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Man of the House by Chris Erskine

Fall, back into the fast lane

Let the frenzied pace begin! First up, school, soccer and pumpkin love.

August 30, 2008|Chris Erskine

LIFE IS a luggage carousel. Love is a modest black suitcase with no markings, 'round and 'round and 'round. . . .

The little guy and I are standing in LAX, having just returned from our mission of mercy to the heartland, where we saved Grandma's house by hacking back the rosebush that was threatening to swallow the garage.

Once upon a time, the Midwest was an agricultural hub with a can-do spirit. These days, it is wall-to-wall subdivisions with names like Foxglove Meadows or Whispering Willows. The cornfields are disappearing. And so are many of the willows. If they're whispering, it's to say to one another, "Watch out, here comes another idiot with a bulldozer."

Anyway, we flew to the rescue -- Alpha Dad and his sidekick, Bongo. Now, we're back home, just in time to slurp the last few spoonfuls of summer and to get the new uniforms out to Bongo's soccer team.

It's a busy time. Bongo's big brother is signed up at the local college, the little girl is prepping for her senior year of high school and Bongo himself is readying for his first day of kindergarten. The Olympics may be over, but the decathlon has only just begun.

"There's an e-mail for you, did you see?" asks Posh, whose whole life now is her cellphone or her computer.

"Yeah, I saw," I tell her.

I am in denial. Much as I like fall, I hate to see the lazy, undemanding days of summer come to a close. The other day, I took two naps, woke up, rolled over, and took two more naps, one after the other.

A great thing, a nap, and I'm sorry to see it go away. For once September begins, there will be no naps till Christmas day, when we collapse into each other's arms. Me and Mrs. Claus.

"What do we have Sunday?" Posh asks. "I know we have something Sunday."

And so it begins. She sent me the schedule for September, and there were five or six activities just in the first two weeks. There were a couple of back-to-school nights and a fish fry at someone's house. A fish fry? Where do we live, Gulf Shores?

"I love a good fish fry," I tell Posh.

"Have you ever been to a fish fry?"

Never. But I'm willing to learn.

The other day, we're headed to the beach for one last splash, one last walk on the sand before autumn consumes us. Posh announces she has to shave her legs first, which intrigues me, for I have never seen a woman shave her legs. It's the little intimacies like this -- putting on earrings or balancing a checkbook -- that really turn me on.

"Five bucks," I say.

"For what?"

"To watch you shave your legs," I say.

"Make it 10," Posh says.

We settle on $7.50, for which she offers to let me watch her shave one leg, the left one, with the tiny scar just below the kneecap.

Now, keep in mind that we are married with four kids, and it's 11 on a Saturday morning. In broad daylight, we are both in the bathroom. Children are screaming and sending legal notices under the bathroom door -- requests for money, injunctions against each other for minor slights. One apparently painted another's face while she slept. That sort of thing.

"What are you two doing in there?" one of them hollers.

"Mom's shaving her legs," I explain.

"Her pegs?"

"MOM DOESN'T HAVE PEGS!" one of them screams, and runs to call the cops.

Our little interlude doesn't last long. Posh has legs like Charlene Tilton's, which is to say short, lean and nicely muscled. I consider it $7.50 well spent. Next week, if the money holds out, I hope to watch her condition her hair.

"Twenty bucks," she announces.

That's a lot of money.

It's no wonder we're having trouble with the pumpkins. For two months, we have been getting these big yellow blossoms but no gourds. What gives?

"I read on the Internet . . . ," Posh says.

Here we go again. More witchcraft from the Internet. Posh goes on to explain that, since there is a shortage of bees, it is left up to us to cross-pollinate the pumpkins.

Who says married people have no sex life?

According to the Web, pollinating the pumpkins involves identifying the male blossoms and the female blossoms and shaking pumpkin pollen from one to the next. Sort of like detasseling corn, I guess. Or chaperoning a seventh-grade dance.

This feels very godlike, even for an Alpha Dad like me. But I'm game. If this is what it takes to get pumpkins pregnant and save Halloween, then so be it. I'll be bottling pumpkin wine before you can say . . .

"Um, we've got a problem," Posh says after checking out the pumpkin blossoms.

"Just one?"

"They're all boys," Posh explains.

"We have same-sex pumpkins?"

"Apparently so," Posh says.

Love is a modest black suitcase with no markings, 'round and 'round and 'round. . . .

--

Chris Erskine can be reached at chris.erskine@latimes .com. For more columns, see latimes.com/erskine.

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