Say a Little Prayer

Angie loves writers, obviously. Even silly ones like me. And I have proof.

As we were getting ready to overeat the other evening, and I told Smartacus that I owned a silk pocket square that once belonged to the man singing that very moment on the radio —  Burt Bacharach, with whom he’s only moderately familiar.

“What else you have?” he asked. “One of Lincoln’s teeth?”

I said, no, I don’t have any of Lincoln’s teeth, though that would be cool too.

I explained that Angie Dickinson, who I’ve been seriously pursuing the past few years, was once married to the famous songwriter and that he left behind some silk accessories when they split. Angie, knowing I was a cheeseball and a Bacharach fan, had gifted me a silk handkerchief and pocket square.

“I’ve had a song in my heart ever since,” I told Smartacus.

He thought I was joking, but I was perfectly still when I said it; I didn’t nod, or wink or spaz out the way dudes do when they’re lying. I was straight-up serious.

You know, seems inevitable I would end up with Bacharach’s ex-wife, this glorious moonbeam of a woman. She is so smart, so sassy, so full of life. When she was young, the gods grabbed her by the toe and dipped her in a kiddy pool of melted caramel. She’s been glowing ever since — inside and out.

She seems drawn to writers. Bacharach and I are both enormously successful writers, he more enormous than me, of course. I barely know 100 words.

I’ll never forget the first note I got from an English teacher: “Amusing – at times.”

I’ve been occasionally amusing ever since.

Someone said something nice to me on Twitter the other day – I live for those moments – and I explained that, yes, I thought I was getting the hang of writing. I have one of those word-a-day apps now, and that’s gotta help.

My dream, of course, is that BJ Thomas will one day read the audio version of one of my pieces, in the same sing-songy cadence that he used in “Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head,” a chirpy little hit that I used to educate Smartacus about the amazing Bacharach songbook.

“Listen to that,” I said. “Catchy, right?”

Having never heard a catchy song, Smartacus wasn’t too sure.

Here’s the thing about me and Bacharach. We’re both romantics. He happens to write songs, I happen to write wistful little humor pieces, knowing full well that humor should not be wistful. Humor should be funny. It’s just one of the ways my bartender says that I self-sabotage.

I asked Angie once: “How many of Burt’s hits were written with you in mind? “Look of Love? Say a Little Prayer? Alfie?”

“None of them,” she said.

Ever since, I’ve been dedicating my columns to her. See? I’m a romantic. With a silly and doomed desire to make the world fair and right.

I love Angie. Wish I had one of her teeth.

(Trust me, she’ll laugh at that. What a woman).

Meanwhile, my phone seems to have developed a cataract – there’s a dark spot in the corner of the screen – and I think I might have a blood clot in my calf.

They say that this is how middle age creeps up on you, on cat paws on a Saturday night, between sips of drug-store gin.

One of these days, I’ll have to acknowledge that middle age is finally upon me. I’ll go along quietly, in handcuffs. I’ve never feared growing older. In fact, my overwhelming sense is: Finally!

I feel so young, is the thing. I feel like a BJ Thomas song. I feel romantic and healthy. Each morning, I stutter step down the boulevard, running my pass routes, preparing in case the Chicago Bears ever need a sure-handed wide out with a blood clot in his calf, who can – when pressed — run a 5.8 40-yard-dash.

Scouts say I have deceptive speed. To the casual cornerback, it doesn’t look like I’m moving at all. Then, BAM, I’m by you, Revis. Touchdown!

I have this recurring dream that during Smartacus’ freshman year, he’ll show up for an intramural football game in Oregon, Iowa, or Colorado — wherever his finishing school is — and I’ll have planted myself on the opposing team, smeared with pine tar from head to toe.

“Who’s the limpy old dude in the Butkus jersey,” a teammate will ask him.

“That’s my dad,” Smartacus will say.

“Any good?”

“Well, he runs a 5.8 40,” Smartacus will explain.

“Can he catch?”

“A cold maybe,” he’ll say.

(And a legendary screen siren, don’t forget).

Smartacus and I are about to hop a plane for Oregon – Eugene, specifically — to check out a nice little campus of 24,000 soggy souls.

Told Smartacus that we couldn’t pack till the last minute for fear of upsetting White Fang. Like most dogs, she recognizes suitcases, and sees them the way we see stove fires.

