Good Luck, Papa!

My neighbors Door Dash every meal. You can’t help but hate them.

Because here I am, slaving over a kitchen stove with mixed results, trying to figure out what to do with cauliflower rice that my daughter left me before boarding a plane for Hawaii and leaving me with her stale groceries and her golden retriever pup, a miscreant that yesterday ate my flip-flop just as the hot weather arrived, and up pulls yet another Camry – you see a lot of Camrys with Door Dash — to deliver a big takeout bag to my neighbor.

So, while the neighbors are eating Cuban sandwiches from Porto’s, or salads from Star Cafe, or juicy cheeseburgers from North Shore, we’re over here eating flip-flops and cauliflower rice.

“C’est la vie,” as the French always c’est, though I don’t think they ever really mean it. Not with their history.

Yeah, so the lovely and patient older daughter is off to Kauai for a week with Finn and the baby, their first plane trip as a family.

“What are you doing Saturday?” she asks, knowing I’m probably busy writing sonnets to Angie Dickinson, or working on my art, or curing Covid.

“I have a very full life, you know.”

“Because we’ll let you take us to LAX, Dad…” she says.

Sure, why not? Love LAX. There is that moment, just as you leave the terminal area, when LAX sort of expels you, flushes you out and on your way toward one of 12 freeways – a gasping sendoff, a victory parade.  Such a feeling.

Besides, I’d already offered to watch her dog, Penny Laine, since I don’t like to kennel family members unless absolutely necessary, and Penny Laine is a lovely pup, just over a year old, a beautiful honey-ginger whose hobby is chewing all my best stuff. And she won’t stay off the couch no matter what.

Initially, there was some concern whether White Fang would accept this golden retriever into her house. As you know, other dogs find golden retrievers kind of goofy and annoying. Everybody fusses over their appearance, and they have this gentle demeanor, like a warm cup of tea. Golden retrievers are suck-ups, no question. And who doesn’t love a good suck-up?

I sure do. The last time anyone sucked up to me was…wait, no one has ever sucked up to me, not once. So naturally, I’m fond of this beautiful young and misbehaving dog who, upon seeing me, rolls on her back so I can scratch her belly (on the chest is best, just up from where the vet removed any hope of motherhood).

The first day was fine. Smartacus is back for spring break, and he’s very good with dogs, especially suck-ups. But then Smartacus took off to Tahoe with his other sister, Rapunzel. Suddenly, I’m the only one left in LA – alone with two dogs — one a suck-up, the other a fatalist Russian wolf with self-esteem issues. You know those Cossacks.

Dinner time is like a French farce. I have to feed Penny Laine separately in the garage, so that White Fang won’t eat her. Then next thing I know, I’m pulling out a bunch of sheets to protect the couch because Penny Laine won’t stay off the new white couch.

In our house, most anything goes. The drinking age is 12, and we’re pretty loose about language and hygiene

Really, there’s only one rule in our house: No dogs on Dad’s pricey new couch.

Immediately, Penny Lane heads for the couch, with the dust of LA all over her paws. Wildfire soot, eye makeup, gunpowder, manure, bee dung, hashish, the ashes of various dead rock stars … all of that’s on my couch right now, courtesy of these huge puppy footprints.

My pal Suzanne says baby wipes work well on gunk like that, but why clean the couch now, a week before the dog leaves? So she helps me tuck the bed sheets in the couch.

Basically, I’ve become my grandmother.

Then, as I maybe mentioned, Penny Laine gets hold of one of my flip-flops. The straps are completely gone. They are still in her esophagus at this point, and about to clog her tummy and intestines.

When I tell my daughter, she tells me the dog doesn’t always digest the shoes completely, as you might hope. She then sends me pix of Catty Cakes on the beach in Hawaii, and the drinks they’re having at the nice resort, where it’s like 9 am. In Hawaii, Happy Hour starts mid-morning.

Then she warns me – how do I put this?  My daughter says that when the shoe exits the dog, sometimes there are what you might call “streamers” dangling out of the dog’s tailpipe, which you have to grab to help along.

I’d like to think you can hire someone for that – especially in LA, where you can hire someone to do the most unseemly things. Yet, not that. When it comes to doggy-butt streamers, we are each on our own.

The good news? Well, there is no good news. Suzanne, a striking woman of uncommon patience, gave me a real funny look when she sprinted desperately from the house, as if to say, “OK, Slugger, call me when that crazy animal is gone.”

She was last seen driving 120 down the 2, almost airborne.

