Won’t Hurt a Bit

Life has become pretty interesting lately – and by lately, I mean the past 2,000 years or so.

They administered my Moderna shot with a corkscrew, which I thought a little strange, even for LA. I just suspected that when they ran out of needles, they looked for the next available sharp object — a pitchfork, a switchblade, Tina Fey’s tongue…

“Hey, how about this nice corkscrew?”

“For him? Sure.”

The medical tech explained that they often use corkscrews now for guys like me with a little mileage on them, “tough dudes with heavy skin who don’t mind short-term pain.”

To be honest, that could be my dating profile.

As with a bottle of wine, they let me breathe for 20 minutes after the shot, then released me, out through the orange cones at Dodger Stadium. Man, all those cones. Made me a little seasick, to be honest.

For the rest of the day, I felt fine, though I couldn’t quit wondering: Where did they find so many new orange cones? And who has to put those out each day?

Stop the world, I want to get on. Life has become pretty interesting lately – and by lately, I mean the past 2,000 years or so.

Reader John Sherwood, responding to my recent note about the sparrow pecking at the bedroom window, explained: “That bird is attacking its reflection in a territorial squabble over mating rights. Its enemy is itself. A metaphor for our times.”

Its enemy is itself? Turns out I’m my own metaphor.

The other day, I had a perfectly wonderful lunch on the westside — braved Wilshire, braved the Westfield parking garage — to dine with my pals Bruce and Judy, on Judy’s birthday. We gathered at this place Terra, right above Eataly, a name so sophomoric and stupid, I laugh each time I say it.

Eataly! Eataly! “You may have the universe if I may have Eataly.” (Giuseppe Verdi)

Anywayz, delicious grub on the rooftop pad above Eataly. Props to the octopus who gave his life for this tremendous appetizer – it was not in vain. I’m always amazed at how good grilled octopus is, all those suction cups on this rubber rattlesnake. Like nothing else.

Only ding on the place was the server, who was a little snooty. My instant analysis was he wasn’t mothered well, though it may have been more than that.

At one time The Snooty Server rushed away as we tried to grab his attention, and Bruce sighed, “And like the tide, away he goes, taking all our hopes and dreams with him.”

It was a marvelous line, and made the best of a bad situation. My old man was brutal on bad waiters, beheaded several as we watched as kids, embarrassed.

I’ve fought not to be that way my whole life, choosing instead to mock bad servers in quiet, lethal whispers.

Since Shakespeare, wry wit has been the best revenge. At least at high-end LA restaurants.

Some of the pleasures of visiting Eataly.

Lately, seems like everything that happens has some drama to it, as if life is a series of hinky little skits that go awry.

For instance, the other day I accidentally knifed myself on a metal hose clamp while watering the backyard.

For the life of me, I couldn’t remember why I’d spliced a 6-foot piece onto an already too long 100-foot garden hose. Came back to haunt me, through this one-inch cut on the palm of my hand, not much deeper than an Irish kiss.

Frustrated, and with blood still trickling down my hand, I decided right then to cut that damn garden hose in half to make it more manageable.

I won’t insist you ever listen to me, except for this one tip: Keep your garden hoses and extension cords short…20 feet at most. Better to buy three short ones than one long one.

Unless you’re into coiling items that defy coiling. In that case go ahead, buy the 100-foot hoses and extension cords. You will spend the rest of your Saturday afternoons untangling every knot known to man: the timber hitch, the clove and 80 variations on a simple slip knot.

Hey, it’s your life. Spend it as you must.

True story: I was once on a river cruise where one of the activities was to learn to tie ship knots, which seemed useful and great fun. Within 5 minutes, I had the rope wrapped around my neck, over my head and down around the groin. I looked like a hiker about to be winched out of an icy crevasse.

Anyway, the backyard makeover is nearly complete. The cut is healing. Life is good.

True story II: The other day I sneezed so hard that I had to squat a little – as if squaring to bunt – so I could take pressure off my spine and avoid busting one of the many glands, ducts, bladders that make up a beefy LA man like me.

My son laughed.

“Wow, do I not want to get old, Dad,” Smartacus said.

Point is: LA and I were destiny. You couldn’t pick an odder couple. I’m odd. LA is odd. Together, we’re oddly perfect.

I like bugs and baseball cards, and once in a while, I have a little slice of cheese with my morning coffee.

I live in a town where motorcycles can legally roar between seams in car lanes. A place where there’s a prom for old people every spring (they call it the Oscars).

Nothing about this place is normal, not the inhabitants, not the landscape. Basically, there are no country roads, nothing that would ever pass for Walden Pond. This creates a forced socialization – a daily urban rumble — that I think is very good for us.

Certainly explains all the well-balanced people out here.

A buddy visited from out of town last week, and in the course of bumming around this sprawling city, showing off my adopted town but trying not to sound overly prideful, we passed the houses of George Clooney, Cher and Angela Bassett. Not on purpose. They were just there, on our way to someplace else.

“Yeah, Clooney lives over there,” I said as we hiked a canyon.

