Gulp. Smile. Bravo.

These guys. I would like to be any of them the next four years. In the past, I’ve said “no way!”… no way would I want to be 18 again, too many ups and downs, lucky to make it through just once.

But look at their smiles, the jaunty/careless way they wear a necktie. I am nothing but envious. Particularly of their next several autumns…the parties, the new friends, the life-changing chance encounters with members of the polar-opposite sex.

Life is all about making memories. Stamp my passport, hug me hello, make a memory.

Soak up every silly second.

One is going to Texas, another Pennsylvania. The tall one? Malibu. Don’t all, good-looking people end up in Malibu?

The smirky dude in the shorts? From what I hear, he’s headed to Oregon, if he can find a decent pair of pants and manage to board the right plane to Eugene.

They’ve known each other since t-ball, these guys.  They can crack each other up with just a burp.

In the past few years, they have taken irreverence to new levels, made it their folk music.

Yet, they are hardly the Wild Bunch. They defy every LA stereotype you can conjure — all the temptations, all the self-destructive trends. A big Friday night for them is hitting the various LA chicken joints to taste-test the latest spicey sandwiches.

These guys…

You should see them whack a baseball. You should see them crush a joke.

They are like Richie and Potsie and Ralph Malph. There is no Fonz, though at graduation one classmate peeled down to his Speedo under his gown, and then made a schticky, open-gown face plant after getting his diploma.

Bravo!

I predict big things for a dude like that. Apparently, his plans after high school are to buy a surf van. He’ll likely end up with a nutty beach babe and a billion-dollar line of swimwear.

Tonight, we sent them all off into the sunset, at the Rose Bowl, in the same place Jackie Robinson used to run back kickoffs. We feted them grandly …  in the blush of these amazing mountains … amid the eucalyptus and the oaks.

The Pledge of Allegiance came out like a prayer. When the chamber singers performed, their voices swirled round the grand old bowl; it sounded like they were singing in the shower.

We clapped until our hands were hot.

The lovely and patient older daughter applauded each graduate – every single grad — because amid the hoots and screams, she didn’t want any single kid to feel forgotten.

The speeches were great because they were short. When it was all over, the grads flipped their caps into the air, just like they weren’t supposed to.

Here’s a tip: When you tell 320 high school seniors they can’t throw their lids in the air after graduation, that is exactly what 320 high school seniors are going to do.

Gulp. Smile. Bravo.

I’m not crying, you’re crying. Pass the Kleenex, would you?

They will forever have this night in common. It will never get musty, just old.

Right now – and forever – this moment will be as fresh as the flowers their mamas bought them.

I’m still mulling it all – his unlikely life — how Smartacus came along when his oldest sister was 19 and in college, how he gave my wife and me an extra chapter – and me a sidekick when she died. How his sister now sports her first gray hairs. And a husband. And a new baby.

How sweet is life, if you just stick with it long enough? And focus on the right things: Gin (obviously). Kids. Family. Baseball.

My milestones have a lot of miles on them. In any case, another graduation is in the books.

On the way out, his sisters chatted about what they’d like to tell their 18-year-old selves if they had the chance — what three words of advice do they wish they’d heard back then?

The new husband weighed in. The boyfriend weighed in. Over a late sushi feast, these were the finalists:

1. See the world

2. Apple. Amazon. Bitcoin.

3. Take more risks.

My takeaway (obviously, it’s not too late for me): Buy a surf van, see the world.

Now, their dress clothes are stuffed back in the closet, half off the hanger, and their “nice shoes” are willy-nilly on the floor. I have no idea what we’ll do with his grad gown. Do you keep the cape? Or make it into a set of cranberry pajamas?

Gulp.

Props to these administrators. Props to these teachers, one of whom took her shoes off at rehearsal to run barefoot through the famed Rose Bowl grass.

And you call yourself a role model? Bravo, Ms. Beattie!

Most of all, props to these resilient and amazing grads, soaking up the first profound moment of their long and profound lives.

Now, their phones are full of photos. Their heads are rich with dreams.

These guys….


Catch up on my speech to the grads at last week’s baccalaureate by clicking here. Also, please stay tuned for details of the upcoming Gin Bash, a mid-summer celebration of post-lockdown life, and a toast to the folks who make Saturday morning Facebook comments the best read of the week. Cheers!

