If you want love to last, have kids. If you want King Cake to last, well…
I don’t understand why poets don’t use more punctuation. Or why, when a Trader Joe’s meal claims to serve 3, it really serves only me, and poor Smartacus is left to sit there watching.
“Sorry,” I say.
“For what?” he asks.
“Bad packaging, greed, hunger, all those things.”
“That’s OK, Dad. There’s always pizza.”
Other mysteries: I’m super not sure how the moon reflects the sun in the middle of the night.
Does sunlight bend? Is the moon made of radium, like the hands of old watches? To me, that seems the only reasonable explanation, for why the moon holds the light of the unseen sun.
You’d think a basic liberal arts education would’ve covered some of this. I mean, the whole point of college is to gain some insight and inside information. To learn to learn.
Or, to learn to chat up people at parties – there’s a life skill that you use almost forever.
Didn’t grasp that either. Best I ever pulled off was, “Hello gorgeous, could you step over here, you’re standing on my roommate … where ya from anyway? I’m guessing Rockford. No wait, Moline? Wanna buy me a drink?”
It’s a charm fest really, any time you talk to me at a party or a tavern. I’ve got approximately the same personality as the guy assigned to Aisle 9 at the hardware store.
The French call it je ne sais quoi. Roughly translated, it means, “I don’t know why I like the guy, sure hope he’s rich.”
I am, fortunately. Very rich.
Speaking of charm, have you seen the new Ted Danson show? It’s called “Mr. Mayor,” and NBC airs it (as they used to say) at 8 pm Thursdays, about the same time we used to watch Danson on “Cheers,” which was the “Friends” of the ’80s, and a far superior show, by the way.
Anyway, Danson is to comedy what wine is to romance, which is to say magnificent. He plays a rich, befuddled Los Angeles mayor, so I think it might actually be a documentary, yet a funny one nonetheless. He’s supported not at all by that McNugget, Holly Hunter, who is to comedy what rust is to tugboats.
When Danson isn’t in the scene, it’s like a pagan ritual involving some sort of bloody comedy sacrifice. Hunter is particularly “cringy,” as the kids like to put it. I’d rather put my tongue on a horse than listen to her for 10 seconds, and 10 seconds is the least amount of time her character prattles on senselessly, in that cartoonish way modern sitcom characters often do.
Network note to Miss Hunter: Pause, tilt your head, give the line a moment to breathe (though to be fair, your lines aren’t exactly off the pen of Carl Reiner or Larry Gelbart).
Anyway, “Mr Mayor” is worth watching for Ted Danson alone. You can learn from the guy, the way he carries himself, the patience. If you ever wanted to host a sit-com – and that’s always been one of those elusive American Dreams – just watch Danson try to wiggle out of a difficult situation, the way he waltzes sideways, or puts a hand to his mouth in contemplation. He’s Lucy and Chaplin combined, perhaps better.
Thursdays, 8 pm. If you don’t laugh out loud at least twice, I’ll come to your house and tickle you crying.
Me, I wish I had taken a college course in how to wiggle out of difficult situations. My life seems a series of them, and I flit from social encounter to social encounter, from Zoom call to Zoom call, without a trace of Dansonian grace or charm. In all honesty, I have no je ne sais quoi. I don’t even have the quoi.
More and more, I seem content to stay home, even though there is now the occasional reason to go out. The couch is easier, a bad rut to find yourself in, by the way. Resist the rut, resist the couch, resist the recliner, lest it be your starter coffin. Move a little. Waltz sideways.
Fortunately, Smartacus is around, and he makes me laugh. He is the punchline of my life – and I am his set-up man.
When we get bored, we simply tackle each other and put an elbow across the opposing wrestler’s neck, a move we learned from watching Hulk Hogan. It breaks the ice, that’s for sure.
Me and Smartacus … I swear.
My late wife, Posh, missed nothing with her Marlo Thomas eyes. What I think confused her the most was how Smartacus and I, who are nothing alike, got along so famously, when she and I, who were nothing alike, struggled so. I give Smartacus all the credit on that one.
Love is complicated, life is short. How do you make love last? I really recommend having kids, if you have the money and the patience for it. T’aint cheap.
Last week, the lovely and patient pregnant daughter, without much to do but rub the undercarriage of her beautiful butterball belly, mail-ordered Smartacus and me a King Cake from New Orleans.
If you’re unfamiliar, a King Cake is a wreath-sized celebration of Mardi Gras. They date to the pagan rituals of the Roman Empire, and now these colorful coffee cakes have become a Carnival tradition down in New Orleans, our most pagan place…a joyous city that really knows that tragedy and wonder often walk hand in hand. Like lovers.
Anyway, it was a lot of cake for two people, so it took us a day or so to consume it. At breakfast, at lunch, at dinner we ate King Cake, until only a single piece was left in the box on the kitchen counter.
I took half of the last piece, so Smartacus could have the final bite. Meanwhile, Smartacus was also taking half of the last piece as well, so that I could have the last bite.
Little by little, the last tiny sliver of this King Cake got smaller, until finally, it became a parable.
For what? For his vanishing boyhood? For the pace at which life and fate eat us alive?
“I left you the last piece, Dad,” he says.
“I left you the last piece,” I tell him.
And so it goes, his fleeting youth.
Let’s raise a toast to the Gin & Tonic Society of Los Angeles right around St. Patrick’s Day. We’ll have it in some park, and keep our distances. Eat lots of onions beforehand, that helps. Please hold off on RSVPs till we set a date and time. We’ll have to limit the guest list. Priority will be given to those who have purchased items off my website, which offers beautiful sets of G&T Society glasses for only $25 (plus shipping). Info: click here. Thanks! Meanwhile, props to all those who made our Happy Hour Hike around the Rose Bowl last week, especially old pals Jeff, Bittner and Billionaire Charlie, the club’s founding fathers. And to Lynnmaria Bazan for the delicious chocolate-covered strawberries.