This weekly memoir of a frayed American life relies on a certain artful dysfunction, spritzed with hope. Fortunately, I have daughters — the flowers to my weeds.
To catch up on how they're doing, I interview the two girls separately, the way cops interrogate bank robbers. They have been sharing an apartment for three months now, an impressive length of time and far longer than most Vegas bookies predicted.
Here is a transcript of what they said, woven together for effect:
Daughter one: "She steals my clothes. Even my underwear."
Daughter two: "She is super bossy."
Daughter one: "She wears my shoes without socks."
Daughter two: "She has some cool shoes. But they smell."
Daughter one: "You know how much her feet sweat, right?"
Daughter two: "She leaves her shoes everywhere. Like, right on my feet!!!"
Daughter one: "When she borrows my car, she never puts gas in it."
Daughter two: "Her car is a total mess. I'm embarrassed to drive it."
When they complain about each other like this, I roll my eyes a lot, the way they used to when they were teenagers. From the time they were 15 to almost 17, my daughters rolled their eyes at everything I told them. At one point, I took them to an eye doctor to see if something was wrong.
So at times like this, when they are trying to win my sympathy, I return the favor by rolling my eyes back at them. If they have picked up on the irony, they have yet to say so.
Daughter one: "She always exaggerates."
Daughter two: "A total drama queen!"
Daughter one: "Yesterday she exaggerated, like, 10 trillion times."
Daughter two: "She should wear a tiara. A drama-queen tiara."
Daughter one: "And she cries a lot. She might end the drought."
Daughter two: "She should have her own show: 'Snark Tank.'"
Daughter one: "I'm sure she's crying right this minute."
Daughter two: "Did you know my boyfriend drinks whole milk? Isn't that so gross? Ewwwwww."
As you can see, this roommate situation is working out pretty well. No one has stolen anyone's bank card, and there have been no attempted murders over who ate the last yogurt.
To be fair, their relationship benefits from the fact the younger daughter spends about half her nights back at our place (mostly because she misses her dad so much).
The other day the little guy and I dropped by their little bungalow in fancy Santa Monica, or "L'Monica," as I like to call it. Or, "Daryle Lamonica," a joke that pleases no one in our family but me. (Ask your own father: "Hey, Dad, do you think Santa Monica should be renamed Daryle Lamonica?" I guarantee he will get a little twinkle in his eye again, like when you were 4 and he taught you how to ride your first bike.)
Anyway, our daughters' place in L'Monica is neater than you might expect, with requisite bottles of flavored vodka in the freezer and designer beer in the fridge. It is as if they are prepping for another federal prohibition.
For the most part, their entire place smells like surfers.
After a quick tour, I came up with this daughters-as-roomies report card:
Cleanliness: B (yes, they hire a housekeeper)
Ability to work together: C-minus
Kitchen: C (too much kale)
Comfort level for guests: D
There is no humidor, for example, to store my cigars, which I pull around behind me lately in a small red wagon. There is no wine cellar, or a stack of old Sports Illustrateds on the coffee table.
Instead, there are a half dozen New Yorkers, which I read only for the Anthony Lane reviews, and several copies of Fast Company, a magazine on new media that is brimming with expensive print ads. Oddly, there are no signs of wearable technology: watches with washrooms ... Uber earrings.
It's as if men have never been here, which I know is a lie. A few men have been here. Smells like surfers, remember?
Thoughtful guests, the little guy and I have brought the girls an outdoor plant. It's a bright and clingy thing similar to the one taking over our house back in the hills. Orange like Halloween, it seems to thrive on haphazard care.
Now this new plant sits on the stoop of the girls' place. In its little plastic pot, I hope it will stand sentry to their bungalow — bring them butterflies and a bit of Irish luck.
Eventually, the bright and clingy thing may hold their place together.
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