Home Goods

I wanted Monet’s dining room. But something better came along

Harold Pinter once described the subject of his plays as “the weasel under the cocktail cabinet.” With me, it’s more the slouch on the couch.

I love my couch time. Couch-sitting generates a certain amount of derision, but what is better: Waiting for a table at a jammed bistro? Circling for parking at the mall?

Give me my couch any old time – my spaceship to the moon.

To the underclass, the couch is our country club.

I don’t like actual country clubs so much, assuming I ever found one that would accept me. My sidekick Miller belongs to a nice one, and I enjoy the dinners there. Country club food is easy on the eyes.

But there you sit on the patio, overlooking the 18th hole, and you realize there’s a guy wearing an ascot at the next table — or is that a neck brace, or a python, or some sort of Egyptian throat clamp?

And suddenly you can’t really enjoy your bisque, or the view. You become fixated on the ascot.

“Excuse me, sir. I just gotta know, dude: Why is your neck like that?” I’d ask after my second glass of gin.

Which is how I get kicked out of a lot of country clubs. In formal social settings, my inclination is always to rebel.

I blame the seminal influence of the movie “Caddyshack,” a nuanced examination of the uppercrust. As a member of the lowercrust – or non-crust — I saw it as an important documentary on the various crusts.

Anyway, back to me being a slouch on the couch.

In our last episode, I was explaining how my late wife and I had really wanted two children, yet settled on four.

Meanwhile, the wolf was stealing items from the Halloween display down the block, and the buttery yellow I’d picked to paint the walls was turning out to be more of a peach.

“Monet’s dining room at Giverney was one of my favorite uses of yellow,” noted reader Elisa Cohen.

Mine too, Elisa. But this is plain old peach, though in the morning light, the paint looks to be a shade of off-brand margarine. Meh. Goes good with toast.

The other day I thought to myself, “Maybe I’ll grow some pot, maybe that’ll help my anxiety.”

Helping me decorate was my lovely and patient older daughter, who offered to pitch in now that Posh is gone and can’t drive me batty with various runs across LA to look at colors and fabrics.

Posh would always know just what she wanted, yet she insisted I weigh in as some sort of Mensa home décor test. If I liked something, or lied about liking something, she crossed it off her list.

“Obviously, that sucks,” she’d mutter to herself.

I found the whole process invigorating.

When we were first dating, I went shoe shopping with Posh – have I told you this? I really liked her feet back then, they were like warm cookies, soft and expressive and kind of nice to nibble on, to be honest.

I was 21, and young for my age. I saw in the shoe shopping a way to spend quality time with this vivacious young woman, who was clearly out of my league and who took tiny steps in very high heels – clickety-click-click – across the marbled malls of South Florida, Boca to Coral Gables.

I was pretty much her rescue pet, and followed her everywhere, buying her stuff: jewelry, cars, Orange Juliuses.

Four weeks later, we finally found a pair of shoes she liked, which as it happened, was the very first pair of shoes we’d looked at a month earlier. I just shrugged and muttered: “How funny, huh?”

Buying a couch with Posh was no different, and now I’m buying a couch with her first-born daughter, and it’s like there’s a continuum. I am liking it as a reminder of her mother. Of the Posh brand, so to speak.

It’s a little cooler on the weekends now, and I’d actually prefer to be doing some yardwork, the backyard needs some TLC, and once I finish the painting, I will move on to landscape lighting and flower beds.

One thing about doing yardwork in LA is that there are no worms. It’s bizarre how little life there is to the soil. As everyone know, worms are an essential building block of good dirt. Our soil? Shredded FedEx packaging.

One of Charles Darwin’s most-intriguing claims is that all the soil we see has at one time passed through the intestines of earthworms. Not ours. Ours has passed through a FedEx semi-trailer based out of Hemet.

This is frustrating, because the other day I thought to myself, “Maybe I’ll grow some pot, maybe that’ll help my anxiety,” but I don’t really like weed, and I don’t have all that much anxiety. What I have is lousy credit and a tired back.

I suppose weed would help with that too.

What I really want – actually crave — are home-grown tomatoes. And maybe some lavender, which you can smash all over your shoulders and arms in lieu of a shower when you’re in a rush to meet friends at the country club.

You can even put it in your lemonade, which is the title of my new book: “Lavender in Your Lemonade.”

Strange title. Strange book. Strange man.

Be nice if you’d buy my new book, though not a deal-breaker if you don’t. I’d never hold that against you. To each his own.

