Super Bowl Prayers

I prefer coaches who seem a little tilted  — perfection being, at best, a mirage.

I start most mornings with a smooch from the wolf-dog, who thinks we’re married. I’d tell her otherwise, but I don’t like conflict. Besides, I’ve always had a pretty broad definition for what constitutes romance. I suppose I’m the worst kind of person — a wise guy with a needy heart.

At my age, every kiss is a tiny miracle.

So, OK White Fang, from here on out we’re married…slurp, slurp. I love you more.

I love you, as per the fine poem by Kim Addonizio, “like I’m a strange backyard and you’re running from the cops, looking for a place to stash your gun.”

That’s a lot of love. With a hint of danger. I think that’s the kind of love I like the most.

I find love and danger every morning during my daily jog, as drivers pause a few seconds to let me cross an intersection, or if they’ve blocked the crosswalk, often  back up to let me pass.

I know … unbelievable, right? LA’s not exactly renowned for its small kindnesses. LA is Satan in a prom dress – nice on the outside and wicked within. Yet, these little kindnesses happen all the time … love amid the danger. Slurp, slurp.

I usually wave to the courteous driver to go ahead as I curl behind the car, so they can pull out.

I’ve been on their side of things too. I’ve run late to day care, or to the dentist. I know that the drivers are probably slightly peeved, that I – the only remaining living pedestrian in Los Angeles – has chosen this moment to show up in their stressed-out lives. They must think: “What are the odds? 6 million cars, 1 living pedestrian.”

To be honest, I see all kinds of grace during this year-long pandemic, hear stories of people helping elderly neighbors get appointments and driving them to three-hour waits for vaccinations.

You people are certified angels. If I had a sword, I’d have you take a knee so I could publicly salute you, as trumpets blare and other knights of the roundtable take a knee in tribute. It’d be a solemn ceremony. The photos would run worldwide.

Our friend Nancy made us chili, cornbread and brownies the other night. I’m pretty sure she’s a certified angel as well. I sensed that Posh was watching and thinking: “Yep, leave it to Nancy to think of you two dopes.”

Nancy is not as fortunate with crosswalks as I am. She’s the woman who, while on her long daily stroll, was crushed by a clueless driver a year ago. Nearly lost her legs but didn’t, and began a long grueling recovery.

She is walking again — another miracle — and making chili, and thinking of us. I mean, who thinks of us, besides bill collectors and White Fang? I get it. Charity takes a back seat when you’re just trying to get through each day.

And here comes Nancy with the chili.

Prayers for every struggling ma-and-pa operation from Maine to Maui.

Soup and chili warms you twice, to borrow from an old Ben Franklin notion about chopping wood. When you make it, and when you slurp it. If you give some away, it warms you three times.

This seems a good weekend for gifting soup, or leaving flowers on someone’s doorstep. But what weekend isn’t?

Some mornings I wrap my hands around the coffee mug as if in prayer. Do prayers work? Aren’t they merely the desperate act of a desperate man? Well, in this case, obviously.

So I wrap my hands around the coffee mug and say a prayer for the elderly. A prayer for the health workers. A prayer for the students without the company of classmates, robbed of the energy of a hallway between classes — the slammed lockers, the yelps, the whistles, the bells, the sideway glances, the herky-jerky body language of bright-eyed youth.

A prayer for the grocery workers for keeping us fed. To the restaurants and their takeout staffs, and the makeshift patios they put up, take down, put up again, in the winter rains.

Several prayers for small businesses to survive, and newspapers too. Prayers for every struggling ma-and-pa operation from Maine to Maui.

For years, you’ve had our backs. Now we have yours.

A prayer for those struggling with the sameness of every day, who can’t tell tomorrow from Tuesday, last year from last week. Like zombies, we go about our business. On auto-pilot. On emotional repeat.

Get some sunshine. Stretch your legs. To move is to live. To live is to help others. Warms you twice, remember?

A prayer for spring training…it’s out there somewhere, a desert flower waiting for the sun. Several prayers for the Chicago Cubs, ultimate symbols of hope and fortitude. In the name of Ernie Banks and Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown, take a knee for underdogs everywhere.

