• Answers to yesterday's questions: 1) I believe the NBC style book requires the use of "Torino" instead of "Turin" on the grounds that these are officially the Torino Games, or something. I think I read that the Times uses Torino when talking about the Games and Turin when talking about the city. I'm sure NBC figured it was better to have Katie and Matt use one rather than expect them to figure out which condition applied. I salute the choice. It does raise interesting questions about future games in Rome or Munich; 2) yes, Robin, I love the simultaneous skier thingie, the greatest broadcast innovation since the virtual first-down marker which, interestingly enough, was created by the same people.
• Answer to today's question, "Why are you 48 hours behind instead of the usual 24?" Well, lemme tell ya.
When I couldn't find any jewelry for my wife's birthday (two of my many youthful errors were the first piece of jewelry I ever bought her being a tremendous hit, thus dooming me to increasingly nerve-wracking decisions ever since [I think I was just lucky the first time], and being correct but ignored in my preference for the first pair of glasses my wife was required to buy, and turning out to be right, thus necessitating a biennial visit to her optometrist) I decided to get her a gift certificate to a local spa, which is actually a no-tell mo-tel with in-room pools and hot tubs and steam rooms. I ran out there in a driving rain two days before the event, only to find I'd disremembered where the place was, hadn't looked up the address, of course, and was running short of time. So I did it again the next day. It was a big hit as a gift.
The gift card was enough to cover one overnight stay or two afternoon "romantic getaways." She went for the twofer idea, which I thought best, and said Presidents' Day seemed like a good time for an inaugural visit. So last week I call to make a reservation. When I give the guy my name he pops up with my address, so I know I was put in the system when I bought the card. He asks for the card number. I read it off. There's a pause. "I'm not finding it." Read it again. Still nothing. "Let me put you on hold."
I'm already aware I'm doomed before he returns to say, "What I'm going to need you to do is bring the card in." I love that construction. What he needs me to do. I'm in your system, and it should tell you I've never stayed there before, so what am I doing there? Do you suppose I broke in, stole a card, and entered myself in the computer? But it's a gift, and a popular one, so instead of telling him to forget the whole thing I drive back over.
A brief clicking of screens later and I'm informed that "she wrote the wrong number down on your card." No she didn't. The card has a printed number on the back, which corresponds to the printed number on the announcement; what "she" did was enter the wrong number in the system. And not by a little. She missed three frickin' digits. Okay, at least all's well now. But I've been through this enough now that anytime some operation makes a mistake like this I assume that everything else will be fucked as well. So before I leave I ask--twice--about the reservation the other gentleman had entered for me an hour earlier, which he said he'd hold until I came in. Got it? Check. Room with a pool, right? February 20th, right? Check, double-check, please get out of the lobby, sir, you're scaring the escorts.
Oh, don't get ahead of me. Still suspicious, I called Monday morning to confirm the reservation. My first sign of impending doom is she asks for my address. Pause. I'm not finding it. Are you sure it was for today? Why, yes. Are you sure you'd like to hear how proficient I am at swearing? It's no problem, we have rooms available, I'll just put you down for one. Okay, fine. Make her repeat it twice. Then comes that little moment when something happens that should make you say Wait A Fucking Minute, but your brain just freezes. Just before hanging up she says, "And you'll just need to pay the balance of $38.27 when you get here."
It takes about thirty seconds before I suddenly see my entire near-term future run in front of my eyes like a movie. And I'll finish the story for you, though I probably don't have to. Get there, and there's no reservation. It's been cancelled. I remain calm, since I've seen it all before, but there's an older woman there, some sort of supervisor no doubt, savvy enough to catch the vague tinge of menage in my manner that even I didn't know was there. I was about two sentences into my explanation when she came over and told the clerk, "Get the room, we'll have Tom fix this later." Thank you so much.
The younger woman goes about entering all the necessary info, gathering the paperwork, getting my serial signatures and license plate number, explaining this and that. And the last thing I remember her saying to me is, "That'll be $38.27."