Blah Humbug!

Got the January blahs? You know, there’s a test for that now.

So I suppose I’m too forgiving of the people who make me laugh, my buds, my kids, even Dog Park Gary, who while throwing the ball for his dog the other morning, lost his grip and nearly nailed me in the side of the noggin.

‘Gonna be one of those days, huh?” I said.

“Sorry,” he said.

Wait, come to think of it, Dog Park Gary never apologized. He blamed the early morning chill, the slobber on the ball, and a bad grip.

In any case, you had to laugh. Like I said, I’m too forgiving of the screwups who entertain me.

Hope our new president can make us laugh a little. I’m hoping my lawyer, Billable Bob, will be the next Attorney General, or the Attorney General after the next Attorney General.

If I know anything from 40 years in journalism, it’s that these White House appointees last about nine months before, citing stress and the demands of family life, leave for another stressful high-paying job that keeps them from seeing their families.

I’m also expecting Judge Judy to be appointed to the Supreme Court. About time they knock out that Clarence Thomas, who’s been phoning it in for 30 years – is anyone sure he’s even alive?

Putting Judge Judy on the Supreme Court should be Biden’s No. 1 priority. I like her nasty, no-nonsense temperament. She also makes me laugh.

If I were prez, I’d appoint my buddy Miller as Social Chairman, the new Cabinet position I’d create.

Miller is so woke, so inclusive. His invites to our tailgate parties always read: “8 to 80…blind, injured or crazy…if you can’t walk, we’ll carry you.”

That’s Miller. Can you imagine his State Dinners?

I’d make White Fang our next Secretary of Defense. She’s stoic, as those idiots usually are. She looks good in a uniform. White Fang is just the sort of Cabinet official this country needs right now (but watch your toes, or she’ll nibble on them in meetings).

I was chatting with my buddy Federico the other day, about the late Tommy Lasorda, the legendary Dodger manager who was part Santa Claus, part misbehaving uncle.

“He reminds me of a time before now,” Federico noted.

I liked that – “a time before now.”

I’m so nostalgic lately, for a time before now. I’m also losing track of what day it is, and soon I won’t know the month or the year. Tuesday blurs into Wednesday, and now out West here, the rains have forsaken us, so every day looks exactly the same as the previous day. The seasons are the same. Life is the same.

Gotta say, it’s not drama or crises I fear, so much as a sameness to every single morning.

I suspect I might have a case of the January blahs. There’s a test for that, you know. The drive-thru line snakes around Dodger Stadium, up into Angelino Heights. It’s a simple test. The medical tech sticks a finger in your ear:

“Feel anything?”

“No.”

“Yeah, you’ve got it.”

As of yet, there is no vaccine for the January blahs…you just roll with it, treating sameness as you do change, like you would turmoil, like you do the end of college football season, which is probably America’s  biggest loss every January.

Seriously, did you ever think you’d see a football season without tailgates, without sports bars?

In response, Smartacus and I have created our own sports bar.

The other night I saw the most beautiful sight known to man – a beer in the back of the fridge I didn’t know was there. A little rusted on the outside. Might’ve come over on the Mayflower.

But it was a beer, my beer, and the last college game of the year was on. I’d already had one beer, and thought I was out, till I spotted this lonely can in the back of the fridge. It was like a QB spotting a rangy tight end in the back of the end zone.

See how I blended my metaphor with the topic at hand? Obviously, you are in the presence of an all-American humorist.

And a putz. And a dad. And a guy who puts ketchup on fish.

Hey — as I told Posh on our 20th wedding anniversary — “You knew I was a little nuts going in. Now you complain?”

Or, as I also used to tell her: “Belle parole non pascon i gatti” (Fine words don’t feed cats).

That used to mystify her, and make her walk away shaking her head. I suspect I seemed a strange and unknowable creature right to the very end.

Anyway, I miss the rains of winter. Growing up in Chicago, I was the only person who actually liked winter, and then I left, establishing a pattern of nonsensical life choices that hound me to this day.

To me, snow always provided a seasonal cleansing and a welcome change, just as the January rains usually do in LA.  Without them, I haven’t been inspired to make a stew yet, or even a gumbo (Cajun penicillin).

So many things defy rational explanation. Kale, for instance. Or banjo music. Or my odd crush on Fran Lebowitz.

I’d include gumbo in that. “Gumbo ya-ya” is part soup, part communion. In one steamy pot, it combines all the sacred scents — leather, coffee, pine needles, voodoo, vermouth, bay leaf, shrimp – that stir the soul and open the imagination.

I highly recommend gumbo ya-ya for the January blahs, or just about any medical condition you could face.

Serve with a buttery brick of crusty bread … a squeeze on the arm …a nuzzle of the neck…a joke if you have one handy.

A bear walks into a bar. Bartender asks, “So what’ll it be?” The bear says, “I’d love a gin……………..and tonic, please.”

Bartender says: “Coming right up. But why the long pause?”

The bear holds up his fingers and says, “Oh these? I’ve had these forever.”

