Look Who Turned 2

In the park that day, it was like the Feast of the Walpurgis. Balloons were everywhere, and toddlers hugged their daddies’ legs and played amid giant bubbles, for there was a bubbleologist, the latest rage in children’s parties, a professional expert on the art of making bubbles, which probably don’t get the attention they deserve. Americans take too much for granted, and one of those things is bubbles.

The bubbleologist kept hitting on my son Smartacus, which is probably unethical on some level, but hugely entertaining on another. She openly admired his 20-year-old muscles as he helped carry the giant buckets of bubble juice, aka detergent, from her messy car to the edge of the park, where the birthday bash was taking place, at which point she sang Christmas carols and showed the young guests how to use the huge bubble wands.

For a moment, I thought someone LSD’d my drink, for there were giant psychedelic bubbles wiggling across the park, like sea serpents in a Hong Kong parade, in the greens and bloody reds of a troubling dream.

Seventy-five guests were there, including dozens of 2-year-olds – Finn and my lovely older daughter don’t take half swings. I kept thinking of Jerry Seinfeld’s description of a 2-year-old as “a blender with the top off,” or something along those lines.

The main blender was Cakes, the birthday girl. She had invited most of her friends, Beckett, Layla, Mayer, Linus, Ludwig, Pinocchio…there were 30 of them in all, and hardly a typical name.

Apparently, in their spare time, Millennials sit around and eat sushi while dreaming up strange and wonderful names for their children. Kinda dig it, to be honest. When I was a kid, all the girls were named Nancy; the boys were all called Mark.

“Love is spacious, love is infinite,” a poet once said.

Love is also a long Par 5 played with a garden rake. Love is also a party in the park on a soupy LA day, a little cool.

Love is everything.

These were Covid babies, and I suspect their generation will eventually be known as Generation C, honoring babies that were born around the time of a pandemic that tried to ruin the world but couldn’t quite. Think of all the similar things that tried to ruin the world. Wars, despots, famines. Witchcraft, whooping cough, pirates. Nuclear bombs. K-Pop. Taylor Swift.

We’ve come close many times, but nothing can ruin the world, though we’re certainly not out of the woods yet, at least when it comes to Ms. Swift, whom someone recently described as a middle-aged 14-year-old girl.

I suspect that, by the time these beautiful 2-year-olds are seriously into music, Ms. Swift will be out of fashion, like Perry Como or Benny Goodman,  yet you never know. Taylor Swift might be president by then. Even worse, she might remain the Shaggy Queen of Pop Culture. She might — gawd forbid — go on and on and on like Cher.

But now is not the time to be all bleak and defeatist. Now is the time to take stock in the future.

For, these are absolutely adorable kids, with devoted and very keen parents, who dote but not too much, which might be the secret to parenting — giving a kid enough leash, as you do a spaniel.

My granddaughter Cakes is flitting about, not quite sure why everyone is making such a fuss over her, and keeping an eye on Uncle Smartacus, who apparently looks like a giant smothered pork chop to the professional bubbleologist, who is still over there waving wands and singing Christmas carols.


How do I get myself into these things, anyway? Well, I guess it started when I dated way over my head in college, and to this day I continue to date waaaaaay over my head. Think I’ll ever get the message?

Meanwhile, the sheer capriciousness of life seems on display in this park, each of these kids in some way a miracle, and if you look closely — at their eyes, their hair, their perfect skin — you realize they may never be this perfect again, even when they’re 16 because of all the acne and stuff.

They are, in fact, with their smiles half in, and frosting all over their silly little faces, and bubble detergent in their hair and clothes, about as perfect as perfect gets, in a world where we seem enthralled and overly concerned with all the rotten stuff.

That’s my Yelp review of this party, anyway: Perfect, or nearly so. The rice in the musubi was a little dry, honestly. And I was bummed that the tiny designer cupcakes ran out before I could scarf a dozen or more.

Otherwise, wow.

Perfect, Cakes. Just perfect.

Props to those who braved the heat for the Happy Hour Hiking Club’s conquest of the Teepee Trail, or at least the first few holes. Certainly appreciate the conviviality of 50 strangers bonding so well. For info on the hiking club, please go to ChrisErskineLA.com. Meanwhile, if you missed my mini-tribute to Gordon Lightfoot, whose voice was like bourbon, please click here. Enjoy the weekend. Cheers.

11 thoughts on “Look Who Turned 2

  1. You are so right. These little ones are perfect, untouched by the list of would-be world destroyers you so aptly named. And to me, your writing is perfect too. Keep the bubbles flowing! Wonderful way to start the weekend with a smile.

  2. I’m in dire need of a good bubbleologist! Please send contact asap! And thank you for the best description of a 2 year old’s birthday ever!!🙏💚

  3. “Bubbles like sea serpents at a Hong Kong parade.” Wonderful. But I may have to insist on vetting your music comments in the future. Listen to Folklore before you trash Ms. Swift again. A, it’s a gorgeous album, and B, you don’t want her writing a song about you. That has not needed well for a number of men considerably taller than you or me.

  4. Our parks have never been cleaner, with all that detergent periodically washing down the surface terrain that recently got the workout of the century, since Covid drove many out of the gyms and spas and workout classes into the parks, and onto the trails. Bubble culture is lovely, like the Hula Hoop, The Slinky, Etch-a-Setch, and a few other physical dreamscape passions that showed up in the past two generations of childhood to captivate adults. It seems that many politicians are also into bubblemania, their soapy visions floating around in the media, popping like balloons, everywhere..I hope they don’t spoil it for the kids, since their motives seem quite different. Cakes takes it, as usual. As for the kids, I guess the biblical fad is finally waning, and names like Rock and Crunch, Pow, and Athena, taken from super hero epics, will hold sway. Imagine calling “crunch” to the breakfast table to eat dry cereal, and you get the picture. The age of cartoon characters may be upon us. But hey! It’s Spring, and balloon man, or woman, or other modern genre, is in the park. What could go wrong?

  5. Bubbles are nice. Bubbles are good. I try to teach the little ones useful skills at play time. I was fresh out of handheld projectors and grappling hooks the other day, but I had rope and bungee cords with hooks. And I had a half a palm tree on my roof. We were out there for an hour as each method failed. The circling the lasso to create momentum before the toss: fail. Balling up the rope and fast balling it to the roof: fail. We tried from the front of the house. We tried from the side of the house. The family lost hope. The neighbors lost hope. But I wanted to teach a 7 year-old to getter done, even in the face of great odds. The overhand lob: Yes! And down she came. She doesn’t fit in a city green trash can, so, hopefully they take it away anyway. The victory dance was that much sweeter for all the public fails. Grapplicious.com?

  6. Happy 2nd Birthday Cakes! Looks like a great time was had by all. Two year-olds are fun! I work in Parent Education with at risk families with kiddos birth-3. I love how curious, demanding, playful, creative and emotional they can be! Every day is an adventure. And they love bubbles!

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