Columnists & Critics
The Middle Ages

Dear Daughter, I'm sending you a care package. It includes your mother.

Dear daughter,

Hope all is going well in your new home in Cincinnati, a place most of the nation can't even spell. Congrats! Remember, it's not where you live — it's how well you live.

For instance, there are people here in Los Angeles with all the money in the world. Are they happy? Yes, they are extremely happy. They have all the money in the world, and they live in L.A. But that doesn't mean other people can't be happy too. My advice: Wherever you live, make a lot of money.

We wanted you to know that we are working on a care package. In it, you will find a tub of still-warm brownies. Next to them, curled up like a kitty, will be your mother. We hope you have room for her. No way would I let her live there for free, but that's totally up to you and your new boyfriend, Alan.

Such an exciting time for the two of you. Setting up a household. Furnishing an apartment. Establishing traditions. All that can really bring a young couple together. That your mother will be there to facilitate can only enhance the entire ordeal.

Your mother reports that the first meal you served your boyfriend was salmon and lentils. Interesting choice. Did he even know what it was? Remember, sweetie, that Alan is from the Midwest, where steak sauce is considered a soup.

Next time, serve him a fat rib-eye, crusted in sugar-frosted flakes, and accompanied by two baked potatoes the size of Jeeps. For dessert, maybe a rotisserie chicken. Tell him you found the recipes on ESPN — he'll trust that. Wait till he's full and asleep before explaining about your mother.

Me? I'm fine, thanks for asking. To take my mind off your move, I ran a marathon, which turned out to be pretty easy. Next time, I'll probably just save myself the trouble and blowtorch my toes.

Did Mom mention I am working on another book? I am already 20 words into a 75,000-word novel about the vagaries of life and love and middle age. It's no substitute for football season, but it's all I really have.

I won't get into details, but essentially the plot revolves around a young woman who moves to Cincinnati to play for the Bengals and be with her handsome new boyfriend, Alan. Then her mother shows up.

In the movie version, Robert De Niro will play your mother, who is a superhero in her spare time. The young woman will be played by Emma Stone. The boyfriend will be played by Batman. The great Alan Alda will play me. The rest just writes itself.

As I said, I'm only 20 words in, but it's going very well. While working on it, I listen to Billy Joel, a very small man with a very large heart. I hope his sensitive nature rubs off on my novel.

From what I've been able to tell, most novels are wistful contemplations on failed lives — and I definitely don't want that. What I want is an upbeat reflection on football and Cincinnati, with only occasional moments of Billy Joel melancholy. Those will keep it real. Plus, it'll give the movie built-in spots for husbands to use the restroom.

Meanwhile, I am writing this letter from some Godforsaken baseball field on the outskirts of Nowhere, Calif., where your little brother is playing a four-hour game of zero consequence before a crowd of parents who care a tad too much.

To date, your mother and I have spent approximately $32,000 on special coaches to groove your baby brother's baseball swing. I mention this because that was exactly the amount of money we'd set aside for your wedding. It was a tough call, but your mother and I see such potential in him. As you know, major league baseball can't get enough of freckly undersized kids from the better 'burbs.

So, obviously, life goes on here. I have to confess that my gut tingles a little when I realize you're really gone, and we'll definitely miss your mother once we get her bubble-wrapped and comfortable in that little packing box (I'll throw in a few bucks for her daily mai tai).

After that, I'll put a moratorium on any more cross-country moves. As I tell friends, adult children are like migrating birds: Often, they'll circle back to where they came from. You'll hear them before you see them. Sound just like ducks.

Love,

Dad

chris.erskine@latimes.com

Twitter: @erskinetimes

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
A version of this article appeared in print on February 27, 2016, in the Features section of the Los Angeles Times with the headline "Sending mom in the mail - THE MIDDLE AGES" — Today's paperToday's paper | Subscribe
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