Friends keep asking, "What do you guys need? What do you guys need?" and I always respond tequila, stock tips and those "nubby little cigars that bookies chew like cannoli." They laugh as if I'm kidding.
I shrug and go back to caring for Posh, which is a little like being the executive assistant to a demanding studio mogul. Sure, the pay is modest, and the hours are merciless, but you get to be around greatness.
"There's another narcissist here to see you," I announce.
"Who?" Posh asks.
"Your son," I say.
Or it could be a daughter or one of the dogs or one of the Chardonnay Moms, who drop in for lunch to check on how their dear friend is progressing.
"Send him in anyway," she says of her son.
One day at a time, we deal with cancer. Some weeks, we have five medical appointments, occasionally two in one day. With her in the backseat, I drive to all of them, avoiding potholes, sudden stops and police standoffs.
Ever tried that on an L.A. freeway? It's like a video game. It's like driving across a breakwater of broken toasters.
I could complain, but I won't.
Smooth driving is imperative, because Posh is bone weary from three weeks of chemo. She suffers every little bump. In my defense, I explain that I haven't driven this carefully since we ferried our third and last baby home from the hospital.
"Um, we had four," she says.
"Yes," she says.
No wonder there's never enough cake.
Mostly, we don't mind these little outings. They are vital to her recovery, and a chance to get out of the house. Daytime TV is worse than boring, it's belligerent. If the insipid talk shows don't eat your brain, the food shows will. Me, I'd rather chew a wad of aluminum foil than watch one more episode of "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives."
I mean, what's the big deal about dives? We live in one.
Speaking of cooking shows, I got in trouble the other day for reorganizing a kitchen drawer.
It was making me nuts the way the utensil drawer would jam at 6 in the morning, when all I was trying to do was make the little guy a few eggs before school.
What would happen is I'd open the drawer for the spatula, and a whisk or a turkey baster would jam the over-stuffed drawer, so I'd have to tug-tug-tug … curse … tug-tug-tug before I could eventually clear it.
"You gotta take care of yourself," is another thing I keep hearing from friends.
"I have to take care of everything," is what I think to myself.
Life being what it is, my wife and daughter didn't really appreciate that I reorganized this drawer. It wasn't so much that it worked better that annoyed them; it was my audacity at doing it without their blessing, which is something I would never get anyway, so I just went ahead and did it. I think of it as Hannibal attacking Trebia.
Anyway, the reorganized drawer is working smoothly and now they don't so much trust me around the kitchen, where the cereal cabinet might be next. Trust me, there are cereals in there that predate oxygen.
I could complain, but I won't.
"Be sure to take care of yourself," someone texts.
Yeah, but first I have to feed the baby hummingbird.
As you've learned, our place has long been a landing pad for misfits and lost souls, so it's no wonder that the homeless hummingbird found her way to our front porch. When you have three or four children, what's one more mouth?
Thing is, I never really liked hummingbirds. Tiny and operatic in their movements, they seem to make life look too easy. If there's anything I know about life, it's that it's never too easy.
Anyway, one morning the Siberian puppy was in the yard, praying for snow, when she nosed something that nosed her back. It was a newborn bird, small as your belly button.
Unable to find the nest, the older boy scooped the hummingbird into a shallow box. For four days, we have fed her sugar water from an old toothbrush.
She seemed to like me, this hummingbird. I suspect it was my mustache or my skinny jeans, or maybe her eyesight was still a little smeary. No matter. Tony Soprano had his ducks; I have this homeless baby hummingbird. It's a small joy, but as one reader put it, "Everything looks different with cancer."
Almost hourly -- and a tad miraculously -- her birth mother still comes to feed her. This must be confusing for the young bird. In her mind, she must think she has two moms: the gorgeous green angel and me, the idiot with the old toothbrush.
She could complain. But she won't.