Goose Bumps

Trying to keep White Fang cool in the summer heat, hopscotching from shady spot to shady spot, brushing my hair with the low-hanging oaks.

“We are all sinners in extreme heat,” Keillor says.

Speak for yourself, pal. I haven’t had a naughty thought since, like, late yesterday. OK, technically this morning. Oops.

Listen, some like it hot. Not me. I like sweater weather and cool breezes and goose bumps. I like freezer burn.

So in the mornings, White Fang and I march off early in search of one cool breeze, nodding politely to others — forcing smiles, pretending not to be dying out there.

Pet wolves are always good talking points. On the street, strangers will ask: “So what kind of dog is that?” I say, “She’s a Sagittarius. But her mother was a Scorpio.”

White Fang is, in fact, a husky/wolf/Sagittarius mix. She sheds constantly. Even her lungs are furry… her pancreas, her spleen. She seems made entirely of yarn. In late July, White Fang sheds in her sleep. I wake up at 2 am just to sweep a little.

Obviously, White Fang and I have a very traditional demi-sexual relationship (as in Demi Moore, as in Demi Lovato).

Before bed, I feed her Popsicles and wipe the drips from her chin, like Mickey Rourke to Kim Basinger. In turn, she slurps my toes with her cold and marvelous tongue (I’ve had worse kisses). And no kisses (remember last year’s big whiff with No-Kiss Kelly?)

Strangers see me with White Fang and think, “Whew, how did that little peach wind up with him?” Like when Lyle Lovett snagged Julia Roberts. FYI, she probably sheds a lot as well.

My pal posted something interesting the other day:

“I’m not waiting for a hero … I just want a weirdo to go on vacations with. Someone who will dance with me, kiss me when I least expect it and make me laugh.”

That quote is from author Brooke Hampton, who also once posted, “She wasn’t looking for a knight, she was looking for a sword,” so you know where her head is at.

What does all that do to our concept of love? Do we compromise? Do we give up?

Do we just get a wolf dog and be done with it…then wind up thinking: “This isn’t so bad. She licks my Popsicle toes. At least that’s something.”

I’ve long claimed that there is little romance in music anymore, or TV, or film.

Still, folks flock to Hallmark movies. They fall – on screen and in lousy literature — for bad guys and vampires. What’s that tell you? That we’re willing to risk our lives for a little romance? That we crave goose bumps?

Sure we do.

Because romance is the purest magic. Like microwaves or push-up bras, no one really understand how it works. Or where it comes from, or what exactly stirs our battle-weary hearts.

Like a lot of the Irish, I wake each morning with a broken heart, and in the course of the day I try everything to mend it: oysters, potato skins, dad jokes, puns.

The other day, I had a bar-room revelation: After two drinks, women are exactly the fun and flirty people we wish them to be.

I’ve tested it a couple of times since. It really works!

Meanwhile, my favorite little tater tot (Catty Cakes) is my new cardiologist. My granddaughter lights my heart when I walk in the door, though that may be a triumph of baby gas over reality.

Then again, it may be a triumph of medical science.

My favorite plot twist? Children. Often they are planned, often not. Unexpected babies are the zaniest plot twists of all, and you end up loving them till you die. That is romance in a nutshell – unforeseen and capricious.

Hey, what do I know? I’m just a guy with a bad mustache and a 7-year-old pair of Keds.  Right now, I’ve got leaf blowers out my window, Mozart on the book shelf. I’m still paying off my student loans.

I’m as dazed and confused as you are.

I paid $17.50 for a beer at a Dodger game the other night, so I’m obviously not the sharpest sword in the shed. The very fact I attended a Dodger game drops my emotional development down a notch or three. My shaman is gonna be so mad.

I live question to question, day to day. Listen to the way people talk. They converse in questions.

“How’d you sleep?”

“Whataya want for lunch?”

“Think this salami’s still good?”

Basically, that’s what separates us from the other beasts. We question stuff. Dogs snarl over food and personal space. We snarl over anyone who disagrees with us on the idiot issues of the day.

Now, tell me: Who’s smarter?

Listen, romance is my alcohol, romance is my balm. I hunt for it like some mad private eye — in books, in movies, in soda shops. I don’t need it in people, actually. A beautiful thing is a beautiful thing. I swoon for sunsets and fourth-quarter rallies. I brake for drum solos.

I’m convinced that romance mostly finds us. As in that wind-chime moment when you look across the vegetable aisle and think: “Hmmmm, I like her dimples. I’m taken with the thoughtful and serious way she squeezes that zucchini. I admire her commitment and her hands.”

“Wanna get coffee?” you ask.



“But not with you,” she says, and moves on to the frozen foods.

Look, for me that’s a very positive encounter. Romance finds you, sure, but you have to make an effort. You have to put yourself out there, like Napoleon did, or Kublai Kahn. Or Madeline Kahn.

