Get Into It, OK?

Our national blast time is at hand. Inhale deeply. Play ball, America!

As a sign of what high heat can do to the sub-suburban mind, I just followed on Twitter a lad by the name of Mitchell Trubisky, a Chicago Bears quarterback of dubious merit, whose greatest future contribution to the great game of football might be that he never throw another pass.

Hey Mitch, please hand off the damn biscuit, OK? The city of Chicago will be forever grateful. They might even name a street after you.

In the NFL, each team’s fan base is a study in psychoses. Really, Freud and Jung can just put their theories on a hook, because none of it explains what football represents — the hubris, the idiocy, the celebration, the sense of pride.

Tomorrow, pro football starts again in America, a heat wave all its own. God, I love this stuff. I’ve been a little fussy lately — attacking whiny talk show hosts, also of dubious merit.

All that is behind me now.

“Can’t wait to see what you’re wrong about next,” one reader teased.

So let’s move on.

Because football season is all about moving on. We need football now more than ever, to counteract our psychic arrhythmias and other mental malfunctions.

Please don’t start with all your grumbling about how it’s just not the same without the fans, the bands, the blimp, the jet-noise ruckus that washes through the stadium when the home team bolts from the tunnel.

Just get into it, OK? Inhale deeply. Set up your fantasy team. Play ball!

Imagine the beer smells, the grass stains, the wuuuuump of a bass drum. I want to toss a cheerleader into the air – then catch her/him/it/them/thy/they/them/whatever. We live in such a marvelous world of change and surprise. Occasionally people are kind and understanding…not always.

My new buddy Gigi says that this is what she does for cardio these days:

 “I get on Twitter, take my heart rate from 55 to 120 bpm and maintain it for a full half an hour…then faint.”

I’ll catch you, Gigi! Splat.

The other day, at a party at Verge’s little beach shack, one guest was saying how he gives a thumbs-up gesture to rude drivers, as if saying “Nice job, you idiot. Keep up the good work.”  

Really messes with their heads, he says.

At the party, we’d been talking about how Smartacus passed his driver’s test on the second try.

“Rule No. 1?” I said before he took his road test.

“Yeah Dad?”

“Don’t answer your cell phone,” I said.

I love Smartacus, of course, loved him well before he loved me, loved him from the moment he landed, like a punt, in the doctor’s outstretched hands.

“Rule 2?” he asked.

“Don’t curse,” I said.

I knew he was ready to be an L.A. driver when, about a week ago, some idiot cut him off, and Smartacus muttered, “Nice turn signal, a-hole.”

Years of riding around with his mother definitely made an impression. One errand at a time, he’d absorbed the poetry of the SoCal road system.

So, after months of COVID closures and delays, he finally passed his driving test with flying colors, at the Pasadena DMV, a location many young drivers avoid. Pasadena has a reputation for being kind of tough, a humbling Augusta of road tests. Trust me, the kids know all the DMV spots, and which ones are easy, which ones aren’t. Turns out Pasadena was fine.

Still celebrating, we sat at a long table at Verge’s little beach place and breathed deep the late-summer sun; tasted like burned popcorn.

At one point, Smartacus wrapped his arms around me from behind – sort of a hug, sort of a takedown bid — and I immediately tried to extract myself from his pretzeled elbow clamp, but not before he managed to rub his anti-perspirant, sunscreen, and general doggy musk all in my hair and shoulders.

“Get off me,” I said. “You mutt!”

And we both laughed, him more than me.

Kids are gifts? Really? Who says? My late buddy Paul used to say, “Each child is a gift.” Then after a moment. “And you can’t return ’em.”

I love Smartacus, of course, loved him well before he loved me, loved him from the moment he landed, like a punt, in the doctor’s outstretched hands.

Think of all that has happened in his 17 years. Think of what my life might be right now without him.

By the way, 17 is the best age for men. They are still a little humble, a little sassy. They are deeply social, interested in companionship of all sorts, with buddies, with girls, with dogs, and in Smartacus’ case, with the grand old game of baseball.

They are one punch – or a sloppy kiss – from being a man. There are even hints of wistfulness and heart.

Remember what Sinatra used to sing…

When I was seventeen
It was a very good year
It was a very good year for small town girls
And soft summer nights
We’d hide from the lights
On the village green
When I was seventeen…

I envy Smartacus and his buddies, a tight circle of wise guys and jaunty malcontents, some of whom he has goofed with since the first grade.

“Deez guys,” as they say in the gangster shows.

I love their outlook, their stories from the backseat on our way out to the beach. Born just after 9/11, and growing up in fretful times, they have no right to be this upbeat.

Yet deez guys give me hope for the American future. I’ve had a few issues with the Millennials (their music sucks and most can’t write worth a lick), though I admire much about them.

The generation after them though…my son’s fellow Gen-Z’ers?  They are a little more carbonated, better humored, more humble, and though they stink a little extra in this heat, I think they will go on to lead beautiful lives.

I’ve loved my son from the moment he landed, like a punt, in the doctor’s outstretched hands. #ChrisErskineLA #football #NFL

It’s just that now they’re driving, you know…flying solo out there on the over-zizzed L.A. roads and freeways, and it eats at you a little that you can’t always be there to protect them.

I suppose that, one day to the next, all we can be sure of is that when our kids leave the house, they know that we love them.

And no matter the whims of the world or the unthinkable injustices, that our love will warm them always.

Thanks for stopping by. Folks ask how they can support these free, twice-weekly posts. Well, the short answer is: Buy my books. The most recent one, “Lavender in Your Lemonade,” is due out shortly. Details to come. Thanks in advance!

15 thoughts on “Get Into It, OK?

  1. I’m giving a drive by thumbs up to the Bear’s for acquiring a really expensive back up qb. “Nice job, you idiots! Keep up the good work.” Football is back however! Congratulations on the license & GO BEARS!

  2. Your late buddy Paul stated each child is a gift. I say grandchildren (and I have five) are the dessert of life.

  3. With sons now 53 & 55, it was a welcome look – and feel, and scent – back to their teen years…

  4. When my dad taught me to drive I kept my hands on 9 and 3 with thumbs on the horn ready to honk at any pedestrian who dared linger in the crosswalk. This was in Queens, under the el train at the age of 17 near Shea Stadium. This is also before NY football teams played in ‘Joisey’.

  5. Heartwarming. (Not the Mitch Trubisky part.) It’s fun to hang around and listen in on 17 year-olds’ conversations. This pandemic is giving us all time to spend in ways we never imagined. I’m guessing this year will fly by at warp speed so I’m trying to treasure my senior’s last year. Cheers. Pass the Kleenex.

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