His Kissy Kindness

I continue to be intrigued by this Natalie Portman person. Latest report is that her co-star in the awful “Thor” sequel quit eating meat before kissing her, out of respect that Portman is vegan.

Of course she is.

Many fans seemed charmed by co-star Chris Hemsworth’s kissy kindness, though some just scoffed.

“Because he wanted his breath to smell like lavender, empathy and light?” tweeted a guy named Ray.

“But he’s made out of meat!” noted Bruce Kemp.

“So, otherwise, he was going to pass his dinner from his mouth to hers?” wondered John.

And, so goes America, where a kiss is just a kiss, a quip is just a quip, a smile is just a smile.

Me, I wonder about the germs. And I’m convinced some clever publicist made it all up anyway. But I’m sort of cynical sometimes. I’m paid to be wary and discerning. Oh, wait, I’m not paid? But if I were, it would be for being wary and discerning and kind of meaty, like Hemsworth himself.

The other evening, during a nightcap in Miller’s kitchen, I kept pulling my shirt up to demo how I once got stuck on a date, while trying to remove my shirt and necktie in one dramatic gesture, as if raising a main sail.

Instead, like a strait-jacket, my dress shirt tangled me all up and I was immobilized – couldn’t get it on, couldn’t get it off.

“A little help here?” I squeaked.

We can laugh now, but I’m super lucky to be alive.

Look, I’m just struggling to laugh through our brutal nuclear summer. In LA, God burned the toast. The weeds are brown, the lawns are all scratchy. Even the pavement is dying.

The other day, Smartacus and I were driving through Glendale (aka God’s Country), and we noticed that the freeway’s lane markings were 90% gone, just bleached away by the sun.  It is a tribute to LA freeway drivers that anyone could find a lane at all in the late-afternoon glare.

But they did, and once again I hold Angelenos in the highest esteem. They put up with a lot. They wait in lines, they wait at restaurants, theme parks and stadiums. Really, the greatest common thread we have is all the waiting around. One in  a while a brawl breaks out, but pretty rarely.

Yet, they are usually remarkably cheery.  Though at the Geffen Playhouse the other night, Angelenos didn’t seem to be so cheery. No small talk in the lobby, the courtyard. Bonkers, right? I mean, why go out at all?

My hot take: No one really likes live theater, not like a concert or a good ballgame. There is no anticipation, no buzz. Nothing is funny in theaters anymore – it’s all so earnest and dour. Maybe that’s why.

But Suzanne gladly supports live theater, so I try to play along (so to speak). I make the best of it, always admiring the hard work of the actors and the crew.

The first two words of this play were f – – k and sh – t, so I knew immediately we were in for a real treat. “That’s just good writing,” I whispered to Smartacus. 

When the play finally ended (almost four weeks later), no one in the audience really could tell that it ended. The ending was so weak, it was as if a waiter served you dinner, then took it immediately away. Wait, my sand dabs! Waiter?!

My theory (as an aspiring writer): Good stories have good endings.

I’d have asked for my money back, but I got the tickets free from Suzanne, who might be the nicest person ever – I mean, really magnificent — though she also has an edge I kinda admire.

Now, I have to figure out some form of compensation for the tickets, since Suzanne will never accept money. Seriously, I don’t think she’s touched cash in years.

By the way, every time I go to the theater, I think how I want to pen a play about Jackie Robinson’s Pasadena boyhood. He grew up not far from us, but worlds away really, and I think of him as a black Tom Sawyer, an example of the longshot American Dream.

As a kid, he ran with some ruffians, and his mother was always off working, so he raised himself, overcame all the odds, and temptations and grew into a fierce, courageous historical figure.

Compared to that, fastballs must’ve seemed so easy.

FYI, as a kid Jackie swam at a pool near the Rose Bowl that minority kids were allowed to use only once a week —  that was the policy. When the black, Mexican and Chinese kids were done with their weekly swim, city workers were ordered to drain it.

But the city workers didn’t drain it, the Robinson family once told me. Because the workers were minorities too, and they didn’t see the need. In fact, they were probably repulsed by the awful request.

So, when the bosses asked, “Did you drain the pool last night?” the workers replied, “Of course, sir. Don’t you see the sparkle? Look at the way the water just shimmers!”

Like a meaty movie kiss.

Coming Saturday: What will her eyes see?

For books, hikes, gin tips and past columns, please go to ChrisErskineLA.com. Email the columnist at Letters@ChrisErskineLA.com.

9 thoughts on “His Kissy Kindness

  1. Using “ruffians” to describe Jackie’s bad crowd and “meaty kiss” to conjure Mr. Hemsworth’s bulky charm — that is just good writing. You ARE paid…in awe and laughter. Keep ’em coming!

  2. Your comments about the missing freeway lanes hit home for me. Yesterday returning to home in Pasadena on the 134 l literally couldn’t make out the lane markers. When cars are zipping by at 80 mph and huge trucks are lumbering nearby, it’s a scary scenario.

  3. If you can drive in Glendale, and survive, you can drive anywhere. At least in LA people know how to merge and there isn’t much tailgating, unlike Pittsburgh, where I now live. Count your blessings Chris. It could be sweltering hot and 100 percent humidity. And Caroll is right, you do have a way with words. 🙂

  4. Oh my. I would become a vegan just to kiss Chris Hemsworth. But seriously, what gal doesn’t like a guy with meaty breath? Sigh….

  5. Where are the Tom Stoppard and Neil Simons of today? Politically incorrect most likely. I understand the need for everyone’s emotional traumas to be represented, but they have proven it’s healthier to laugh.

  6. … and the object unlike the others in the bubble ball bucket??
    That’s no plastic plaything– That’s CAKES! Almost missed her there, mingling with the inanimates… reckon you’ll be having her pitch those to you before long. Any chance you scored a Leftie??

  7. I have it on authority that Chris’s was at in and out with a double double the day of the kids

  8. If there were ever a time when “serious” should be spelled dirrerently (try “delirious”), itt would be in Summer. But I understand what heat does to the urban brain. Still, a drive 90 miles south would yield a different reality. Britain’s record making heat wave notwithstanding, it has been an epically cool season here in Notth County SD., though, of course, our time will come. My years living in the basin convinced me that L.A. has always cooked at a different rate and temperature than other coastal familiars, and the difference now seems ever more pronounced. There appears to be no place where the effects of climate change are not being felt, and we must do the many things about it that we can, now, because it is even messing with our Summers, and our Summers are sacred, don’t you think? When paradise begins to feel like the other end of things, I say it’s past time to try to make a difference in the difference. It’s for certain the devil is in the details.

  9. I’d heard about pools being drained after minority kids swam in them, but I’d never heard the story the Robinson family tells. Absolutely great. Several years ago, when Ruthie the indomitable was only 92 and still flying to LA, Susan and I took her to some event at the Stadium Club where Maury Wills hit on Susan (he did NOT get to second base that time) and Mom wound up having a wonderful conversation with Jackie’s sister…or sister-in-law. Two beautiful, silver haired ladies with a love of baseball and Franklin Roosevelt. What a great afternoon. And I enjoyed seeing the frustration on Maury’s face when I walked out with Susan on my arm.

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