Friday, November 24, 2006

Ambushed!

Yesterday was Labour Thanksgiving Day (kinro kansha no hi)here in Japan: A national holiday for honoring labour. Seems the Mayflower did not make to Yokohama....and had theydone so they would have been slaughtered. Ergo Japan has no tradition of stuffing one's self on this day-except for loads of booze the night before...........

So the S.O. and I were lucky enough to be invited to a friends house for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Turkey, Stuffing, Potatoes, Gravy and a healthy dosage of his teenage kids. Which reminded me again what I am not missing these days. Reminded me of "discussions" with my son when he used the arrival of company to decide it was time to check the "press to test" button on his father. Living of course, in the new age of sensitivity, I could not just do what my father did-namely wait till the company left and beat the stuffing out of me. My friend suffered from the same predicament-even though at times the oldest seemed to be asking for it. Actually it was not so bad, but he made it clear he did not seem inclined to assist......just as my son did on so many occasions. Some things never change.

Today was a free day for me so off it was to get dragged shopping. The S.O. had dodged my entreaties to play golf by telling me it was supposed to be bad weather today. Regrettably I believed her and so I was doubly incensed when I awoke to blazing sunshine, but too late to move on down the road. Damn!

So off we went shopping. Tried to convince her that this was the year to skip our fake tree and buy a real one, even though it would take some money. No chance paddles, all she could see was the vision of needles on the floor. So I knew what that meant, tonight I was going to be unpacking green plastic again for the "x" consecutive year. Lucky for me I am leaving for Hawaii on Sunday so she gets to decorate the tree and most of the house. Tomorrow, I'm playing golf.

I like thanksgiving, in my own way. I love turkey and every thing that goes with it, like the old man in Christmas Story I am a Turkeyholic. The best part of Thanksgiving for me is after stuffing my self at dinner-eating a turkey sandwich at 11:30, while drinking a beer and watching football highlights. Its the little things that count. Unfortunately, I have not made a turkey in a good while, the S.O. thinks they make too much of a mess in the kitchen. The down side of my Thanksgiving memories is that when I had "family" type Thansgiving holidays they usually turned into a repeat of "Home for the Holidays". In other words a nightmare-especially if I had to spend them up at my ex-inlaws. Or for that matter with the ex and my family. Either way the chemistry was not good. So this world is much, much, better.

So out we went shopping. We made the circuit of the department stores and also shopping on the base. With the help of the S.O. bought a tweed sports jacket at a good price as well as some pants and sweater. I do rely on the S.O. to help me with clothing decisions, her taste in clothes is good-mine is not. Especially today when she was wearing tight pants and boots-more on that later.

Speaking of using the feminine whiles to manipulate events, I bought a biography of Madame Chiang Kai Shek. . It will give me something to read on the plane and the former Mei Ling Soong has her own story to tell about using the power of the puss to get what she wanted....across 3 continents. Looking forward to reading the book:


Petite, elegant, and mighty, Madame Chiang Kai-shek lived to be 105, but when she died in 2003, many Americans had no idea of how powerful a woman she was or of how much she suffered. First-time biographer Li is the first to tell Madame Chiang's dramatic life story. Mayling Soong was one of three sisters in an ambitious Christian Chinese family who altered the course of Chinese history. Educated in the U.S and fiercely intelligent, Mayling married Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek and became his interpreter and advisor. Besieged by the invading Japanese and embroiled in a horrific civil war with the Communists, Chiang Kai-shek depended on his glamorous, eloquent wife to petition the Allied leaders for aid. In 1943, Madame Chiang galvanized America as she became the first Asian and only the second woman to address the U.S. Congress. Sensational and indomitable, she infuriated Churchill; put Franklin Roosevelt on his guard; disappointed Eleanor Roosevelt with her narcissism, grandiosity, and insensitivity; and, Li theorizes, helped jump-start Washington's anti-Communist witch hunts. With access to newly opened files, fluent insights into China's convulsive transformation, and a phenomenal gift for elucidating intricate politics and complicated psyches, Li brilliantly analyzes a fearless and profoundly conflicted woman of extraordinary force.


So we made the circuit of the jewelry counter at one of the department stores. I should have been nervous when the S.O. dallied over a pearl necklace for some time-I had strolled off to girl watch the women looking at shoes, always a fun girl watching pastime-particularly in this particular store. Some sweethearts shop there. S.O. wants to keep shopping-I want to go home and get the tree up before I leave so I can be free and clear tomorrow. So I head for the train and promise to meet her at home.

I get the tree up and am just nicely contoured to the couch sleeping when she arrives at the genkan (front of the door, its the place you remove your shoes...). Seems she thinks I need to to return with her to the jewelry counter. Seems she has found a great set of 9mm pearls for just 50,000 yen. Oh boy, this cannot be good. Off we go.

Back at the counter I knew I was in trouble. The 50,000 yen necklace looked good, but not nearly as polished and smooth as the 84,000 yen one. It did not take long to see the trying on and discussion with the sales clerk in Japanese leading down the more expensive path. Now truth be told it was a nicer necklace and the normal retail price was over 50,000 yen more. However making a purchase of this type was not on my agenda. To make the long story short-84,000 yen poorer and my credit card crying, we left the store with her new necklace in hand.

To add insult to injury I had to go through the usual indignity of getting my card approved. Because my card is on a US bank they had to call it in. I had to take the phone and assure them that yes I really do live in Japan and it is me using my card and that it was not fraud. I've been through the same problem in Japan before, but never in Hong Kong or Singapore. Japan still has a pretty insulated banking system though and the smaller stores look at the foreign cards like they are poison. I later called my bank to remind them that they have my cell phone number on file-why not call me if there is doubt, since I was reminding them for the 15th time I live in Japan and not the United States!

The good news though is that now I am off the hook for the "big" Christmas gift. The bad news is that I now need to pay back the money to my credit card ASAP as I was not planning on spending that money. It did seem to make her happy though-although she did not like it when I told her that was it for jewelry for Christmas-and her birthday. However at the time, I could not take my mind off of how good she looked today-the pants and boots ruined my concentration to be sure. But hey, its only money...........

Tonight was putting lights on the tree and then leaving her to decorate the rest. She of course settled down to watch her favorite pet show-we'll see if the tree is done when I get back from golf tomorrow...............

We'll see if the reward matches the expenditure..........I tend to doubt it.

Happy Thanksgiving and have a good shopping day!

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