Stayin’ Alive

LA is crazy lately. Weirdness that used to happen only at night, now happens in broad daylight. I was about to flee town, then discovered Trader Joe’s has a really good deal on a dozen eggs.

“Give it another week,” I told myself.

Similarly, I was putting a baseball bat on the porch this morning to fight off the coyotes that I found circling the house. Obviously, wild stuff can always sense weakness and opportunity.

If you’re curious, it was a Lisa Fernandez Pro Cup model, 22-ounces, a softball bat once swung fiercely and with occasional result by my daughter Rapunzel, back when she was destroying opposing pitchers on a regular basis.

“Crush it, baby!” her mother would yell.

So Rapunzel did. Or at least tried her very hardest.

In the fell clutch of circumstance, I have not winced nor cried aloud…

The famous words of an English poet (duh).

I buy into that sentiment, of course. The last thing you want to do in LA is wince or cry (see “weakness and opportunity” above).

Anyway, I’d gone out to the garage and chosen from a dozen bats, incapable as I am of throwing away any of the kids’ old sports gear – the bats, the soccer balls, the lacrosse sticks – saved like souvenirs. Even the stinky old cleats I used to clap together over the flower bed out front after muddy games.

To this day, the dirt of countless soccer and baseball fields resides in that little garden, which explains why it thrives.

Long story short, I now have a bat on my front porch to ward off coyotes after yet another close encounter. It’s 4:30 am when White Fang comes to the side of the bed, licks the teriyaki off my elbow. She does this only for emergencies.

Normally, I let her out, then immediately back in. LA is, after all, the world’s biggest wild animal park. There’s probably a possum within inches of you right now, or maybe a bobcat. In our twisted little town, bears are as common as Realtors.

So, yeah, that’s why I usually stick around to let White Fang in after she takes care of business. Except, this time, it is almost dawn, so I dive back into bed, leaving her outside.

When I awaken at nearly 6, I spot two red-eyed coyotes approaching White Fang. The coyotes scamper off when they see me, but they sometimes don’t. That’s when I grab Rapunzel’s softball bat as “protection,” as they say in the mob.

Everybody in LA is in some way armed. I recommend your kids’ old baseball bats. Harpoons can be effective too, and are popular on the westside.

I even bought my daughters some pepper spray recently, and extra cans for Suzanne’s daughters too. “If some moron gets in your face, jeopardizes your safety, zap him,” I said. “Don’t hesitate. Zap him.”

As that English poet said:

I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

Look, my life alternates between near-misses and complete catastrophe. I consider it a good day when some LA street racer doesn’t barrel into the side of my car.

Calamity is everywhere lately. I almost drowned the other day while installing a water filter in the fridge. We lose a lot of good dads that way. Never makes the papers.

Here’s how it goes: On the side of the filter, it says “Replace every 6 months,” but dads know that if you position the milk just right, no one ever has to see this.

Eventually, the mom spots it and nags the dad, because “how else would anything get done around here, huh?”

Also, the water filter has calcified and turned the color of nuclear goo. Finding a replacement filter is easy – just go on Amazon. Is it the right filter? You won’t really know — not till you pull the old one out.

Now, smart dads wear their swim trunks any time they tackle a plumbing project, but this day I am in a hurry, as dads usually are. So I just work naked.

I twist out the old one – righty tighty, lefty loosey. Water immediately gushes throughout the fridge, as in a good car wash. Yosemite Falls also comes to mind. Or a Missouri levee break.

Hydrologists reported they could actually see the reservoirs drop.

Fortunately, Smartacus is nearby, alerted by a ratta-tat-tat series of f-bombs unlike anything heard since the Mongols invaded Bulgaria.

“GET A PAIL! GET A PAIL!” I scream as I desperately try to twist the old filter back in place.

Now, Smartacus is not exactly sure what a pail is. Outside of storybooks, who has pails anymore? So he grabs the next best thing: a small frying pan.

“A BIGGER PAIL!” I scream.

He grabs a shoe.

“A PAIL!” I scream. “A BUCKET!”

“MAKE UP YOUR MIND!!!” says Smartacus.

And that, my friends, is the short version of how I power-washed our refrigerator last Wednesday. It really shines now, like Tom Cruise’s goofy porcelain teeth.

I’d deem the project a complete success, except that water poured into the meat drawer, where our most-precious possessions are stored (probably $2,500 in cold cuts). Sandwiches are really the only thing keeping me and Smartacus alive. Hence, I’m billing FEMA for $2,500 worth of maple-glazed ham.

Sure, we might’ve shut the water valve off first. But doesn’t everyone do it that way? Besides, how else would we have so effectively cleaned out the jelly smears, garlic skins, ketchup stains, dried-out cilantro … a wedge of Christmas cheese over here, a nice chunk of botulism over there?

Final score? Dad 1, Refrigerator 0.

The Gin & Tonic Society of Greater Los Angeles is still gunning for a Sept. 3 bash in the hills above the Rose Bowl. No RSVPs yet, please. Details coming soon. Meanwhile, for books and the coolest gin glasses ever, please visit Cheers!

8 thoughts on “Stayin’ Alive

  1. Any time my husband grabs any kind of tool or sets up his bike-fixing rack, my dogs run and hide in anticipation of the “ratta-tat-tat series of f-bombs” that will likely ensue. When my sons were home, they always warned each other with “Dad is going to try to fix something.” Then they would hide in their rooms.

  2. Very funny, so now I know why Mono Lake looked drier than usual. Darn refrigerator filter will do it every time. For the sake of your children, stay away from changing the dishwasher filter…please.

  3. Hmmmm…those damn fridge filters. I’ve noticed that the longer you leave them in, the slower the flow. That allows you to more precisely fill tall glasses and avoid overflow onto your person, and the floor. Also, the water gets cloudier, meaning there are more air bubbles in it, so I’ve been told, oxygenation also being a good thing. Then, too, the slower flow makes the water come out colder on hot summer days. Some can sense that, so they say. And then there’s the aesthetic of deliberation, waiting for the damn glass to fill up. It builds character, someone once said. And now you tell us that removing it cleans the inside of the refrigerator, like magic. Is is any wonder we are so fond of filtered water, the tap kind becoming ever more precious, but still found chlorinated and wanting? Water wars are in many of the latest predictions. Eventually, to save everything but patience, we’ll probably just leave the damn things in, and value the trickle that results as a kind of rare elixir…
    You think?

  4. “In the fell clutch of circumstance, I have not winced nor cried aloud…” A context – fridge filtering – I had not yet considered. You are a riot, my friend. Greetings from Chicago, your old hometown.

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