Badda-Bing! Pizza!

I have a lover’s quarrel with my boring old cul-de-sac. And this needy, lovesick dog.

It wasn’t so much a road trip as a Homeric rant.

“You should maybe get into graffiti,” Miller says.

“Why?”

“At least it’d be shorter,” he says.

Now we’re home, where the toilet paper is better and the pillows smell right again. Took a lot out of me, this trip – the driving, the drinking, the dating, the food. I am now hollow eyed, with a deeply furrowed brow.

I look like I could be running a TV network, or a bakery, keeping ungodly hours, drinking too much coffee, sometimes splashed with a little rye. I also resemble one of those doe-eyed, emaciated British models from the ‘60s.

Actually, what I probably look like is a writer. Does anyone aspire to that? I think not.

Writers look like people who skipped puberty and went right from age 12 to age 40, with no change in the shoulders or the chest.

Their schnitzels are also underdeveloped, or in my case strained, maybe shredded. After 5,300 miles, my body looks like it’s been left out in the rain two weeks.

Since we’ve gotten back, White Fang won’t let me out of her sight. Like many beauties, she has abandonment issues. She is with me when I write, when I do my sit-ups, when I burn dinner.

She even watches me shower. Not since college has anyone willingly watched me shower.

“Look, you’ve got to give me some space,” I tell her.

Since when does that speech ever work? Didn’t work in college, doesn’t work now.

Meanwhile, my son Smartacus and I are getting back into our routine, which is both reassuring and awful at the same time. We were in such a rut when we left for our three-week road trip, which proved freeing and grand. Now, all that lies ahead are more ruts.

Robert Frost used to claim that he had a “lover’s quarrel with the world.”

I just have a lover’s quarrel with my boring old cul-de-sac. And this needy, lovesick dog.

Managed to make an excellent pizza the other night, though, so good that Smartacus suggested we have pizza every week.

I used the Trader Joe’s pre-made pizza dough – the only reason to stand in line for that overrated store. I spread the dough on a thin, almost rusty pizza tray, smear around some pizza sauce and plop on whatever’s at hand, sometimes lots of meat, sometimes lots of veggies. A fistful of mozzarella, a fistful of cheddar. Badda-bing, badda-boom! Bake at 475 for 11 minutes.

Grandioso! Mangia!

Speaking of meat, one friend suggested that if my injured schnitzel — a major muscle that runs like a pork loin from the tongue to the toes – doesn’t heal tightly, my tush is going to sag. Then I’ll probably need one of those butt bras that my buddy Miller wears when he goes out.

In a butt bra, I’m a B-cup, if you’re thinking early birthday gift. Blue if they have it. Nothing too frilly.

Speaking of Smartacus, what I admire about him … well, not much really, though he does burp a little every time we hug. That’s a teen-ager for you – a hug, a burp, sometimes a double burp if it’s right after lunch.

Our long road trip gave me a little extra insight into the fine young man he is becoming: a guy with a generally rosy outlook on life, tempered by a grumbly appreciation of everyday frustrations.

He’s fun to be around. My son seems to worry over the right stuff, to notice life’s disconnects, its tiny injustices and its sweet, small pleasures. Like hitting a curve ball, you can’t really teach that. You’ve either got it or you don’t.

Most all my friends have this quality – the ability to grumble with charm — and now I’m seeing it in my kids. It’s like living in a “Seinfeld” episode – where personal quirks provide the plot.

And some days it’s as if everyone in my life is conning me a little. My lovely and patient older daughter, the one who just married, sends daily photos from back East, where she and Finn are “honeymooning” though every seafood shack they can find.

“Just ate 2 dozen crabs!!!” they write.

The plan was that they wouldn’t honeymoon till next summer, in hopes everything would open up. Now they send hourly updates on their East Coast trip: “The veggie quiche is UNREAL.”

I’ll bet.

