A Cozy Contentment

My bearded pal Howard writes: “Perhaps 2023 will be the year of new images, fresh metaphors, formerly unknown similes.”

Not likely.

Probably, it’ll be the year of more musty thoughts, made misty over time. I’ll stand on the porch with a cup of coffee each morning and watch the paper boy race up the street — one paper for me, another for the lawyer at the end of the cul-de-sac. That’s it. The rest of our street sleeps in darkness.

So be it. Nothing stays the same. Who would want that?

Well me, for one.

Sort of Celtic, isn’t it, my need for ritual and repetition? I find that those who abandon tradition too quickly tend to flutter in the wind, like hawks before a storm.

Meanwhile, it’s chilly enough for a pair of cords, and the YMCA pool smells of aftershave — courtesy of all the swimmers out to shed their holiday cheese and lunar bellies.

All I know is this will be a very operatic spring here in LA – reams of wildflowers and tons of gushing waterfalls. Such hikes we’re going to have, in the wake of these big juicy storms.

Some say I am a humorist with a poetic side, which is a little like being a nun with a wild streak. Not sure the two traits should exist in the same person.

True story: Sometimes, when I write, my head spins completely around. That’s when I know I’m on a roll.

“Summon a priest!” my wife Posh used to scream.


“Your dad’s writing again!” she’d warn the kids.

Like Howard, everyone seems to have plans for me in 2023.

My silvery sidekick (Suzanne) hopes we’ll take lots of day trips, to make a snowman in the mountains, or bum around old bookstores at the beach.

My pal Emily suggests I teach creative writing at USC, at least till robots can do it, which is still several months away.

I explained to Em that I don’t really care for young people anymore. I coached them in soccer, then I coached them in baseball – a coach with a poetic side. One pitcher (Jessica) went on to play at Harvard, which remains my greatest success story, at least as a coach.

As a father, my greatest success story is that I once replaced a leaky old toilet (the kids still talk fondly about the valuable cuss words they learned that day).

As a coach, my other greatest success story: At least four of my former players have gone on to become doctors.

I tell other coaches that my 10-year-old players looked up at me — their marble-mouthed coach spouting stale metaphors – and thought to themselves: “You know, I think I’ll go into the sciences,” as I stood there struggling to explain the infield-fly rule.

“It isn’t really a rule,” I’d tell them. “It’s more of a philosophy. How do you want to approach life: Safely hugging bases, or pinwheeling freely around in hopes of confusing your opponent…”

As if baseball weren’t confusing enough.

Anyway, my record as a coach: four doctors, couple of bartenders, one wedding planner, 20 publicists/marketing/sales reps, three attorneys, 27 engineers now building the robots that will one day ruin this world.

The rest of my former players are surfer dudes still trying to figure out their lives. They’ll probably wind up the happiest, bobbing on the waves at 6 am forever. Content. Blissy.

I assure them: “You know, Schweitzer didn’t really get his act together till he was 30. Then he built hospitals in Africa and won the Nobel Prize.”

Speaking of winning, ever heard of the concept of “hygge?” It’s a Nordic thing, like cinnamon buns and loose marriages.

According to the Danes, when you achieve hygge (pronounced hoo-ga), you’ve found a cozy contentment in life’s simple pleasures: friends, family, warm blankets, candlelight.

Like, at the end of a day of skiing when you take off your cement boots and put your grateful blistered feet up on the fireplace – ahhhhhhhhh!

That’s hygge. You put aside thoughts of bad bosses and evil supermarkets — all the forces that seem out to get you. Ex’es from Texas. Con men from Connecticut. The Dodgers’ front office.

For the record, here’s the best way to hygge:

–Pull on a pair of socks so thick you can’t fit on your shoes.

–Pour a double-Maker’s, rocks.

–Flip on some football, turn down the sound, listen to Kenny Burrell.

As the quarterback stumbles in the snow, wave the cocktail glass in little circles, blending bourbon and ice, as if performing an exorcism, as if releasing souls to heaven.

Including your own.

Such poets, those Danes. Such filaments in their cozy little hearts.


A hike through our green and glorious hills is set for Feb. 4, a Saturday. Stay tuned for details. For past columns and books, please go to ChrisErskineLA.com.

11 thoughts on “A Cozy Contentment

  1. Thanks for the hygge lesson. Clearly, Cakes has embraced it, along with her huge cuddly bear pal. I have been reading with horror about chatbots. First, they stop teaching cursive, now they are trying to replace writers. Well, no AI could come up with “silvery sidekick.” Your position is secure, my friend.

  2. On my street three of us get the newspaper except for when she misses mine. Still a newspaper junkie which still beats all other forms of supposedly news outlets.

  3. You must have done something right as a coach to have remained in touch with your team so you learned how they turned out…or else you’ve done a lot of stalking.

  4. Thanks, I needed this and now on to football, no bourbon, it’s pizza and Dr Pepper for me…bliss indeed.

  5. Three cheers to all the teachers, coaches, and youth leaders! Two little girls I taught to jump rope in Kindergarten became doctors. My oldest granddaughter earned her PhD. I take no credit for their achievements–I’m just honored to have known them as children.

  6. Great! There’s finally a name for it….hygge. As a 70 something I’ve finally reached it. Mine includes snuggly socks at the end of the day, a vintage movie and a glass of Bailey’s (the joy at discovering it at the back of the liquor cabinet after having forgotten purchasing it). Oh, and those pictures of Cakes since I have nothing left in the grandchild department other than teenagers.

  7. Silent hoo-ga on that T.V. thing
    Ahead: Celt hiking with an operatic spring
    Circling Makers-rocks, per the Dane’s
    Poetic filaments; thick socks, cold rains—
    Cozy reader, as Kenny Burrell starts
    His ritual repetitions of the warming arts;
    This some kind of coaching of the soul
    For a Winter day: comfort control
    Who can tally how many souls he might
    Have given ease—contentment, or insight
    Into pleasure? Though slender silver slivers
    Are who really makes what wintertime delivers
    As for the rest of us: a rave
    For that in-the-pool aftershave
    Such poetic humor, all our souls to save
    He awoke, wrote; and what bon mots he had he gave…

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