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Man of the House

Hey, Grandma, your son cracks me up

Dad told me to write a post-vacation thank-you, or else. Like he's gonna take away my cellphone.

September 02, 2004|Chris Erskine


My dad just went out for doughnuts again, and he said that I need to write you this thank-you note by the time he gets back or else. He says a kid like me can go a long way by showing common courtesy, and if I don't send a thank-you note soon he'll take away my Civic and break all my fingers. That's how strongly he feels about courtesy.

"Hey, Dad?" I say whenever he threatens to take away my car like that.

"What?" he says.

"Stalin's dead," I remind him.

"That's what you think," he snaps.

Around here, if you don't do what you're told by the third time, Mom and Dad go all crazy and, like, take away your cellphone or, worse, actually ground you.

Grandma, you have no idea what it's like to be grounded here in this house, believe me, even though Dad says you lived through the Great Depression (which couldn't have been so bad if they called it "great," right?).

The thing is, I pretty much do what I'm told around here, unlike my sister and brothers, who are always getting in trouble.

That's because my dad is such a throwback. See, he thinks kids should still mow the lawn and take out the garbage and do all that ridiculous stuff most of my friends never have to do. Isn't that what the Civil War was about -- slavery? For Christmas, I think I'll get my dad a copy of the Gettysburg Address.

Anyway, thanks for letting us stay with you back there on vacation. Dad says to be sure to tell you we had a "real swell time," which we did actually, even though there's, like, no Thai food there and the sushi is made by white 10th-graders who really should be working at Six Flags instead.

Dad also says to tell you he'll send you a check to cover all the liquor. He says there's nothing like being around your adult siblings again to rekindle "ancient animosities and long-dormant drinking problems," whatever that means.

Grandma, you should hear what he tells my mom when you're not around. He says that some of those liter bottles of Fresca in your garage have been there since he was in the eighth grade and that there is chicken in your freezer that predates human thought.

Meanwhile, my mom says that you like your steaks too rare and eat way too much butter. Please don't tell her I told you, OK? That's just between us, OK?

Anyway, we had a very nice flight back here to Los Angeles. We really like your little airport -- what's it called -- O'Hare? The people there were very friendly to us, even though we had to change gates at the last minute before being herded onto the plane. Dad says there's no dignity left in flying and next time he'd sooner walk.

Other than that, my dad's been in a pretty good mood since we got back, partly on account of we've been going to the beach a lot. He says he needs the beach to help erase the memory of those low Midwest real estate prices.

I say get a grip, Dad. It's great out here in California. Why do you think the freeways are so crowded and no one can afford a house? It's because it's great here.

He's also been in a good mood because this guy up the street, Nick, gave my dad a whole bunch of albacore tuna he had extra from a fishing trip. Dad says we are always getting handouts like that because we look like a family that spends all our money on makeup and sweaters, which we are, pretty much.

I told him that eating fish from strangers is probably a good way to develop lifelong intestinal diseases. Dad just laughs: "I've got two teenagers," he says. "If that doesn't kill me ... "

Then his voice begins to trail off and he gets this sort of Don Quixote expression. If you think about it, he's sort of the Don Quixote of dads. I mean, kids doing chores? Get real, dude.

Well, that's all there is to report from here. We sure had a great time back there in the Midwest and can't wait to come back. Maybe for Christmas? Think about it, OK? I would love to drive a car in the snow someday, especially on the Dan Ryan Expressway.

Until then, miss you bunches, Grandma.

Oh, if you happen to find a pink thong somewhere, I think that's mine. (Unless it's yours -- ha, ha, ha.) Please send it to me down at college, where I'll be returning as soon as possible. I can't wait to get back to campus.

Believe me, it'll be nice to be in an environment where there's not so much rampant drinking.

Love always,

Your favorite granddaughter

Chris Erskine can be reached at

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