Our little neighborhood, meanwhile, seems to be attracting more and more Hollywood types, lured east by the rustic lifestyle…the tumbleweeds, the double-wides, the blistered lips.

A Realtor friend says that Angelina Jolie is looking for a place in the Pasadena area, over near where Meryl Streep lives. I told my friend: “That seems silly. Why doesn’t she just move in with us?”

You think I’m kidding, but I’ve had plenty of experience with drama queens – my mom, my sisters, my daughters. All my life, I’ve specialized in difficult women.

Angelina could move in with her 47 children, her nannies, her astrologists, the chef, the llamas — all the accoutrements of a celebrity life – the spiritualists, the yogis, the spray-tanners, the skunks — into our humble little home.

Taco Tuesdays are very special here on the cul-de-sac. Saturday nights would be wild, what with charades and microwave popcorn.

We live large out here on the Western range.

So, think about it, Angelina. Mi casa, su casa. On Sundays, we grill up anything that resembles fresh meat.

We’re kind of barbarians, to be honest.

Another fun fact: My two favorite foods are pork and sugar. I wash then down with Moderna, gin, caffeine, anything with a little pop to it. I’m so healthy I’m almost immortal.

Just the other day I got a tetanus and diphtheria shot because a grandbaby is soon due, and my pregnant daughter says that’s necessary now, for family members to get a T-dap shot before a new baby arrives.

So much to talk about, Angie. Parenting stuff. Life choices. Grilled octopus. Garden hoses.

Bring us all your doubts and frustrations. I’m a tough dude with heavy skin. And I don’t mind short-term pain.

Bet you’re kind of chatty.  


Hey, Happy Hour Hikers, a few slots remain for Saturday’s 5 pm hike at Griffith Park. Please e-mail me at letters@chriserskineLA.com for a spot on the list. We’re taking 50 hearty souls, masks required. This one is a little steep, so be forewarned. If you signed up in time, you’ll get details on Thursday. If you don’t hear from us, we’ll catch you the next time. Meanwhile, know what all the cool kids are wearing these days? Boomer U tee-shirts. Click here for info: https://chriserskine.orderpromos.com/.  Thanks!

8 thoughts on “Won’t Hurt a Bit

  1. I love all your posts, but you’ve outdone yourself this time. Superb!! Thanks for the laughs.

  2. Spring always surfaces the yada yada of So Cal discourse above the distant freeway hum (or roar, if you’re on one). While Spring is known to turn a young man’s fancy to it, in a seasoned man love abides in the detritus of his April words, if you look carefully for it. Here is an instance of the latter, bubbling up like the beloved burnt sugar in one of his culinary adventures. Tempis sublime. A SoCal Spring. Chris on the prowl. The roses boil over…

  3. Okay so just off the top of my head: 1) You obviously have not yet watched “My Octopus Teacher” (odds on favorite to win the Best Doc Academy Award and just about the best movie ever made) or like myself, a lifelong octopodi enthusiast, you would never order octopus again. 2) I worked as a waitress at the Jersey shore during college summer breaks and I abhor snooty waiters – I hope you didn’t tip well 3) If you were willing to come all the way over to the Westside (for something other than a family visit) to celebrate a birthday with a friend named Judy, I feel it’s appropriate to remind you about our, as yet unconsummated date at Chez Jay’s and that my birthday is April 30th. 4) as far as your invite to Angelina Jolie goes, I sure hope the other Angie was not aware she has been replaced in your fantasy affections.
    Your pal,
    Judy
    PS Great column once again – keep ’em coming!

  4. I cannot begin to tell you how ecstatic I am that you did NOT post any octopus photos ~ cooked or otherwise ~ bleeeaghch ~ ~ but ! then there was the kindergarten teacher who was reading to the wee ones about octopi ~ ~ when she asked them if anyone knew the name of the 8 arms (legs?!) on the octupus, the answer was proudly proclaimed by one of the young scholars: “Testicles” ~ ~ ! ! !

  5. It’s almost eleven o’clock PM just put Mom to bed after a day of doctor visits and fighting with 3 pharmacies and an insurance company to cover a $400.00 prescription for her. (If she was in prison, they would pay for everything.) so now I can relax and read about the hilarity of your day. Loved “The Princess Snide” of a couple of days ago, Calamari is wonderful if done well. Scott’s at South Coast prepared it the best,but alas , is no longer there. Your reminisce on your Dad at a restaurant brought back memories of cowering when my Dad didn’t think a waiter was doing a good job ! Ah, fun times! You make me laugh after a trying day. Keep it up! Don’t ever stop! Eataly! As a woman of Italian extraction, cracks me up too!

  6. P.S.Tonight at 11:40 pm ,the Titanic hit an iceberg and went down at 2:20am on the 15th. I’m a Titanic aficionado ,so I always remember those poor people on this day. Thanks for the outlet.

  7. I even purchased your book..great for a rainy (sort of) day…awaiting the Academy Awards…for movies I’ve never seen,

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