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Thin mints and fungo bats

January 30, 2010|Chris Erskine

This is the year we reciprocate. There is a list of 300 people we need to invite to our house, in response to splashy, wine-filled festivities at their fine homes. I suggested to my wife, Posh, that we do it all at once, triggering a mass migration across a desert. We'll tell them we spotted the Virgin Mary in a Snapple top, and they'll arrive on tour buses, probably singing.

This is the year we paint. Last year should've been the year we painted, but the back of the house looked fine, so we put it off. We could've just painted the front, I suppose, but I'm tired of the hue -- Caucasian, like the inside of a French fry. I wanted something more mind-blowing and dramatic. Brown. Or, we might just cover the place in pebbled leather. "Pure pigskin," Posh would say proudly.

"Can I touch it?" visitors would ask.

"Noooooooooooo!" Posh would shout, her default response to any kind of touching.

This is the year we add storage to the garage. For, in order to remodel the basement -- a longtime plan -- we'd first have to add storage to the garage for all the crapola we keep in the basement. There are 22 boxes of Christmas ornaments down there, three crummy stereo systems and a scrum of old record albums (about 7,000, all a little warped). No word yet on what we'd do with the crapola that's already in the garage. Probably bury it.

This is the year we buy a new car. The minivan's idiot lights have started beckoning us like Vegas neon. The little icons mean nothing to me. One looks like the Lakota symbol for love. Another looks like a magic lamp, the kind Larry Hagman used to rub. So when the little magic lamp icon starts to blink, I start thinking about Barbara Eden, as in Garden of Eden, as in temptation. I'm good with temptation. I find it everywhere.

Speaking of which, this is the year we move the bed. I'm tired of the bed facing east and want to swing it around facing north -- toward Anchorage, the city of my destiny. I'm pretty sure I devoured too much Jack London as a kid, and the little guy is now following in my eye steps, falling asleep on my shoulder as I read him "White Fang" each night.

Anchorage is in our future, I just have a feeling. I think we'd like it up there. Posh would go bananas, but that seems inevitable in a life with me. To soften the transition, I'd buy her a snazzy snowmobile and a gold-mining pan. I'd name a typeface after her: Posh Courier Condensed. I'd write her dirty limericks that don't quite rhyme. I'd run her for governor.

So, yeah, we have a lot to look forward to this year. It's getting busy already, Girl Scouts showing up at our doorstep with cookie sign-up sheets, the first indication of spring. They're like groundhogs, these kids, and I can't resist them. Yesterday, I bought 800 boxes of thin mints from a girl named Blutto. A C-130 transport plane is supposed to drop them on pallets in the driveway next week. So if you see a bunch of parachutes. . . .

Baseball is also about to explode. We had tryouts the other day. The little players, 6 and 7, are so skinny that they are like Tom Wolfe's social X-rays. With the sun behind them, you can see through their rib cages. You can see the swallowed gum. Before we can train them in baseball, we'll have to fatten them up with pork roasts and pie.

It was a beautiful day, the Sunday of tryouts. Many of my fellow parishioners got their first sunburn of the new year, moms and dads just everywhere. Of all the shortages, our little town always seems to have plenty of moms and dads (no small thing that).

After the little guy was done, I hit 75 ground balls to the 8-year-old group, on a choppy, unforgiving field. After the first 50, I really got the hang of it. I was like Nicklaus at Muirfield. If I put enough backspin on the ball, the grounder would just stop when it got to the kid. Saved a lot of young smiles, that backspin. Changed a lot of lives for the better.

Meanwhile, there are fundraisers galore coming up on the family calendar. Posh pencils them in, and I immediately erase them. I like other people, just not that much. Not so much that I want to write them checks.

I'd really rather eat my Girl Scout cookies and plan my garage. This year, everything starts with that garage.

Eventually, it's where my bed will go.

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