SAN FRANCISCO — I don’t want to be our village’s lonely monk forever. Been almost a year since we lost my wife, and there are whispers that maybe I should get out there and date a little.
Gasp! Bartender! Medic!
I come with more baggage than a failed French king: gobs of grief, a snarky and wonderful teen boy and a sarcastic dog that might be a wolf, might be a muse, might be the town drunk.
Point is: You don’t just get me, you get the three of us, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, three hopeful-yet-sometimes-wistful souls bent on making the best of our current situation, by opening the door to others.
My dating profile: “Obstinate former Chicagoan, wants to learn to sail.”
That’d be about it. There’s more to me but not that much.
Or: “Former sandlot second baseman, sings for loose change.”
That’s a little obtuse. Note that most of my descriptions come with the word “former.”
Or perhaps: “Lover of old comedies, college bars and long walks to nowhere. Wants more kids but can’t afford them. Will stick with the ones he has, and you have to accept them as they are: three comics with great hair and amazing teeth (thanks to American orthodontics, the best in the world). Drawbacks: Quotes George Carlin, overdoes most major holidays, especially Super Bowl. Emotional eater. Kisses dogs on the lips. Hopes to be in love by Christmas.”
I won’t say which Christmas. Any Christmas. Christmas 2035, most likely.
In any case, always nice to be in love for the holidays, though not necessarily achievable. I get that. Besides, I won’t ever be a lonely monk as long as I’ve got the kids, the wolf, the Chicago Cubs and my batch of insane friends. That’s plenty for now. They’re all a little needy, a trait I cherish in people.
See, variations on romance are all around, particularly here in San Francisco where we are visiting — for a friend’s wedding no less.
Can I find someone to love as much as I love San Francisco? It is sort of a waking dream, a Brigadoon with bridges featuring a fetching gloom. San Francisco isn’t a city, it’s more of a limerick.
Tony Bennett left his heart here. I left my liver. Same thing. As long as you leave behind some major organ, your hosts are happy.
To me, great cities have their own perfumes, in this case sourdough bread. I’ve gone from cafe to cafe, sipping milky chowder, slurping cloudy craft beers. I treat sports bars like tanning salons. There are worse ways to gain a little color than from the glow of a great college game.
I really like San Francisco, though. It’s a little “off,” a little not quite right in the head. Like ventriloquists. Like gym teachers.
With me are the kids and their accomplices. Weddings are front and center for us right now, with our lovely and patient older daughter getting hitched this spring. She and Finn will wed at the same Santa Monica church where Tom Brady got married.
“Better than a 7-Eleven in Pacoima,” I keep saying, though I was really hoping for Soldier Field. Still am.
See, if nothing else, I’m an optimist, as I write checks, consult my tax guy, consider the consequences of a fairly severe financial obligation.
Given that my daughter is 36, my buddy Reynolds thinks I can claim depreciation, since I’ve spent a half-million bucks raising and educating her.
Frankly, that was a bargain. Her sister, Rapunzel, spent that much on prom.
Anyway, weddings consume us right now, though the lovely and patient older daughter — while always polite — offered to handle all the arrangements, as long as I produce a significant check.
“Could I Bevmo you the money?” I offer.
No, actually I just want to send over a case of wine. Or Bevmo you some bourbon, which I’m drinking more and more these days, one of the candied autumnal spirits, dark as a rain puddle.
In any case, we’ve really enjoyed San Francisco, walked the Golden Gate, shot pool at a dive bar (this entire town is a dive bar) and toasted the marriage of our amazing young friends Chelsea and Ethan, who tied the knot on a chilly weekend to remember.
Funny term, “tied the knot.” As if there’s a hostage involved. That would be the groom, I suppose — and probably only other grooms will laugh at that.
So be it. When it comes to weddings, you can laugh, or you can sob.
I choose both.
Erskine writes for the Los Angeles Times. He may be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @erskinetimes.