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Cheeseburgers in Paradise

Obviously, I’m kinda crushing on autumn this year. So many good games, so many soups … this weather.
I was jogging in the rain the other morning, then stopped by the library for a stack of books. I mean, nothing too naughty. In November, I want novels that smell of woodsmoke, full of texture and meaning. Actually, I always want novels full of texture and meaning. Tweedy me.
I’ve been trying to get Suzanne to read the same book so that we can compare our impressions, and I can see just how erudite, mystical and insightful she is, so that I can aspire to all of that … so that I know my target.
Like autumn, Suzanne kinda turns me on, and it’s not just that mother-of-pearl hair, it’s all that other stuff. I need to assure her that I’m more than mere eye candy, though how do I totally get away from that? It’s just how most people are going to see me.
Suzanne is still recovering, emotionally at least, from the Ditka sweater vest I wore for Halloween. She also saw me one night wearing an “Elf” costume from the Will Farrell movie — green with yellow tights.
“My pajamas,” I explained.
“Yikes,” she said.
Poor woman. Of all the gin joints …
I was assuring Suzanne the other day that she could resign from this relationship at any time. I have no contractual claim, though I did gift her a St. Christopher medal for our one-year-anniversary.

Many volunteers met their life mates while fashioning cartoon creatures like this on Rose Parade floats.

“You can get a free beer with that,” I told her. “I mean, I couldn’t. But you could.”
To celebrate our anniversary, we got a little sloshy at Bittner’s burger joint, the site of our very first date. My buddy Big-Wave Dave joined us, along with his wife, Little Wave, and we had the best time talking about surfing, tailgates and other triumphs of the human spirit. Totally unplanned, which is just how I like my life … aimless and without purpose.
By the way, I still have a kink in my neck from when I tried to kiss Suzanne goodnight after our very first date a year ago.
Remember how Walter Payton used to deke opposing safeties, the beep-beep tilt of his head, his legs twirling like a roulette wheel? Well, ironically, Suzanne has that exact same move for first kisses. She left me on the ground, one eye looking north, the other south.
“So, this is what love feels like?” I thought to myself.
“G’night,” she said. “Thanks, I think.”
Finding love in L.A. is like finding iridium in rocks, quite rare but it happens. Iridium comes to Earth in meteorites. So does love.
Be careful is all I’m saying.
Know a good place to find love? Bittner’s burger joint, obviously. “Where the Meat Meets the Heat” is their motto.
Another good place? While building a Rose Parade float.
The other night, my buddy Cervenka and I co-hosted a gala for one of the all-volunteer Rose Parade organizations — big bash, lots of pressure, critical enough that it required two emcees.
Money was the main goal. At one point, I think we auctioned off the local firefighters. And their truck. Hope their families understand.
Anyway, one of the co-chairs (Samantha) was telling me that many volunteers met their life mates while helping build a Rose Parade float.
I mean, that’s only one reason to volunteer. And maybe not the best one. Still …
What a meet-cute location, at the float site late on a chilly late-December evening, flowers everywhere, your fingers a little sticky from all the glue … maybe a little rainy, the chill seeping into your shoes. Don’t know about you, but I find frostbite refreshing.
Anyway, who couldn’t find love in such a place? Well, Ditka for one. Me for another. But from what I hear, many people do.
Of course, results may vary. But if, just before New Year’s, you find yourself on the cold hard ground at a Rose Parade float — one eye looking north, the other south — thank me then.
Meanwhile, I’m increasingly fond of Denise Levertov’s notion that “writing is a form of prayer.” Ideally, I would pen these soulful November pieces on a legal pad in the back of a church, with football plays in the margins — Xs and Os, a screen play here, a misdirection trap there.
Anything to help our poor Rams, right?
While doodling, I’d pass little notes to people I recognize in nearby pews. “Sorry, I can’t today.” Or, “I’d like to talk to you about your extended warranty.”
Hopefully, they smile.
Tiny pranks. Unconquerable souls. The human spirit, twirling.

For books and past columns, please go to ChrisErskineLA.com.

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