Tingles of the Heart

As you can imagine, I was a very good looking kid. My third-grade teacher actually kissed me one day in the hall. On the cheek, with her dry February lips.

Ewwwww, you say, but we were both really into it.

She was a student teacher, probably 21; I was 8. After the spontaneous kiss, I dreamed of marrying her – once I learned cursive writing so I could sign the contract on a nice starter home.

Relationships are so hard. Like most, that one didn’t work out either. Hope she’s OK.

Worst of all, the twins (Jim and Joe Wagner) spotted the student teacher kissing me on the cheek that day in the hallway. Can you imagine the school-yard backlash over that?

Trust me, my buddies were all just jealous. They wanted the beautiful young student teacher to kiss them on the cheek too.

You have no idea what that did for attendance that year. My buddies and I didn’t miss a single day.

Because in third grade, we were all experiencing the first tingles of our untamed hearts.

I blame it on the snow. In a Midwestern winter, you are all the time taking your clothes off.

In winter, you’d wear 14 layers, and you’d start the school day on your rump in the hallway peeling off your boots and your many layers of flannel and wool, amid the steamy breath of your classmates also peeling off their flannel and wool.

To this day, I enjoy a cold snap and a gentle snowfall.

I also like weddings, by the way.

“Gonna be a good week,” I chirped the other morning, as we prepared the older daughter’s bungalow for the busy days ahead.

Spiders had descended on the lovely and patient older daughter’s place, as they do this time of year. Not to brag, but I’m pretty good with a garden hose. In a few hours, I’d rid the porch of the dust, grit and cobwebs so common to a SoCal fall.

Then I washed the windows and planted her some plants. Visitors will be in and out, and I thought the little bungalow should look its very best.

Now guests will have some nice marigolds to trip over after they stop by for a beer. I mean, who notices marigolds when you have a bride like her?

Anyway, it felt the thing to do.

Smartacus is coming in for the wedding, his first trip home from college. Still not used to him being gone. In the mornings, I continue to tiptoe around on cat’s feet, trying not to wake him, even though he sleeps 800 miles away.

I was thinking of him the other day – I’m always thinking of him a little – as I put on a pair of gym socks with L on one and R on the other, like a toddler’s mittens.

If Smartacus were home at the time, I would’ve intentionally put the socks on the wrong feet, then walked as if I couldn’t avoid doing the splits – a loose-limbed Dick Van Dyke schtick.

After switching the socks to the correct feet, I’d take a few normal steps, then somersault over White Fang.

Comedy is surprise. That surprise you?

And does it surprise you that my older daughter is having a second wedding, 17 months after the first mini-wedding? Evidently, the first was so good we’re making it an annual event.

So, Smartacus will be there. Catty Cakes too. Nothing fancy, though there will be a few flourishes.

For example, an hour before the ceremony, helicopters will begin dropping actual angels from the sky.

Angels aren’t cheap, either, especially in LA, where there are so few. We’re having to bus them in from Utah and Idaho, mostly.

Then, as everyone exits the church, we’ll begin projecting rainbows into the afternoon sky – another nice touch you don’t see every day. That’s not cheap either.

Nor is Streisand singing. Nor the furry unicorns (but small, like Shetland ponies). Nor the belly dancers.

Among the men, the big question remains: How much college football can we sneak off to watch before there is hell to pay?

Stay tuned for that answer.

Of course, there will be good music throughout. Given the occasion, I suggested lots of “long tragic songs in a minor key,” as per Joni Mitchell, but I think the bride and groom are set on a series of polkas and a little too much Village People.


The big concern? Flow rates. Are there enough bartenders? Should we pre-pour all the wine?


It’ll sure be good to see everyone. Friends and family are flying in from Florida, North Carolina, New York.

There are so many mad Irish coming in from Chicago that the National Guard has been called out; Caltrans has already started closing freeway ramps.

Style note: It’s not a “riot” (please, we don’t call them that anymore).

It’s a wedding!

This is my birthday week as well. No big deal. On Tuesday, I turned 32.

Or so I thought. Then the Medicare card arrived in the mail.

Whaaaaaaaat? Me? I was just in third grade, learning cursive and collecting kisses.

Friends gathered for a surprise bash in the backyard. Still not sure how my daughters pulled that one off. Tacos, tequila, my kids, my sister, all the important things in my life, right there.

Surprise!!! Whaaaaaaaat? Me?

My buddy Howard suggested we celebrate my milestone by getting lunch in El Segundo, then going down to throw rocks at that hideous new LA Times building near the airport.

Sounds like fun, Howard. Let’s rent jet packs!

Point is, I’m 65, and still not done, though I did forget the key in the front door overnight, so my long dramatic fade may be at hand.

“Sixty-five and ready to dive!” Dogpark Gary crowed when I told him.

Yet, physically, I remain on top of my game. There is not a jar of salsa that I cannot open. And in 7 rounds of Corn Hole this fall, I’ve won a solid 3 of them.

