Already workers are stringing holiday lights along the boulevard. You can read the thought-bubbles of the passing drivers:
Already? Already? Already? Already?
Always on the run, America has lost its ability to savor the moment.
I was having a leftover cannoli for breakfast the other day, which left me thinking: “How bad can life be? I’m having cannoli for breakfast?”
I would’ve chased the cannoli with a glass of Italian wine a friend brought by, but we drank it all the night before. They can be rather bland, these Italian wines, but this one tasted like sunlight through aspen…like a young Cybill Shepherd would taste, were she a $15 bottle of Italian wine.
Seriously. Don’t you kinda wish?
Anyway, Dogpark Gary– always a sage, often an inspiration – explains that we have entered the Age of Frustration. All around us, there are advancements that don’t feel like advancements. They only make life more frustrating.
The Age of Frustration began when TVs started having 3 remotes. It began to blossom when your driver’s window automatically went all the way up, or all the way down, whether you wanted it to or not.
Know what I mean?
Dogpark Gary was telling how he recently bought a tool in heavy plastic packaging, then cut himself trying to open it, the sharp heavy plastic lancing him like a bowie knife.
“Have you tried opening a bottle of Bayer lately?” he asks.
So, that’s what we face, and we face it with humor and resilience.
Dogpark Gary and I laugh over this idiot stuff every morning at the park, as some turd in a muscle car roars onto the freeway, poisoning the quiet. We wince. We laugh.
We savor the moment.
And what a moment it is, late October, the TV aflame with football, another grand Rose Bowl tailgate on the horizon. Someone please push the pause button.
Look, it’s not just me. White Fang loves October too much too – the texture of the pumpkins, the joy of a freshly harvested martini at a buzzy bar with the Packers on TV.
White Fang wants to copyright this month. Own it. Make it 200 days long.
You know, in my free time, I’ve been teaching her how to drive.
You’re probably thinking: “Wow, a wolf at the wheel? Is that wise?” But if you’ve seen LA freeways lately, you know she can only do better.
Admittedly, White Fang has trouble parallel parking, and is a little aggressive on the freeway ramps. For a female, she has a ton of testosterone – too much maybe. Runs in the family, this testosterone thing. As you might’ve sensed, it affects the women far more than the men. And the men actually seem attracted by it.
White Fang is in good hands though. As it happens, I am possibly the world’s best parallel parker. Were there some sort of global award, I would win in annually. I could back a school bus into a cup of tea.
Parallel parking was once a requirement for getting your driver’s license. Then some bureaucrat canceled that. Traffic has been a disaster ever since.
As I was telling Dogpark Gary, the best way to relieve congestion on California freeways would be to double-down on the difficulty of the driving test. Make it like the bar exam.
As it is now, they may as well distribute driver’s licenses in vending machines (obviously, that’s what Glendale does).
A tougher driving test might be discriminatory? Exactly.
It would discriminate against the dopes who shouldn’t be behind the wheel in the first place – rich and poor, young and old, dumb and dumber. Especially those who cannot read. If you can’t read, you should not be driving.
You’re welcome. Stop by next week when I finally solve the lingering port crisis.
Anyway, to prepare White Fang for driving in LA –– I’ve been taking her through busy intersections at 90 mph. You’d think the cops would stop us – a wolf at the wheel, a burger in her fist, driving 90. But the police always seem to have better things to do.
The last time anyone was stopped for speeding in our community was nine years ago. The Chardonnay Moms are on to that. Now, it’s like driving in Rome – no stop signs, no lights, no limits – luxe SUVs zigging this way and that, pedestrians diving for their lives.
Such a world we’re in. I really like it! Super entertaining.
For there is, in the pre-winter breezes, in the leaves underfoot, a growing sense that White Fang will really nail her driving test.
You know, we’re quite the couple. White Fang smells like fresh snow; I smell like lunch meat. It is one of those one-sided parasocial relationships, where one party is really into it and the other not so much. Big deal.
Saved her from a pack of coyotes the other night, so she’s been extra snuggly.
White Fang had been outside barking, under that monster moon. I raced out to find a small pack of coyotes. For the coyotes, it was fall rush or something, and they’d stopped by to haze her. Big bullies. I’ve got a baseball bat and a wolf/husky with anger issues. Bring it on, fellas!
Meanwhile, up in Oregon, Smartacus is battling a bad throat. He called me the other morning and rasped, “Daaaaaaad, what’s wrong with me?”
I said, “How much time you got?”
Smartacus had a fever, now he has this sore throat. For two weeks, his foot has been killing him – he bumped it on the bunk bed. A wheelchair is not out of the question. Or at least someone to donkey him around.
For the first time in my son’s life, I am unable to help him — to feel his forehead, to check for swollen glands behind his ears.
“He needs to call us himself,” the nice lady at the health center says when I phone for an appointment.
That’s fair. He is on his own now; navigating our impossible healthcare system is part of growing up.
Big news: In a week, White Fang and I will be off to see him, on the road trip of all road trips. It will be Parents’ Weekend up there at the University of Trees, and we are the only parents the kid has: A dog who drives; a dad who wears old whaling sweaters (like a one-eyed lighthouse keeper in a Hallmark movie).
Yikes, he’s so screwed.
Seriously, all Smartacus has right now are two overly sentimental goofs who really, really love him. Isn’t that enough?
No, but we’re coming anyway, OK?
Through the scarlet orchards of the Pacific Northwest, through the blasting rains of late October, munching on dried mango and roasted peanuts straight from the jar, singing along to Harry Chapin, listening for the latest farm reports….
Hold the fort, kid.
Your folks are on the way.
Wow, that was long. Pass the eyedrops, right? Take a nap. You earned it. And when you awaken, please consider purchasing “Daditude,” the prequel to all of this — early columns about the early days. BG, I call it (before gin). Before life did a number on me. Good stuff, some of it. Go to ChrisErskineLA.com for info on books, commemorative t-shirts and gin glasses. There are past columns available there too, and sign-ups for future hikes and gin tastings. Cheers and thanks.