Chris Erskine: Some things are pretty from a distance


By Chris Erskine - Los Angeles Times



Chris Erskine is a columnist for the Los Angeles Times. (Los Angeles Times/MCT)

Chris Erskine is a columnist for the Los Angeles Times. (Los Angeles Times/MCT)


There is no coincidence in our house, only irony. Irony is our coin of the realm, our currency, when what we really need is actual coin. How ironic.

The new roof is going to cost a bundle, and the little guy needs another retainer — he chewed or ate the last one. I can only imagine what it’ll cost when we get around to repairing my teeth, and as long as they’re doing my teeth, they may as well make me a new chin.

While they are doing my chin, they may as well work on my nose. It’s a snowman’s nose, plopped on like an afterthought. I don’t know about your God, but mine is a forgetful busybody, the kind of guy who can’t find his car keys, then can’t find his car.

Lately, he has thrown us nothing but bad surprises. As with irony, our life seems built on them. We did get one bit of good news recently when Rapunzel’s boyfriend, the hunk from Chicago, secured a job here on the Left Coast.

Now, obviously, we’ll have two hunks from Chicago — me being the other one, in case you were trying to puzzle it out. These days, I’m more a chunk than a hunk. But carve off that C, and build me a chin, and I might be someone’s idea of a hunk. Someone with weak eyes.

Here’s the deal: Friends have started bringing us food again, because Posh is struggling, and they see no way for us to survive with me doing all the cooking and assorted chores.

So our friends bandage us in food. Bittner sent a ginormous ham, and Nancy and Lisa delivered some beautiful soups. Debbie brought over chicken and a massive banana cream pie, which I devoured mostly myself — I hate to waste food. Also, bananas are an important source of blubber.

“Dad!”

“Huh?”

“You’re eating that entire pie?”

“Well, it’s not going to eat itself,” I explain. “Besides, shut up.”

Those are the discussions we have over my questionable diet. They are marked by compassion more than anything else. But when they tease me about too much pie, I eat more pie. I sprinkle Halloween candy on it. Sometimes, I add maple syrup or a glob of meat. I really like pie.

Posh eats almost no pie. Oh, she’ll have a slice of ham, and adores the soups, but she has always been a delicate eater, mostly pushing stuff around the plate like other actresses I know.

For many L.A. residents, food is considered a toxin. They want no more of it than what is necessary to keep them alive and stunning. They are fixated on what they eat, then eat almost nothing, ironically enough.

One daughter recently brought home a cauliflower pizza so flavorless that I’m not sure it even qualified as food. It was more of an abject lesson in personal maintenance.

The dogs, who think my slippers are fresh bread, won’t even sniff at it.

Gimme banana cream pie and a beer. That’s eating.

Dr. Steve, my internist and a darned good dancer, always orders the pastrami when we go out for beer, and he’s had far more medical training than Posh and my daughters. He also jogs regularly, as do I.

Lately, I’m into hiking too, which dovetails nicely with my obsession with this pet wolf we inherited from our late son. Like me, the wolf is not fully domesticated and is missing some important molars.

The other morning, we went for a two-hour hike in the hills. Downtown Los Angeles shimmered in the distance like a diamond-studded bear trap, beckoning the morally weak. Reminded me of the great Raymond Chandler quip:

“From 30 feet away she looked like a lot of class. From 10 feet away she looked like something made up to be seen from 30 feet away.”

That’s the way I sometimes feel about Los Angeles. A temptress, a con job. Love the place with all my heart, but once in a while … well, you know: The ironies pile up and the bills start to come due and you spend forever in your shapeless sedan.

When L.A. becomes too much, the kids and I climb the surrounding mountains, up amid the buckwheat and the hawks.

The hiking trails are like fire escapes. From a distance, the city’s problems seem smaller, and you can barely hear the gunfire or the bus brakes.

Up here, you see how L.A. goes brown in the summer and greens up in the winter. L.A. doesn’t have seasons, it has moods.

And it has me, with this orphaned wolf, gazing down at the City of Angels in semi-confusion.

Ironic, huh?

Chris Erskine is a columnist for the Los Angeles Times. (Los Angeles Times/MCT)
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2018/11/web1_Erskine-Chris-cmyk.jpgChris Erskine is a columnist for the Los Angeles Times. (Los Angeles Times/MCT)

By Chris Erskine

Los Angeles Times

Chris Erskine is a columnist for the Los Angeles Times. Reach him at chris.erskine@latimes.com or follow him on Twitter @erskinetimes.

Chris Erskine is a columnist for the Los Angeles Times. Reach him at chris.erskine@latimes.com or follow him on Twitter @erskinetimes.

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