Saturday afternoon, Richard, Kish and I took a long walk along the shores of Lake Michigan in downtown Chicago. What we saw was not the Chicago I’ve come to know during my many wintry visits.
It was a beautiful day, with temperatures in the 80s and bright blue skies, and the shoreline was hopping. There were hundreds of bikers, joggers, and walkers using the paths, and when we got to the Oak Street Beach it was like we had been teleported to Florida. Sailboats and motorboats bobbed in the surf, palm trees bowed and swayed in a strong, warm breeze, and the beach was packed with swimmers, sunbathers, occasional dippers, and drinkers. Dozens of people were savoring cold adult beverages at the Oak Street Beach bar and grill.
The surf crashed against the break wall next to the beach and the spray felt cool in the summer air. I’m sure the water was cold, but there were lots of people in the lake and they all looked to be having a good time. If you’ve got a Great Lake — even one that is only swimmable for a few months — why not make maximum use of it? I’m sure it makes living in Chicago a bit more interesting, and a bit more fun.
On our quick trip to Chicago to drop some things off to Richard this weekend, we stopped to gas up at a station somewhere in rural northern Indiana. As I was paying at the pump, this sign stopped me in my tracks. What’s wrong with $100 bills, and why would my paying with one affect my safety?
As it happened, I didn’t have any $100 bills. In fact, I can’t even remember the last time I had a $100 bill in my wallet. Usually I don’t carry any currency larger than a $20 bill. Still, if I had a $100 bill, why shouldn’t I be able to pay with it? How is it unsafe? What, would the cashier rob me if I flashed a c-note? Are the other customers at this rustic gas station such a bunch of felons that the sight of a $100 bill is going to provoke them into a frenzy of theft, whereas a wallet with a few twenties wouldn’t? Is there some problem with the dye used in the portrait of old Ben Franklin?
Most fundamentally, I thought part of conducting a business in America means you have to accept American currency. I could see declining a $1000 bill and saying you don’t have enough money to make change. But a $100? No way!
This weekend Richard assumes ownership of Old Blue, a jacket with a curious back story.
Kish bought this Eddie Bauer jacket for me about 15 years ago. I call it Old Blue. It’s a perfect jacket for many months of Columbus weather — waterproof, and not too heavy. For some reason, however, Kish has grown to loathe it. If I put it on she grimaces and begs me not to wear it. She regularly threatens to throw it out, and at times I fear for Old Blue’s safety. Who would have thought clothing could inspire such passion?
Fortunately, there is a solution to the problem of Old Blue. Richard, being a man of good taste, also likes wearing Old Blue, and has asked if he can have it in Chicago. Of course, the answer is yes. So this weekend I bid farewell to Old Blue, a garment that served me long and well. May you thrive in Chicago, Old Blue, far away from the palpable disdain of my lovely wife!