I zigged, I zagged, through O’Hare, then LAX, the handle on my giant suitcase refusing to telescope out as it should, so there I am dragging the swerving suitcase along by some little strap, running pass patterns through major terminals. Simple outs. Button hooks. Looked a lot like Jerry Rice, I told myself. Not a single witness agreed.
TSA made me pass through three times, just because.
Listen, a little letdown is sure to follow a big summer trip like this. But it’s easy to come home when there’s a big slobbery dog waiting to French kiss you.
It’s easy to come home when football beckons – the stickiest season, cider and taffy apples. Candy corn. Slobber. Those little Milky Ways I crave.
The recent rains have greened the lawns and plumped the soccer fields. By all accounts, it’s going to be an especially great fall.
Soon, I’ll be making a big batch of my famous pumpkin moonshine, which doubles as a wart cream and a tar remover for your car. Careful though, it’ll eat right through the metal.
Living life on the edge, as always.
For the record, two things can happen when you live life on the edge. You can fall off the edge. Or you can cut yourself.
Thirdly, you can find yourself zig-zagging through a major airport with 40 pounds of stinky summer clothes and a few mementoes from a wedding, including the personalized cards Rapunzel and Truck left for each guest. A nice touch. I certainly would never go to that kind of trouble. After all, we were feeding and watering them.
Isn’t that enough anymore?
Obviously, no one really likes destination weddings. And if wedding guests are willing to board a plane, put on a suit, fluff their fancy hair, the least you can do is acknowledge how happy you are that they actually showed up.
My buddy Mark J. Miller came, and I’m not even sure he was invited. Same for half these dudes. Name tags probably would’ve helped. At my older daughter’s wedding, someone made a cheat sheet – like a mugshot book — so I could match all the names with the faces.
Not this time. At one point, making the rounds, trying to be somewhat social, I introduced myself to an imperious young prince with a beer in one hand, and a beer in the other.
“Thanks for coming,” I said.
“Thanks, Dad,” said Smartacus.
For the record, Smartacus has approximately 400 cousins in Chicago. If you spot a redhead on the north side, it’s probably my niece. They look like they just fell off a toboggan, ruddy cheeked … toothy. They look like one of the fall flavors at Starbucks.
Anyway, I’m back, and I’ll be making chicken chili soon, to honor this surprisingly mild September. Suzanne bought me a front door decoration for Halloween. Like me, she’s a sucker for a healthy harvest. Just wait till I fill her with cheddar brats and pumpkin moonshine.
Yowzah. If you happen to see a snowy-haired woman dancing in the headlights — probably at a tailgate, or some Druid birthday bash — well, it’s likely her. She’s a fine dancer. You can flip her over your shoulder. You can roll her like dice.
Lands on her feet every time. Which is good if you’re dating me.
We made it through a very long trip, sharing bathrooms in tiny Midwestern motels, jumping on ferries to cross thrashing straits. It was more a hazing than a vacation. Honestly, can’t recommend it enough.
Young love. Don’t you just love it?
And then there’s Cakes, who’s been vacationing on the East Coast since the wedding two weeks ago. This welcome bit of news just in: She appears to have her mother’s hair. Hallelujah.
You know, I’m finding, a little at a time, that grandkids are like a bribe, a payoff, a commission that you get for finishing sixty or so laps around the sun, just for hanging in there too long.
What’s it all about, Alfie?
Well, it’s about grandkids, the ultimate harvest.
So please fill your plate. Turn on a game.
Bound to be a busy fall. Smartacus is heading back to the University of Trees soon, having slung burgers for Bittner all summer. There’s a book out, I may have mentioned, maybe not. It’s the inspiring story of a snarky big-city columnist who runs across a deeply sardonic mountain man known as “The Bear Whisperer.” Mayhem ensues, as does snark, as do tiny dust mites of literary magic. We zig. We zag. The book is out Oct. 3. To pre-order, please click here. Or support a local bookstore. We’ll be singing and signing at Vroman’s Oct. 3 and Barnes & Nobel at the Grove on Oct. 4. Both events are free and start at 7 p.m. I’ll bring some pumpkin moonshine.