That almost-glow

by Chris Erskine

March 27, 2010

Here’s a father’s must-know list for his young child:

1. What’s your kid’s teacher’s name?

2. What’s his uniform number in Little League?

3. Name his favorite TV show.

4. What’s his best friend’s last name?

5. On burgers, does he prefer mustard or ketchup?

Great dads miss none of these. Good dads might miss one or two. If you missed three, though, you flunk. Don’t panic, you still have time. Just rededicate a bit.

I’m all about rededication. I wake up each day vowing to be less lackluster than the day before. It rarely works out, but you can go a long way in this land on cheery good intentions. Treat people well. Follow through on your promises. Do more than is asked. Life is so simple, really. One trick I use is to avoid other people at all costs. I have maybe eight really close friends.

Those are the worst.

Saturday starts out the same, with a nice three-mile run down the boulevard, then across the horse trails. My jogging routes resemble Bob Dylan harmonica solos — you never know where they’ll end up. On a good day, I get clipped by transit buses maybe only three times.

On the way home, I run into Dan the tennis coach, a former rock musician who has become an acquaintance on my Saturday jaunts. We talk about my daughter, whom he used to coach on the high school team. We talk about the best place to buy fish. We talk about a millionaire he knows who eats nothing but salmon.

"That’s so weird," I say, "because I know a salmon who eats nothing but millionaires."

When I mention a noon speech I’m giving, he tells how he once approached rock performances. He used to come out on stage with a beer, he says, and spew a mouthful out over the audience. Then he’d flick his cigarette at them.

"They’d go crazy," he explains.

I make a mental note to try this later at the Glendale Area Alumnae Panhellenic luncheon.

To satisfy my agrarian tendencies, I stop by the farmers market, which I find far preferable to riding a tractor myself all day. What with fuel costs, it’s barely worth it.

And judging from all the booths, we have way more farmers in our little suburb than I ever imagined. They sell all sorts of stuff: strawberries and orchids, scallops and jewelry. I even bought my wife a beautiful Christmas sweater here. I hesitated at first, because I didn’t know for sure whether it was organic. But I went ahead anyway. Fit her like a coat of creamy gray paint.

Anyway, at the farmer’s market, I run into a buddy with an armload of flowers, the ultimate sign of male contrition. Seriously, the guy could be a Rose Parade float.

"That’s a lot of flowers," I say.

"Yeah, well …" he explains.

Another buddy, Terry, shows up holding half a muffin. Terry is one of those guys who’s always carrying half-eaten food.

All kidding aside, I love old friends like these — the easy banter, the joking about our kids. Suburban ennui dogs me like bad credit, yet when I get out among the other inmates like this, it gives me tiny digital bursts of joy. (Don’t worry. This being L.A., I try not to show it.)

At the seafood booth, meanwhile, the fish monger warns me that the sardines today are delicious but need to be treated very, very gently.

"Like a woman," she whispers.

This just in: Women are like sardines.

At the spring luncheon for the Glendale Area Alumnae Panhellenic, a loopy organization of out-of-control former sorority women — mostly between the ages of 40 to 70 — I explain my views on same-sex marriages this way:

"I don’t know what the big fuss is," I say. "My wife and I have been having the same sex for 25 years."

This makes them giddy with laughter, even though I am — as always — completely serious. I guess I forget for a moment who my audience is. The Delta Gammas almost fall out of their chairs.

Kids today.

Speaking of Delta Gammas, the little girl e-mails my wife, from her first-ever Florida spring break:

"Morning Mom. I’m getting a tattoo!!!"

Seven months at an elite Midwestern college, and evidently she’s turned into Lady Gaga. We think she might be kidding.

We think.

Here’s a husband’s must-know list for his wife:

1. What’s her Visa balance?

2. What’s her favorite flower?

3. What’s her mother’s first name?

4. Did she ever get a spring break tattoo?

5. If you bought her a beautiful Christmas sweater at a farmer market, would she love you more, or love you less?

FYI, smart husbands miss none of these.

How does he come up with this stuff??

I hope your first Spring weekend went well.  Take good care.  Weekend is close!

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5 Responses to That almost-glow

  1. Joe says:

    The mind of a talented writinger…always working Bob, always working….or maybe it’s the magic speedos? Who knows?

  2. Babblelot says:

    Sardines? Ya well, love yer post as always. Have a nice Easter Bob.

  3. Kuskulana says:

    Love it all Bob, especially the jogging that is like Bob Dylan’s mouth harp!

  4. Lady says:

    my Visa balance is private, I don’t even tell myself. Too scared!!Happy Easter to you. LadyPx

  5. CAROL says:

    Have a great holiday weekend Bob. Hope your EASTER is a good one.. What’s on the menu??? : )

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