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Chris Erskine: The Midwest beckons

Back from a short visit to Santa Monica, where I proved to be too young, too beautiful for even that trendy little town. They kicked me out after five or six hours. “Take your pretty-boy attitude and get outta here!” the bouncer said. Or maybe it was one of my daughters. The voice was no-nonsense gruff, with an implicit threat of physical violence.

Probably a daughter.

In any event, I am back home after navigating the Interstate Highway 10 at night, which looked like a Christmas tree that had fallen over, lights everywhere. L.A. may not have invented rush hour, but it certainly has mastered it.

I find traffic invigorating, though I’ll confess that it can tire me a little, the too-long drive through 20 miles of bumper-to-bumper BMWs. Not to mention the realization that everyone in L.A. has a better car than I do. Even the politicians. Chews me up when I dwell on it.

Fortunately, Posh was home to cheer me when I arrived.

It’s been a tough month for my wife. She learned before Christmas that the younger daughter was moving from Los Angeles to Cincinnati, as so many kids do these days, seeking to make all their life dreams come true in southwestern Ohio.

Openly, Posh is supportive. She is inquisitive about her daughter’s planned living arrangements and how she’ll handle the insanity of the unrelenting nightlife in the Midwest. Word is that three out of seven nights a week, the burger joints stay open past 9.

But Posh leaves little clues that say she is a little saddened by the news that one of her pups is leaving. The holiday decorations have yet to come down, and there is a pool going among the kids on whether they ever will. At this point, we might just leave them up for next year.

Life, lately, is like those droll Harry Bliss cartoons where the man is always confiding in his dog or his bartender. We get through our midwinter weekends one splash of coffee at a time, trying not to discuss the upcoming Midwestern escape.

She’s really leaving? I mean, who would leave parents like us? Who would leave a city bursting with such nice BMWs?

I try to be philosophical about our daughter’s new plans. In the first place, we have 14 or 15 kids – I don’t even know all their names anymore – so the departure of one of them may go unnoticed.

Second, she’ll be relocating in February. If you’ve ever been to the Middle West at this time of year, you know just how miserable that can be.

The months of midwinter – January, February, Slush – lack sun and smiles. The earth is buried under piles of black snow that falls from the wheel wells of city buses. Everybody’s pale as paper plates.

Seeing this, our daughter might get off the plane, pirouette and get right back on board.

“Take me to L.A.,” she’ll tell the pilot, as if ordering up Uber.

Besides, even if she really goes, I wouldn’t miss our daughter that much. She was never one of my favorites.

I never liked the way she smiled all the time or could find the humor in bad situations. So annoying.

I never liked that spark she brought to the house, even when she stopped by just to do her 20 loads of laundry a week, then left with all our fresh fruit.

If you took our daughter to dinner, she was always appreciative and had the funniest lines. In some families, it’s all about fashion, or money, or the feel-good rewards of just being together. In our family, it’s all about the funny lines.

Probably worst of all is that our younger daughter could never throw a spiral very well. Her batting stance was also a critical mess. Coached her for 10 years and nothing ever changed. Ran the bases like a jaded waitress, stopping too long to chat when she spotted someone she recognized.

Who would ever miss a daughter like that?

Not me, that’s for sure.

Email Chris Erskine at, or follow him on Twitter at @erskinetimes.