Today is that time of year again when my dear friend, Martini Max, is having his birthday. This year’s is a milestone – one that ends in a zero. Personally, I hate those and the ones that end in nines the most, but come to think of it I’m not too crazy about the others that end in all the numbers in-between, either. Yet, this is Max’s birthday and since he loves presents and attention, he is absorbing his milestone like a gin-soaked olive.
A few months ago when I visited the Francis Ford Coppola Winery in Geyserville, California, I saw a tee shirt with a dancing devil that looked very Max to me. It’s made out of 70% bamboo, which is so dual purpose. If he ever locks himself out of his apartment while wearing it in the rain, it could double as shelter.
Finding Max’s gift was easy, and Papyrus had a decent snarky birthday card. All I had to do was wrap his present, sign his card, and visit my neighborhood post office to ship it Priority Mail. I did not anticipate blowing half my day and most of my mind struggling to peel open Papyrus’s gold foil logo sticker that I assume is meant to seal their cards. Now I realize it could just as easily lead to complete mental collapse.
Since my nails are trim I lack the necessary talons required to slip in-between the tightly sealed lip of the sticker and its paper backing. In addition, that paper backing is not scored so cracking and peeling it is not an option. Plus, I realized that my eyesight is going the way of my hearing, and although I’m not fully channeling Helen Keller, I’m having some difficulty seeing objects up close.
After 217 semi-blind failed attempts to separate the paper backing from the sticker with only my club-like digits, it dawned on me that this method was not working. The clock was ticking and I knew I was running out of time to get to the post office. I considered sending Max an email announcing, “You’ll get your gift whenever you next see me,” but leaving off “because I lack the manual dexterity to seal your card.”
Yet I am not a quitter; I knew I needed to use an implement. I proceeded to ransack my apartment in search of the X-acto knife I purchased in 1978 when I studied Josef Albers color theory at UCLA. I always knew that taking that class would eventually come in handy for more than selecting the color of my rug and a set of spatulas. After upending all of my furniture and tearing through every drawer, I found it sitting in front of me in the pen cup on my writing table.
Deftly, I slipped the slender X-acto knife blade in the space between the foil and the paper backing. Much to my relief, the knife made a successful degree of contact that my fumbling fingers lacked. Unfortunately, I was only slicing through an onion skin layer of the paper backing. With all else failing, I issued a wild-eyed litany of very personal vulgarities directed at the sticker, Papyrus, the misanthrope that designed that irremovable backing, and the sadist that coined their slogan, “The joy of everyday.” When I completed my rant, invoking religious figures, mothers, sex acts, organs and animal waste, I reasoned:
Me: Huh, that might have impressed a pirate.
I resumed my mission and finally the paper backing got the message. It peeled off. Shocked, I reflected on what Max told me that Bing Crosby said in 1945 when he won the Academy Award for Best Actor in Going My Way:
Bing: I couldn’t be more surprised if I won the Kentucky Derby.
Then, I whinnied and galloped to the post office shortly before closing time.