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The Middle Ages: He keeps the family afloat

I feel like I live my life as an example for others. As in: four kids? Too many. One wife? Too few. An aging Camaro the color of tired blood? Bingo. I wouldn’t trade that cruddy old bomb for all the fancy Teslas in the world.

I noticed the other day that when the bass is turned up during a Led Zeppelin song, the outside mirrors quiver a little during power chords. Try that in your overbuilt S class.

An old Camaro is the perfect car for the big city, in that no one will steal it and if someone hits you, who cares? This car has more dimples than a Nickelodeon sitcom. When, inevitably, a 7 Series changes lanes without looking, I don’t even flinch. Cruuuuuunch, nice to meet you.

After a long commute, the Camaro smells faintly of anchovies. There might be a cat trapped under the hood. According to my mechanic, it has six cylinders and four fur balls.

An aging Camaro is just the kind of car you would expect of a man who also owns a 300-pound beagle. In L.A., the most stylish of cities, I pride myself on my own utter lack of style. That absence of a personal aesthetic is, in itself, an aesthetic – a schlumpy yet authentic minimalism.

My only stylish possessions – and by possessions, I mean things that are slightly possessed – are my two daughters, who have done for global fashion what 4-year-olds have done for boxed juices.

The younger one is back in town for work, so the three of us met in Little Tokyo for dinner the other night. One arrived by Uber (of course). The other showed up in a pair of heels that made her 14 feet tall. When she paused to use her phone, she placed her bottle of vitamin water right atop my head.

As with many millennials, their understanding of finance is a little screwy. When they talk about credit card debt, it sounds like a Bernie Sanders campaign promise. One of them thinks that when Sanders makes college free, we will get a generous refund.

“You kept the receipts, right Dad?”

But the subject of money does get their attention. At dinner, they grill me again on how much I am coughing up for their weddings, which haven’t been scheduled but exist in the air as sure as magic, as sure as love, as sure as methane gas.

The lovely and patient older daughter makes it clear that a big, fat, Irish wedding costs north of $75 grand these days, a sum that seems high. If you invite 150 people to a $75,000 wedding, that means you are spending 500 bucks per guest. That’s high, right? Will there be real mermaids in the martinis? Will Billy Crystal host? Who’s officiating, the pope?

I would pay that only if she were marrying a doctor. Or a major rapper. In that case, moving in with them would be less of a problem.

From what my wife says, I’m lousy at marriage, so I steer the conversation to other topics. Summer vacation, for instance.

We have not taken a big family vacation in a few years. The closest we’ve come is the youth baseball tournament we attended last summer in upstate New York. According to friends, if you’re not overspending on your kid’s mythical athletic career, you don’t really love him.

This year, they all want to go to Lake Tahoe, that watery mountain playground where God keeps a condo.

In a few minutes, we all agree: Tahoe it will be.

“Will you bring boyfriends?” I ask.

“YESSSSSSSSSSS!” one hisses.

“Duh,” says the other.

There is a pause. They look at each other, then back at me. I feel like a banker who just flubbed a loan.



“By ‘boyfriends,’ you mean serious boyfriends?” one of them asks.

“Duh,” I say.

Together, they smile a poem.