She Prefers Cheeseburgers to Steak

I’m not dating material, obviously. You’ll find all sort of socks in my couch and beer in the fridge where the milk should be.

My roommate is half husky, half wolf — my fur baby. But I would never use the term “fur baby” or date someone who did. Yikes. Just shoot me if I ever mention “fur baby” again.

I don’t ask much of the world, then complain about almost everything – where they put the switch on my new printer, or how road crews are mucking up the nearby boulevard.

“Nothing needs to change,” I wail. “WHY CAN’T THEY LEAVE GOOD STUFF ALONE?!”

I’m like a sit-com character (Jerry Stiller comes to mind). I have far too many notions and not enough sense. I dance like a beekeeper who forgot to zip. All my shoes are more than four years old. Half my t-shirts were promotional giveaways.

Like a small child, I’ll watch the same movie over and over and over. “Good stuff gets better with time,” is the excuse I use. “Good houses, good stories, good movies, good friends….”

That’s just one of my screeds. I have so many screeds. You could stage a German opera of my screeds.

“If you have kids you have everything,” I screed all the time. “Well, not necessarily my kids…”

Into this world, welcome Suzanne, a woman of uncommon virtue and surprising patience. She has cover girl cheekbones but that’s certainly not the main attraction. She has hair – flappy and full, almost too much of it. But really I’ve hardly noticed the amazing hair, the cheekbones, the cut of her jib….

“She’s a really, really good-looking woman,” my buddy Verge reminded me the other day.


I guess she’s rather attractive. Like a character out of “Bridgerton,” of lace and hair worn up.

For me, the main attraction is her lack of fuss. I’m at the age where I don’t need drama or neuroses or any of the standard-issue relationship-busters. I don’t need needy people or childish diva behavior.

At my age, I need to stand in the kitchen with someone funny, shoulder to shoulder, cutting carrots.

“And she’s age appropriate,” I told my pal Trueblood one day at the gym.

“Twenty-six?” he asked.

“No, really,” I said.

And she makes cookies — lord, does she ever. And she sails a bit and reads a ton and claims not to like people in general but has a social ease, almost a kind of statesmanship. She wobbles a little when she walks, which I like very much. Drinks beer fast. Waters her coffee.

She has her own house. There’s an ocean.

Me, I’m no one’s prince charming. Nice house, no ocean. I’m a widower who drives a Honda. In LA – an Autobaun of expensive German steel — I pull up in a Honda CRV. 

I enter social occasions like a SWAT team searching for a sniper. I’m jumpy. I want to get in fast, get out faster, go to dinner, maybe bowl a few frames.

I rejoice way too much over my kids – worry, rejoice, worry some more.

Suzanne does too — she also has rejoicy kids.

“If you have kids…” I remind her.

 “You have everything?” she says.

She happens to be demure, in the way I like. Not shy. Not at all. Reticent. Discerning. Kind of classy. Prefers cheeseburgers to steak … Bud Light to Scotch rocks.

Not much into sports, she somehow won the NCAA pool ahead of 30 of my demented friends, all of whom have watched way too much basketball.

What the huh?

Generally, she seems not to demand very much of men; hence, she wound up with me.

The other night I told her: “Suzanne, I want you to meet a friend. This is Bill Evans.”

Needle drop.

Bill Evans is a little-known musical legend. He plays jazz piano the way Paul Newman played Hud. He holds the notes a fraction too long. His style is languid, unhurried, diffident — the greatest cool there is.

Thing is, who dates a dude who goes on and on about a dead piano player? Who dates a dude who knows exactly how many stitches there are in a baseball (108), or how many stars make up Canis Major (10)…or that a starfish has no brain?

In short, who dates a starfish like me?

Well, she does, fortunately.

What the huh?

For weeks, we’ve had a glitch in the service that sends out email notifications when a new post goes up. The service we use calls its customer service techs “Happiness Engineers,” so naturally this loads my heart with hope. Fingers crossed that the notifications, which allow you to click an email to get the column, have been restored. If not, please know that the Happiness Engineers are working day and night to make us all happy. That’s what Happiness Engineers do. In the meantime, as you know, you can find the new posts at, or on Facebook. Thank you for your patience, your continued friendship, and the way you let other drivers cut into traffic, even though they seldom bother to wave thanks. We’re all Happiness Engineers in some sense, right? Have a great weekend. Cheers.

42 thoughts on “She Prefers Cheeseburgers to Steak

  1. Chris, you are the #1 Happiness Engineer I know. I am thrilled happiness is finding you in such a delightful way as your lovely “pal” Suzanne. Oh, and your “like Paul Newman played Hud” analogie just put a big ol’ smile on my face. Now I have to find Hud online somewhere and watch it again. Thanks!

