Chomp, Chomp, Chomp

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.


Jab. Ouch.

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 Cheers!

18 thoughts on “Chomp, Chomp, Chomp

  1. One of my favorite posts of yours, Chris! Love may be irrational, but you are in the midst of a lot of it and you deserve every last love wasp. I may be obsessing all day over toffee ice cream in iced coffee, now. Much cheaper and more satisfying than most “cures”. Thank you.

  2. I miss that sports section. I canceled the Times after 50 years as nothing to read in it anymore!

  3. Penny, brown penny…
    The “I’m still here, damnit” triggered me. I’m very glad you’re still here every time Wednesday and Saturday roll around.

  4. As the Yiddisher husband to my Foley wife for 40-ish years, I totally concur. That she shares the same birthday as my Polish-born father is magical coincidence. While she occasionally invokes her Southern Baptistry to balance the Guilt scale, we otherwise check the “Jewrish” box on the census form.

  5. I love this post, I’m 89% Irish (according to 23 n me) so it all makes sense.
    Wish you a happy life in all the chapters to come

  6. These words are redolent with the grist and essence of heat-driven Summer. They have that feel of lazy stall, everything slowing down, things fast going by like blinks of your eye or turns of phrase. Life flickers and flares in your mind, and heat’s granularity leads to a fine profundity here and there. Some of the great inventions of pronounkind have come to mind this deep in Summah—ice cream, for one. And then there’s the song, “He Gives Me Ice Cream”, which made the peerless Barbara Cook famous on Broadway’s street of Summer dreams. It could only have been invented in a now like this. And then…this piece. Buzz, buzzz, buzzzzzz. Let the IRS doze a little; the lupine canine with the lantern eyes, too. The man-kid headed back up to the greensward commons of coolmania, ditto. As for silvery slivers of sunshine that penetrate the ennui of this sleepy poltergeist of a zeitgeist, I say embrace that one. On the liquid languid Summer nights we loll through, a little shiver of light can make the ice dance in the glass, and the moonlight seem like water, floating your mind to sleep. In Summer, there are so many dreams to live. So many. I say float them all.

  7. …and then tonight, light going down, at that sudden moment of darkness, the tinkling of the ice in the glass like a little lonely bell, “Not A Day Goes By” and “Losing My Mind” (both Sondheim) sung by Barbara Cook, or that little full throated thrush Roberta Peters, or—if you are partial to Summer’s sonorous wine coupled with wisdom’s husky, wry whiskey edge—Dorothy Loudon. Ecstasy will rarely edge this close to you. Age will ease and disappear like the twilight did. Fall into bed with Julie London’s “Cry Me A River”. Who could ask more of Summer, its ironic tinge of sadness in the blatant heat of its passion singing in the mind. And so to sleep….

  8. As always, you crack me up. We’ve come to the same conclusion.Waiting until the end of time for somehuman being to pick up the call, the solution is taking up some activity that will clearly be the most difficult to be interrupted. Is that Yeats quote real? If so, boy am I screwed.

  9. For what it’s worth, I’ve found it worthwhile to go all the way out to the Social Security office in Glendora when I had questions. I signed up there in person, several years ago, on the advice of a friend. It was worth the wait and they’ve always be very lovely to deal with.

  10. Random observation: Have you noticed that Catty Cakes footwear would be the envy of any woman? Remember the white baby shoes that kids hated? Not for her! That tiny fashionista has it going on! My granddaughters belong to that club too. She is a doll baby!

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