The Soup Spoon

Been eating a lot of fish lately, so expect news from me soon on intestinal parasites, the kind you pick up when you don’t pay top dollar for your orange roughy, or insist on dropping a line in random golf course lakes.

Hoping the gin keeps that under control.

By the way, what’s with this “Dry January” bullspit? If ever a month should not be dry, it’s January. Sure, I support occasional attempts at personal responsibility. Just don’t get carried away with it.

As you know, I occasionally date my physician, Dr. Steve, who works out of the trunk of an aging red Eldorado, mostly the East Valley, but he’ll go anywhere, trust me.

When business slows, he also cleans pools.

The next time I go drinking with Dr. Steve, I’m going to ask him, “Dr. Steve, what do you think about all this Dry January bullspit? It can’t really be good for people, right?”

So, some clarity on this issue is forthcoming, as well as any tidbits on intestinal parasites he might offer. Dr. Steve teaches at Keck. Smartest guy I know, which I realize isn’t saying too much.

Still…

By the way, I made a new friend at the Starbucks yesterday, as I took White Fang out for a “puppuccino,” her favorite Sunday brunch.

We’re sitting on the patio at Starbucks, me reading Drabble to the dog like it’s Wordsworth.  Since the mid-’60s, the Sunday comics have been my weekly habit. Andy Capp was a particular favorite. And Charlie Brown. Sigh.

These days, I like Dilbert and Zits. Aside from them, the comics aren’t as funny as they once were, though they’re still funnier than network TV, which in the past few years hit a low point in funny.

There, I said it: In its 70-year history, TV has never been this unfunny. Case in point: “Kenan.”

Go ahead, buy The New York Times, or the LA Times, even The London Times, but you will never read criticism as erudite and tuned in as that. TV just isn’t funny anymore.

Carry on as best you can.

Anyway, I’ve got my dog and my funny papers, so I’m cool. String together enough of these joyous little micro-bursts, you can feel like a billionaire. At least that’s what I tell myself.

And out walks this stranger, griping about having to wear a mask inside Starbucks. And I say to him, “Yeah man, that’s super annoying. But think of the poor barista just trying to follow store policy, struggling to make the car payment, maybe feed her young son.

“And just when she thinks her life can’t get any worse, you walk in griping about your stupid *&*(%$** mask.”

To his credit, Lance laughed and agreed with me a little. Then I tried to make a general case for giving strangers the benefit of the doubt, which I think is where I lost Lance.

Still…

As William James said, “A sense of humor is just common sense, dancing.”

After that, I jumped in the car and raced across LA to pick up the older daughter’s Christmas tree, which she and Finn had just taken down.

My plan? To take the tree trunk to my pal Serdar, who turns Christmas stumps into soup spoons and other keepsakes — ornaments, baseball bats, pestles, nose rings, whatever. I mean the guy’s a genius.

“I just need a simple soup spoon,” I tell him. “To stir the chowdaaaah.”

It’s my grandbaby’s first Christmas tree, and though she won’t remember it, her parents will. I thought I’d memorialize it a bit and have Serdar turn it into a nice soup spoon, made from the very loins of this dried out tree.

Spoon River, wider than a mile…

“You like chowdaaaah, dude?” I ask Serdar.

“Just leave the tree by the garage,” Serdar says.

Lot of trouble for a soup spoon. I mean, you can get one at Target for about a buck.

Yet, there I am, shoving the daughter’s dried out tree in the back of the Honda, scraping up the fine Japanese plastic. It’s slightly too big, so I have to shoulder the big tree in, as if shoving a teammate over the goal line – that whole Bush Push thing you may remember.

“Whatcha doin’, Dad?” Rapunzel asks.

“Winning at life, sweetie.”

“Again, Dad?”

“Stand back,” I say.

Then I (the dopiest Santa ever) delivered a late Christmas toy. Lots of gifts arriving late this year because…I don’t really understand why. They’re just arriving late.

I’d spotted this little drone toy in early December, in a Facebook ad. It seemed fun and different, so I ordered two, which turned out to be a little more expensive than I liked.

Still…

Made in China, magnificently, and with great craftsmanship. According to the video clip, you spin this little toy out of your hands, and it hovers magically while neon lights flash – like a little floating slot machine. In a few years, it’s what Earth will produce in lieu of butterflies.

Anyway, in my first test of it, the Flynova Pro doesn’t so much hover as skitter across the floors of the house like a wounded rabbit.

And when I get it to Santa Monica, to gift this gizmo to Rapunzel’s boyfriend (Boypunzel), an aerospace engineer, he says, “Those things can be a little hard to control.”

Thank you. Duly noted.

