HomePublicationBurbankChris Erskine: Parents Live for Homecomings

Chris Erskine: Parents Live for Homecomings

Home. Celebrate him home, as Kenny Loggins once sang.
When my son gets home for spring break, his sheets will smell like leftover Moo Shu pork, the glaze still in my fingers as I pulled his sheets from the dryer a few nights before.
When Smartacus gets home, he will find a feast in the fridge — kabobs, cutlets, ribs — for us to toss on the grill late at night, maybe after a movie or a quick game of catch.
For lunch, there’ll be cold cuts. And perhaps the greatest comfort food of all: frozen corndogs.
When Smartacus gets home, his personal wolf (White Fang) will make such a fuss. First, she’ll soar like a balloon, then she’ll become extra submissive so he’ll rub her big Siberian belly. Then she’ll twist and whine and raise a ruckus.
Home. Celebrate him home.
When Smartacus gets home, he’ll stick around five minutes before he darts off with his four apostles — Michael, Chase, Luke and Cole — who have known him since kindergarten and can still make him laugh till he hiccups.
Seems forever since I’ve seen him. When Smartacus steps out of the airport terminal, I still get goose bumps. Parents live for homecomings, particularly single moms and dads. The family home comes alive again.
That first night, he’ll smell the Moo Shu pork in the sheets and think: Dad. Snow peas. Garlic.
Finally. …
Home is comfort, scent and sonics — the way the old couch in the den fits your butt, the way the candles flicker and hiss on the mantel. When you’re home, you know where the steak sauce is and the red pepper flakes for the pizza … the Cape Cod chips under the stove.
And where Dad hides the Haagen-Dazs (in the freezer, behind the fries).
At home, you know the benediction of a long, glorious spring evening. You remember the pollen on the window screens, the March Madness on TV.
I’ve missed him tons since January, missed making him epic breakfasts, our hikes, the jokes, the golf range.
Especially the breakfasts.
On a lark, I almost bought him a pancake-themed bed set. The pillows were wrapped with bacon. Who wouldn’t sleep better atop four billowy pancakes and a slab of bacon? It’s like a Tim Burton brunch.
Beautiful. But I feared White Fang would try to eat it.
Meanwhile, I’ve decorated the house for Easter. Looks like a Bugs Bunny cartoon.
Smartacus will wonder: That thing Dad hangs on the front door? Is that an archangel, or a goose someone shot?
Home is where the heart is, though — also your stomach. Home is where you store your soul.
Home is his sassy older sisters on the west side. And his super-sassy leprechaun niece.
Home is that hole-in-the-wall on the main drag where they make the best burritos. Home is his favorite In-N-Out wrapped in that long line of cars.
At home, there’s always milk in the fridge and three kinds of jam. There are blankets near the couch, socks in your dresser. Gas in the car. That old grill out back, big as a truck.
OK, it’s hardly perfect. That wonky light switch in the kitchen is still broken. Dad didn’t move around the office the way he said he would. The house could use some spackle, some paint, a new driveway.
That big magnolia tree out front: Is it dying or stooping to pray?
Plus, at home, the soundtrack never changes — Stevie Wonder, Gordon Lightfoot, Chet Baker, Miles Davis.
And then there’s Dad cussing at his computer whenever the Wi-Fi drops — a weekly requiem, a dirge.
But the onions sizzle better on the stove at home … is it the spritz of Worcestershire that Dad adds?
The beer is a little colder, the chowder hearty and thick as paste. The cable box has more stations.
Of course, there’s nothing like college life – nothing whatsoever: a felonious camaraderie, a freedom, a tenor, a primal vibe.
But you can say the same about the home where you grew up. Besides, you have clean towels again, really nice towels … plush as a bishop’s pajamas. And that stupid dog jumping up on the bed every morning to slobber you awake.
“Hello,” she whispers. “Let’s celebrate you home.”

A tempting pancakes and bacon bed set But would the dog eat it

Happy Easter, from our house to yours. To schedule appearances, please email the columnist at Letters@ChrisErskineLA.com.

First published March 28-30 in Outlook Newspapers.


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