Test-driving our new swim suits. Alternative caption: Impressionable. February 18 (Boppa’s birthday).
When they were introduced, he made a witticism, hoping to be liked. She laughed very hard, hoping to be liked. Then each drove home alone, staring straight ahead, with the very same twist to their faces.
The man who’d introduced them didn’t much like either of them, though he acted as if he did, anxious as he was to preserve good relations at all times. One never knew, after all, now did one now did one now did one.
1:11 every time
"Why are we here?" Slats Grobnik suddenly asked.
Are you talking about the meaning of life? If so, I’ll move down the bar.
"Nah, I mean right now: What are we doing here?"
We’re here to sip a tad of 86-proof antifreeze to help ward off the unfriendly elements that we will face when we go outdoors.
"But why are we here?"
I just told you.
"Nah, I mean, why are we in Chicago?"
What a silly question. We are in Chicago because this is where we live and work. It is our hometown. We were born here. We have always lived here. We are Chicagoans.
"But the weather is so stinkin’ miserable. You go outside for a few minutes, and your nose might fall off. Not that your nose would be much of a loss."
Yes, but that is part of the mystique of being a Chicagoan. Every winter we contend with such adversity; snow, cold or both. We are viewed as hardy, sturdy, tough Midwesterners, admired, even envied. Unlike many soft Americans, we don’t become immobilized by a few snowflakes or panic when the temperature drops below zero. We put on our long underwear, thump our chests, laugh at nature and we persevere.
"I hate it."
"I said I hate it."
I am shocked. I can’t believe you said that. You hate Chicago?
"This week I hate it. Come to think of it, I hate it every January. And I hate it every February and March. And I don’t think much of it in November or December. And October ain’t much to brag about, either."
How long have you felt this way?
"All my life. That’s why I still hate my grandfodder."
What does your grandfather have to do with it?
"Everything. He’s the answer to my question of why we’re here."
Your grandfather? I remember him well. He barely spoke English, except for the words “Jim Beam,” and “beer chaser,” and “sharrup, woman.” How can you blame him for your treasonous hatred of Chicago?
"Because he got off the train too soon."
"The train from New York to Chicago. He comes here as an immigrant, OK? He gets off the boat and he gets on a train. But then what does he do? He gets off here. If he stayed on the train, it would have gone all the way to San Francisco, or Portland, or Seattle, or someplace where you don’t freeze your butt. And you know why he got off in Chicago?"
To seek work in a boomtown, as so many immigrants did?
"Nah. He didn’t know they had a toilet on the train. So he got off to look for an outhouse, like in the Old Country. By the time he found a john, the train was gone. So he was stuck here. And my old man was born here, and me and my brother, Fats, was born here. My dumb luck because my grandpa had to go but didn’t know where to go. If it wasn’t for him, I could have been born in California and be a cool California kind of guy."
Happy New Year to our beautiful city.