First published in the Sept. 1 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.
I’m in the midst of a flippy psychotic episode of some kind, brought on by the high heat of these late-summer mornings and the fact that — just yesterday — my son Smartacus sneezed all over my bare legs.
From 8 feet away.
“You sneezed on me!” I say.
“No, I didn’t,” he insists.
“Don’t do it again.”
“OK,” he says.
My main fault as a parent is that I love my children a tad too much. I tolerate, dote, worship, worry over, spoil, support, finance, forgive, forget and admire them to an unhealthy degree. Lots of parents do.
In fact, Suzanne and I just made a pact that we are going to dial back our devotion, now that our children are well into adulthood and can fend for themselves. This comes after weeks of discussing whether, in order to keep our kids in L.A., we should just gift them our houses.
Smartacus also, the other morning, complained that I over-buttered his toast.
I’m done. Just done.
For sale: One Smartacus, low mileage. Probably won’t pass the smog check.
To be honest, my son has been on the market for a month now. No offers. Not even an inquiry. I’d have better luck selling Bibles to biker gangs.
I mean, really. Make an offer. I might throw in the house.
In an effort to give our children away, Suzanne and I took our youngest kids to dinner the other night, as a way to put them on public display.
We meet at a trippy rooftop bistro in Culver City, with lots of overpriced drinks and not enough meat. FYI, the build-your-own BLT comes without bread, which might’ve been a prank.
All in all, though, it is a sensational evening, the first time our youngest kids have met. I think everyone gets along well, though I probably talk too much, as I am prone to do when I’m excited, filling in any little gap in the conversation so it doesn’t get awkward, and by doing so, I make it very, very awkward. Suzanne and Smartacus are used to this, but her poor daughter Kelly … ouch.
Our drink order takes, like, 15 minutes to arrive. So, I talk and talk and talk some more.
I talk about the $1 shrimp cocktails I used to get in downtown Vegas, full of minuscule shrimp, “the prehistoric kind that come alive in the desert after a hard rain.”
We talk about Kelly’s new job at Cedars, an amazing gig helping research new treatment options in pediatric nephrology.
Smartacus counters by discussing the pullover he is wearing, “which I stole from my dad.”
“Did you know he’s for sale?” I ask Suzanne and her daughter.
They don’t seem at all interested, though you never know. L.A. is renowned for its poker-faced women.
Similarly, I explain how our husky, who is Russian, keeps a lot of stuff bottled up deep inside her, and how we’re working to get her to relax and share more.
We talk about New York.
We talk about Kelly’s stunning blue eyes, and how stunning blue eyes are actually an aberration, and how all the world’s blue-eyed people, and presumably all Siberian huskies, stem from one person with that single mutation.
See, this is the kind of juicy dinner conversations you have with someone who won’t shut up. Our kids keep looking at each other: “Is this over yet? Does he ever shut up? Look at this BLT! No bread?”
As always, Smartacus out-orders us. A foot-high fish sandwich ($23) arrives that reminds me of the final scene in Moby Dick, when they’re kabobing the poor whale, which might’ve been a metaphor for dining out in Los Angeles.
“Call me Ishmael! Die, you stupid fish!”
“Want some?” Smartacus whispers and gives me a soggy little wedge of bread with his fingerprints all over it.
We cap this magical night with two desserts: some sort of soybean and berry crumble and a nice slab of gluten-free, flourless, flavorless, sugarless, joyless chocolate cake ($15), the kind of cake you can only get in Los Angeles.
If you’re lucky, if they haven’t run out.
The Canopy Club atop the Shay Hotel is not a total dud. The poolside setting is pleasant, not fussy or over-the-top hip, with shady or sunny tables available. And it’s open late, till 2 a.m. weekends. It’s an attractive brunch or Happy Hour spot, actually. Just steer clear of the chocolate cake and the BLT. In addition to the fish sandwich, the crispy avocado tacos were also delicious. How they get flavor out of vegetables, I’ll never know. But they do. Cheers!