Cheeseburgers in Paradise

Obviously, I’m kinda crushing on autumn this year. So many good games, so many soups…this weather.

I was jogging in the rain the other morning, then stopped by the library for a stack of cool weather reads. I mean, nothing too naughty. In November, I want novels that smell of woodsmoke, full of texture and meaning. Actually, I always want novels full of texture and meaning. Tweedy me.

Been trying to get Suzanne to read the same book so that we can compare our impressions, and I can see just how erudite, mystical and insightful she is, so that I can aspire to all of that…so that I know my target.

Like autumn, Suzanne kinda turns me on, and it’s not just that mother-of-pearl hair, it’s all that other stuff. I need to assure her that I’m more than mere eye candy, though how do I totally get away from that? It’s just how most people are going to see me.

Suzanne is still recovering, emotionally at least, from the Ditka sweater vest I wore for Halloween. She also saw me one night wearing an “Elf” costume from the Will Farrell movie – green with yellow tights.

“My pajamas,” I explained.

“Yikes,” she said.

Poor woman. Of all the gin joints…

I was assuring Suzanne the other day that she could resign from this relationship at any time. I have no contractual claim, though I did gift her a St. Christopher medal for our one-year-anniversary.

 “You can get a free beer with that,” I told her. “I mean, I couldn’t. But you could.”

To celebrate our anniversary, we got a little sloshy at Bittner’s burger joint, the site of our very first date. My buddy Big-Wave Dave joined us, along with his wife, Little Wave, and we had the best time talking about surfing, tailgates and other triumphs of the human spirit. Totally unplanned, which is just how I like my life…aimless and without purpose.

By the way, I still have a kink in my neck from when I tried to kiss Suzanne goodnight after our very first date a year ago.

Remember how Walter Payton used to fake out opposing safeties, the beep-beep tilt of his head, his legs twirling like a roulette wheel? Well, ironically, Suzanne has that exact same move for first kisses.  She left me on the ground, one eye looking north, the other south.

“This is what love feels like?” I thought to myself.

“G’night,” she said. “Thanks I think.”

Finding love in L.A. is like finding iridium in rocks, quite rare but it happens. Iridium comes to Earth in meteorites. So does love.

Be careful is all I’m saying.

Know a good place to find love? Bittner’s burger joint, obviously. “Where the Meat Meets the Heat,” is their motto.

Another good place? A Rose Parade float site.

The other night, my buddy Cervenka and I co-hosted a gala for one of the all-volunteer Rose Parade organizations – big bash, lots of pressure, critical enough that it required two emcees.

Money was the main goal. At one point, I think we auctioned off the local firefighters. Hope their families understand.

Anyway, one of the co-chairs (Samantha) was telling me that many volunteers met their life mates while helping build a Rose Parade float.

I mean, that’s only one reason to volunteer. And maybe not the best one. Still….

What a meet-cute location, at the float site late on a late-December evening, flowers everywhere, your fingers a little sticky from all the glue…maybe a little rainy, the chill seeping through your socks. Don’t know about you, but I find frostbite refreshing.

Anyway, who couldn’t find love in such a place? Well, Ditka for one. Me for another. But from what I hear, many people do.

Of course, results may vary. But if, just before New Year’s, you find yourself on the cold hard ground at a Rose float — one eye looking north, the other south — thank me then.

Meanwhile, I’m increasingly fond of Denise Levertov’s notion that “writing is a form of prayer.” Ideally, I would pen these soulful November pieces on a legal pad in the back of a church, with football plays in the margins — X’s and O’s, a screen play here, a misdirection trap there.

Anything to help our poor Rams, right?

While doodling, I’d pass little notes to people I recognize in nearby pews. “Sorry, I can’t today.” Or, “I’d like to talk to you about your extended warranty.”

Hopefully, they smile.

Tiny pranks. Unconquerable souls. The human spirit, twirling.

For books and past columns, please go to Meanwhile, email me your Christmas gift list to Not that I’d get you anything. But I might pick up some ideas. Ideas, after all, are everything – notions, thoughts, bursts of creativity…everything. Concert tickets are good too. Or gift cards to Home Depot, everybody likes those. Meanwhile II: Wait’ll you see the gift I got the lovely and patient older daughter. Nailed it! And Cakes is getting an Elmo doll. And a pony. Have a great weekend. Cheers!

20 thoughts on “Cheeseburgers in Paradise

  1. Congrats on an exciting and love-filled first year together! I hope you and Suzanne enjoy many, many more of those. She’ll get used to you over time, I’m sure. Please let me know the next time you are auctioning off firemen!

  2. A few years ago I answered the citywide call from the organizer of the Sierra Madre float for volunteers (no experience needed). Worked into the dead of a very cold night. Started me off as a “fluffer,” (much to my husband’s amusement) and was eventually promoted to gluing petals, because only the strong and limber qualified. What can I tell you, they were desperate. I was savvy enough to know which side of the float gets on camera, so the next morning I could point out to my husband where I was and what I was doing the night before..I’m still not sure even after all this time I’ve entirely worn off all the glue on my fingers!

  3. As usual, a great tale. My first date with my wife, a 13 hour date, ended with a dodged kiss. After a 56 years old marriage, it hasn’t happened again. Hang in there chief.

  4. So smooth and pleasing and convincingly conversational is the tone of this piece it almost seems like a narrative a close friend mind confide while leaning into you, side by side, at the loud intermission of a sporting event. Or, there could be another game going on here, a la Denise Levertov’s contention cited herein (to which I also subscribe) that writing is (like) a prayer.. the playful, whimsical, lightly humorous , quasi-self mocking banter in these ruminations often seems to mask a deadly serious engagement with life. That is what makes them so irresistible—the dirty socks drop like burnt moths to the floor, and lie glowing like smudged fallen stars; and turns of metaphors and simile engage the eye like dancers at night around an Autumn bonfire, the sparks flying up to warm the spirit—maybe even burning a hole in a Ditka sweater, where the heart is.

    After a year of all these fireworks and other pyrotechnic phoenomena. isn’t it interesting that the accompanying burning exploration of the singularity of attraction still has not resolved the mysteries of the muse, nor her wry and willowy magnetism. Perhaps this is the time, in keeping with the slow fade of November light, to realize that this is where the light goes, it is love, and that there is no such resolution. The search is over. Say amen…as in a prayer.

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