The Year in Review

I need a total life purge. I need to clean my closets, carwash my colon.

Gotta do something about the linen closet where I’m constantly cramming in towels and sheets, slamming the doors quickly so they won’t spill out.

My late lovely wife Posh had it all so organized, with swirly hand-written labels: Pillow cases, twin sheets, double-doubles, etc.

For a while, I followed this system before giving up and adopting the cram-it-all-in system of closet organizing: shove, BAM! Seems to work pretty well for me.

Maybe I should write a how-to book.

Indeed, January is the dreariest month, the shoving-it-away month…the bills, the IRS appointments, those nasty resolutions. BAM!

So grim. So spartan, after the lights and fa-la-la of December…a kind of mid-winter Lent.

Psssssst, here’s America’s dirty little secret: There is no record of anyone ever keeping a New Year’s resolution, at least not in California, usually America’s bastion of well-kept promises.

Why bother? No one has ever lost weight (and kept it off), nor been nicer to family members, nor save-save-saved the way they resolved to on New Year’s Eve. In the end, too much money still goes to sushi and coffee.

So don’t kid yourself. Skip the resolutions. Have another glass of ale, or maybe a gin & tonic. Dab a little behind each ear.

And put it on my tab. Tell the bartender you’re my cousin – that’s what everybody does.

For the record, my bar tab at the Proper, a dandy little saloon across from the Firestone dealer, has now topped $1.2 trillion. So, really, what’s another Amstel Light?

The Year in Review:

Basically, 2021 sucked. Not as badly as the year before, but don’t they all suck? Sorry to be so crude, but there really is no better word.

As I told a pal the other night, did you every say goodbye to a year and think: “Wow, that was an incredible year. Sure sad to see it go.”

After college, they all suck.

January 2021 sucked, though I was able to assemble a nice teriyaki bowl at home, with corn and leftover chicken.

In February things really started going south. I bought a piece of veal so stringy and flavorless that it might’ve been a book. The internet went down, so I took White Fang for a long walk in the pouring rain; she didn’t even pee.

47 layers of fun and no skin.

Yet, the cold rain made her gleeful, chatty, at her very best. FYI, huskies have 47 layers of fur and no skin. I have translucent skin, almost a cellophane. You can make out my blood clots.

In March, Smartacus and I took a little day trip to Ventura, where we got the best cheeseburgers ever, at that old falling-down place Duke’s.

A week later, I hit the trifecta in the 7th at Santa Anita, after betting on a swan, a mule and a one-legged goose. Solid investment. Paid $24.60, which is tragically  low for a trifecta, for sure.

For the record, March did not totally suck. Not at all. On the 31st, I got my first Covid shot!

Oh yeah, and we ordered King Cake for Mardi Gras! And we visited the University of Trees, Smartacus’ dream school — like Dublin, with more daffodils. One of the deans is a Leprechaun.

King Cake, a Carnival tradition that has followed us west.

So there we were, vulnerable and happy, our reinforced immune systems cooking along, thinking life might work out just fine after all.

Don’t ever think that.

April sucked. I bought some sunflowers, and they lasted, like, two days is all, when usually they last a week. A debilitating angst began to settle in.

Smartacus won a baseball game, 14-2, so that was kinda cool. They let me work the scoreboard, then yelled at me when I screwed up. We crushed South Pas. Or maybe it was San Marino (white kids all look the same to me).

Pure poetry at the plate, Smartacus Erskine, No. 13.

Rapunzel bought a nice new scarf.

Another highlight: In May, Catty Cakes was born, the first baby in the immediate family in 18 years. I told folks: “Sure hope this grandbaby works out better than Smartacus,” when in truth if she brings in even half as much light into my world, she will be a roaring success.

I see her pitching left, batting right … mastering an omelet …reading a racing form…quoting Bukowski…leading a rich and Runyonesque life.

“Listen, kid,” I told Cakes. “No expectations. Just love and joy and fastballs fat over the plate.”

Catty Cakes on the week she was born: Sure hope she works out.


June-November was a total blur of crawfish, friends’ kids’ weddings, court subpoenas, restraining orders and bankruptcies. Got a nail in my tire. Some bearded dude claimed to be my real mom. The lovely and patient older daughter got married again. Same guy!!!

I dated a little. Lost everything.

By December, at the age of 65, I’d outlived my retirement savings. Cashed in my last Savings Bond, started buying lottery tickets and cryptocurrency (same thing?) with every last cent.

Hit it big.

So obviously, we enter 2022 with very high hopes indeed, hoping to build on the  momentum we established in those final festive months of 2021.

Spoiler alert: 2022 may suck too. Just a guess.

