Pet Peeves

Betting on a Sunset Quota


By Mark D. Crantz

Laguna Beach.  Another perfect day in paradise, but then there are benches. Oh, no!  I’ve started to notice benches and have begun seeking them out. That’s worse then finding the first grey hair or the first wrinkles that can’t be passed off as laugh lines because nobody sits on their sagging laughs. Don’t read further if you are so young that you don’t remember the cold war when elementary school teachers had nuclear prevention drills where students were directed to put their heads in school lockers and smell their own dirty sneakers. Still seems ridiculous to think that the Russians had a dirty bomb worse than my sneakers, PU Flyers.


This sudden obsession with benches has me worried. According to my good friend, Oddball, I should worry more than I’m worrying.  Ben “Oddball” Goldstein would know.  He’s an actuary by training and even before training always had the odds and angles all figured out. As kids, Oddball was better than having a carnival fortune-teller give you advice because Oddball never took money and never left town.  Truth was he never left my house. Just ask my Mom, whom Oddball always told looked like Cleopatra and it was divine destiny that she married my Dad, Niles. Don’t worry, Mrs. Crantz, Niles runs true north. To which my Mom would respond by giving Oddball another Twinkie that he actuarially didn’t need.


According to Oddball the average retiree will see 6,102 sunsets. I figure I’ve used up 3,285 sunsets (nine years) just trying to own a home in Laguna Beach.  Oddball was the first to tell me that I’ve used up 53.83480826% of my sunsets. “Thanks, Oddball. Have another Twinkie.”


With that statistic in mind, I’ve decided I need to pace myself to make sure I get my sunset quota. Benches could be my best friends. Walk. Warm the bench. Walk. Warm the bench.  Yes, those benches will keep me in the game. Perhaps I’ll rewrite my will to donate more benches to future sunset seekers. I can see the inscription now, “In loving memory of our Father, Mark Crantz, who directed us to misdirect our rightful inheritance to support unknown asses.  May he rest in pieces.  Love us.”


My favorite bench is Carolyn Reynolds’ conch shell named “Nautilus,” at the intersection of Forest and Glenneyre. I could not fully read its inscription because somebody with a cause is always standing on it saving whales, birds, houses, or jobs.  I believe the gist of the bench is that Triton rode his shell to the surface of the ocean to enchant the sea nymph. Her love inspired Triton to make the Nautilus the most beautiful shell in the ocean.  Ever since, the Nautilus has been honored as the pearly ocean chauffer.  Touch the pearl in the center of the shell and your travel wish will come true.


Touch the pearl. First wish. May the “Cause” supporters meet the “Jesus Saves” folks down the block. They can help each other. Again, touch the pearl. Second wish.  Now with everyone saved, I can sit my laugh lines down on the most beautiful conked-out shell in town and pace myself to another sunset. May the odds be with you, Lagunans!


Mark is a recent transplant to Laguna from Chicago.  He occasionally writes the guest column ”Pet Peeves.”  His recently deceased border collie, Pokey, is his muse and ghostwriter.

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  1. Kelly Smith

    Hey Mr. Crantz,

    Rumor has it, it’s your birthday! Have a good one! May Laguna Beach shower you with nature’s gifts. Best wishes!

  2. Stephanie Parker

    This guy is halarious, he should have his own late night show. I love reading his articles. My husband and I laugh out loud while reading his articles.

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