The Middle Ages: It’s the season of patio parties and wanderlust. Just lash me to the back of a train

Backyard chitchat triggers talk of memorable summer vacations, including – if you're really fortunate – boat trips on the Danube.
Backyard chitchat triggers talk of memorable summer vacations, including – if you’re really fortunate – boat trips on the Danube.
(Dominic Bonuccelli)

We quit being invited to cocktail parties recently after I mistook a conch shell for a napkin and ran it across my face like some sort of tribesman. The dudes kind of dug it, but it so unsettled their dates that I was asked to leave.

Honestly, the hosts were much nicer about it than they could’ve been.

One of my attorneys — with my lifestyle, it takes several — was telling me the other night how she was an extrovert and I was an introvert, though I seem to do just fine at parties. According to Nancy, I seem to wade into a patio party’s waves of useless chitchat as though I’m perfectly comfortable, when actually I’m probably not.

I think that’s a fair assessment, and I was just flattered that a woman besides Posh was evaluating my every move like that. I’m such a stiff normally. Stylistically, I like to tuck my polo shirt way down into my cargo shorts so that the shirttail squirts out around the knees. Other than that flourish, I’m pretty invisible.


Yet Nancy was right. I’m not just a reluctant guest, I’m a reluctant human. I might be my own island.

But it’s been a social summer so far, bountiful and rich. Couple of big vacations, a visit from my sister and her brood, whom we brined in the salty sea.

Before the summer evaporates, we hope to make more visits to my buddy Verge’s beach shack, a tiny place with a Gilligan roof just off the PCH.

The relatives from the Middle West loved it. To them, the beach day at Verge’s just confirmed that all we do out here is surf, play party games and drink mescal, which lately really is all we do.

We’ve hit a certain sweet spot in the year. For once, no one is talking about their idiot bosses or wayward careers. Instead, they discuss their recent summer trips down the Danube, or how this one restaurant in Spain staged the absolutely perfect feast, despite some key dietary restrictions.

Wanderlust. Of all the various lusts, it is probably the best.

We yell through walls from a distance of 60 feet. If it’s really important news – a birth, a grease fire – we increase the distance to 100.

Seriously, they could just lash me to the back of any random freight train and I’d be happy. Next summer, we hope to take a rail trip through Switzerland, which is far beyond our means. Since we’ll be bankrupt anyway, I might also work in a trip to Wimbledon, where Posh can further indulge her inappropriate crush on Rafael Nadal.


“Get your tickets now,” advised one friend, of the Wimbledon jaunt.

I don’t do anything in advance. The last event I really planned was my wedding, and we all know how that turned out.

The other day, one of the worst possible side-effects of marriage — a kid — broke an egg while making breakfast. I realize that is something you must do when you have eggs — break them. But he’d dropped it on the kitchen floor, and the 300-pound beagle immediately slurped it up on the chance that it might be food. As the beagle knows, if something falls around our house, it’s probably edible.

One less shell to answer, one less egg to fry …


Chaos ensured, as it will when something trivial happens in a family home. The little guy immediately raced into action, yelling to his mom that the dog had eaten raw egg and half the shell.

She yelled back, “Just finish your stupid breakfast or you’re going to be late for Spanish.”

She did this from three rooms away, which is another family custom; we yell through walls from a minimum distance of 60 feet. If it’s really important news — a birth, a wedding, a grease fire — we increase the distance to 100 feet.

It makes for some lively discussions, let me tell you.


Anyway, breakfast worked out fine, as it always does. Before it was over, the little guy also dropped a maple-flavored sausage link and some blueberries, though everyone knows that dogs don’t eat fruit, so why bother?

“Nobody move!” the little guy screamed.


“I dropped another blueberry!” he hollered.


I think this is the way the great chefs work. They’re tyrants who badger everyone around them. I saw it on TV, so it must be true. On TV, a chef’s default emotion is smoking, unbridled anger.

“Hey, I’m sure it’ll be OK,” I assured our panicked young chef.

But seriously. Who knows for sure?

Erskine will appear at Beach Town Books on Saturday in San Clemente. A beach hike begins from the book store at 2 p.m., and the signing of his new book, “Daditude,” will follow at 3:30 or so.


Twitter: @erskinetimes