One Night In Chicago

The great thing about being an American is that a man can stand on a Chicago street corner with a microphone and a loudspeaker and preach, "You can't go to heaven if you're a homosexual" and not be beaten.

The other great thing about being an American is that a passerby can tell him, "You can't go to heaven if you have hate in your heart," causing the man to retreat to the shadows.


But turn around. Hatred and fear are replaced by wonder and joy.


Further into the heart of the park, joy rides on the strings of a violin as a free concert entertains thousands. Music that has been cherished for centuries is shared with a new generation.


Some of that generation can later be found splashing their way through the end of a hot, muggy day.

The laughter is a chorus uniting the young and the young-at-heart.

Smiles light up the night.


Public transportation should be a nuisance, but when a violinist (whose talents rival those of the man who was playing for thousands in the park) fills the hallway with his sweet notes, public transportation becomes a pleasure. Dozens gather round and listen in silence to the man who doesn't play with heart, he plays with soul.


A hate-filled beginning is balanced perfectly by a chance encounter with a man on the train. He sits in silence until his phone rings. Then it's as if a switch has been flipped--his face lights up with pure joy. Whoever the person on the other end of the call is has the power to inject happiness into the man with just the sound of his or her voice.

I hope he has told that person just how happy he or she makes him feel.


I was in Chicago for one day for work, with just a couple of hours of free time to enjoy the city. Sometimes all it takes is two hours to find something worth remembering.


More Adventures Yet To Come










(There are more sidewalk chalk creations here.)


I Scream, You Scream, We All Want The Same Ice Cream

Confession: I hate taking my kid out for ice cream.

I'll do just about anything to avoid it. Ice cream? Who wants ice cream? LET'S GO TO BUILD-A-BEAR INSTEAD!

Yes, it's that bad.

The thing about taking Alexis for ice cream is that it always ends with me eating the only disgusting flavor known to humankind. ALWAYS.

If we go to the place with a ton of different flavors, I end up reading the menu board to her. The flavors change daily, so it's not all that hard for me to pull a little voodoo magic. "They have chocolate, strawberry, black forest, black raspberry chocolate chunk, heavenly hash . . . " conveniently skipping all of the flavors I don't want to eat . . . "mint chocolate chip, Oreo cheesecake, dutch apple crunch," etc. I only read what I might order. Simple.

Except that the damn kid can read just enough to find the horrendous grape ice cream. It's like her superpower or something. At the very moment I don't want her to be able to read, she'll find the one word that I fear the most and she'll sound that sucker out.

"I want purple dinosaur!" she'll proclaim.

"No, you don't," I tell her. Always.

"Yes, I do! Purple dinosaur!" she'll insist.

I always tell her that I know how that story ends and NO NO NO. Inevitably, though, I wind up letting her order what she wants and a few minutes later, I find it in my hands. She is a pro at turning, "Can I try a little bit of yours?" into "How about I just keep this and you keep mine? KTHXBAI."

I DON'T KNOW HOW SHE DOES IT. I swear she must put some sort of spell on me. There is no other explanation for how she manages to get me to play along with her shenanigans. It happens every single time.

Same deal if we go to Dairy Queen. We always get Blizzards and no matter what I do, I end up eating her Blizzard while she eats mine. I once tried ordering the same thing for both of us and that little attempt at trickery made her head explode into a million pieces. Let's just say I won't do that again.

I really need to dig out our ice cream maker. It's time to make what I want at home and tell the kid to back away from my happiness.