21 thoughts on “Gulp. Smile. Bravo.

  1. Beautiful column. Felt like I was right there with you. Now, only 18 years to go until you get to watch Catherine Margaret get her diploma. Can’t wait!

    1. Posh is watching with a huge smile. Bravo! A job well-done! You and Your grad were a great team👏

  2. Made me feel like I was there, but will have to wait until my granddaughter & 2 great-grandsons are the stars. Hope I can make it up the bleachers… Thanks, Chris!

  3. Bravo to this column. Love the pics, stories, all of it. And I second that emotion about resilience and the grads grabbing life by the lapels. I’m in your same shoes experiencing the same grad milestones over here…prom, graduation with besties except in my case it’s girls…dance team girls who have been spinning and twirling since they were in tiny jazz shoes. Also not a wild bunch. All heading off in different directions too. Mine’s going to Florida (fierce dance team!) but starting her 1st semester in Florence Italy. I’m pretty sure in September I’m going to be sitting on the couch staring at old Mr. Baxter (scruffy dog) and wonder what just happened. I might audition to be your new friend. I think I’ll need one too 😉 Congratulations to your grad and to you too with the amazing job you did raising him. Props to you 🍸

  4. Mazeltov Spartacus, have fun in Oregon .
    make lots of friends, they will be in your life forever .

  5. Great column as always! We’ve postponed the buy a surf van until now, in our 60’s. Okay, we’re not buying one, but renting one. And taking baby steps to see the world. First up, Joshua Tree. Better late than never!

  6. Sometimes Chris Erskine plays down his cheerleading like it’s just, fluff. Not so. He’s an American General during the fight of our lives, this attempted cultural revolution which seeks to crush Christianity, Lincoln, Dr. Seuss, and graduation cap tosses. But God always makes men to match his mountains. So my two cents to these graduates, which they will never see ‘cause this ain’t tic tok, is: resist, subvert, fight. I believe it was the Irish that threw the tea into the harbor. You’re welcome. 🍀 Fight!

  7. Rose bowl real grass is awesome !
    Thanks Chris
    Get ready for first trip home from college !
    Stock up the fridge

  8. Perfect. All the joy and heartache rolled into one that makes graduation for parents. Gulp.

  9. You have ,as always, encapsulated all of our collected memories of past Parenting milestones and fashioned them new through your eyes and your beautiful family. So many more wonderful adventures for you, your children and a precious grandbaby ,redux! Thanks again, for letting us re-live our experiences through yours! P.S. To Maureen, kudos and a double thumbs up!🍀

  10. Congratulations 🍾 to you, your son, your beautiful family! What a year , a new grad, new baby, new college student! So many more wonderful adventures to look forward to in the future!

  11. Props to Dad, as you would say. Pure love. Sublime stuff. Words fail. And now, the long sweet sinuous sweep of Summer lies ahead. More ecstasy is assured. Life is swelllll…as the pandemic rages on, the world around….

  12. I just stumbled upon your “farewell” column that I had saved and found the link to find you again!!!! So reading your comments reminded me how much I missed you! I always laugh and cry at the same time when I am experiencing you and your family. Thank you for seeing the world in your special way and sharing it with us…….I look forward to more stories and pictures

  13. Seriously rock every moment, as you do! My cane couldn’t walk as far as the bleachers to watch my beloved Grandson graduate, with honors, from CSUN! Now 83 I usually am of sound mind. Love my home, my husband, my adult children, my dear friends, whose list gets shorter. My 5 rescue cats. Our 85 lb Aussiedoodle, my sparkling wine. YOU!! Appearing on my IPhone. Making me happily laugh & often cry! You are a treasure to my Arthritic back! God Bless You & all that growing family. 👏❣️

  14. Congrats to the Grads, especially yours. Congrats to all your family. What a special time for the class of 2021!

  15. As a mushy old Grandma of three, thinking of Posh missing these milestones brought me to tears. I lost my mom at a very young age, so I can definitely relate. Your daughters are so great for stepping into the surrogate mom shoes. Wishing you and your lovely family the best. Congratulations on all of it.

Leave a Reply to Lilyrayrose Cancel reply