The pre-existing Birkin

Source:Lori/Legion Media

Source:Lori/Legion Media

It’s that horrible time of year again: The insurance premiums are due. I will have to fess up to my “Handsome Russian Husband,” or HRH, that I need a five-figure sum. Because he’s into downhill skiing, and Velvet is about to crack the 3-foot show jumping milestone, I feel that health insurance should include catastrophic care. Call me cautious.

HRH is generous to a fault. He is indulgent with the bills from Eileen Fisher and encourages me to splash out on Australian lamb. Being Russian, however, he thinks health insurance of any kind is a massive scam, and paying for it drives him to drink. That, of course, just drives those premiums up further. The pre-existing condition thing truly enrages him, and he went ballistic when he found out that I had done a rather full disclosure on him.

I resorted to a tactic known in the parenting biz as “re-direction.”

“What would you like for Christmas,” he asked me.

“A 35-inch Hermes Birkin bag,” I responded promptly.

“Fine,” he said smoothly. “Whatever you want, darling. Where do I go?”

“Oh you don’t just go,” I said. “You have to get in touch with some guy in London. Then you have to give him a $5,000 USD deposit, if you want it by Christmas. Then you have to pay the balance, which should be somewhere between seven and eight thousand.”

“For a HANDBAG?” he roared.

He swallowed hard, and then summoned up what the Russians call ”koo-razh:” a unique Slavic fusion of flair, stupidity and moxie. It’s what makes a Russian man light up a $500 Romeo y Julieta with a $100 bill, or, like, buy a football club…just because he can.

“Okay,” he said, “If that’s what you want for Christmas…”

“Or,” I said, moving in for the kill, “you could spend half of that and get all three of us comprehensive international health insurance/medical evacuation with the dangerous sports rider, bodily remains clause and optional US/Canada coverage.”

“No, no” he said. “No insurance. I’ll do the bag.”

“You are really prepared to buy an absurdly overpriced handbag before you would buy medical insurance for your family?”

“Insurance never works for me!” he exploded. “You blew any chances of it ever working with your stupid ‘pre-extinction close.’”

“Here is the thing,” I said. “The insurance policy is all ready to go, it just needs your Visa card to seal the deal.”

“Incredible,” he said. “How do you come up with these kind of things?”

He then launched into his favorite argument that life is short. I presented what I felt was a winning counter-argument that comprehensive international health insurance/medical evacuation can prolong life, whereas an Hermes Birkin bag certainly won’t.

“Get this through your head,” I screamed. “I want the insurance not the stupid bag!”

“You can have the bag not the stupid insurance,” he said loftily.

“That’s just great,” I said, throwing up my hands in disgust. “Because it will be the perfect accessory when I come to visit you in the ICU.”

“What color do you want?” he asked.

“Black.” I responded.

Jennifer Eremeeva is a longtime resident of Moscow; she blogs at and She is currently working on her first book.

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