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Remember, We’re All Just Star Dust

First published in the Oct. 8 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

In October, my martinis kiss me back. They taste like seawater, which is the primeval taste I prefer in a martini (or a kiss).
In October, I also start remembering Pissarro’s amazing Dutch landscapes. Such haystacks! And I consider making Posh’s famous chicken chili again.
Also, every autumn, I start craving Marlo Thomas. I think it was around this time of year when “That Girl” premiered, leaving a forever dent in my pre-pubescent brain. Go figure.
In other news: Going to be a big weekend. My granddaughter (Catty Cakes) is finally home from a long swing through the Eastern Seaboard, where for two months she waved to total strangers, pretending to laugh at everything they said. I think they elected her governor of New Jersey.
Gov. Cakes, what do you plan to do about organized crime?
Unfortunately, I’ll have to give Penny Laine back, her dreamy golden retriever.
Probably for the best. Penny Laine barks at everything. Time. Space. Hesitation. Self-doubt. The other day, she barked at the nearly imperceptible ticking made by eggs boiling gently on the stove.
Too much energy. “Read the room,” I tell her. “And quit chewing my knee.”
But she never does. Penny Laine flounces. She’s Cheryl Tiegs. Like me, she’s suffered from a very happy childhood. There is no edge to her, nothing remotely cynical.
“I hate you,” I whispered to her the other day. “I really, really hate you.”
But we should cherish our golden retrievers. They have all the happy traits Americans are starting to lose: hope, honesty, compassion.

Look who’s back. My granddaughter made a lot of campaign stops during her long East Coast trip.

She’ll return this week to her home in Santa Monica, that throw-pillow, that cloud on the coast. For seven weeks, she’s lived on this toasty side of L.A., so hot in the afternoons I couldn’t even walk her and White Fang.
Instead, we started convening in the shady backyard.
“BONE BREAK!” I’d yell, and pull some beef bones from the fridge. I’d stuff the ends with peanut butter — Suzanne’s idea — and turn the two dogs loose on the lawn.
They rather loved this.
Then, one day, I squirted whipped cream in the hollow ends of the bones. This made our daily BONE BREAK! even more popular and ridiculous than it already was. There was wiggling and waggling and ballroom dancing. Lots of slurping around my ankles, a gesture I’ve actually grown to enjoy.
Soon, Penny Laine will be gone and I can go back to doing housework in the nude (you just can’t do that with guests around).
Who used to joke about nude housework? I want to say Pope Gregory I. But it might’ve been Phyllis Diller or Joan Rivers. Funny ladies, both. Remember Phyllis Diller’s wild hair? Such haystacks!
For the record, I vacuum the way Richard Petty drove race cars. I take corners on one wheel … weeeeeeeeeeee! I knock over chairs. Once, I ran over a kid. He just froze, as a squirrel would. Nothing I could really do. He was fine. A little linty, but fine.
I vacuum ferociously because I hate vacuuming. During the pandemic, our housekeeper ran off with the gardener, so now I am officially the housekeeper, though the gardener came back, thank gawd. He’s been really tight-lipped about what transpired, though I wouldn’t mind a few steamy details. Love is love. Nothing to be ashamed of.
That’s what I always tell the lovely Suzanne: “Don’t be ashamed. You could do waaaaaaay worse.”
“Really?” she says.
Hey, we’re all star dust, remember? No matter who we are, how successful, how short, how strong, how naked, at the end of the day we’re all merely star dust.
I thought of this as I was looking through my phone contacts the other day. Some big names, though a little dated. Thanks to my long, awful stint as a sports columnist, I realized I still have phone numbers for:
• Pete Carroll
• Fran Drescher
• Chevy Chase
• Dick Butkus
• Doo Doo the Clown
• Jimmy the Hat
• Collin Morikawa’s dad
So yeah, my phone is way more interesting than I’ll ever be.
Someday, I’ll pour the world’s biggest beer, turn on a Dodger playoff game and start “rolling calls,” as they say at the talent agencies, just go down the line and start dialing:
“Hello, Doo Doo the Clown? Yes, I’m calling to confirm that this is still the best contact for you.”

Please join me at the YMCA’s annual Prayer Breakfast Oct. 15, where I’ll share more valuable life tips and stories from my new book with wild bear specialist Steve Searles. For tickets, call (818) 583-4731, or email Jpingry@ymcafoothills.org.

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