Wednesday, June 02, 2004

advice for chicago-bound tourists

I just got off the phone with my mother. She was calling to ask about my planned trip to the family farm this weekend, which I am making in order to attend the baptism of my niece's baby daughter. My mother told me that, immediately after the baptism, my niece will be getting in a U-Haul and driving to Chicago to move into a house with the father of the child, who I have not yet met and who by some familial accounts sounds thus far like a jerk. However, this post is not the place to get into the questionable mating decisions that various immediate family members have made.

Instead: When my mom said Chicago, I asked if she had ever been to Chicago herself. "Once," my mom said, on her honeymoon back in 1953, "and I have no desire to ever go back, I can tell you that." That honeymoon trip turns out to have been the first and one of the only times my mother has ever been to a large city. Before she left, her father pulled her aside and told her, "When you are in Chicago and walking down the street, you walk with your head down, you look straight ahead, and you don't make eye contact with nobody, or else you WILL get stabbed." Surprising then that my mother did not go on to have a swell time in the Windy City. Especially when their room was on the nineteenth floor--and my mother had never before been above the third floor of any building in her life--of a hotel that had a fire the first night they were there.

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