Our house is a Renaissance smile — sly, fetching and a little troubled. Come on in!

Our house is a Renaissance smile — sly, fetching and a little troubled. Come on in!
There are whiffle balls in the flowers and soccer cones on the curb. And watch out for wolves. (Chris Erskine / Los Angeles Times)

As I’ve noted in the past, my wife and I have a mixed marriage. She’s Italian, I’m Irish. When we fight, it’s like a Hells Angels induction.

I mean, we don’t argue often. Twice an hour, max. In between, there’s a simmering tension. Think of us as a steel elevator cable ready to snap. Boooooooing…boom.


As an Italian, Posh hails from a distinguished line of cultural reference points — painters, sculptors, philosophers, singers, popes.

We Irish? We’re more like a cult. Quick, name one Irish painter. See what I mean? Sure, there are a few notable Irish writers and a golfer or two. Most of our history, we’ve been pushed around, by the Vikings, the Packers, the Normans and — worst of all — by each other.

Like a lot of bullied ethnic groups, some of us became prize fighters. But we can all throw a punch, or at the very least, a round-house quip. We are also slaves to the very things we love the most — family, friends, soccer matches and a cold pint or two.

We cry at everything but especially when the bartender bellows: “Last call!”

Big hearts, the Irish. Me, I’ve actually got two tickers, one in my chest and one in my liver. When Dr. Steve checks them, he has to use two stethoscopes. My hearts don’t beat, they bongo, jangle and clink. Sounds like a bored kid kicking a beer bottle down the street.

In fact, there’s that sort of rattle and a clang to our entire cul-de-sac, and that’s mostly on us. Kids pounding baseballs, shooting hoops or mom screaming at the dogs. As I’m always telling Posh, you don’t have to be artful to be visceral. Live, love and move on.

“Live from the heart,” I tell her.

Or in my case, both hearts and multiple spleens.

As I’ve also noted, Dr. Steve is a brilliant doctor. He doesn’t give me the standard blood pressure measurements or cholesterol counts. What he gives me are Vegas odds, the only math I understand.

For instance, Dr. Steve says: “I give 20-1 you make it to the end of the year; 30-1 you finish out the decade.”

To me, that’s just good medicine. My life is like a giant prop bet. I’m 3-1 just to finish out this sentence.

Our wolf puppy is dumber than a bag of socks, but she barks with a nice Irish brogue.

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We have Irish kids. Beautiful kids, eyes like big steaming bowls of noodles. They are parrots, they are leprechauns. Smart as they need to be ... witty and resourceful. Proud to report that every one of them can beat you at pool or poker, especially the daughters, who’ve been conning men their entire lives, starting with me from the moment they were born.

You can tell we have Irish kids, because there are soccer cones lining the curb in front of our house. They placed them there as a caution to passing drivers that our puppy-wolf, White Fang, can reach into the street on his chain, so they best slow down.

If you ka-thunked White Fang with your Lexus, it’d leave a big divot-dent. White Fang would be fine, especially if you hit her in the noggin, which is filled with iron, heavy as a cannon ball.


Seriously, she’s dumber than a bag of socks, but barks with a nice Irish brogue. No one needs to worry too much about our sweet, savvy puppy White Fang.

Yet, consider those orange soccer cones lining the curb.

Now, a non-Irish kid might simply shorten up the chain so the giant wolf puppy — big as a hippo — couldn’t reach all the way into the street. But what’s the fun in that, when you can sprinkle orange soccer cones everywhere, confusing the local constable and the street sweeper, even the gardeners.

They must think that we’re protecting a parking place. Like those people who claim imminent domain over public spots on busy streets. We are not those people. Sure, we might steal your tires while you are visiting our neighbors. But we would never put cones in the street as if we owned the street. We’re better than that.

But you’d look at this house, which I’ve designed to look like a little Irish cottage, with peonies everywhere and whiffle balls in the flowers from when the little guy last took batting practice, and you’d think: “It’s not such a bad house, really. All it needs is paint and a little mortar between the bricks. Maybe a roof. With a little TLC, that shack could almost be the American Dream.”

Yet, it’s a Renaissance smile, this house — sly and pretty on the outside and a little troubled within. It’s also full of con artists, leaping leprechauns and dogs that might be wolves.

Like your house, really. Aren’t we all just a little odd?

Twitter: @erskinetimes