Late From Chi-Town

by Rich on April 16, 2018

I’m late filing this column, but it’s not my fault. I blame the people of Chicago.

That’s where I am right now, Chicago. I came for a couple of reasons, but mainly for the weather (that’s a joke). Actually, I came to Chicago because I needed a breather and it’s been on my bucket list for a while, so here I am. And while here, I have decided to cram as much of Chicago into one long weekend as I can, and that, too, has added to my tardiness.

My understanding of Chicago comes from two primary sources: Cubs games on WGN, and movies. I’m sure that many of you faithful readers may have a hard time believing this, but as a child of the ’70s and ’80s, I remember the birth of cable, and in those early days there weren’t that many choices for programming. But WGN out of Chicago and TBS from Atlanta filled the void with seemingly nonstop airing of Cubs and Braves. And then of course there were all the John Hughes movies. That list is too long to recount but I’m sure you can name a few on your own.

Back in January when I planned this trip, I knew two things: I had to get deep dish pizza, and I had to avoid getting caught skipping school by Principal Ed Rooney (note: you’re going to get a lot of movie references here). And of course, I had to make a day game at Wrigley Field. Now, being from the south, my idea of a day game at Wrigley in mid April was like that scene out of “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”. You know, me a Sloan and Cameron in short sleeves and sunglasses, catching foul balls and yelling at the batters.

Friday’s game was not like that.

It was freezing. Ok, not technically, but 42° and windy is close enough. It was also overcast and drizzling. But my traveling companion and I braved (pun) the elements to experience the history of Wrigley and watch Atlanta take on the home team. The Braves won 4-0, but that’s really of no import. What is crucial for you to understand, especially if you have never been to Chicago, is how incredibly nice everyone is. But maybe I’m getting ahead of myself.

Before heading into the stadium, I was informed that it would be an unforgivable sin to not venture inside one, if not multiple establishments in the surrounding neighborhood known as “Wrigleyville”. So of course we did. And that’s why I am busting it to get this column in under the wire. Or at least, that where it all started.

We met Grace, and Tiffany, and Janine, and Bob, and George, and Steven, and the Johns, and a girl from Wisconsin who’s family actually owns a  dairy farm and makes cheese, and Sierra who served us our Chicago dog the proper way with a pickle spear instead of relish and chunks of tomato and onions and mustard, and William on the Red Line that made sure we got off at the correct stop (Clark/Division).

We met so many incredible people that the glory of the country’s second oldest ball field paled in comparison. Don’t get me wrong, Wrigley is amazing. I loved being there, shivering. But it’s been the people of the Windy City that have won me over.

Also, we had so much fun that we completely missed our dinner date at Harry Caray’s with Brian. Sorry, dude. But I had to sign that bottle at Irish Oaks, and you know how time consuming that can be.

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Par For Most Courses

by Rich on April 9, 2018

In honor of Masters Week, I decided to end my three year abstinence from the game and grabbed my clubs to hit the links. Since I need to write off the incurred expenses from my round, I am obligated to write about it. My apologies.

Having shunned the sticks for such a long period of time, I felt it unfair to subject anyone else to the ensuing carnage. Arriving alone at the local public course before lunch during the week ensured that I wouldn’t have much company, which was just fine with me. Paying for the round in the pro shop, the marshal started to ask if he could pair me with another single. After closer inspection of my outdated attire and ancient clubs, he thought better of it, and pointed me to the bar, suggesting I grab some “liquid courage” for the round. Wise counsel.

I don’t hit balls on the driving range or stoke puts on the practice green. I only have so  many halfway decent shots in me and I’m not wasting them on something that doesn’t count. I hopped in the cart and headed for the first tee box (don’t worry, I’m not going to be one of those dreadfully boring jerks who responds to the innocent query, “How was your round?” with a stroke by stroke recount of the score card). On the way I did the most important thing that I can do whenever I play golf alone. I stopped the beverage cart girl (Lola) and told her to either follow me for eighteen, or give me her cell phone number and expect text orders. She did the latter. I handed her my Jeep keys and told her not to give them back until the Uber driver picked me up. Looking confused, she handed me my beverages and went on her way.