And we hear that Chef Rosario, whoever he is, will be making them a special mushroom pizza for their “honeymoon.”

“I’m thinking St. Bart’s for next year’s,” my daughter texts, meaning next year’s side-hustle honeymoon.

Yet, why not an annual side-hustle honeymoon? Everyone should have one. If you’re married a while, it might be the only time you see each other naked.

Not since college has anyone willingly watched me shower. #ChrisErskineLA #huskies

Meanwhile, I’ll confess that it’s sorta good to be home. Anticipating a boozy lunch with writer pals like Flanagan and Mehlman, or any other misfits I can con into hanging with me. Verge maybe. Definitely Siskin. No question Bittner and Jeff.

Dear gawd, I love writers and kids and cranky pals…even my wolf/dog White Fang, if she’d quit watching me shower. As I write this, White Fang is sleeping on my toes, and I can feel her breakfast moving through her.

By the way, you would be proud: I have now made two straight meatless meals, and I’ve rarely felt better in my life – depressed a little, sure, and utterly joyless, in that way meatless meals sap any sense of happiness or delight.

Wait, is salmon a meat?

In that case, make that one straight meatless meal.

And, honestly, I’ve never felt better.

Thanks for coming by. Look for my posts every Wednesday and Saturday. Cheers

22 thoughts on “Badda-Bing! Pizza!

  1. That White Fang is one beautiful pup! Glad she’s looking out for you at all times. No one needs one of those Psycho shower scenes in their own home.

  2. Funny how you make me want to cry and laugh at the same time. Life is poignant and funny and silly and amazing, and tragic – and you reflect all this in your writing.Thank you for being you.

  3. Hey Chris, What a great trip with your son! I did one with my son and it was wonderful, but also draining. After three I weeks I was DONE, and glad to get home. Thinking about doing a road trip myself soon and wondering…were there any snags regarding the virus? Any states that had any severe restrictions? Did you find most restaurants and motels open for business? I actually heard that some states, when you enter, you have to quarantine for awhile. Not sure if that’s true or just some crazy rumor. Glad you’re back safe. Looking forward to a gin and tonic event when things open up.

    1. Hi Rick, I’m not really qualified to proclaim it safe or not. But we had no issues with motels or restaurants. Motels were half full, so we had no trouble getting a room. We were careful to use hand sanitizer a lot, especially after pumping gas. Some places were careful with lots of masks. Others were loose about it. But we wore our masks in public. My only concern was coming down with the crud while we were far from home. Fortunately, didn’t have to deal with that. No quarantines at any state lines or anything. I think that’s more of an airport issue. Cheers

  4. I amuse myself wondering who all these friends are. “Law offices of Flanagan, Mehlman and Miller, no case too small, how may we help you?”

  5. Wordsmith, funny but I have never imagined using your name and that of a doe-eyed model in the same sentence. Must just be my lack of imagination. You actually look more like a doe eyed socal football coach named Bruce Rollinson. He should be flattered. Carpe diem. Tom Goethals

  6. You lighten up my morning every Wednesday and Saturday. Bless you for that! Poor White Fang you are her one and only and she was miserable without you. Go easy on her. Looking forward to Wednesday. You boys have a great weekend.

  7. Hi Chris – Just one question about your trip: Were the rest stop/comfort stations/pit stops along the highways OPEN??? Always a concern on trips with long stretches of road.

  8. Thanks for sharing Chris. Always look forward to your writing. Have to disagree about Trader Joe’s. It’s the only way I can afford to drink wine and eat seafood.

  9. Traveling is fun but like the wise Dorothy once said, “there’s no place like home.” White Fang is a beauty. Does she do the Husky howl scream?

  10. Och aye, laddie! Brae ye were ta brace yon Sassenachs in search ‘o tha Holy Grail.

    Also, we miss your newsprint bespeckeled snarking and silliness in The Old Rag.

    Keep peeling away the humpery-dumbery and ‘splaining life as if it were so.

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