  2. I’m jealous but happy for you to find a pal with so much in common. Enjoy, you deserve a new chapter.

  3. This so called “starfish” manages to humor, entertain, enrich and enlighten us all twice weekly. Trust me she’s pinching herself too. So happy for you. Both of you! ☺️

  4. Chris, it looks like you are a very wise man. And to think you now have a new character to bring into your family and share with us. We, your readers, are the lucky ones.

  5. I can’t believe she’s dating you without demanding an NDA. She doesn’t just have cheekbones, flappy hair and class, she’s got the guts of Jeremy Renner in Hurt Locker. And my Susan and I couldn’t be happier for you.

  6. You have mentioned Suzanne a few times before in a subtle way, but I was hoping all along it was someone you were sharing time with. I am so filled with smiles and happiness for you both. You are so deserving of having someone to stand beside you in the kitchen doing ordinary things. Blessings to both of you and your families. Thank you for sharing. You brighten my days.

  7. Chris:

    You’ve found a wonderful woman. And, Bill Evans on, as your kids would put it, vinyl!!! Bill was the best. I must have 20 or 30 CDs in the collection. He was a member of the greatest band ever assembled – the sextet that recorded Kind of Blue in 1959. WE sure know him. I swear, under oath, on a stack of Dizzy Gillespie records that Bill Evans was the best pianist ever.

    I am SO happy for you to have found Suzanne. You’re a lucky guy and she’s a lucky woman.

  8. Dear dear Chris, Those carrots don’t stand a chance, with Team Suzanne/Chris standing shoulder -to-shoulder with their sharp knives. And humor! Always, the

  9. How lyrically beautiful this.piece is, in that almost abstract, rambling yet breezily connected way you have of pulling things together, integrating the dissimilar into something uncommonly whole, making a case for the beauty of its totality. You elevate the every day of Everyman into the loft of the unique. What else could one ask of a writer? Of a man? Suzanne has a restless, fermentive old tiger by the tail, and rolling around Southern California and points elsewhere in Spring with such a keening Irish intellect.has the unmistakable Ozonic whiff of literature, art, and dare I say, love. How terrific ! And how honored we are to be allowed to share in its whiffs of love’s perfume.

  10. So happy for you and Suzanne to have found each other. Enjoy and be grateful for all that you do with each other. 💗💗🍪

  11. Suzanne
    Too good for you. She does favorably your eternal fiancée. Congratulations!
    Bill Evans is little known?!!!
    Chris forget the Grammys. Tune in KJAZZ 88.1 FM. I can’t believe you don’t. Bill Evans is played many times throughout the day.
    Sometimes change is good!

  12. Quite happy for both of you. Now…can you tell me where I can get a decent Italian Beef Sandwich in Los Angeles? Dipped of course.

    1. While this is certainly a sidetrack from the kindling romance, what can be a better firestarter than food? I may be scoffed at but my favorite Italian Beef sandwich is at Portillo’s, which for whatever reason was only in Moreno Valley and Buena Park for years (aside from all remaining locations in the greater Chicago area) until the new Cubs ballpark opened in Mesa, AZ 7 or so years back. I always opt in for it being dipped and with the fresh, crunchy peppers(oh no, salivation). Good luck in the quest!

  13. Dude! Cool. I wondered if it might be Suzanne Pleshette. Alas, no. There may be hope for the rest of us. Good tidings from the hot desert. Wheeeee!

  14. What good fortune to have found her. There is a part of me that is envious, too. Men are healthier when they have a “mate”! ☺️👏☘️

  15. You’ve been hinting at this in a few posts. Thanks for sharing. It’s a good thing Suzanne does not read the press clippings you write about yourself. To many happy moments – cheers!

  16. She made it to a formal introduction! We were pulling for you, Suzanne. It’s brave to step out into the world as a couple. Hopeful and optimistic. Now about that burger. I am fixated on the burger photos of late. How does one bite into that? Too tall for homo sapiens. Is it for White Fang? Anyhoo, Mazel Tov. The Jewish people (I’m honorary) have a lovely expression: “It’s not good to be alone.” Slainte.

  17. So happy for you! When I saw the picture, I thought you were writing about Angie Dickinson again🤣. It’s wonderful to find love again after loss. My first husband died of brain cancer 20 years ago, we were in our 40s with two young daughters. I remarried 8 years later to a widower and we’ll celebrate our 12th anniversary in August. And together we have 4 lovely daughters, but no grandchildren yet. There is a lot less drama the second time, you let the small stuff go and of course the kids are raised, so there’s that!

  18. I am, as I know everyone else is, happy to hear romance is in the air! I was kinda hoping that this would happen for you………I found someone 5 years after my husband died, ran into him at a coffee shop in Gresham Oregon, I live in Long Beach California, but grew up there…….we dated in high school!!!! We are both in our late 70″s,
    fast forward 5 years later and we are still traveling back and forth every month…….love is a wonderful thing and it doesn’t matter how old you are and it doesn’t take anything away from your “past” love! I’m happy for Suzanne as well, you are a “catch”!

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