I like my burgers medium-rare and my legs a little pink – though not too much.
And I like my summers a little past ripe. Berries. Wines. T-shirts. So, step on up to the microphone, September, too warm and a little past prime, where your tiny imperfections are just starting to surface.
Never much liked new and perfect things. That’s why I shop at pool halls, pawn shops, and that sprawling thrift store on Magnolia, where they sell the lightly used clothing from TV shows and movies.
Got a real nice business suit there once, elegant and traditional. “Brooks Bruhs,” the label said. Might’ve been a knockoff.
But it’s lasted, this suit – multiple weddings, multiple speeches, a mitzvah or two…now mostly funerals.
Ah, life (and death).
I don’t think Smartacus likes perfection either. Each morning, he tosses me a t-shirt he found on the floor of his bedroom.
“This smell?” he asks.
Of course it does. He wears it anyway.
Like father, like son.
By the way, I still make him breakfast every morning, just like in the old days. When he returned from his freshman year, I told him that I wasn’t going to wait on him anymore, that he’d have to fend more for himself.
“OK, Dad,” he said.
Lasted maybe a week.
When you do stuff for other people, you are really helping yourself. At least, that’s how I rationalize these breakfasts. I am making his scrambled eggs for me.
By the way, he’ll be closer to home this fall, attending a local community college, where he will sharpen his study skills and move on back to Oregon or another four-year school.
First semester’s tuition: $656.
No, that’s not a typo. The price discrepancy between these community colleges and the $50,000- $80,000 four-year schools hasn’t gone unnoticed. Up at chilly Oregon, $656 wouldn’t even cover his soup purchases. Here, it’s a semester. And none of his classes are on Zoom.
I’ll like having him home again, making him breakfasts, vetting his t-shirts, though I know his heart will still be up at that leafy PAC-12 campus with the sweaters and the football Saturdays that, more than almost anything, represent the glories of a young man’s life.
Hey, football is forever, it will always be here. Life goes on, and so will he. He handles setbacks remarkably well, better than me, no question.
Go Lancers! Go Ducks! Go Smartacus!
Tell me, can you fall for someone twice? Well, I’ve loved this kid from the first day I saw him and every day since.
I just want him happy, content, moving forward. Tonight, after his second day of classes, I am making the Korean short ribs that his mother used to make — his usual birthday meal even though it’s not his birthday.
Then, in the morning, I will make him breakfast, during which he’ll lean up over the Sports page as if studying Scripture.
That’s right, my 19-year-old son starts his day reading box scores like a 55-year-old CPA. You surprised?
Like father. Like son.
Of all the things he missed his freshman year – his dad, his dog, his sisters, his friends – it might’ve been the daily sports page most of all.
“A man can stand anything except a succession of ordinary days,” Goethe wrote.
For Smartacus, the baseball box scores make every morning a little less ordinary.
You know, I was all set to quit my daily paper. The bias has become so bad, and the coverage so polemic. Day in and day out, it was a disappointment when – for decades – the paper had surprised and invigorated me.
There’s nothing like robust daily newspapers. Fell for them when I was 12 and every day since.
The beauty of democracy, the residual glory, is that there are many opinions and many answers. Major newspapers and networks used to celebrate and foster that.
Seeing Smartacus study the box scores, I just couldn’t cancel the paper, while noting that, a few years back, the same paper tried to stop running these same baseball stats, just as it has quit running TV listings, stock tables, track results, maps, schematics, sidebars, a food section, a travel section, a business section, a car section, real estate, a Sunday magazine and all the other stuff that, in the minds of the newspaper’s panicked bean-counters, readers could just find somewhere else.
Imagine their plight. In LA, the car capital of the cosmos, where your ride represents style, status, taste, environmental awareness and – due to long commutes – are a second home, the paper couldn’t even print a profitable automotive section.
Same goes for food, the connective tissue of this town and a passion that unites us like nothing else.
But it’s lasted, print journalism has. For better or for worse, I’m glad it’s still around.
Baseball. Box scores. Fathers. Sons.
The second-hand store I mentioned is “It’s a Wrap,” in Burbank, a treasure chest for everything from sports coats to Halloween costumes (3315 Magnolia).
Meanwhile, Saturday’s Gin & Tonic Society bash is sold out. Directions and details have been emailed to those who reached out in time. If you missed it, we’ll have a holiday G&T bash in December. And once it cools down, some Happy Hour Hikes. For books, gin glasses and past columns, please go to ChrisErskineLA.com. Cheers!