Fall started early the other day, on the velvet prairie beside the Rose Bowl, with a hundred friends, only about half of whom I recognized.
In honor of LSU, I made 20 pounds of jambalaya. The Cajun roux came out like oil-based paint.
Seriously, it was like a tailgate party thrown by Mr. Magoo.
Throw a tailgate yourself some time. Giving away food and booze is a fine way to make new friends, or re-enlist the goofs you already have.
It was a hot day … it was toast. Yet we found a breezy little oassis under the oaks next to this 100-year-old sports mansion, the one that still gives me thrills at 5 o’clock each evening when the neon comes on.
That’s when the party really starts at the Rose Bowl. They should build a grand patio restaurant here, an idea I’ve championed for years…here in the shadow of the mountains, next to the stadium where Michael Jackson and Jackie Robinson once danced.
It’s a tourist destination, with or without a grand game. They’ve held four Super Bowls here, a couple of World Cups, and a few times each football season we hold these silly little tailgates full of adults tossing around bean bags and beer.
Tailgates should be going all the time here; that’s my point.
As you know, I’m a relatively shy man who throws gigantic parties. You’d think I was running for office. Or addressing some personal shortcoming.
Which one? That’s anybody’s guess.
Miller was here, as were Gary, Bittner, Charlie, Verge and some other drunks I can’t quite remember.
And me, a guy who “hurls words into the darkness,” to borrow from the author Richard Wright. Splaaaaaaat. They’re not exactly made of crystal, my words.
The morning of the tailgate came early. White Fang woke me. The moonlight glowed in her face, and she had her forearm across my thorax.
I knew right then it would be a very special day.
I heard a siren. Then a coyote screamed nearby, celebrating breakfast – a rabbit, a cat, some sort of sudden death.
They call this the City of Angels. I think they meant that to be ironic.
As you may have heard, we had a bear in the yard the other day. He stopped by “to bless us,” explained my buddy Steve Searles, the renowned “Bear Whisperer” of Mammoth Lakes.
Lemme tell you, we could really use some blessings right now. The fridge smells funky and I think the dishwasher is about to cave. Could somebody send over a bishop, a cardinal, maybe a couple of rabbis? Have them bring shrimp, because apparently this bear really likes shrimp.
Then we’ll start the blessings.
“Dear God, bless this plain little house, and especially the ragged front lawn that the dog has torn all to hell…”
Obviously, we’re in a real state of flux here.
Friends have been asking how I will handle my son’s college departure in a couple of weeks. I tell them that I will let Smartacus go the same way the New England Patriots released Cam Newton: reluctantly and with a very heavy heart.
I certainly won’t cry, if that’s what you’re wondering. I mean, really. Men like me seldom cry. Instead, we curdle from the inside out.
Dropping off your last kid is never easy. My buddy Jack posted the other day about dropping his youngest, Maggie, at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, and John and Laura dropped their daughter Kelleigh at Barnard in New York.
Meanwhile, Smartacus has a pal in her second week at Harvard. She proudly posted a pic the other day of a new belly button ring. So, obviously, things are going just as you might expect at Harvard. Such a party school. For me, it was a fallback…a safety pick. Maybe it’s gotten better with time.
Meanwhile Part II: To help decorate Smartacus’ dorm room, his sister Rapunzel has created what they call a “mood board,” a collection of colors and ideas that hip interior designers use to customize a project.
A lovely gesture, this mood board, and it will help Rapunzel pick appropriate items for his dorm room. I did warn Smartacus, though, not to mention the mood board to his new college buddies.
“Better off sucking your thumb.”
Used to be, when you moved into your dorm room all you did was hang a Farrah poster — or if you were edgy, Patty Hearst with a beret and a tommy gun. Then you’d turn your speaker to the window to blast Frampton.
It’s a sign of the times that parents are now so involved in decorating dorm rooms. Facebook is burning up with debates over bed pads and storage units.
One mom wanted to know her son’s options for stringing a laundry line. Another wanted to know how to acquire a side rail so her Little Einstein won’t fall out of bed.
One dad had the nerve to suggest the parents back off a little.
To the moms, that seemed crazy talk. Back off? YOU back off, mister!
Hey, this dorm stuff will all work out. Life Rule No. 1: Things usually work out OK.
I think that once I get the seven surveillance cameras positioned in Smartacus’ dorm room, I will back off a little too, knowing that I can check in on him day or night.
Anyone know: Does Target carry dorm surveillance kits? Maybe I should just order on Amazon? Would a “nanny cam” do the trick?
Also, does anyone know whether the University of Oregon offers any sort of turn-down service? The website says absolutely nothing about who will tuck them in at night.
Listen, dorms needn’t be the cinderblock tombs they once were. With a little love, they can be as cush as a Four Seasons.
It’ll all work out. I’ll send pix.
My 12-hour tailgate did a number on my wounded knee, so we’ll push back the hike a week or two, perhaps till I return from the college drop off. I only want to give you my very best. Meanwhile, good luck to all the empty-nest parents. We’ll rally again soon as well. Info (on past columns, books, etc.) ChrisErskineLA.com