The wedding is over, but not the afterglow that will light our summer
After the wedding, we’re left with the sense of what now? How will we ever top that?
I thought maybe I’d bake a pie – blueberry – but as I researched the process, discovered it required a secret ingredient known as corn starch, which we did not have, and blueberries, which I’d also have to go out to buy.
Thing is, I’ve seen so many troubling videos recently of women screaming in grocery stores; I concluded that grocery stores have become our national flashpoints, our asylums, our Speaker’s Corner.
So I decided not to bake a pie, much as I crave pie, almost to the point of hyperventilation.
Instead, I thought maybe we’d go to the beach. There were challenges there too – they closed them. Bars were locked up again as well, the Puritans winning yet another round. First they closed the libraries, then they closed up the saloons again. Now where do I go for enlightened thought?
“How about our den?” my son suggested with a smirk.
“Thanks, Smartacus,” I said.
But Smartacus and I still haven’t figured out “what now?” A long summer awaits, broken up only by a potential road trip that is suddenly in jeopardy. I mean, who wants to see Mt. Rushmore if the presidents are all wearing face masks?
Back in Chicago, my sister seems excited by our possible visit, as does my buddy Doug, who has this magnificent house on the Fox River, a real showplace, with a pool and boats and a beer fridge in the five-car garage. Whenever “Moon River” plays, I think of that house.
Everything back there seems bigger and more glamorous – the homes, the people. Yet many of our California friends ask what we’ll do back there, as if the heartland is some version of “Hee Haw.”
Generally, I just pepper them with their own pre-conceived notions.
I tell them how we spend summer afternoons trying to identify the bug bites on our legs. Then we take a banjo lesson from a woman named Elvis. In the evenings, we head down to the market to thump the watermelons. Thump-thump-thump. “Sounds ripe to me, Lulu. Sound ripe to you?”
Really, these Midwestern trips are glorious. Every year or two, I rediscover tiny truths about my hometown, in that Hallmark way people fall for simpler, more-innocent locations from their pasts.
As you know, I’m sort of sentimental by nature, so going back permanently would seem tempting, yet kind of redundant. You can’t live a flashback.
Neither can you overthink these things. I grew up in the ‘60s, and the advice back then was: “If it feels good, do it.” That meant cold beer and lots of slurpy, unrestrained kissing. Which led to kids. Pregnancy is the ultimate tradeoff for feeling good, the loan that lasts forever.
I almost quit drinking when we started having kids. First, Posh was always taking advantage of me (she could be kinda rough). Second, I got tired of waking up with a headache all the time. A hangover is bad enough without a screaming infant in the bed next to you.
Posh was one of those mothers who wouldn’t put a kid down till he or she was, like, 12.
Honestly, having kids probably saved my bacon, which is ironic, since having kids will slowly drive you broke and insane.
Such is life.
Now suddenly I have this new son-in-law, only a week or two minted. I’ve met better men, but not in a long time, and none who wanted to commit to our wacky little tribe.
The daughters are “catches,” both of them — even Rapunzel, the one with too much hair. But bringing a boyfriend home has always been a real deal breaker.
We’re like the Addams Family with more baggage — specialists in grief and denial. We dabble in the occult. We buy our gin at the Dollar Store. We take home old TVs we find along the curb.
This summer, termites are really enjoying the back porch, and there’s something breeding in the attic (I keep telling the boy “it’s probably just bunny rabbits”).
The stoic patriarch of this whole clan – me — cries at the end of football games and Roadrunner cartoons.
I mean, who marries into something like this? Lunatics? Escapees? Australians?
Hey Smartucus, how do you follow a wedding like that? #ChrisErskineLA #Daditude #WeddingsTweet
Finn appears to be none of those, though he enjoys a good toot now and then, which is a very Australian trait. It’s also a reliable coping mechanism and a hellava lot of fun. Just ask Bittner or Jeff, or any of those other social vagabonds I pal around with. Even Verge. Even my attorney Billable Bob.
So, cheers to Finn. Welcome to the jungle, baby.
Meanwhile, readers have been asking: What will your son-in-law’s nickname be? I think Finn sounds just fine. Worked for Huckleberry, the most-famous of the Finns and an enduring symbol of American joie de vivre.
By the way, if they have a son, I plan to call him Huck. I will teach him all the summer skills: rigging a fish hook, spitting a watermelon seed, pinching a bee stinger from your foot with a couple of your mother’s credit cards.
People wonder how we’ll ever top my daughter’s beautiful wedding? Well, some freckled grandchildren certainly might.
More kids. More tiny truths.
Looking for a summer read? Please consider “Daditude,” a collection of my favorite columns from my 25 years as a columnist for the Los Angeles Times. Thank you!