Wistful? Me?

I have this delicious notion of taking Suzanne off to a cabin in the woods. Of making her soup. Of building a fire. Of embracing wood smoke and cheeseball Barry Manilow songs.

With you there’s a Heaven, so Earth ain’t so bad…

I was also telling Suzanne that New Year’s is too long for me to wait to make a resolution. I need an October resolution, I need self-improvement RIGHT NOW.

Serious lifestyle changes are on the way: I need to eat more salmon; I need to watch way less football.

Like Suzanne, I also need to  consistently give others the benefit of the doubt. To embrace change. To be more patient with other drivers, particularly in Glendale, which now has the most-ruthless drivers in all the world. Saw the rankings. Glendale. Rome. Hanoi….

Way to go, Glendale!

I was telling Suzanne that, for her birthday this week, I am naming a molecule after her, as they once did for Diane Ackerman, the science essayist. You can look it up. In Ackerman’s case, the molecule was for a crocodile sex pheromone.

So I guess that’s taken. Maybe a beer molecule for Suzanne? Or something to do with vanilla frosting, which she sometimes gets in her eyelashes when she gets too close to giant slices of cake. Or a pumpkin pie molecule, warm from the oven.

When it comes to gifts, it’s the calorie that counts.

The other day, I was telling Suzanne how I now wake my teen son (Smartacus) for school by tossing dog treats in his bed and turning White Fang loose to roust him, dig around the bed for the treats I’ve thrown, pirouetting around on his chest with her big paws and hairy butt.

Tell you what, it works.

If you need any other parenting tips, let me know. Like, I use a plastic rake to gather up the socks Smartacus leaves around the house. And if he dumps sweatshirts on the couch, I just open the back door and fling them into the trees.

Be free, little sweatshirts. Go forth and flourish.

Note that – not once – do I ever raise my voice with Smartacus. When it comes to kids, best to be like a Buddhist mime. Sometimes, I’ll just raise a finger to get his attention, then soccer kick his discarded ballcaps into his bedroom.

Tough love and tenderness. That’s my manta.

Suzanne says the changing of seasons makes me wistful and a little odd. Frankly, I don’t see it, though I am loading up on the Halloween decorations, adopting more of a harvest motif than a fright-house aesthetic, as she has in her place.

It’s as if we’ve swapped temperaments — me suddenly tasteful and her a tad tacky. She might be the least tacky person I’ve ever met, so there is mystery to this Halloween transformation, this swapping of personal traits.

Kinda fun, actually. And when you think about it, emotionally intimate, in the way you adopt someone else’s little behavioral quirks.

Just look at the cultural advances we’ve made so far: I’m teaching Suzanne how to flyfish, she’s teaching me how to order high-end appetizers out of holiday catalogues.

Right there, I’ve met one of my October resolutions. Eat more salmon. I’ve also got my eye on some bourbon-bacon lollipops. I mean, like I need more addictions? But look at them!

“You take heat and light and biomass and you get autumn,” my buddy Forrest commented the other day on recent columns, which seem to – I’ll admit – overdose on tailgates, pumpkins and temptation in general.

I don’t celebrate fall so much as fetishize it. I skewer it up, as you would a fat pheasant or a Dodger goose, and roast it over a bonfire.

I’ll confess, I do futz around with biomass a good bit. I bought a small tower of salami at the little German deli the other day.

“Just give me this much,” I said, indicating a stack, like poker chips, an inch tall.

“Like this?” the butcher said, handing me twice as much.

“Exactly,” I said.

Now the entire fridge smells like salami. Score!

You know, by temperament, by tradition – and by virtue of some deep spiritual void — I’m prone to excess and exaggeration. This is certainly the season for it. At our house, we eat the harvest as soon as it’s brought in from the fields – usually, we don’t even mill it or warm it in the microwave.

And now, just in time for the holidays, my daughter Rapunzel is giving me a nice pan she was tossing out after the handle got scorched and her future mother-in-law bought her a replacement pan.

“So nice of her,” I said.


“You should name a molecule after her,” I suggested.


 “Everyone’s doing it,” I explained.

“They are?”

Well, now maybe.

For comments, or to schedule a personal appearance, please email the columnist at Letters@ChrisErskineLA.com. Past columns and books are available at ChrisErskineLA.com.

9 thoughts on “Wistful? Me?

  1. Ha! I KNEW Catty Cakes would look stunning in the new autumnal sweater you bought her! At the rate she’s growing, it may not last until it’s time for a special Christmas “ugly sweater.” Thanks for another sweet fall column. It’s a season that goes by too fast, in our headlong rush to the Holidays. You help us to slow down and savor it like an upscale appetizer.

  2. Is Catty Cakes storing chestnuts in her cheeks? Love watching the sprite (& her cheeks) get bigger.

  3. Whenever I get cut off on the 405, I just repeat Hanlon’s Razor: “Never attribute to malice what can easily be attributed to stupidity.” They aren’t really evil. RIGHT?

  4. Thrilled to hear Smarticus is home for school!! Discover who you are and all the things that are out there!

  5. I love parenting tips. When my son’s showers went too long, I would turn on the hot water in the kitchen. It worked😉

  6. I am not one to front the spirits, but when one’s memories or apprehensions manifest in a glimpse of a wraith or feeling of shadow in the autumn light, attention must be paid. Perhaps it’s the nearness of Halloween with its opening of grave concerns that is responsible for your reversal of gender form vis a vis the lively and delectable Suzanne; you opting for baled hay and burlap, she for black and white plastic skeletons and Kandy Korn.
    Those grinning ghosts—I wouldn’t put it past them.

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