The first four holes went pretty good. I lost a mere six balls and used only one for the par three with no water. Lola got tired of my constant texts and began following me. After the second hole, I handed over my wallet. Score: +9

Holes five through seven where uneventful except for the disturbance caused by the pizza delivery guy who got lost in an over-sized bunker trying to find me. I would also like to state for the record that slinging my club across the street was the result of ice Lola left on the can and not because I missed a 6 inch put. Pepperoni grease was also not a factor. Score +19

It wasn’t long after I made the turn that Lola and Brice (the pizza guy) decided I shouldn’t drive the cart anymore. At thirteen, Brice accused me of cheating and demanded to keep score. I tried to hit him with my five iron but missed by a country mile. My fairway game stinks outside of a hundred yards. Score through fourteen: +41

To be frank, the rest of the round is fuzzy. At one point I think Lola and Brice were making out next to a ball washer. I lost a shoe and cut my knee on a pin flag trying to answer the call of nature.

The next morning I retrieved the Jeep and my wallet, signed the loan papers to pay the bill in the clubhouse, and found the scorecard on my windshield. There was no tallied score, but a note scribbled in pencil: “Thanks for introducing us, and for the generous tip. Here’s one from us: stick to watching golf! Love, Brice and Lola.”

Great kids…

 

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Batter Up! Action!

April 2, 2018

Baseball season is here, and of course that makes me think of movies. To be fair, ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you that there is little in this life that doesn’t remind me of movies. What can I say? I fawn over flicks. I feast on film. I’m mesmerized by movies. […]

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To Brian, A Confession

March 29, 2018

The quiet noises of mundane life For that which by other days would be unheard, Are now obscene obtrussions upon my grief So well deserved.   The playful laugh of child and youth Of barking dogs, of radios and motorcycles Of those that any other day be the norm Are this day the screech of […]

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Who Are You?

March 26, 2018

The text said, “You are not defined by what you do, but by who you are.” It was from a friend and former coworker. I stared at it for a minute, processing. The text surprised me because I had been thinking along those very lines lately, and call it coincidence, kismet, chance, or divine happenstance, […]

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Perfect Imperfection

March 19, 2018

Two and a half weeks. That’s how long March Madness lasts. That’s 13 work days (if you include Friday as a work day, which personally I do not). Two and a half weeks. Sixty-four teams, four regions. One Champion. It’s insane. It’s clinical. It’s controversial. It’s traditional. It’s beautiful. It’s ugly. It’s perfect. The NCAA […]

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For Benjamin, On Your 13th Birthday

March 14, 2018

(The following is a letter I wrote for my nephew Benjamin. My sister, Benjamin’s mother, said I should post it here. This was not intended for my blog, but with her blessing, I am posting it. Along with this letter, I gave Benjamin the knife and picture of my grandfather pictured below.) Benjamin, This is […]

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Bracket Underdogs

March 12, 2018

College basketball post season is here and as much as it pains me to admit it, I’m hooked. I know I have mentioned this before, but the whole basketball thing is pretty foreign to me. Just haven’t been a fan. But now I am. And I fully admit that my fandom is due to one […]

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Boys And Baseball

March 5, 2018

College baseball is kicking off around the country, and, as I mentioned last week, my son is quickly turning into a man. And oddly enough, I can’t think of one without the other. When my son turned 11, I took him and two of his friends to a college baseball game for his birthday. Eleven. […]

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Just One of the Guys

February 26, 2018

  Like many of us born before 1980, I am often dumbfounded by what I observe, behavior-wise, in many of the youth of today (GET OFF MY LAWN!). I mean, do these kids not know that their hats are on crooked? Is it not obvious that their slouching demeanors make them look shifty, or that […]

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