So I’ve been on hold with Social Security for about a month now, enduring the bad music and the occasional condescending assurances that indeed they are very busy serving 50 million customers a month, blah, blah blah…blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
I called on Tuesday. No luck. I tried again Wednesday. Nada. On Thursday, I decided to wait forever. At one point, my son Smartacus brought me food.
Suspecting how the universe works, I decided to take a ginormous bite of breakfast, tempting fate. Once my mouth was completely full, I knew that was the awkward moment when someone from Social Security would finally come on the line.
Hand to God.
“Hello, this is Heather. How may I assist you?”
Chomp, chomp, chomp, chomp…He-huh! Heath-hoo. Heather!
In that sliver of time, I finally solved issues regarding the vagaries of modern life, plus the rusty gaps in the space-time continuum. I’d also solved what MLK referred to “the moral arc of the universe”; essentially, when you’re least prepared, love will always come your way.
Look, if life had a Hall of Fame, I would never be in it, obviously.
But I’d like to nominate my old man.
“Everybody in life gets the same amount of ice,” he used to say. “The rich get it in summer, and the poor get it in winter.”
Obviously, he approached life’s inevitable setbacks with a smirk and a dry martini.
Another of his favorite sayings, an old Yiddish toast: “May all your enemies move in with you.”
The inside joke was he was talking about us kids, which Mom realized right away. But it took my sisters and me years to figure out.
At birthdays, at weddings, at Christmas: “May all your enemies…”
Turns out, the Yiddish and the Irish are the same-ish.
I am at a weird juncture in my life. Pieces fall off. Everything hurts. The news makes me sad. Every Beatles song makes me happy.
In fact, I have now given up therapy and turned instead to classic songs. Pennies in a stream, moonlight through the sycamores, Strawberry Fields forever…that sort of thing.
Besides, as Freud noted, “The Irish is the only group for whom psychotherapy is of no use whatsoever.”
Honestly, I have no problem with therapy. I encourage it for anyone in need. Generally, we worry to much about the wrong things — our cars, our careers — and not enough about our hearts.
In general, we worry too much. More and more, I believe in an elusive yet achievable sense of contentment. Sometimes it comes through a Taylor Swift concert. Sometimes it comes through a Petrarchan sonnet. You have a choice though. You have tools and solutions.
Speaking of tools, I told Suzanne the other day that I find contentment in puttering around the house, caulking a window, futzing with the furnace filter.
“So you’re a dork?” she says.
Well, technically. Ish.
Hail Smartacus! Hail Suzannicus!
Props to all those who put up with me — my bookie, my dog, my drinking buddies, my physician (the world-renowned Dr. Steve).
The other day, Dr. Steve sends me for a blood test.
“Which arm do you prefer?” the phlebotomist asks while sharpening her dagger.
But I’m still here, damnit. I’ve outlived most sports sections and several pairs of very expensive shoes. I’ve outlived record stores, rom-coms and the great old guy who used to pump my septic.
Of course, grandkids help. So props to Catty Cakes as well.
“I am looped in the loops of her hair,” as Yeats put it a trillion years ago.
Honestly, I’ve finally concluded that true love is the only thing that doesn’t change. Love can make us better, or love can make us worse. It is as irrational as a cloud of wasps.
But we need obsessions just as we need distractions. With my granddaughter, I have an obsession and a distraction all in one. Same with Smartacus.
Meanwhile, there are a couple of crickets in the garage in search of a cool corner. A summer funk has descended on the bed sheets, the t-shirts. And we might need to perfume the dog.
As I may have mentioned recently, the secret to everything may be a scoop of toffee ice cream in a big vase of iced coffee.
Seriously. If that doesn’t help you, neither can Freud, nor Lennon, nor vodka, nor me. I’m a dork, remember?
Just gimme a swim suit, a satchel of limes, a big bucket of ice.
Because everybody gets the same amount.
Speaking of moonlight through the sycamores, we’ll have a detailed report on our recent gin ’n’ tonic bash in this Saturday’s post. Props to all who attended, and even those who are still there. John and Eileen were perfect hosts. Details ahead on how John beheaded a nice bottle of Champagne with a giant machete. Meanwhile, for books, past columns, t-shirts and gin glasses, please go to ChrisErskineLA.com. Cheers!