Welcome to 2020. This is the start of the 20th year of my column, and as a celebration of its phenomenal success and astonishing longevity, and my indelible respect for my readers, I want to do a short sampling of the type of columns you hate the most.

The most frequent complaints I get are about my staple subjects: calls to customer service reps, my gender-related interviews with feminist scholar Gina Barreca, and my retelling of corny old jokes as poems I call “pokes.” To be fair, these are also the columns that get the most positive responses, but they also garner a lot of criticism. It’s like Trump’s approval rating: Yep, millions of Americans love him. But ...

So, here ya go.

Gene: Hi, Gina. I’m calling you up to have a funny dialogue that demonstrates our humor and mutual respect for each other.

Gina: It’s just after dawn.

Gene: It is? Oh, right. Sorry. My column is 20 years old. I thought we would celebrate.

Gina: You wake me up and pull the string in my neck and I am supposed to yammer for your column?

Gene: I was hoping that, as always, you would be acerbic but gracious in your assessment of gender differences.

Gina: Fine. Men are adorable, like Labrador puppies. You are exuberant but trainable. The only problem is that you create laws and religions and institutions that repress women and make our lives a living hell, and you, personally, can be an idiot. But I like the Labrador part. Anyway, congratulations on your humongous achievement. Can I go back to sleep?

So far, so good!

Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce

Me: I have a complaint about your product. And my complaint is not that to me it smells like rotting squid marinating in shoe polish. I have many friends who like this product and happily slather it on their food, and who am I to criticize their perverse palates? My problem is more subtle.

Yvette: Okay. I will try to help.

Me: Your product advertises itself as one of the world’s major sources of “umami,” which is a type of meaty taste.

Yvette: Yes.

Me: My problem is that “umami” sounds like “your mommy,” which seems like a childish taunt.

Yvette: Because it sounds disrespectful to mothers, and it’s not good to encourage kids to say it?

Me: Exactly! I think you should just advertise that it is shoe-polishy and squidlike.

Yvette: I will forward that information to our production team.

Me: Really????

Yvette: Sure.

Me: Well, I’ll be damned.

Poke No. 1

Ticktock, ticktock, ticktock, ticktock.

Yesterday, I ate a clock!

I don’t know what you’re presuming,

But it was VERY time consuming.

Poke No. 2

An Uber driver ran a light

The passenger got quite a fright.

The driver said, “Hey, It’s okay,

My brother does that every day.”

Then he ran past yet another,

Citing, once again, his brother.

Then, a green light: For heaven’s sake,

The driver now slammed on the brake!

Why’d you do that, cried the passenger!

(Outraged, like the mom, Kim Basinger)

“I had to, or we might both die —

My brother might be coming by!”

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