But where else are you going to read about women’s shoes, yummy feet and earthworms, all in one place?

Where else are you going to experience my little griefs over the girl with the Marlo Thomas eyes, and our son Christopher, the strapping lad we also lost way too soon.

The other night, when the Lakers won the championship, I was thinking of the pure joy my older son would be having, for he loved his Lakers.

Like me, he was a slouch on the couch, and loved nothing more than breathing in, through the television, a Laker playoff game. Like me, he wasn’t much for crowds, but he recognized a seminal moment when he saw one.

Sports offers such brotherhood. I’m skeptical of the excess, the ego, the lack of grace. But I always appreciate its healing qualities and the good things it does for our hearts.

And the other night, as his little brother Smartacus screamed in happiness and disbelief at the TV, I could hear Christopher all over again. It brought me such comfort.

Another beautiful continuum.

I’ll be discussing my Druid ancestry, good gins and bad habits, in a Zoom talk today (Oct. 14) at 5 p.m. Please join me for this virtual Happy Hour in support of Pages book store in Manhattan Beach. Info here.

22 thoughts on “Home Goods

  1. Out. Of. The. Park! Have a wonderful day. You’ve started mine off with some out- loud laughs and what reader doesn’t enjoy that? : ) Liz

  2. I needed this one today. The wonderful blend of the laugh out loud (yes, we are of the generation that feels compelled to write it out) line and the one that makes my heart break a little. Thanks.

  3. Beautiful! Love the slouch couch and your current joy with Smartacus and the poignant and joyful memories you have of similar Lakers triumphs with Christopher. Thanks for sharing your amazing family with us, as always.

  4. Remember Vromans too; it’s teetering. The bench we sat on chatting at Mt Wilson a couple of years ago escaped the Bobcat blaze by about 20 feet. All is well on the mtn now. Sam

    1. Hi Sam, I was thinking of you and those old wooden buildings during that scary close call. I remember how dry it was when I was up there with you a year or so ago. Yes, on Vroman’s. I will keep it in mind, though I think thousands answered the book store’s recent SOS. Lots of SOSes going on these days. Stay well.

  5. I dated a guy in my 20s that wore ascots – didn’t know what was going on. His closet door was open one day and I saw he had numerous formal suits and sashes! Turned out he was the son of a Nicaraguan honcho. I still laugh about ascots.

  6. Posh & Christopher surface via Smartacus & your First Born when you least (sometimes) expect it! What gifts! Maybe I should join in your virtual happy hour this afternoon, bring my own wine and buy a book. Ya think?

  7. Had to phone my mom this morning about this one! We share our thoughts about your articles – laughing and crying together! We love you and your family 🙂
    We will “see” you tonight at 5:00!
    Our martini glasses are chilling……
    We can’t wait!

  8. Once again laughter then tears. I know I sent you this one before, and it’s a little pontifical being Alfred Lord Tennyson and all, but still evocative “The old order passeth yielding place to new, and god fulfills himself in many ways, lest one good custom should corrupt the earth.” (Arthur’s Farewell Address) … I’d add “May the circle be unbroken” … here’s to Continuum

  9. You are a delight! Always combining humor and heart. Thank you, Chris, for making my day! I’m buying your book from Vromans in support of independent bookstores!

  10. Pasadena’s got earthworms!
    My soil is a mix of gumbo clay and alluvial River rock washed down over centuries from the San Gabriel Mountains. Earthworms live on S. Madison Ave. I’ve got a half century of digging, planting, pruning, weeding, trimming my yard.
    Trust me!

  11. Heartwarming. Warm, touching and funny. Nice to see the positive effect these continuums can have. Thanks for sharing with us.

  12. Hello Chris! It’s Plumera Mark from Laguna Beach. (You may remember me bringing you big bags of Plumera flowers for Posh at book store in San Clemente and having a few “snorts” at bar afterwards)
    Throw a few Pots plants in your backyard! Whoever in our lifetime thought it would be legal!! They’re a beautiful shrub which I grow among the plumera trees and actually adds to the landscape esthetics. I’ll give most of the crop away at the end to friends in need to make the amazing oil for their medicinal needs. Anxiety does count!! Mark Judy. Laguna Beach. Come visit some time.

  13. After about 20 straight days of Laker and Dodger playoffs (and Fargo!) I am also in desperate need of a new couch! Dodgers need 2 (+4)more wins!

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