a happy conclusion to the story. I picked up the phone (I had to go around to the back of the restaurant by the delivery entrance to collar the manager), and now all is right with the world.

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