My wolf White Fang is of Russian descent, famously stoic. Grim. Peptic. Reminds me of Dostoyevsky in the way she stares off grimly into the horizon. About as exciting as a bowl of borscht.
So it’s difficult to tell whether White Fang misses the cheerfully annoying golden retriever that stayed with us for a week. They were such an odd couple, the steely Siberian husky and the happy-go-lucky bombshell. The socialist and the free-wheeling capitalist. Khrushchev vs. Kennedy.
“Man is sometimes extraordinarily, passionately, in love with suffering,” Dostoyevsky once wrote.
Hey, speak for yourself, brother.
Meanwhile, golden retrievers are the Cameron Diazes of the animal kingdom — famously fluffy and gifted with buttery good looks. Goldens romp around certain that everyone is so happy to see them. Like me, they have one brain cell. Works sporadically – off and on, off and on — like a bad blue-tooth speaker.
FYI, I once threw a cheap blue-tooth speaker out the back door and deep into the ravine behind our house. A perfect spiral, too — like Peyton Manning finding Marvin Harrison deep, a step past the safety.
Sure, it was pretty sophomoric. No question. Yet I was pretty proud of the fact that, at my age, I could still throw such a long and perfect pass.
“Touchdown!” I yelled as I closed the back door.
A few weeks later, my son Smartacus found the remains of the little speaker while traipsing through the ravine. “What’s this?” a friend asked. “Oh,” Smartacus explained. “When my dad doesn’t get technology, he just shucks it out the door.”
That’s just my approach. But it can work for anybody.
In fairness, there is only a blue-tooth speaker or two in the ravine, maybe a remote.
Really, it is the cheapest therapy, though I draw the line at anything over 25 bucks. Then I have thrower’s remorse. But under $25? It’s a lovely, liberating sensation. Just smash it to smithereens.
Irish anger is a sewer gas; it eats its container. “Better out than in,” as Shrek said.
I come from a long line of Irish screwballs, with hair-trigger tempers and dashing good looks. My old man, a cross between Peter Graves and Red Buttons, invented road rage. From the moment he put the key in the ignition, my old man was a little teed off.
How do you deal with that? Mom drank a good bit, but she was a happy tippler. She also overfed everyone she loved: her husband, her dogs. Oddly, we kids were very thin.
Coincidentally, I was married to a woman who once fell into her own purse, just tumbled in one day while searching for our boarding passes.
The lesson? Love the person, love the flaws.
I hope I’ve evolved, though I suppose my kids would scoff at that. On Sundays, I read the Comics front to back, then I tear recipes out of Parade, the best magazine in the world. It is to serious journalism what Disneyland is to the Vatican.
Listen, I don’t ask much of the world. I want to be entertained. I want my kids to love me. I want my speakers to work. That’s it, really.
When my daughter Rapunzel stops by, I wash her car for her. It beats talking to her, yet I think it conveys the fact I adore her. Washing cars is my love language. So, for her birthday, I washed her car.
“The soul is healed by being with children,” Dostoyevsky also said.
The other day, there was sap everywhere on Rapunzel’s car, in long snotty streaks down the driver’s doors.
“Did you park beneath a glue gun?” I asked her.
I had to scrape this resin off with my thumb nail, the greatest tool ever. If you can’t clean a car or a frying pan with a thumb nail, it can’t be cleaned.
By the way, my daughter leases her cars. I don’t approve. In my book – “The Book of Dads” — you pay cash for cars, no interest, then you keep the car a good 8 or 10 years. It’s better for the planet. Nothing you buy is as harmful to the environment as a German SUV, full of fluids and plastics made of petroleum goo.
See how enlightened I am? Never saw that coming, did you? An original thought! “Who is this guy,” you’re thinking, “Descartes?”
By the way, a note to all those who shun newspapers because of the environmental dent they leave: We grow those trees. They exhale oxygen. When we harvest them, we plant more trees. Squirrels move in. Birds too. Aphids. Owls. It’s a pretty sustainable cycle, actually. And newspapers are so worth it.
I mean, I’d give up gauze before I’d give up newspapers. I’d give up underwear. I’d give up my Susan Dey scrapbook.
All to save newspapers. My other love language.
Much as I bash contemporary music, I found the Grammy Awards the other night to be a ray of hope. They are usually so clangy and politically sectarian, mostly unwatchable. Not this year. Silk Sonic reminds me of Stevie Wonder. Billie Eilish and Olivia Rodrigo write smart songs with impact, a refreshing change from screamers such as Ariana Grande. Jon Batiste gave the most-gracious speech of the awards season. Even the host, Trevor Noah, was terrific. Pop culture has been such a mess lately. But not Sunday night. Bravo.
For past columns, books and info on my hiking club, check out my free website: ChrisErskineLA.com.