In our last episode, I was considering having a plastic surgeon install a dimpled Tom Brady chin as a way of luring a very marginal actress, for whom I have mixed emoticons.
Kristen Stewart is like a bag of potato chips – bad yet irresistible. When you’re done, you just hate yourself a little.
Love is kinda complicated.
I was also pondering the state of getting older while cradling my beautiful new grandbaby, who smells of snowy mountains and egg nog.
She’s so small she almost qualifies as minutiae. For the Christening, we bubble-wrapped her in that re-constructed wedding gown, the one her grandmother wore only once, yet to great effect, in that sweaty little church near Miami long ago.
Back then, Posh was a size zero. What would that make Catty Cakes? Minutiae, that’s what. I penciled it out, and she has approximately the same mass as a soap bubble.
As Sondheim put it, “It’s the pebble, not the stream…it’s the ripple, not the sea.”
Like many tiny objects — engagement rings, shot glasses – Catty Cakes represents much more than what a scale might read. She is the ultimate emblem of hope and renewal.
Nothing like a smiling baby to energize a fading family. You see it all the time with the Hapsburgs and the Windsors. Now us.
Puppies are good too, by the way. And they never run off to college ($250k a pop, often more). At the current rate of inflation, Catty Cakes’ college will cost a billion dollars. I’ve given up eating to start a tuition fund.
Meanwhile, my Medicare card came in the mail the other day. So excited. Like getting a driver’s license for old age. I plan to wave it around at bars and stuff. I mean, how will Kristen Stewart resist me now?
Not that I need much health care. I’ve got Dr. Steve in my corner, the Hunter S. Thompson of modern medicine. He grows herbal remedies – and some nifty hallucinogenic kale — right in the trunk of his aging Eldorado. And he now accepts Medicare!
According to Dr. Steve, I’m robust and strong. Honestly, I inherited my bulgy biceps from my mom; they still poke a little from my Polo shirt when I’m squeezing a beer.
My only health issue? The left anterior schnitzel is still giving me fits — down around the first turn, normally where a knee cap might be. Might be blood flow. If leg curls don’t help, I’ll probably treat it with a bowl of Dr. Steve’s magic kale, dripping in a tart balsamic.
Weirdest thing at the gym the other day. As usual, I shoved everything in the locker, then snapped on the combo lock, like I’ve done a ba-zillion times. Only it wasn’t my lock. It was another lock. I’d locked my lock with another dude’s lock.
How did that lock get into my bag? Did I pick it up by mistake, or did someone accidently drop it in there?
I decided to go off for my swim, figuring I’d ask the gym staff to bolt-cut the mystery lock when I was done.
But I couldn’t enjoy the swim. By then, I started thinking, “How brilliant: Some gypsy crime boss probably dropped his lock in my bag on purpose, and now he’s cleaning out my stuff while humming Estonian pop songs.”
Admittedly, that was pretty paranoid, but we live in paranoid times. Besides, this is LA, where a lot of weird stuff happens every single day.
In the end, the mystery lock was still there when I finished my swim, and the Y staff promptly snapped it off with bolt-cutters; all was well.
Plus, I had a story to tell at the Santa Monica barbecue the next day. I needed a decent story because I was hanging out with three guys with incredible jobs.
Let me say this about that: For all LA’s faults, for all its failures to live up to the hype, or to deliver on its promises, for all the blowsy overblown myths, our broken city has an incredible work force – young, technical and creative all at once.
At this barbecue, one dude was an actual rocket scientist; another worked in biz development for Google. The third guy was a Navy Seal, though no one was supposed to mention it. Word gets around though.
They were like the A-Team. With their three skill sets, you could conquer Canada.
And then there was me, the mini-dude with barbecue sauce on my chin, leaning on my good knee so the schnitzel didn’t hurt so much.
“So, how about dem Dodgers?” I blurted through a mouthful of cheese and crackers.
In talking to the three dudes with incredible jobs, I felt like such a slacker, though I have penned a few books, a TV show and was once named “Coach of the Year” after a particularly weak season of youth baseball. Pretty sure all the other coaches were in jail.
I bought a lot of pizza for the team that season — that was always my coaching secret.
And you have to keep the families involved, for I knew on the way home that the parents would post-mortem the game, nitpick my substitutions and come to the conclusion that everything wrong in that game – and in the world — was somehow my fault.
Look, if you don’t have thick skin, you shouldn’t even be alive. That applies to the NFL on down to the youngest youth levels, where the real coaching pressure is. Trust me, some of these moms never forget.
Fortunately, I could repair almost any team problem with pizza. I would also take the weakest player and in some way make him or her a star.
I’d make a big deal about how this player told the best jokes, or kept the bats straight in the dugout.
I constantly warned the players that sports teams are generally fascist organizations where everyone is expected to move in lockstep. Us? We were rugged individualists, and by tapping into that refusal to conform — by tapping into all our varied strengths — we were far stronger than our opponents.
I’d mention John Lennon, John Locke and John Belushi – all giant advocates for free will.
Over? Did you say “over?” Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!
The dads always chuckled at that one, flashing back to their favorite movie, getting a little drunk just pondering their own “Animal House” pasts.
The moms would think: “Has Coach been drinking tequila again?”
On a good year, we won half our games, unless we had a rock-star pitcher, which always changes everything.
From the Major Leagues on down, you need a rock-star pitcher, and great pitchers are usually kind of nuts, so then you have that to deal with.
In softball, we had this rock-star pitcher named Jessica, who wasn’t nuts but she ended up at Harvard, which probably turned her nuts eventually. All those egg heads. All those future presidents. All those glorious expectations. It’s all kinda nuts.
Me, I’m an anti-intellectual Jeffersonian agrarianist. Does it show? That’s what got me where I am today, dirt poor and writing these twice-weekly love notes to you for free.
“Free love!” That’s my motto.
Admit it: You learn a lot here, don’t you?
Just remember: In less than a week I’m chauffeuring Smartacus off to university, one of those freakishly lush campuses that turns tiny pebbles into rocks.
In no time, he’ll be adding to the family treasure chest of wisdom and accomplishment.
Listen, it’s tough to be a scion, a notable offshoot of whom so much is expected. Trust me, I know.
When he gets anxious. I remind him that I was once an idiot too. No really. I was.
And now look at me, with my dimpled chin (I just added it with a Sharpie). Look at me with my rock-star grandbaby and super-sly college-bound son.
Three pebbles. One stream.
Did you say “over?”
Anyone have an extra suitcase? We are in full college packing mode. Rapunzel has been buying him lots of useless stuff, including a mirror and duplicate rainwear. The presumption is that, up in Oregon and having never experienced rain, Smartacus might well drown. I tell him to keep his nose pointed downward when he walks and to watch out for mud puddles. He didn’t know what mud puddles look like, so I showed him a photo. Oh, these milestones. First the Medicare card, and now this. Might be too much. I’ll need a good hike when I’m back. Stay tuned, I’ll send up a flare. Meanwhile, please find past columns, baby pictures, books and gin glasses at ChrisErskineLA.com, one of the most-popular websites in the world. And it’s free!