Despite myself, here are my resolutions: 1) Write a dirty limerick; 2) Become a famous rabbi.

Also, to better communicate with the ones I love, beyond the grunts, snorts and giggles I usually use.

FYI, grunts, snorts and giggles are my “love language.” Obviously, it’s not enough. I really need to get this giggling thing under control. The hiccups too.

Maybe we don’t crave new years. Perhaps all we crave is second chances. A hail Mary or two. And laughs, and new memories, and onion rings galore.

Happy New Year, my friend.

Here’s to love and joy and fastballs fat over the plate.

As you know, the comments are the best part about these Facebook posts. Starting today, I’m going to leave those to you. Really, I just mess them up anyway. Hope that makes sense. Meanwhile, be safe, be sassy, be better than ever. So many laughs and good times ahead.

13 thoughts on “The Year in Review

  1. You have inspired me to start a journal of good things starting today. Imagine the ability to look back at 2022 & see the good. My memory bank holds exactly one good thing from 2021 (maybe 2, lunch in Hollywood is always a treat.) A really sucky year or declining brain performance like the TV ads tell me? Probably both. This journal won’t look like my previous attempts. If found, It won’t get me excommunicated from the family, arrested or committed. The days may contain only one word or pages of gush.
    Now if I was starting this journey yesterday, surely I should include the great takeout from Las Agaves when their staff was inundated w catering but most likely, I would have penned that fancy jam that I found on the half price shelf at the market.
    Sorry, no dirty limerick or sass, just Happy New Year & a heartfelt TY for what you do.

  2. Chris, looks to me like your 2021 was filled with kids, babies, sports, good friends and great libations-and I bet the women have formed a line to date you. May your 2022 be just as blessed. D

  3. Chris, as always you prove to be the master of sarcasm, irony and wit. Trudge on! Shalom. Val B

  4. Try as you might to highlight the sucky aspects, the ONE event of 2021 that you will never forget and always treasure is Catty Cakes. If you get one event like that in any year, it is a treasure. May you continue to be blessed with great friends, appreciative fans and an exceptional family. Oh, and gin, of course. Happy New Year, Chris.

  5. Chris- Your articles are what we all enjoyed in 2021 and look forward to another year full of interesting stories. As I’ve told you before, you’re a mix of Mike Royko with a splash of Dave Berry and I always know when Weds and Saturday’s roll around with your writings in my inbox. Thanks for great reading and Happy New Year to you and your family. We’ll keep thinking of you here in Chicago!!!!!

  6. Oy, Kvis, you think you have troubles? I would kill for your problems. (Not a lot of Rabbis named Christopher, so Kvis may be the best we can do.) 2021? Eize basa. It sucked. What a shame. Sadly, we lost one of our greats, Rabbi Jackie Mason. Al hapanim. Terrible. Such wit. Such humor. No offense, you’re funny enough too. You’re no Jackie Mason, of course. Oh, you think so? (Chia b’seret.) And then our poor country. What a balagan thanks to that manyak, Brandon. What a zayin. Best of luck in Yeshiva and with the poetry project. “There once was a man from Beersheba…”

  7. Yo! metro denizens and lovely outliers. Herewith, an brief epistle from The Big Apple to La La Land:

    In A New York Minute

    Bodda boom, botta bang
    The fireworks sang
    Winter’s thick chill
    Poured over the sill
    Of a half-open door
    Like cream on the floor
    Bells thundered and rang
    Streets silent, remembering
    The old year’s dark secrets—
    Mere midnight regrets;

    What comes with the dawn ?
    Cold light laid on lawn
    Warm blanket’s illusion
    Big city confusion
    A New Year amends
    To what never ends
    Old calendars burned
    New pages turned
    To the next bright image
    And dawn of its age;

    You feel the crescendo
    It’s New York innuendo—
    New year’s first minute
    Now you are in it
    The ball falling down
    With the hope that you own
    To light up the town
    With the New Year unknown
    And raucous ballyhoo…
    We’re in ttwenty-twenty-two.

    (With apologies to the spirit of Leonard Cohen)

  8. If we all look hard enough we will find something worth while in our previous year. We are all alive and somewhat healthy and able to be with our grandkids and there is nothing better. Just visited a museum with 2 of my granddaughters and what better memory for 2022 already. Keep writing and giving us a lighter day. Happy New Year to you and yours.

  9. Hi, , Chris,
    It’s been awhile. Just starting to deal with FB and correspondence. Loved this column. Been home from the hospital about a month now, and reading your Year in Review was such a breath of fresh air! All the best to you and your whole family! 😀☀️🤗🤗🐾🥂🥂‼️

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