My flower-child mind still mostly works. Over the years, I’ve accumulated a body of knowledge remarkable in its uselessness.

For instance:

–If a running back ever stiff-arms you, just grab him by the arm till help arrives.

–If you’re drilling into tile, use a small block of wood to prevent the drill bit from slipping.

You get the idea. Men are the sum total of their trivial pursuits, life in a minor key. There is probably no idiot on the planet who has assembled more.

And I’m not even done yet — that’s the scary part.

“Nobody writes L.A. better. Nobody,” my buddy Forrest suggested the other day after I mocked Beverly Hills. “In losing him, The Times lost consciousness.”

Nawwww, not so much. The Times is as lucid as ever. Quite nearly coherent. I’m the only one losing consciousness.

After all, my amazing daughter is about to marry this Finn fella all over again – in a grand public ceremony with a wee baby in tow.

In golf, we call that a Mulligan. Who was Mulligan? Buddy Mulligan, another Irishman who was fond of do-overs.

As am I, the king of comebacks, the scion of second shots.

Please get me to the church on time.

Full coverage of the wedding will start at 2 pm Saturday on my website…just kidding. I probably won’t write another word about it. I’m a very private person, though I do gush too much about my kids —  the best gifts I ever got. I think it’s important to surround yourself with sunny people. Or with snide ones who make you laugh. Point is, get out there, among friends, family and random wolves. And don’t forget the Thanksgiving weekend hike coming up soon. In El Segundo, probably…ironically. There’s a great little saloon with a purple pool table that I’ve been wanting to show you. Cheers

17 thoughts on “Tingles of the Heart

  1. I’m not done either. Never stop Chris, that’s when you die. Enjoy the wedding and your lovely family! And definitely drink a bit too much. I saw a t-shirt in Key West once that said, “The liver is evil and must be punished.” Hey it could be right.

  2. Thank God you are NOT a very private person, or what would we all do for entertainment? Wishing you, your daughter and son in law and your whole big, happy clan a beautiful second wedding. Clearly, with Catty Cakes as a result, the first one was a winner! And Happy Belated Birthday to you, too!

  3. Sign me up coach for El Segundo! I’ll call the beautious Patti Mahoney and we will meet you in the “Gundo!” Maybe we can talk Verge into a visit!

  4. Nostalgia neuralgia, but so easy on the nerves. The idea of multiple weddings to the same person is a lovely statement. This is how I think it should be, the celebrations becoming ever more winey and sonorous, grander and richer, rather than tailing off into some kind of silence no one realizes they cannot spell. If all our most beloved relationships grew like this and were thusly celebrated, what a festival existence would be. And isn’t it supposed to be something like that? Somehow, I think Chris thinks so. You know, heaven on earth. Why not ?

  5. Happy belated birthday chris,
    Love hearing about the beautiful family, congrats to the bride & groom

  6. WooHoo! Another wedding, what could be nicer?! And a hike in El Segundo? I live near El Segundo! And here I thought I’d never see you again. Please send me particulars and reserve a place for me. It may not be Chez Jay’s but the purple pool table more than makes up for it (did I ever tell you I won a women’s pool tournament once {a long time ago}). All good things, Judy

  7. Congratulations on the wedding, the way you’re handling life, and your wonderful new access to Medicare. Don’t fall for the Medicare Advantage promise of ‘no premium, no copays, everything is free.’ If you do, Dr. Steve will never get paid. Call if you need help.

  8. So enjoy your columns and your onsite into humanity. Have a wonderful wedding celebration and a belated happy birthday. Hooe yo be at the next hike.

  9. Congratulations to the bride and groom on their upcoming second nuptials. And belated birthday wishes to you. I raise my glass 🎉cheers!

  10. Now that you’re 65, you should watch Great Depression Cooking with 94-year-old Clara. She knew the secret to happiness: gratitude, of course. She delighted at a free dandelion salad collected on the way home from work. Subsisted on bread and coffee for breakfast for years. Loved kitchen gadgets. People just get better with age. Sweeter. Saltier. Soak up the golden. Cheers.

    1. Welcome to “senior” status. It’s not so bad. Medicare is a big plus! And if you exercise and eat right (not that I really think that you will) and if you limit your drinking (oh-oh) you will be healthy as a horse and feel great for another 20 years. Love you whatever you choose to do. You are a treasure!

  11. Three points, in order:
    1.) My parents asked me, “Why did you sign up for typing?” Every 16-year-old boy in my high school knew the answer: “Mrs. Parkinson”. 100% attendance, in her classes.
    2.) Don’t worry about flow rate. People are more than happy to stand in line and chat, for free booze.
    3.) I’m 3 months behind you. I still have Mrs. Parkinson in my dreams. So what if I’m a little sore after raking the leaves?

  12. ” The Times is lucid as ever, quite nearly coherent.” What paper are you reading?
    My guess is that the paper
    is churned out by a class of robot zombies using a programmed manuscript.

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