Speaking of which, prayers this weekend for the Tampa Bay Bucs, who could get stomped tomorrow, especially since I picked them to win. Sorry for that hex. Call your bookie. Take the Chiefs.

Then sit back, snap open a beer and root for the most unlikely LA guy ever: Andy Reid, who looks more like North Dakota, as if a north wind is always slapping him in the face and he’s flinching from the snow.

I don’t know much about football … only been following it for 60 years or so. Generally, though, I find that it’s a tough game for pretty boys. It favors men with stretchy jeans and door knobs for noses.

So I like guys who seem a little tilted (perfection being, at best, a mirage). I like Tampa Coach Bruce Arians, who looks like he just piloted a Greyhound bus to Flagstaff and growled, “OK, everybody, grab your bags. I’m gonna go get me a smoke.”

Arians might be older than the alphabet.

In an era where the NFL leans toward young leaders with gel in their hair, look at these retro coaches, these wise guys with their needy hearts. They know stuff. They know when to get angry and when to smirk.

As you watch the game, feel their toughness, feel their fortitude. Feel the teamwork and every ache. Most of all, feel the way their players have each other’s backs.

After all, life’s a coin flip. Life’s an on-side kick.

Pray for fair outcomes. Oh, what the hell, just pray.

We have a few spots left for tonight’s pre-Super Bowl Bash at 6 pm. Jump on Zoom (it’s easy) and help us celebrate food, football and music. E-mail me at letters@ChrisErskineLA.com for the link. In any case, be safe and enjoy the weekend. Rose Bowl hike info coming Wednesday.

7 thoughts on “Super Bowl Prayers

  1. Beautiful column. Heartfelt prayers go out to all those you so touchingly named. I cannot decide which of your inspired phrases will be my new fave: “Satan in a prom dress” or “older than the alphabet.” I am going to pray about it. Oh, and never bet against Brady. The man is a shape shifting warlock. You did the right thing.

  2. Love reading about your beautiful Fang u r so lucky to have him, but then I am a truly dog lover. Wished I lived closer to your area fir your walks but Long Beach is a little far. Grew up around your area.

  3. Chris-Crossed Words

    For now, this is where we meet
    I like to think a two way street
    You with your turns of phrase, what fors
    Similes and metaphors
    Words of spirit, feelings close
    Domestic art, and polished prose
    The mundane and the exalted
    A journal of the never halted
    Flow of things you have to say
    Mind to page, the written day
    Bard of the common and the real
    Yet spiced with things ethereal
    Like Posh, and Angie, and yourself
    A green young man, an antic wolf;

    We, for our part, are the chorus
    Greek, for silence is not for us
    Mind to page to mind again
    And then to page, your brethren
    Seek to exalt the soul
    Of language no one can control;

    We are like stars, radiant
    With broad expressive gradient
    Remote in Covid’s cosmic space
    But yearning for the touch, the face
    Of emanations intimate–
    Collisions rich and animate
    As you share what is inside
    When love and the stars collide;

    Yet we know we must abide
    Until we can be at your side
    At book signings, or a hike
    Or in a bar–what’s not to like?
    And life can be what it was when
    Every day was earthly zen
    Anointed with a little sin
    And tonic of the flesh and pen
    Squeezed like lime into the gin
    Oh! When and where do we begin
    To breath in naught but oxygen ?…

    …Coda:

    Vaccines in the arms of women
    Leprechauns and Irishmen
    Shilelaghs and a four-leaf clover
    Weakening the viral cover
    Thinning it’s miasmic hover
    Immunity become our lover
    Meaning the pandemic’s over.

  4. How can anyone follow that! Well, I can’t top it , but here are my thoughts on another beautifully written piece! Love your similes,”hands wrapped around a cup in prayer” ,love the accolades to all the unsung angels in our midsts. Love the legendary coaches of old, Vince Lombardi,Hank Stram,Don Shula, Mike Ditka, John Mackay, so many greats, too many to name! I loved that they all wore suits pacing up and down the sidelines. Flowers and hugs to your dear friend Nancy,God Bless her!

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