At a restaurant the other night, I was telling everyone that my only fear was that I might be too funny, that it might make it difficult for my fellow diners to swallow their veal, or to nosh their gnocchi.
“Laughter,” I said, “is the only common ground Americans have left.”
“That’s not funny,” said my buddy Miller.
“Just wait,” I said. “Soon as I finish these beets…”
Everybody hates everybody these days, have you picked up on that? So, I try extra hard to go around being funny. To be honest, it’s a lot of pressure. Humor doesn’t just happen. As with bagpipes or polkas, you really need to be in the mood.
“Where do I find the dates?” a customer asks the checker at the supermarket the other morning.
“Aisle 1,” shouts a colleague.
“You sell dates now?” I ask the checker.
“Aisle 1,” she confirms.
“Yes?” she asks.
“Blind dates? Double dates?” I say.
She laughs. That happens a lot when I’m being completely serious.
“First dates, bad dates, dates you’ll remember for the rest of your life?” I ask.
“All sorts of dates,” she says.
“Aisle 1,” she says.
Imagine. If you could just go into the store on a Friday night and buy a date…? Think of the possibilities. Think of the aggravation you’d avoid. And the bar tabs.
“If you buy three or more dates, do you get a discount?” I ask the checker.
By now, people behind me are getting a little annoyed. They’re LA people, so they’re already a little pre-annoyed, that’s their natural demeanor, their default emotion. Really the best you can hope for these days is that they’re merely a little glum.
Who can blame them? A loaf of bread: 4 bucks. A decent steak, 25. A $100 cart of groceries? $200.
And now this goof (me) is testing out material in the checkout line. They can’t figure out why the checker is laughing. It’s affecting her scanning somewhat. She’s one of those people who jiggles when she giggles.
And she’s got these fingernails… super long. I never figured out why supermarket checkers tend to have scythes for fingernails. You could thresh wheat with these nails. Or kill a man. But that’s a topic for another time.
“Do you have grocery bags?” the checker asks me.
“I am a grocery bag,” I say.
There are two places I am remarkably funny: At movie theaters, just before the show begins. And in bed, just before the show begins.
In neither case, am I trying to be funny. Generally, the more serious I am, the more people laugh. Since I was a kid, people have looked at me and broken out laughing. Back then I had freckles everywhere. And a slingshot hanging from my hip pocket. Still do.
“Let me tell you this,” I say to the checker.
“Always do a background check,” I say.
“When you buy dates?”
“Especially then,” I said. “Credit scores, criminal history, restraining orders.”
“Because that flags all the fun people,” I say. “Duh.”
True though. If you filter for the people with disastrous credit scores and long police histories, you isolate the gypsies, the journalists, the pick-pockets, the exotic dancers. Fun people. People you could really build a life with.
“Never date a humorist,” I warn the checker.
“Good answer,” I say.
With the New Girl (Suzanne), I didn’t do a background check. But I did meet her mother. Meeting a mother is the very best background check you can do.
And I met Suzanne’s brother, her daughters. Her sister’s next. Pretty sure that’s where the trouble starts. With Aunt Lynda. But I feel like I’m doing “due diligence,” as the attorneys say.
“Now we’re sort serious,” I tell the checker.
“Me and Suzanne,” I say.
“Who’s Suzanne?” she asks.
“That’s exactly what I’m trying to find out,” I whisper.
Learning someone new is so much fun – their allergies, their moles, their music, they’re favorite fish.
The other night, Suzanne raked all the red onions to the side of her salad plate. “Hmmmm,” I thought. “Who doesn’t like red onions? Is this some kind of crazy person?”
“Next time, I’ll skip the red onions,” I assured her.
“No, that’s OK.”
She’s very reasonable, obviously. Thing is, can a reasonable person have a relationship with a goof like me?
Email the columnist at Letters@ChrisErskineLA.com. For books, past columns, or to sign up for his free newsletter, go to ChrisErskineLA.com
17 thoughts on “Dates? Aisle One”
I predict Suzanne is a keeper. If she wants to do a background check on you, she just has to read a few decades of books and columns. It’s all there on the page. That’s why we love you. You are not afraid to tell the truth…in the funniest possible way, of course. As long as she’s good with being part of the narrative, both of you should have a lot of fun and happiness on the journey.
“…just before the show begins.” I don’t laugh out loud very often. Thank you for my Saturday morning LOL, Chris. Wish I had your comedic timing!! 😉
Looks like a two fisted drinker! Good on you!
It’s why God gave you two hands !
Goofs like you are relationship material. I predict a fun, funny, never boring, adventurous road ahead for both of you. Buckle up. Enjoy the ride (and the view 😉) Of course I’ll stay tuned. Where else would I go? This is the good stuff.
I laughed out loud several times. That’s because I’m reading this in bed, drinking coffee my lovely wife, Susan (that’s how real Americans spell it) made. If I were behind you in the checkout line I would, after the third riff on dates, have started throwing beets at you. But seriously (as you probably said around twenty minutes into your routine) I’m delighted for you and the exotically named Suzanne. I can tell you’re smitten because there are more typos lately. And I think that’s great. Love should make you a little lightheaded. And lighthearted. Your readers are enjoying being along for the ride.
People worry too much about typos. They should concentrate on the words I got right, which is the vast majority! Best to your lady friend, Susan. I miss her.
Great column. Always gives me a chuckle, thank you.
I was wondering when are the hikes going to resume?
Couple of weeks!
“The onions are okay.”….“She’s a darling and a keeper, don’t you know. The self-styled goof is a savvy, passionate keening lyricist, and she hears the real music in his jaunty airs, the deep, sonorous resonance in his offhand warbles. You cannot fool a true heart, for they hear the music underneath the music, and sing along. It sounds like a duet to me, and I am a discerning aficionado of harmony, so don’t sing off key, and keep dissonance in the key of love; don’t you know. And you do.
Chris , did you give her your St Christopher yet?
Totally going steady
Another winner- you are the maestro of mirth. I’m humming ‘Make ‘em Laugh’ from ‘Singing in the Rain’ as we speak.
Thanks buddy. Hope you’ve been well.
is that a peeps sandwich?!? Thank you for the continued photos of White Fang.
I’m late to the party, but my work for the week just got cancelled (yaay), so I get to catch up on my real life of stalking other people’s real lives. Now, let’s see. What a dilemma. You meet a guy. You like him. You find out he’s a writer, but it’s okay because you have your own money. He’s cute. He’s funny. What’s this? Everything he writes is about Himself & Company? Hmm. Do you live in the moment and let the stories unfold naturally or do you hit the stacks? I think I know what I’d do. I wonder what Suzanne did. Maybe we’ll get a he said-she said column down the line. Can she write?