With that, I release this amazing little toy out of my hand. I must look like Buckminster Fuller with his geodesic dome. I must look like Copernicus marveling at the true shape of planets … like Adam first beholding a winsome young Eve (who looked so good in heels).

Sure enough, as I release the Flynova Pro, everyone scoffs, which is our family sound: scoff-scoff-scoff….

Then, an amazing thing happens:

As if lifted by angels, the bright, glowing little orb gently rises out of my hands like a dove, flutters a moment, jumps a very tall fence, skips and scoots into the next yard, then the next yard, then the next yard.

Maybe one more yard.

Of course, in Santa Monica, all the yards are fenced, and there are locked steel doors to all the gates – not exactly Vienna. Sometimes there are double fences and razor wire, dogs. Dogs made of razor wire. Moats. Parapets. Alligators. Super angry socialists.

And, in the corner, lush little gardens where the locals grow their own weed.

So, yeah, we have yet to actually locate the Flynova Pro, which arrived 2 weeks after Christmas and left this world about 2 minutes later. Like the holiday itself, it was here, and then it wasn’t.

But soon I’ll have a soup spoon, to start a nice chowdaaaah.

Magnificently. And with great craftsmanship.

Thank you for all the interest in “Surviving Suburbia,” the collection of early columns. We’re sold out, unfortunately. If you made the list, you will have already received an email with payment and delivery info. Books will go out next week. Sorry that we weren’t able to accommodate everyone. To order more recent books, please go to ChrisErskineLA.com. Cheers.

13 thoughts on “The Soup Spoon

  1. From Dry January (which I agree is a ludicrous idea) through Starbucks baristas’ life challenges to Xmas tree spoons to the Flynova Pro. Soup to nuts, as usual. And as usual, it all makes delightful sense, somehow. You really must donate your brain to science, Chris. You owe it to humanity to figure out how it works.

  2. Another delightful column, blog, group of sentences…I loved learning about Serdar and the brilliant repurposing of Christmas trees, and I grieve with you over the loss of the Flynova Pro, may it rest in peace. Or pieces. In the bush, the pond, some dog’s mouth. And finally, thanks for the William James quote, which goes in my collection of best quotes ever!

  3. “These days, I like Dilbert and Zits. Aside from them, the comics aren’t as funny as they once were, though they’re still funnier than network TV, which in the past few years hit a low point in funny.”

    Boy, I’m with you on that. Network TV situation comedies are nauseating, with all the canned laughter every time a character makes some stupid wisecrack. Instead of waterboarding terrorists we should make them watch network TV situation comedies 24/7. That, and The View. Sooner or later, they’ll talk. You’re right, Dilbert can be pretty funny sometimes, but a long time ago, after reading the comics in the newspaper every morning and realizing I wasn’t laughing, I threw in the towel.

  4. Wow, Chris — you really know how to unlock our memories!
    I’m old enough to remember when the Sunday Times had TWO comics sections. When TV comedies were funny enough to be filmed in front of live audiences. When Walter Cronkite & Huntley/Brinkley kept America informed.

    But the tale of your Flynova Pro brought back a great one (from late ’90s?): a friend brought a large remote-controlled plane to our group’s Kelso Dunes campsite. Off it went on its maiden flight, but we saw it go down, so fanned out to locate it. Never found it, but DID find what looked like a grave-sized mound with rocks arranged neatly around it. Two mysteries in one day…

  5. Soup Spoons – we have Russian little soup spoons bought for our grandchildren. Too many spoons not enough grandchildren. If your soup spoon guru does not come through drop me a line and will send a pretty decorated Russian soup spoon for
    your new little angel.

  6. SOUP COUP

    Like all journalists
    Finding their next scoop
    Our intrepid Chris
    Threw us for a loop
    Took his Christmas tree
    To a worker’s.stoop
    Said, can you make me
    A spoon for my soup ?

    Who has ever heard
    Of such recycling ?
    Making from that wood
    Such a useful thing ?
    Now it’s understood
    How the Irish bring
    Their leprechaun mood
    To most anything;

    They take the spiritual
    Simply shape it up
    Add an artist’s wit
    Put soup in a cup
    At a table sit
    Each night as they sup
    Sip the soup a bit
    Eat the spirit up;

    In the meals festive
    Now some of the past
    Spirit digestive
    Into each repast
    The moral is this
    Christmas goes by fast
    But if your lips kiss
    It’s wood, it will last;

    Thus his Chris mass tree
    Became history
    Told to you and me
    Here, in a story
    Ergo, Irish glory
    And signatory
    To what words can do
    With some soup in you
    I ask you, who knew ?

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