Angel Eyes

Good news, and good times, amid the gloom and the glop

White Fang has been partying a little too hard lately. At a dinner party the other night, around the pool, as the sun set and the candles caught a passing flame, she cornered a praying mantis.

She sniffed at it in curiosity, not hunger. The praying mantis had no idea, though. Trust me, you’ve never seen a mantis pray harder than this one, his knobby Pixar head twisting this way and that, down on his lanky, nearly invisible legs.

“Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come…”

You could almost read his tiny, one-cell thoughts: “I’ve been praying my entire life. Now this? I mean, come on.”

Like I always say, when you think you’ve prayed enough, pray a little more. What can it hurt?

White Fang is mesmerized by the mantis, an architectural marvel if there ever was one, a triumph of Euclidean engineering. Her snout is right up against its left paperclip.

Sniff. Sniff. Snort.

In the end, White Fang leaves the praying mantis alone. Good thing. In some cultures, a praying mantis is a sign that angels are watching over you.

Nice thought. My son Smartacus and I continue to wait for official verification.

And the swimmy dinner party moves ahead, mostly without incident. You invite a wolf to dinner, as our friends the Greens graciously had, and you sort of open the door to adventure.

Not only is White Fang a wolf, she’s a wolf raised by me. As was Smartacus. Such a challenge. For them, I mean.

To be honest, the young have this aura about them. I don’t care for it much; it’s an aura just the same, a jaunty, smirky, bring-it-on spirit. Smells like processed meat.

Yet, they are both frisky in ways that I am not. I may be a lot of things – a few of them pleasant – but frisky is not one of them. On a good day, I’m a little playful. On a bad day, I am Elmer Fudd.

So I stay close to this youthful little entourage in hopes that something positive will rub off, which it has not. But what are you going to do? I can’t throw in the towel just yet. My goal is to reach an age where it will be appropriate to throw in the towel, so that people won’t judge. I’m thinking another year or two might be sufficient.

Till then, we are dipping a toe into the Greens’ stylish new pool on this sultry summer evening. The August sun has etched our skin. You can read last week’s heat wave in our sunburned brow.

My daughter Rapunzel is also here. She is pale as fresh cod – you know princesses. She is chatty. She is Snow White and Rapunzel and all the Disney royalty you can think of. She really is a lot of fun, because every once in a while she comes up with something sly and snide that a princess would never say.

That’s entertainment.

The rest of us though, we kind of glow with summer. In L.A., summer begins in July and lasts until they put out the last of the wildfires, then stir them cold as you would a campfire.

That usually takes place around Thanksgiving, when the first rains arrive, at which time the Christmas holidays kick in and frantic shoppers start skidding sideways through red lights.

Wheeeeee! Bam! Merry Christmas!

It’s a magnificent place, Los Angeles, marked by tradition and a cool West Coast sense of detachment. Fits me well. I wouldn’t live anywhere else, though I will confess to recent daydreams about Chicago and New Orleans, two places united by only one thing – the joy of drink.

In New Orleans, you can legally walk the streets with a cocktail in hand, and in Chicago, it is unlawful to fish or golf without a beer. Both of these create a unique civic spirit I really admire.

Meanwhile, I will sip up what’s left of this summer, here by the Greens’ pool. It will be an odd fall to be sure, sans soccer and football and the quickening pace of a typical autumn.

I am looking for frisky ways to fill the time. Sailing lessons are on the list, and I might make my own moonshine, converting a bathroom into some sort of still, or maybe even the kitchen, for nothing any good is coming out of there lately.

The other night, I made glop. It’s a simple salmon dish that calls for cream and parmesan, only I didn’t have cream, so I subbed non-dairy creamer, and I didn’t have parmesan, so I subbed some dried-out cheddar cheese.

The young have this aura about them. I don’t care for it much #ChrisErskineLA #losangeles #wolves

Yee-gads, this glop was awful. I might have, in fact, created some sort of synthetic petroleum. I mean, White Fang wouldn’t even eat it.

“Jeeecks, Dad, where’d you find this recipe?” Smartacus asked.

“Back of the Bible,” I said. “They have recipes now.”



No. But wouldn’t it be nice if it did?

Stay tuned. Next on our summer menu: a big box of dirt.

Fortunately, tonight we have the Greens’ patio party, an elegant, splashy, convivial, ribby, alcohol-infused gathering that sums up all that is missing for us in this wounded and isolated summer.