Occasionally, you just say to yourself: “Hey, I’m gonna go for it here…a Hail Mary…a high fluttering throw into the end zone.”

Big deal it gets batted down. You tried. Like Napoleon, you just shrug and move on to ruin another country. Till you reach Russia. Then you get down on one knee and propose.

Smash cut:

You’ve married your Waterloo. You’re listening to her gargle.

You’ve found your weirdo.

As you may know, the comments that follow my Facebook posts are as good or better than the posts themselves. My latest book “Lavender in Your Lemonade” sprang from those comments. The book is not just a reflection of what we’ve been through lately but also a tribute to the resilience and humor of all of you. For info, please click here. Meanwhile, have a wonderful weekend. See you in the shady spots. Cheers (and thanks)

19 thoughts on “Goose Bumps

  1. Chris, as my widower husband will attest, you can absolutely find a great love twice in a lifetime. I just know that perfectly matched “weirdo” will come into your life one of these days when you least expect it. I just hope Catty Cakes and your devoted wolf are willing to share your affections. In the meantime, we revel in sharing your crazy life. Thank you!

  2. People are overrated, except for the munchkin kind. Who else asks, “Grandma, are you going to shrink back into a kid?”…with your help, my grandson, I will!

  3. Chris, You are a romantic and a poet and your quest for love is poignant, precious. Who knows? Maybe the angst fuels the quest? Maybe you’re really happy now, and you just don’t know it. Still, the writing soars. So, chin up, bottoms up, and kiss adorable Cati for me. (She’s shaping up into a real person!)
    – Linda

  4. Caroll, I worked for Mike for many years and miss him as my surrogate business father. Hope you are well.

  5. That little cutie pie is beautiful ! Cherish every moment. My grandchildren are grown now . Where did the time go. You are truly funny and blessed .

  6. Who was it with the gun to your head who “forced” you to pay $17.50 for a beer at Dodger Stadium? Damn, for that amount you could have gotten two twelve packs of Arnold Palmer’s and Robert B. Parker’s favorite beer from Latrobe, Rolling Rock.

  7. Love your pictures of Catty Cakes! Wish I could make them bigger though. Your humor is the best on Wednesday and Saturday mornings. Thank you

  8. Catty Cakes and Wolf are both adorable. I can bet that Wolf will be her friend and protector. Grandchildren are great for the heart! My granddaughter is three and half and I have been watching her while her parents work for 3 days a week since she was a baby. Best medicine ever and a wee bit exhausting by the end of the day.

  9. $17.50 for a beer!!!??? Have they no shame? Dating myself, but remember when the Dodgers used to brag that a Dodger game was the most affordable event in town to take your family to?

  10. Love’s Labours Lost

    There once was a writer with zest
    Columnist—one of the best
    Who spent the whole summer
    Doing a number
    On food, and you know the rest;

    He haunted cafes in L.A.
    And watering holes, eating away
    Consumed so much grub
    In backyard and pub
    There’s little left to say;

    Except that the moral of Chris
    Is the price you pay for such bliss
    Because of the food
    You keep more than you should
    And end up looking like this :

    Not to mention the femmes you miss
    On account of the largess your lips kiss
    Is it worth it ? I don’t think it is
    Unless, in the Fall, after Spartacus…
    You go on the diet that never was
    Try food of the gods, just because
    You then can, let love do what it does:
    Consume the mind, feed the soul
    With delirious calories, loss of control
    Which is the real hunger behind the need
    Those are the words I want to read,,,,

  11. I’ve been thinking about your revelation “After two drinks…”. Two drinks for you? Two drinks for them? Or maybe two drinks for everyone? My advice is to marry a bartender and never worry again. And everyone needs a personal weirdo in their life. Lots of good advice today!

  12. Regarding your 7 year old Keds – it drove my ex-wife crazy that I didn’t throw away my sneakers after purchasing a new pair. When I would say “Ya never know when I’m gonna have to push your car out of the mud after a heavy rain”, she would just roll her eyes (this was in Colorado). When it rained and I put on my old sneakers to push her car out of the mud, I said “Sure am glad I had those old sneakers!”

    We divorced not long after – lol.

  13. Ahh! Romance. It doesn’t get any easier as we get older. At least you’ve got a dog. There are a lot of dogs in my building. I know not to stop them when they are trying to get out the door. The dogs (and owners) have other things on their minds. If I catch them coming back in the building, they’ll usually stop and let me pet them.

    Catty Cakes sounds like a wonderful cardiologist. At least she’s not harping on you to eat less fat.

    We will make it thru this heat.

  14. When you said “popsicle toes”, I immediately flashed on Michael Franks, a jazzy vocalist with a hit song of the same name. I often played his records or cassettes when trying to woo the opposite sex. Boy does that date me. Heck, if you want to be a fool, better to be a romantic fool!

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