Dogs know exactly what happens after the suitcases come down.

The Gulag. Run!

In many ways, White Fang is the smartest one in the family. She’s an adopted diva-wolf from Siberia (apparently that’s a breed). After all she’s endured, she possesses survival skills I could never match.

Even without the suitcases, I think she senses that the kennel is eminent. She’s been getting extra cuddles from Smartacus, and I’ve been slipping slivers of smoked salmon in her food (on sale at Von’s).

I promised her that we’ll only be gone a couple of days, and when we return, I will finally set up her dating profile. At her age, she needs a boyfriend. It’s not the sex so much, as it is the companionship, the cuddling. Just being held, nakedly.

White Fang’s dating profile: “Love to travel. Love dogs. Love life.”

“Cats a hard no.”

Truthfully, she misses with her kisses — catches your nose, not your chin — and is under the mistaken notion that she and I are legally married.

That doesn’t mean she’s not dating material. When she was young, the gods grabbed her by the toe.

And check out those eyes.

Invites going out Tuesday to the first 40 respondents to the St. Paddy’s Gin & Tonic Bash on Saturday. Thanks to all who responded. If we have enough, we’ll add a second party a few days later. Cheers

12 thoughts on “Say a Little Prayer

  1. I know Angie will come around if you hang tough. Don’t settle. She must see in you what your friends and fans and White Fang see: seasoned perfection. I hope you and Smartacus enjoy Eugene. My nephew and a family friend go there and love it. Pack the pocket square. It will impress them.

  2. I was sure CSU was a slam dunk. But Oregon? That’s competition. Either way, I’m with you – freshman year, 1000 miles away from home (my minimum limit for really leaving home) – 1000 new and different people. What a feeling – even vicariously.

  3. A Springy late Winter Saturday morning in paradise. What to do ? Read Chris. He was up way before you, hustling the dog around, running the routes in his mind, rustling among the words for those perfect tasty little zings of expression that go so well with that first uxorious cup of dawn coffee; in truth, go so well with most anything in this sunsplit thunderous basin. And then there’s Angie. Who would not write reams of hitchy, intricate, smart, elegantly funny love songs with her around in mind and body ? Or prose, of a similar vein ? Spring is here. If Angie isn’t Spring (and Summer, Fall, and Winter, too, for that matter), I don’t know who is. And you know what they say about a man’s fancy turning to love in Spring: as if it ever at any time turned any other way. Get out in the sun today, babe: you’re in LA !

  4. Well, the Chicago Bears can use all the help they can get, so have Angie call Virginia McCaskey for you! I’m sure you & Matt Nagy will be best buds.

  5. I’m hurt. I told you about the two “Perry Mason “episodes and the movie “The Killers” with Angie and how much you would enjoy them. Not a word, not a scintilla of acknowledgment from you. It’s what we, your slavish followers, all hope for, just an imperial nod from you! I even suggested taking Angie to Europe! Have a fun ,safe trip to Oregon. My eldest son attended law school in Portland. He loved it despite the rain. So have a memorable trip and download Angie in “The Killers”!

  6. Maybe you can skip the kennel and ask Angie to dog sit White Fang for you. Leave a bottle of your best gin and your famous Trader Joe’s classics in the fridge. To return the favor simply write her a song. Win-win.

  7. Another special tweet. So glad you are able to take your son to see all the colleges he wants to see. White Fang looks great as always (love that you reminded us of the whole dog/suitcase thing). Good luck with Angie. Oh, and I loved White Fang’s dating profile!

  8. Without eluding to it, this column just somehow affirmed spring is in the air. No romance here but repotting a whole bunch of herbs and flowers made me feel like it. Most good luck to Spartacus. As a transplant (refugee?) from the Pacific NW, it’s perfect. A whole different vibe than SoCal but the atmosphere is a fab college experience. Put three through U.W (go Dawgs) and close enough to always get home for the holidays.

  9. Holy smokes, it’s true. Google Angie Dickinson and there it is, a picture of you and Angie in living color. I just hope she likes gin.

  10. Angie Dickinson, Bridgette Bardot, Michelle Pfeiffer, Dyan Cannon- what is it with those sexy, petite blondes?! Super crush on Angie and actually got a kiss from Dyan once. Nancy now claims she is one two degrees from Cary Grant then.

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