HomePublicationBurbankChris Erskine: So I Just Keep Grinding …

Chris Erskine: So I Just Keep Grinding …

My daughter’s pup, Penny Laine (aka “Penny Pain”), is back with us for a couple of days. I’m thinking that there might be some digestive issues, in that she’s fond of rocks and socks, both of which can bind up the bowels of this glorious dog, a mix of a diva and a golden retriever.

So yeah, it’s going to be that kind of weekend. At some point, I’ll have my arm down her larynx.

As we know, dogs are superior to people. Their motives are purer, and generally they’re of a more robust character. I care very deeply for Penny. Her agony is my agony. Her struggles are my struggles. When you have kids, that’s just the way life goes.

By the way, here are some of the hot topics I don’t care about:

— How Whitey Bulger died in prison.

— That Robin Roberts had an awkward exchange on “Good Morning America.”

— That Francis Coppola’s new flick is yet another lame “folies de grandeur.”

Listen, I’m forever in awe of “Apocalypse Now” and “The Godfather,” the kinds of movies Hollywood can’t manage anymore. Just think: a great American art form, dead.

So who cares if Frank makes a dud at age 85? Was every Beatles song a hit? Well, come to think of it …

Point is: We’ve become a very prickly nation.

Know what I do care about? That it takes longer and longer to get across Los Angeles.

The 10 was zippered shut with cars the other day, one long metal suture, bumper to butt, Santa Monica to Houston.

At one point do you flee to Racine or Sheboygan, stare out at that giant cerulean lake and think: “This is way better than the 405 at dusk.”

I suppose there are the things you can fix, and the things you can’t. I’m too busy suing Jiffy Lube to worry about Coppola’s career. My printer still ain’t printing (will it ever?). And poor Penny might have a battleship in her belly.

Meanwhile, I have a buddy who, after extensive research, emails me that he might be related to Shreck.

“If you Google ‘Croat Mercenaries,’ you will find that the first recorded use was Count Tilly hiring Shreckengosts in the 30 Years War …”

This is what I wake up to. As if I’d ever Google “Croat Mercenaries.”

So I just keep grinding … looking both ways at intersections … seeking my big professional break. For such a young man, I seem to have a lot of wistfulness.

Not to get too intimate, but the other morning my girlfriend laughed directly into my mouth. The laugh went down my throat – like bad whiskey — then seemed to lodge there, a bulky wad of gum. 

Friends ask: Why do you put up with her?

Well, I like whiskey.

Plus, Suzanne’s got this Helvetica hair atop a head she tilts when she says something clever. Always been a sucker for clever. Indeed, my prom date (Shreck, coincidentally) was witty as heck. 

FYI, I was teaching sarcasm to my tiny granddaughter the other day. In L.A., sarcasm is a second language, a coping mechanism, a shviiiiiitz after a big, gassy pizza.

I was telling Cakes to try to use laughter at inappropriate times – weddings and court proceedings — which is what makes spit takes so funny. The simple joy of not being able to hold that mouthful of wine one single second longer.

“Are you writing this down?” I asked Cakes. “This is important.”

“OK, Papa.”

See, I don’t talk down to 3-year-olds, the way many adults do. I treat Cakes like some wise old owl. Next week, I’m teaching her ridicule.

I treat my 3 year old granddaughter like a wise old owl

For the record, I don’t talk down to anyone. The other day, I explained Occam’s Razor to my Siberian husky (White Fang), then introduced the Witch of Agnesi, a bedeviling mathematical concept. I forget the specifics. Something about an asymptotic line being four times the area of the defining circle.

“Super handy if you’re building a bridge,” I told her. “Otherwise …”

FYI, dogs also like being addressed like adults. When I finished the Witch of Agnesi, Fang quit chewing my best dress shoe, looked up and thought: “I love you, you idiot man. Now rub my belly.”

We had a Happy Hour Hike the other day, and the dogs came along because dogs don’t care where you go: Sheboygan, the 405, the Gates of Hell — they’re super into it.

The two dogs thought we were going fox hunting, so they kept their butts high and their big noses low to the ground, much like the humans in our hiking group.

When it was over, I hugged Penny and White Fang and fed them tepid water, which they  happily guzzled. To them, it was the finest Champagne delivered by the finest barkeep in the entire land.

See? Better than people. Always.

Join the Happy Hour Hiking Club, or follow the columnist’s twice weekly posts, at his website, ChrisErskineLA.com.

First published May 30-June 1 in Outlook Newspapers.


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