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Man of the House: The love of a dog, a jug of wine and thou

August 20, 2011|Chris Erskine

I live with people who salt their pancakes and water down the fabric softener and fill daily life with their own peculiar ways, every one of them. We have the sorts of kids who fall down abandoned wells and post YouTube videos about it. It makes for some very interesting weekends.

The dog, whom I legally married the other day for tax purposes, is the only sane one among them, though you will occasionally catch him licking something off the couch. What sort of person does that, licks unknown splotches from a couch? Still, I married him, so now is not the time to be asking questions.

Speaking of kids falling into wells, my favorite story of the summer is about the teen who accidentally dropped her cellphone into the toilet. When she didn't know what to do next — OH MY GOD, OH MY GOD — she did what any sensible person would.

She flushed.

Of course, the cellphone disappeared, and as she stood there sobbing over the loss of the thing she loved more than anything in the world, she heard a faint ringing. Somewhere, deep in the pipes of her house, someone was calling her.

Could it be Amber? Or maybe it was Freddi? Wonder if it was a boy? Wonder if it was a boy she would've one day married, but now — through the capriciousness of modern plumbing — he couldn't get through to her and instead dialed another girl?

How fickle is life? And why don't cellphones float?

It gives me a pounding headache just thinking about it.

In fact, I was trying to explain all this to my spouse, Posh — the kid-related headaches I've been getting — and she starts to blame the headaches on my lack of coffee consumption.

I tell her that I'm trying to cut back on coffee and cola, because lately my urge for caffeine has outweighed my urge for alcohol, which is just twisted, an upside-downing of my entire genetic lineage.

Besides, if I were to pick my addictions, I'd trend toward something that soothes (alcohol) rather than something that makes me extra frantic (caffeine and women).

This time, though, I think the grape might've been to blame, the fermented kind. Over at Jim and Susy's the other night, they just put the wine on the dinner table in front of us. Who can keep track of your intake in those kinds of situations? Not me. I was being held hostage by a bottle of Bogle. It was him or me.

Then there's a decanter on the kitchen counter. At one point, I go into the kitchen for a refill, and the Chardonnay Moms are all talking about their uteruses. After all these years, I'm not even sure what a uterus is, so I just nod a lot and for the first time in my life hesitate to contribute meaningfully to a conversation.

"Do you still have your uterus?" one of the Chardonnay Moms is asking another, which I take as my cue to go back outside to the patio where most of the wine is anyway.

Another Saturday night in the suburbs. Survival is all you can really hope for.Earlier in the day, life made more sense. I'd taken a couple of kids down to the beach, where I basked in the thwack-thwack-thwack of children running barefoot in the wet sand.

Thwack-thwack-thwack ... throw the ball!

Thwack-thwack-thwack ... you're it!

Thwack-thwack-thwack-thwack-thwack ...

"True poems flee," Dickinson once said, and this is what she must've meant.

After a while, we trudge to the Santa Monica Pier, still the most-refreshing and fetching urban experience in America. They have rides there. And corn dogs. We sample them both.

Then back we go past the muscle heads and the volleyball dudes and a guy offering to drape this huge iguana across your shoulders for cash.

Generally, I'd pay not to have a huge iguana hanging around my head, but maybe that's just me. It does seem, though, that the more crowded a city environment, the more likely people are to do strange things for a buck.

Anyway, we head back to our little camp at Ocean Park, a relatively lightly used stretch a mile south of the pier. The summer air is almost mythic — Shangri-lesque. In the fire light of a late afternoon, the beach is a bejeweled balm.

There, I study magazines the lovely and patient older daughter has brought — serious stuff, from Britain mostly, on how to get lucky during vacation and Q&As with creamy actresses you probably never heard of.

"Hey, Dad, there's a good piece on branding," my daughter says, indicating another magazine.

Here's the thing, I tell her: I can barely handle all those tattoos, and now you kids are branding yourselves? Sizzle, ouch. Doesn't that sting?

"Product branding," she says, "as inputting corporate logos on everything that moves."

You know, somehow I find that even freakier.

chris.erskine@latimes.com

twitter.com/erskinetimes

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