Irrational Obsessions

Bouncing along with a couple of playful punks on leashes, a pocketful of poo bags and doggy treats, the bacon-flavored brand that always makes me a little hungry.

I don’t say all this to brag about my station in life. I say this because I so cherish and admire dogs.

For centuries, being a dog was rough duty. Now, being a dog is like being a prince 5th in the line of succession. Nobody expects much of you, and you get a lot of perks.

Dogs today get better dental care than I did as a child. Many pet owners now cook for their dogs. Dogpark Gary, rest his sweet soul, used to give his pit bull daily rub downs.

Like I said, not a bad life.

For the past week, I’ve been watching the lovely and patient daughter’s dog. Penny Laine is a ginger retriever, which means she has a nicer personality and more character than many humans.

She also burps a lot. FYI, her tooth marks are on a wedge of smoked cheddar in the fridge, after she snatched a Zip-Loc off the counter. I retrieved it quickly from her mouth. Kept the cheese.

In short, we both value good cheese.

The other night, Penny Laine ate my favorite shoe. Last night, she snatched a hard-boiled egg off the counter.

I was bummed about the egg till Smartacus told me that it was cooked maybe a minute too long anyway, and if I wanted the yolk a little  gooey, like in the best ramen joints, I should boil the hard-boiled eggs a little less.

That cheered me up, knowing that the dog had snatched an egg that wasn’t quite up to the standards of my children.

I’m having a rocky relationship with my kids – what else is new? I learned last week that my daughters will miss Father’s Day because they will be in Austin for Rapunzel’s bachelorette party, a holiday all its own.

FYI, these bachelorette parties now cost more than my wedding.

Instead of starter homes, our kids are now investing in high-end bachelorette parties in places like Austin, Napa and Nashville. Who can blame them? In California, there are no more starter homes. If you want a starter home, you have to move.

FYI, I ran into Doc Dodge the other day, whose daughter will also be at the bachelorette party in Austin. He said his wedding cost $2,500, for 150 guests. Even allowing for 4 decades of inflation, that’s pretty striking.

I’m betting that this Texas event is costing more than $2,500, when you add up the air fare, the pedicures, the tips, the hired drivers, the silly sashes, the hotels. All in the name of “leude and mutynous behavior,” as they used to say in merry olde England.

Hell, it’s only money.

Pretty sure Suzanne is losing patience with my frugality. I griped the other day when … oh, forget it, it’s only money. As my buddy Miller always says, in some choppy mock dialect, probably Slovakian: “I makes a million, I spends a million. So what?”

All good. My buddy Gino is in town this week. He’s like a brother to me, as are all my buddies: Bittner, Big Wave, Billable Bob, Verge, Jeff, Greg, Pete, Siskin, Chris Green, Johnny Walker Black.

Hey, wanna buy a buddy? Cut you a deal.

We’ll be downing drinks and laughing at life at a local steakhouse soon. Come check us out, then make me an offer.

By the way, have you seen the prices of food lately? No worries. I makes a million, I spends a million.

Over steaks and gin, we’ll talk mostly about our kids, who are slowly – one at a time, and with a good bit of flourish – starting to marry off.

I think for Father’s Day I may get my children gifts. Or gift cards. Or cash. Or bitcoin.

I will give them gifts because, for all my kvetching about what parenthood costs – emotionally and practically – my kids are still the best things that ever happened to me … hand’s down, not even close.

Honestly, I don’t have that many irrational obsessions.

I mean, I love dogs. I love the ponies. I love stupidly big burgers.

I love a Bloody Mary on a chilly autumn afternoon, with Miller at the jukebox playing Lou Bega a little too hard.

I love the Chicago Cubs, the French impressionists … swimsuit editions, especially with Martha Stewart.

But, of all those cherished things, I love my kids the very most — the spendthrifts and the prodigal, the sassy and the sassier.

So Happy Father’s Day.

To them. To me. To you.

For books and past columns, please go to Some nifty gin glasses available too. Cheers.

8 thoughts on “Irrational Obsessions

  1. Happy Father’s Day to an extraordinary one! I am sure they feel as lucky to have you as you do to have them…fur children included.

  2. Another great story! We are in Rome on vaca and it is pouring out! Thanks for the entertainment

  3. Most fathers would agree that kids and dogs are the agony and ecstasy of a life well lived. Neatly put, they both graduate at some point to ethereal status in a father’s mind. Kids become dynasties in their own minds, if things go well. Even the best trained dogs also do so when confronted with another dynastic interpreter of similar mien. Where does that leave fathers, whole nearly always love the rough and unconditional? It leaves them with a day in late spring on which to ponder the miracle of succession, and if they’re lucky, the presence of a legion of similar believers in miracles and their celebration. Thus is fatherhood a beautiful religion: as always, rooted in love of something almost beyond comprehension.

  4. Happy Father’s Day Chris, I bet your children will come up with a wonderful way to surprise you when given the opportunity. You are a special Dad; you and your children are secure in the love you have for each other, you are all healthy and know how not to take life so seriously. In other words, you’re doing everything right. Enjoy a big juicy burger and an ice cold drink, you deserve it. Now, go on and spend your millions!

  5. Also, Patrick Ewing channeled Miller’s economic theory when he explained why NBA players don’t make too much money when he famously stated, “NBA players make a lot of money. But they spend a lot of money, too.” Classic Demand and Demand economic theory.

  6. My hearing aids cost more than my wedding. And bachelorette parties hadn’t been invented yet. Thanks for another great column, Chris. Have a Happy Father’s Day!

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