To Live and Dine in LA

I’m in the midst of a flippy psychotic episode of some kind, brought on by the freaky high heat and the fact that – just yesterday – my son Smartacus sneezed all over my bare legs.

Seriously. From 8 feet away.

“You sneezed on me!” I say.

“No, I didn’t,” he insists.

“Yeah, OK…”

“And I’ll never do it again, Dad.”

My main fault as a parent is that I love my children a tad too much. I tolerate, dote, worship, worry over, spoil, support, finance, forgive, forget and admire them to an unhealthy degree. Lots of parents do.

In fact, Suzanne and I just made a pact that we are going to dial back our devotion, now that our children are “adulting” and can fend for themselves. This comes after weeks of discussing whether, in order to keep our kids in LA, we should just gift them our houses.


Smartacus also, the other morning, complained that I over buttered his toast.

For sale: One Smartacus, low mileage. Probably won’t pass the smog check.

To be honest, my son has been on the market for a month now. No offers. Not even a casual inquiry. I’d have better luck selling Bibles to biker gangs. Or fur balls to cats.

I mean, really. Make an offer. I might throw in the house.

In an effort to give our children away, Suzanne and I took our youngest kids to dinner the other night, as a way to put them on public display.

We meet at a trippy rooftop bistro in Culver City, with lots of overpriced drinks and not enough meat. FYI, the build-your-own BLT comes without bread, which might’ve been a prank.

All in all, though, it is a sensational evening, the first time our youngest kids have met. I think everyone gets along well, though I probably talk too much, as I am prone to do when I’m excited, filling in any little gap in the conversation so it doesn’t get awkward, and by doing so, I make it very, very awkward. Suzanne and Smartacus are used to this, but her poor daughter … ouch.

“Where are our drinks? Where are our drinks?” I keep asking.

Our drink order takes, like, 15 minutes to arrive. So I talk and talk and talk some more.

I talk about the $1 shrimp cocktails I used to get in downtown Vegas, full of minuscule shrimp, “the prehistoric kind that come alive in the desert after a hard rain.”

We talk about the daughter’s new job, an amazing gig involving pediatric nephrology.

Smartacus counters by discussing the pullover he is wearing, “which I stole from my Dad.”

“Did you know he’s for sale?” I ask Suzanne and her daughter.

They don’t seem at all interested, though you never know. LA is renowned for its poker-faced women.

Similarly, I explain how our exotic husky White Fang, who is Russian, keeps a lot of stuff bottled up deep inside her, and how we’re working to get her to relax and share more.

We talk about New York.

We talk about her daughter’s stunning blue eyes, and how stunning blue eyes are actually an aberration, and how all the world’s blue-eyed people, and presumably all Siberian huskies, stem from one person with that single mutation.

“And boy, was she ever popular…”

See, this is the kind of juicy dinner conversations you have with someone who won’t shut up. Our kids keep looking at each other: “Is this over yet? Does he ever shut up? Look at this BLT! No bread?”

As always, Smartacus out-orders us. A foot-high fish sandwich ($23) arrives that reminds me of the final scene in Moby Dick, when they’re kabobing the poor whale – jab, jab, jab — which might be a metaphor for dining out in Los Angeles.

“Call me Ishmael! Die, you stupid fish!”

“Want some?” Smartacus whispers, and gives me a greasy little wedge of bread with his fingerprints all over it.

Now, at this point, you’re probably thinking: “Wow. Sounds terrific. Was there chocolate?”

Well, sorta. We capped this magical night with two desserts: some sort of soybean and berry crumble and a nice slab of gluten-free, flourless, flavorless, sugarless, joyless chocolate layer cake ($15), the kind of cake you can only get in Los Angeles.

Was it chocolate? Was it even cake?

The Canopy Club atop the Shay Hotel is not a total dud. The poolside setting is pleasant, not fussy or over-the-top hip, with shady or sunny tables available. And it’s open late, till 2 am weekends. It’s an attractive brunch or Happy Hour spot, actually. Just steer clear of the chocolate cake and the BLT. In addition to the fish sandwich, the crispy avocado tacos were also delicious. How they get flavor out of vegetables, I’ll never know. But I’m glad they do. Cheers!

Meanwhile, looking forward to our Gin & Tonic Society bash tonight in the hills overlooking the Rose Bowl. Good drinking weather. Keep your fluids up, wherever you are. Cheers!

14 thoughts on “To Live and Dine in LA

    1. OMG Seafresh or the Waterside & what can go wrong with a town that offers a taco trail? Don’t let the name ‘Oxnard’ sway you. Really, they should have changed it to ‘Gold Coast’ when they had the chance.

  1. Another big step forward in your relationship with Silver Suzanne! So happy for you both. Please don’t sell Smartacus. I know White Fang would be heartbroken. Just tell him to butter his own damn toast. It’s part of adulting.

  2. Smartacus you’re welcome at our home anytime. I’m afraid I don’t make enormous fish sandwiches, but I do make a really delicious chocolate cake from scratch (no veggies included).

  3. On A Hot Day In L.A…

    On our way
    To Mandalay
    Near the bowl—
    Hot buttered soul;
    Like the weather
    Sweats together
    Kindred skin
    Crystalline gin
    Into a spree
    Of G&T;
    Steam in your hair
    Frost in the air
    From spritz of lime
    And heat sublime
    Whose contrasts bare
    Flesh extraordinaire
    See you there…

  4. You are not doing Smartacus any favors by continuing to cater to and treat him like a child and preventing him from adulting. As long as you do, he will
    continue to be a child.

    1. Even genius writers like Mr. E. use hyperbole when describing their children. I trust his parenting to make the kid’s adulting the best time of his life.

  5. We will take him! We already have 2 here. We have carnivores, vegans, and anti-inflammatorians. Something for everyone!

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