01 October 2005
Chicago-pen physics (and more)
I haven't done one of these in a long, long time, but I can't pass up a chance to revel in the spotlight, since I have spent my entire life in Chicago (well, except for four years of college).
This won't be a listing of where to go and what to see. Mrs. L has taken care of that. May I suggest she embarks on a career as a travel writer? Very nice work.
I admit I am a suburbanite. I've never lived in the city, but I worked in it for more than ten years, and I'm not just talking about downtown (though I did work there for a bit). I've worked in a whole bunch of neighborhoods in the city, and I can't think of a better lesson in the way of learning how people are different, and how to get along with everyone.
I recently went back to school to get my Master's degree, and the campus is a building on Michigan Avenue. Everyday I walk through the loop, and every class I look out the window and see Lake Michigan. You won't find a better looking city, in my highly biased opinion.
But we are supposed to be talking about memories, here a few of mine:
1. Listening to my father's stories of growing up in an Irish household with five siblings and a police officer father in a neighborhood that doesn't exist anymore.
2. I'll always remember where I was when Al Gore finally conceded the 2000 election: stuck on an expressway, taking four hours to go what usually took half an hour, due to the breakdown of basic driving habits the population becomes afflicted with whenever it snows (the don't all have to be pleasant memories). The only thing I can truly say I hate about this town is TRAFFIC.
3. Flying into O'Hare and trying to figure out from which direction we are approaching based on where you see the landmarks.
4. Elmhurst-a great place to grow up, though I didn't realized it as much until I left it, but then being able to buy my first home there (which I no longer live in). There could be a lot worse places to spend the rest of my days in.
5. The two hundred or so times I have visited Wrigley Field. Some good, some bad, all worth it.
Here's an obscure Wrigley memory for you: in 1977, when I was ten, my mother, brother, sister and I went to a game with my aunt and uncle. We had seats in the first row of the upper deck, down the left field line. It was a hot summer day, the Cubs were playing the Phillies, and they clobbered them. I think the final score was 11-4. I was into keeping score back then, so I asked my mother if I she would buy me a scorecard. As we got to our seats, I realized that I forgot to get a pencil from the guy selling them. I wanted to go back, but Mom told me not to worry. She pulled out a silver cross pen from her purse and said I could use it. She said that it was my father's and that I needed to be careful with it. I didn't want to use it, but she insisted, saying that it was silly for me to go all the way back down just for a pencil.
So I kept score with the pen, and as I said, things were going well. It was late in the game when something exciting happened, though I can't remember exactly what. I do remember standing up to cheer, and watching the pen fall out of my hand. We were sitting in the front row of the upper deck, so the pen had a long journey down to the seats below. I can still recall how it seemed to descend in slow motion, laughing at me and my clumsiness all the way down.
Until it smacked a bald dude right on the top of his melon, dead center. I remember him flinching, looking up and moving on. I was amazed. I thought it was going to puncture his skull. I was pretty upset about losing the pen, especially since the game was almost over, but my mother told me not to worry about it. We have laughed about the pen game many times since then.
But it had to have left a mark.