Stirring my tea with one of those spoons that fell down the garbage disposal at some point, so the edge is now serrated, like a shark’s smile.
Out back, Suzanne is walking what appears to be some sort of dog. Suzanne resides on LA’s west side, where dogs the size of candy bars continue to be the rage.
Obviously, she and I have a delicate balance at the moment: West vs. East. Small dog vs. big dog. Elegance vs. virtue.
Here’s the latest flashpoint: My dog is a giant werewolf; her dog is a very sophisticated micro-breed of hamster….a Pixar character. When White Fang looks at Stuart Little, she sees a toasted Pop Tart. The big wolf’s lower lip quivers, like Meg Ryan before she’s about to break up with someone.
Meanwhile, when Stuart Little looks at White Fang, his brain screams: “Jurassic Park! Ruuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuun!!!”
That represents our relationship as it currently stands.
As you know from “The Brady Bunch,” it’s almost an art form to blend two families. But that’s what we’re doing — defying the odds in the name of a calm and orderly breakfast.
As a west-sider, Suzanne doesn’t eat much breakfast. She is lean like a racehorse and pretty as an old-timey French sedan and so scary smart she probably could’ve excelled at anything she tried in life, and she chose me. A dicey choice, for sure: a former wide receiver with poetic tendencies and dreams of one day becoming a fireman.
The only thing I ever excelled at was college intramurals, which gets almost no media attention, despite generating the highest level of passion of any sport. In fact, I had a classmate (Barry Lepp) who once got thrown out of an intramural game for arguing over an illegal bat.
It was a legendary performance. He stalked, he stomped … smoke blew out his ears and eyes. One witness dubbed his 20-minute alleluia as “Pacino-esque.”
“Be careful, you’ll spill your beer!” I yelled, but Barry was what’s known as “inconsolable.”
Even when right, Barry often went at things the wrong way. That’s probably why he became a sportswriter for a while, before becoming disenchanted with professional athletes, who never shared his heightened passion for sports.
Last I heard, Barry was Midwest sales rep for Totes, a versatile type of galoshes suitable for the super-sloshy heartland. Back in the day, Totes were a big deal — warm, functional boots that were not the least bit stylish, which is what Midwesterners always seek in winter footwear — something as miserable as they are when it’s still snowing in June.
Anyway, that’s a long rant about passion, which really rules our lives. It frosts our cornflakes in the morning; it fires up the furnace at night. As I always tell Smartacus, “If only you have half the passion the great Barry Lepp had for co-ed intramural softball….”
By the way, you should’ve seen Smartacus buying a giant balloon bouquet for his brother-in-law’s birthday last week. I sent him off to the supermarket with 60 bucks, and the next thing you know he is walking to the car with this enormous cluster of balloons frantic in the wind. Can’t see a thing. He tacks left. He tacks right.
Finally, he locates the car, where a stranger helps him stuff the balloons into the rear hatch.
Life rule No. 1: Never look too close at an oyster.
Life rule No. 2: Don’t blend families – it never works.
Life rule No. 3: Don’t buy a big cluster of balloons during a typhoon.
Next thing you know, we’re all on the west side, for a surprise party for Finn, my sagacious son-in-law.
“Surprise!!!” we all yell when Finn walks into the restaurant. Then one of the balloons pops, and everyone dives for cover.
“Mazel tov!” I yell.
“Happy birthday!” adds Smartacus.
It’s a rockin’ meal. The lovely and patient older daughter set the menu, and there is this one appetizer that I am pretty sure is thinly sliced pear. Turns out, it is fish.
Then there is some more fussy food, and some fussy food after that. Some artists work in oils, some work in clay. In L.A., many artists work in fussy food.
The last course is a giant ice cream cake that my daughter Rapunzel brought. Still hungry, I steal three plates of cake from nearby guests when they head off to the restroom.
As I always say: “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth overdoing.”
And, my favorite moral imperative: “Wine flies when you’re having fun.”
Certainly, Finn seemed happy. His best friends and cousins were happy. Our tummies were super happy. Even the servers were happy, especially when we finally left three days later.
Mazel tov forever.
Happy Easter, from our home to yours. Cheers.