First published in the July 28 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.
So much I still want to do …
Visit Fenway. Finish my law degree. Have season tickets to something — anything — the Dodgers, Disney Hall, a struggling drive-in in the dusty part of town.
I want to fight along French soldiers in an important and winnable war, preferably against the Krauts. I want to play poker with the first lady of Monaco. I want one pair of stupidly quilted golf pants to wear to fancy weddings.
See, when you’re a peasant like me, your dreams are your private jet, your pillowy schooner. Your dreams are your revenge against the landed gentry.
The world is preying on peasants right now. The other day, the supermarket was so cold you could’ve made your own icebergs. Makes no sense, this incredible chill — the cost of it, the general discomfort, the frost bite.
While looking around for a pair of wool socks, I notice entire watermelons priced at $7. I note, also, how they’d carved one $7 watermelon into eight wedges and were selling each wedge for $5. That’s capitalism right there, a 570% markup on a melon. So don’t tell me inflation is linked to pipeline issues. Inflation, right now, is mostly greed.
I’m not that far from selling off all my shoes and all my decoder rings, my Butkus jersey, my nutty friends. Guys like me can’t outhustle inflation. Prayers do you no good. Inflation is insidious — an economy’s incurable case of hiccups.
Worst of all, inflation ups the price tag on all our ideals. Remember the ’70s — Earth Day, Earth shoes — when we were so poised to repair the planet, then realized we couldn’t afford to? “Wait, that’ll cost money?” we gulped. “How about we just recycle a bunch of beer cans and stuff?”
See, kids, short-term needs always take precedence. Pizza costs money. Love triumphs over ozone. It’s the economy, Cupid.
Our ideals returned briefly in 2020, and then inflation, like a dragon, licked them away again.
I know what you’re thinking. “No one mixes metaphors better than you, sir. And don’t say ‘lick’ so much. Ewwwwwwwwwwwww.”
For the record, I shake my metaphors, with ice. You should see what I can do with a martini glass and two jiggers of Bombay, some briny olives. I’m sure you’d find it all very licky.
Meanwhile, so much I still want to do …
I want to hitchhike through Maine in mid-October, buy Suzanne a fuzzy sweater the color of pumpkin pies.
I want to win a Super Bowl. Learn a trade. Swap trinkets for land.
I have all these amazing concepts for restaurants — Bag-O’-Burgers, Trombone Kabobs — but not the energy, nor the start-up capital. Nor even the trombones.
Once Trombone Kabobs are a sensation, I want to buy a house for someone who really needs one. I want to hand out $100 bills to wide-eyed kids on Christmas Eve.
I want to fix up this one guy I know with this girl I just met, so maybe they will live happily ever after, which hardly ever happens anymore, but when it does, it’s glorious … better than a million one-night stands, better than kissing Audrey Hepburn on da lips.
The only love that’s even close? Dogs.
Speaking of which, I was scolding White Fang the other day for piddling on the neighbors’ trash cans, a thing she does almost mindlessly on our walks, almost a nervous tic. When she hears about the drought, she thinks: “Drought? What drought? I have plenty of piddle here for everyone. Stand back!”
Anyway, White Fang was piddling on other people’s property, trying to address the drought in her own special way, when I started to tell her about all the plans I have for us. I tell the dog how I want to restore a ’55 Chevy and drive us to Chicago for a ballgame, stopping for chili at an all-night diner in Moline.
“Then I want to take you to Tuscany,” I tell her, “and paint our mouths in garlic.”
I tell White Fang how, one day, she and I will probably have puppies together.
“Puppies!” she screams.
OK, not puppies. But everything else. All that other stuff.
Point is: Being a peasant isn’t so bad. We still have our imaginary schooners, our impossible dreams … our funny friends and our warm pumpkin pies.
And kisses on da lips.
For books, past columns and the most beautiful gin glasses you maybe ever saw, please go to ChrisErskineLA.com. Email the columnist at Letters@ChrisErskineLA.com