It’s was 18 years ago today that Posh gifted me a second baseman: 7 pounds, 11 ounces, 2-3 loose screws.
My son Smartacus, the little critter I’ve taken under my wing over the past two decades, turns 18 today. A man, yet not quite. Sort of like me, I suppose.
Each day, he walks into the room a little bigger, a little bolder, while I fade in daily, incremental ways. He is a bonfire, I am the spark who started him.
Smartacus pointed out the other evening that I grunt when I eat something really good, just as I grunt when I bend to tie my shoes.
I look best in a dark room. He looks good even in the harsh light of noon.
Some days, I want to hang him like a Christmas ornament, to admire him and keep him away from the fridge. He eats everything — three breakfasts, four lunches, then pre-dinners at 3 and 4 p.m.
Each night, ice cream as we watch TV.
Some days I want to kill him.
If I knock on his bedroom door, then enter, he gets bent out of shape, yet will drop in on me any old time he feels like it, in the middle of a phone call, or even this sentence – “Hey Dad, whatcha doin’?” — and plop on the floor like a needy teen-age giraffe.
“Wanna throw the football?” he asks.
“I’m workin’,” I mumble.
“Just for a few minutes?”
He can dent the clouds with his throws, while I’m lucky to toss a decent spiral anymore. I seriously injured my schnitzel this summer. Never quite repaired itself. Be lucky to load the tree this weekend.
When I was young and strong, we had the best holidays. For Easter, I’d dress like Jesus and the kids would dress like little Roman soldiers and chase me around the yard with sticks.
For Christmas, we’d really go all out. Mother Christmas (Posh) would buy them entire shoe lines….department stores…once a mall.
I swear she thought she married a Vanderbilt (I mighta hinted at that when we were first dating. Her bad. I mean, who takes me seriously?).
Point is, there were never Christmas budgets, which caused a certain amount of tension come January.
But December? Sublime.
And 18 years ago today, she gave me the greatest Christmas present of all. On a chill December morning, like Mother Mary herself, she gifted me with a second baseman, 7 pounds, 11 ounces, 2-3 loose screws – my second chance at fatherhood.
He’s a little goofy (see “loose screws” above). I spotted that early, and once tried to return him to the hospital, claiming he fell under most holiday return policies.
Sorry, they said.
“What about my wife?” I asked.
I vividly remember driving them both home two days after Smartacus was born; Him in the car seat, her in the seat next to him, admiring him like jewelry.
“Slower!” she ordered.
“We’re stopped at a light,” I answered.
“I don’t care,” she said.
For the next 16 years, she would always be next to him, teaching, scolding, mothering.
When she was happy, she fondly called him “Boo.” When she was mad, she called him: “DAMN IT, ARE YOU EVEN LISTENING TO ME…? a long nickname, but it sorta stuck.
So, please understand this, pal. At 18, you still have a lot of folks looking after you.
Me, for one. As guardian angels go, I’m a little past prime, and there’s the schnitzel thing I might have mentioned. But I’m with you no matter what.
Your sisters as well, the surrogate moms that fate appointed, whose love has no actual measure.
And all of your coaches, your teachers, your uncles, your aunts, your wise-guy pals, plus a giant alpha wolf who would chew through a fence just to kiss the ice cream off your face.
And Mom. Always Mom. Still with you no matter what.
Happy birthday, Boo.
Please don’t forget the Gin-gle Bell holiday bash Dec. 9. Due to demand, a second show has been added for Dec. 10. If you RSVP’d, details will come to you by Tuesday evening. For info, email me letters@chriserskineLA.com. For some amazing stocking stuffers, go to https://chriserskinela.com/gift-shop/. Gratefully, Chris