When I do make gumbo, I’ll share it, for it is more than a dish. It triggers fellowship, lust, teamwork, swagger, song. If the Saints are in the Super Bowl, gumbo should be the dish we all share.

Let’s make a date to cook together.

When it rains, I plan to teach Smartacus how to make a wicked pot of gumbo. One role of a father is to teach a kid a series of tiny “life arts,” as my own father used to call them: How to throw a curve ball; How to sear a steak; How to curse at other drivers.

All important “life arts.”

So, I will teach gumbo to Smartacus, as you would an old folk song: first this, then this, then this….

How many LA dudes can make a good gumbo? How many LA dudes can even change a flat tire?

I guess that’s where I come in: Dad of all trades. Master of none.

You know, Thursday would’ve been his late brother’s 35th birthday. Though he lived only 32 years, I hope that my son Christopher had enough “life arts” that in Heaven, some younger kid might go up to him and say: “Hey, dude. Can you maybe teach me to throw a spiral? Can you maybe teach me to fillet a fish?”

Yeah, kid. He sure can.

Stay safe. Stay sane. Take a whirl around the Rose Bowl, take a walk in the park. Maybe we’ll Zoom my secret gumbo recipe in a week or two, rain or shine. Details on the way. In the meantime, if you need a newsletter, a book or a lovely set of gin glasses, please check out my online Turkish market: chriserskinela.com/

14 thoughts on “Blah Humbug!

  1. Another completely mixed bag of thoughts and metaphors that made me smile and tear up all in one sitting. Your writing and I think your life are a beautiful gumbo. Thanks once again for sharing your life arts with us.

  2. Your bear pause joke reminded me of the funniest joke of all time. I’m not kidding; I’m giggling as I type this.

    A grasshopper walks into a bar. The bartender says “Hey, we have a drink named after you!”

    And the grasshopper says, “You have a drink named Steve?!”

  3. Why the slam against Justice Thomas?
    Seems arbitrary, mean spirited and beneath your good soul.
    I too, tire of same “beautiful” clear skies and love the respite of winter raiin.
    January blahs are understood. ..
    BUT…

  4. Mouth watering for future gumbo column. In anticipation…how do you make your roux? Do you take it to “dark brown,” “mahogany?”, etc. I guess we’ll get the details later.

  5. Everything I’ve come to love in your writing – the wonderful discovery of the beer in the back of the fridge compared to a quarterback sighting a lone receiver, and then the mention of Christopher’s birthday slipped in as gently as a goodnight kiss on the forehead. You make me laugh and break my heart. And thank God for the shout out to Fran Lebowitz. I was afraid we’d have another fight like we did over the Bee Gees.

  6. Piece of rope walks into a bar… bartender says “we don’t serve rope in here. Rope walks back out a twist his body into a pretzel. Walks back in again, bartender says “Didn’t I tell you we don’t serve pieces of rope in here?” Rope answers “yes.” “And aren’t you a piece of rope?” the bartender indignantly asks, Rope looks at him and says “I’m a frayed knot.”
    That’s all I got for you tonight, let the good times roll…

  7. White Fang would excel at her secretary of defense duties. Look at that hypnotic icy, cool gaze, the way she guards her red rope toy with causal defiance, her fierce protection of family…. The only concern is her opinions and decisions might be too easily swayed by a raw bone or hunk of meat.

  8. You take us down the “primrose path” laughing, thinking, then , the catch in the throat and tears when you mentioned your son’s birthday. That he left too soon three years ago. Chris, you are a sorcerer with words, brewing a cauldron of emotions! Though the past few years are dark, you have a precious new life to let in the light! P.S. I was going to share the “frayed knot” joke, but Jazz beat me to it! I can only add, punch line to be delivered with “jazz hands!”

  9. speaking of january blahs ~ ~ haven’t you heard ~ we no longer have days of the week ~ since now everyday is “blursday” ~ ~ !

  10. January days do seem to run on like bad sentences. And lately, more than not, it feels like we’re in a time warp. “It’s just a jump to the left. And then a step to the right. Put your hands on your hips.” Knowing a good joke is a life art, too. Humor is the world’s best diffuser. I’ll be waiting for gumbo (sounds like the title of a movie.) Thinking of you and Smartacus on Thursday.

  11. We just “discovered” a Fran Liebovitz doc on Netflix. I bet you want me to remember the title. It’s all about New York and it’s delicious!

  12. Looking forward to the gumbo recipe.
    Loved reading the bad/good jokes. Will share with a friend who needs cheering up. How can I convey that without ending with a preposition . . Or is cheering up an expression on its own.?
    Then you throw in , “I hope that my son Christopher had enough “life arts” that in Heaven, some younger kid might go up to him and say: “Hey, dude. Can you maybe teach me to throw a spiral? Can you maybe teach me to fillet a fish?”
    Yeah, kid. He sure can. – – – and leave me in a totally different frame of mind. I am glad, though, that you shared the sweet memory.

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