And Smartacus has yet to return from Tahoe with his sister. From what we hear, his new skis were working very well, though he somehow got all tangled up in the SLOW DOWN!!! sign near the intersection of two exceptionally busy trails.

Smartacus is fine, the sign broke his fall. Meanwhile, the Ski Patrol is still untangling him, as you would a kitten from a wad of taffy yarn. I think there’s a lesson to be found up there. And the lesson is SLOOOOOOW DOOOOOOOWN!!!

C’est la vie, dude.

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17 thoughts on “Good Luck, Papa!

  1. Good morning, Caroll. I have a heck of a work day which is why up I’m up with the stars. This is classic Erskine. All about the fam and the dogs and the escapades. I can’t wipe the smile off my face. Work will resolve that in a few hours. I can’t have this grin on my face as people pour their hearts out to me. Tres inappropriate. C’est la vie.

  2. Maureen, I feel you. I love everything about this post, most especially the streamers! And the picture of the two sleeping pups. You start every Wednesday and Saturday on the right smiling note, Chris. Thank you. We all need the break.

  3. What in God’s name were you thinking buying a white couch? This makes me think the gin and tonics have done irreparable damage to that part of the brain that controls common sense. I’ve never had that part of the brain, but since you actually held a good job for quite a few years, I’m guessing you once did. ALWAYS buy a couch that has so many colors in it you cannot immediately see signs of baby or dog vomit…or worse.

  4. Absolutely delightful – for us, I mean, certainly not you. You had me applauding by the French observation. Not just the observation but the c’est pun, which I will go to my grave beating myself up for never having thought of myself. And I can only hope the final picture fills you with enough affection to get you through any streamer pulling that may come up…or out.

  5. Dude ?? A white couch ? We’re they out of dried beer color ?
    And door dash drivers eat why to much of your food !
    Just like your sister was always good at opening a Christmas present and putting it back ! Dash drivers sample everything

  6. Laughed out loud at the dog streamers because I’ve been that person……. And as for the white couch, we once had a beige sectional in the family room. It was beautiful, for about two weeks, then I became a slave to it. If only the kids could have stayed off of it and the dogs too……

  7. O’Hare is just as fun. Dropped off the freshman daughter for her flight back to Florida and quickly 10 lanes merge into 5 as you decide if you want 90 East, 90 West, 294 North, 294 South, Mannheim Rd or have another go around in the terminal. Good times. Enjoy your puppy time. Penny Laine is magnifique as the French say.

  8. Delightful especially the picture at the end. You’re a tonic sans the gin for these troubled days!

  9. Just what I needed today, a really good laugh! Too much bad and upsetting news, so happy that all’s well in the world and a little adorable puppy can turn a household upside down and remind us what is really important…. Dirty paw prints on the white sofa.

    (Memo to self : if I get a puppy, no white sofa!!)

    Your kids are healthy, happy and enjoying themselves.
    Be thankful, and keep a watchful eye on that puppy !!

  10. I am literally laughing aloud. Thank you!! I love the description of the exit from LAX. Perfect. You are ejected onto of the many freeways. And Penny Laine and the undigested flip flop- hysterical. I love love love your blog. I will attempt to read this to a cousin but I know tears will be streaming down my face as I laugh through it. Have a great week!!

  11. These musings were such a hit, it seems many others have had experience with light colored furniture; and streamers that somehow don’t seem at all celebratory. I’ve had a few dogs but never experienced such colorful doings, as my dogs were , for the most part, outside dogs whose territory rarely extended to the living room, let alone a couch. Such libertine loucheness fascinates me with its many opportunities for both comedy and tragedy, which I guess is the modern dog owner’s idiom. The rock band Three Dog Night must have personified this late 20th century trope. As they say, “Rock and Roll will never die”. I’m with Suzanne, ‘outta here’ being a great place to be when such canine theater is in the middle of such a long run.

  12. actually, you may find it helpful to roll out aluminum foil on the entire length of the couch (suggested the silly owner of a white leather couch ! ) this usually keeps dogs and cats off furniture since they are too freaked out by the sound and crunkle of it when they land on it ~ ~ oh wait ~ you said golden retriever ~ you are probably sunk since they would no doubt eat the whole wad of aluminum foil when you are not home ~ leaving you with a lovely vet bill ~ ~ not to mention you did not really want to sit on this couch yourself, did you ~?!

  13. Wonderful column as always Crhis. We have had our Golden Retriever for about a year and a half with a number of digestive system “incidents.” The day before your column a pair of socks came back out the front way. She is a reddish-golden garbage pail. So far we have not had to tug on “streamers.”

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