Miss Debbie, Posh’s best pal, always throws a wonderful backyard bash. And Mister Chris, her common-law husband, nailed the ribs. Their daughters Chelsea and Hannah were there, as was Ethan, the new son-in-law. A baby is on the way.

I like writing that: A baby is on the way.

In this summer of American surrealism, amid the glop and a fretful future, there is something deeply meaningful about saying “a baby is on the way.”

Acknowledging that life and resurrection still exist.

While in the corner, White Fang has cornered a lime-green insect stooped in prayer.

Maybe angels are watching.

Finally, right?

Thanks for stopping by. Have a great weekend. Feels like we’re getting closer to a hike or a gin & tonic toast. Keep the faith. Cheers

23 thoughts on “Angel Eyes

  1. “Maybe angels are watching”….what a hopeful, magical thought during these crazy upside down days we are living in. Thank you for the inspiration (always).

  2. Some weeks ago, you mentioned a very favorite book, “Shoeless Joe”. The library listed two books–one by W.P. Kinsella and the other “Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball” by Harvey Frommer. Did you mean one of these books? Ready to read more “Dadtitude” now.

      1. Thanks. Looking forward to reading both “Daditude” and “Shoeless Joe”

  3. Just as I used to love opening my LA Times Saturday section to read your column, I now perk up when I see a new post from you in my inbox. With so much to fret about & fear during this miserable year, your clever ruminations are always a welcome dose of pure pleasure. Thanks so much, Chris, for helping to keep me sane!

  4. Another great column. In the midst of this perfectly awful 2020, which I hereby nominate for worst year ever, you say a gin and tonic might be on the horizon. So at least we still have hope. Thanks, Chris.

  5. In this summer of American surrealism, amid the glop and a fretful future, there is something deeply meaningful about saying “a baby is on the way.”

    Acknowledging that life and resurrection still exist..
    Sending this to my nephew who has “ a baby on the way” very nice.
    Ps, Ironic the mentions of Kinsella today, every time I see your .com that name comes to mind, almost a skinela close.

  6. Chris, I was born and raised in L.A. , Mar Vista and Silverlake, and used to feel the same way, until we visited Santa Barbara. Never looked back. Come visit, you may feel the same way…

  7. Just what I needed to lift me out of my post drop-off funk – your column always makes me smile…and laugh. So heartfelt, poignant, true and funny. Enjoyed the Chicago shoutout. And yes Chris, angels are most certainly watching.

  8. Such a wonderful column. We have left New Orleans for a motel in Bishop on our way to visit Texas friends in Lake Tahoe. My car is filled with Malbecs of all kinds and theirs with liquor from Costco in Reno. I think we’ll have a Miss Debbie Pool party. Want pix?

  9. there are a lot of comments so not sure if you get to read them all but hope you catch this piece of ADVICE…..have Smartacus check out Tulane University in New Orleans…. my son went there and it gave me the best excuse to visit New Orleans several times a year. He graduated last year and I weep when think of how much I miss the fried oysters and the coldest and best martinis I ever had.

  10. Chris:
    You know the lense through which I view LA via the three poems I’ve sent you over the years. There is certainly no place like it in the world, and I always enjoy the sheen you place over the whole affair, along with all the lantern rubbing and polishing you do–your words always have such a lovely shine, no matter how much haze floods the basin. Summer drinks improve the view and it’s clarity, and I have some brief prosody that refers and that I think you would enjoy, if I only had a snail mail address for you. Sometimes, an internet msg just won’t cut the LA haze.

  11. It’s actually Sept 7th. I came late to this Autumn party. Its exactly 12:22 a m. I save your writing to read, like a kinda sorta bedtime story. It’s a written elixir and no, I don’t fall asleep, but it’s a nice way to end my day, or in this case, begin a new one.

  12. As always, your columns hit the mark! Covering every topic, and then some, we can all relate to one or more of your stories! As for a new baby, my husband and I are down in San Diego county after the arrival of our second grandson! Of course when this darling was first considered, no one would have ever thought their 2020 baby would be born during a pandemic, global warming disaster! But with this little one comes hope, and we are tightly embracing all the wonderful, loving feelings we can. After all, as Scarlett O’Hara would say, “tomorrow is another day!”


Leave a Reply to Karin ReesCancel reply