My Dad looked best in a traditional blazer, a drink in his fist. Dapper. Quickly Irish. Like Kennedy.
So I’m back to writing — for better or for worse — and the blood pools in my legs as I sit at a desk and struggle to make my mark in serious literature and cable TV.
Very excited about my latest project, a screenplay. Here’ the simple pitch: A ginormous grizzly bear terrorizes Los Angeles, then runs for mayor.
So, essentially, it’s a love story, one we can all relate to. Love is frightening, as is LA. In Los Angeles, nothing is what it seems, which makes dating especially difficult. Eventually, the bear has his heart broken by a 6-foot-tall Ukrainian actress with commitment issues.
That’s the underlying message I’d like to get across: Be careful on Tinder.
If you’d like to option this screenplay, please let me know. The price is lunch at Langer’s Deli, or maybe brunch on the pier at Malibu Farm, the only place I’ve found that can make healthy food taste good. Plus, there’s that lovely little pier. Plus, there’s lovely little Malibu. It’s where we beautiful people tend to huddle up, complaining how damp it is while sucking down $22 glasses of wine.
Last time I was at Malibu Pier, I got so hammered I might’ve proposed to Hilary Swank, if it was Hilary Swank, I’m still not sure. She really packed a punch though, which made me think it was Hilary Swank, or some surfer who punches just like her.
When I propose, the victim’s first instinct is to proactively defend herself.
Love late October, the cooler temps, the cheesy decorations, the sweaters. I like that it gets blustery, and when you turn on the TV, snow is falling on some football field in Colorado. The cold warms me. Go figure.
I like the way the winds make the lights flicker – LA seems to share one extension cord. The other morning, a strong wind blew the bark right off the nearby eucalyptus trees. The whole place smelled like gum. Like fifth grade.
Perhaps my only lasting contribution to Halloween and society in general is a game called “The Mummy Wrap,” where you take a roll of TP and twirl it around your partner. Best mummy wins.
I invented it 25 years ago for the kids’ Halloween parties, and it was a major hit. I’m thinking of wrapping Smartacus in TP and mailing him to his sisters.
His sisters, like almost everyone, are a little on edge. I think it mainly has to do with the way the Chicago Bears performed against the Rams on Monday night, playing like a 1-5 team instead of the elite 5-1 organization they really are.
They were the slower, softer team that night, pushed around Los Angeles, which happens to a lot of us. It’s a pushy town, in that passive-aggressive West Coast way. The Chicagoans felt bullied, like we all do sometimes when we go into a Beverly Hills restaurant and the hostess can’t even look up from her scoresheet.
“Two,” I tell the insanely attractive hostess, holding up two fingers in case she’s not good at math.
“There’ll be a short wait,” the hostess always mumbles.
Anyway, I think I’ll wrap Smartacus in a roll of Charmin and send him to his sisters, then post a photo on “all my socials,” as you kids like to refer to social media, our other pandemic. Maybe that’ll cheer up his sisters.
Rapunzel called sobbing the other day, and her brother asked what was wrong.
“COVID!” she blurted. “Just COVID!”
She didn’t have it. Yet we all have it to some degree.
My sweet daughter was tired of the isolation, the fear, the cancellations, the latest of which is Halloween, the most fun holiday of all.
I have only fond memories of Halloween. Oct. 31 was also my father’s birthday, yet no one celebrated it because we were all too busy trick-or-treating.
There might’ve been a simple birthday cake for Dad, I’m not sure. He preferred German chocolate cake, the most-ethnic food my father ever ate, though there was the Chinese place out on the highway he liked once in a while.
Did Dad complain that his birthday was largely ignored? No. In fact, I think he was relieved. Like most dads back then, he never asked for much.
For his birthday, Dad just wanted a glass of box wine and something to grumble about on television. He was a grumbly drunk; my mom was a happy drunk. To this day, I’m not sure how to be a drunk.
They were great parents though, just bored with the isolation of the suburbs, which they fought with frequent parties, full of laughter. In the late ’60s, I remember my dad buying a Nehru jacket, because Johnny Carson was wearing a Nehru jacket. If it was OK with Carson, it was fine with my old man.
Like many fathers, Dad looked best in a traditional blazer, a drink in his fist. Dapper. Quickly Irish, like Kennedy. Dad liked people, and he liked laughter.
I think I am very much him. I was born when he was 30, and my oldest son was born when I was 30. Apparently, every 30 years, we produce some sort of scion.
I reminded Smartacus of this, and he’s still not sure what a scion is.
“Like a son, and a lion,” I explained. “A distinguished heir.”
“I’m a scion!” he shouted.
“No, you’re not,” I said, and began to wrap him in three rolls of double-ply toilet paper, then reached for a fourth.
That’s the kind of family we are, always celebrating, always arguing, always wrapping presents.
So, Dad, I’ve got a little something here on your special day. Like you, he’s grumpy and he’s funny, with a touch of Irish twinkle.
A grandson. A lion. A gift. Maybe even a grandscion.
Happy birthday, Pops.
Coming Saturday: a recipe for pumpkin spice pork chops with Brussels sprouts. Only unusual spice is pumpkin pie spice. Easy breezy. Stay tuned.