First published in the April 7 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.
I’m not dating material, obviously. You’ll find all sorts of socks in my couch and beer in the fridge where the milk should be.
My roommate is half husky, half wolf — my fur baby. But never use the term “fur baby.” Yikes. Just shoot me if I ever say “fur baby” aloud again.
I don’t ask much of the world, then complain about almost everything — where they put the switch on my new printer, or how road crews are mucking up the nearby boulevard.
“Nothing needs to change,” I wail. “WHY CAN’T THEY LEAVE GOOD STUFF ALONE?!”
I’m like a sit-com character (Jerry Stiller comes to mind. Or Homer Simpson). I have far too many notions and not enough sense. I dance like a beekeeper who forgot to zip. All my shoes are more than four years old. Half my T-shirts were promotional giveaways.
Like a small child, I’ll watch the same movie over and over and over. “Good stuff gets better with time,” is the excuse I use. “Good houses, good wine, good movies, good friends.”
That’s just one of my screeds. I have so many screeds. You could do a German opera of my screeds.
“If you have kids, you have everything,” I screed all the time. “Well, not necessarily my kids…”
Into this world, welcome Suzanne, a woman of uncommon virtue and surprising patience. She has cover girl cheekbones but that’s certainly not the main attraction. She has hair — almost too much of it. But really I’ve hardly noticed the hair, the cheekbones, the cut of her jib. …
“She’s a really, really good-looking woman,” my buddy Verge reminded me the other day.
For me, the main attraction is the patience, her lack of fuss. I’m at the age where I don’t need drama or neuroses or any of the standard-issue relationship-busters. I don’t need needy people or childish diva behavior.
At my age, I need to stand in the kitchen with someone funny, shoulder to shoulder, cutting carrots.
“And she’s age appropriate,” I told my pal Trueblood one day at the gym.
“Twenty-six?” he asked.
“No, really,” I said.
And she makes cookies — lord, does she ever. And she sails a bit and reads a ton and claims not to like people, in general, but has a social ease, almost a kind of statesmanship.
She has her own house. There’s an ocean.
Me, I’m no one’s prince charming, no ocean. I’m a widower who drives a Honda. In L.A. — a hub of hot rides, the land of expensive Italian chariots — I pull up in a Honda CRV.
I enter social occasions like a SWAT team searching for a sniper. I’m jumpy. I want to get in fast, get out faster, go to dinner, maybe bowl a few frames.
At parties, my eyes twitch and I reach instinctively for the gin — or any drink — as if I’m drowning and the drink is oxygen.
In short, I’m no one’s dream date. I rejoice way too much over my kids.
Suzanne does, too — she also has rejoicey kids.
“If you have kids…” I remind her.
“Let me guess,” she says. “You have everything?”
She happens to be demure, in the way I like. Not shy. Not at all. Reticent. Discerning. Kind of classy. Prefers cheeseburgers to steak … Bud Light to scotch rocks.
Not much into sports, she somehow won the NCAA pool ahead of 30 of my demented friends, all of whom have watched way too much basketball.
What the huh?
Generally, she seems not to demand very much of men; hence, she wound up with me.
“I want you to meet a friend,” I told her the other evening while turning on some music. “Suzanne, this is Bill Evans.”
Bill Evans is a little-known legend. He played jazz piano the way Paul Newman played Hud. He holds the notes a fraction too long. His style is languid, unhurried, diffident — the greatest cool I know.
Thing is, who dates a dude who goes on and on about a dead piano player? Who dates a dude who knows exactly how many stitches there are in a baseball (108), or how many stars make up Canis Major (10) … or that a starfish has no brain?
In short, who dates a starfish like me?
Well, she does, fortunately.
What the huh?
Chris Erskine’s column appears weekly. Email him at Letters@ChrisErskineLA.com. For past columns and info on his free hiking club, go to ChrisErskineLA.com