I can always tell when the tourist season has begun. Not by the warm weather or sunny skies...
...this is Chicago, where we get 14 days of summer heat and 351 days of "lake effect" cold that forces my testicles to abandon their sack and take refuge deep inside my body, usually in an area directly above my lungs...
...not that I don't enjoy their journey within, but still...
No, I can tell it's Tourist Time in Chi-Town when the 146 bus - - the bus that travels down the Magnificent Mile and takes every Tom, Dick and moron to the big museums - - is filled with slow-assed, double stroller-pushin', wanna-see-Oprah, George W.-lovin' out-of-towners who stand at the entrance to the bus and ask the driver more questions than I had on my SAT's!
Then, they have to find their wallets.
Then, they don't have two single dollar bills.
Then, they don't take into consideration that the bus is actually MOVING, so they don't hold onto any of the rails and plunge head-first onto the bus floor - - first screaming, then laughing to keep from crying, then mourning the broken American Girl Doll they just fell on because it was purchased an hour earlier for the same amount of money that I paid for my last car.
And all of it... slows... down... my... commute.
When the tourists come to town, my bus goes from being an "express route" to travelling at approximately the speed of snails fucking.
It ain't pretty.
But today, an out-of-towner noticed something about my adopted city that I had never seen or even thought about.
A man and his son got on the 146 and sat a few seats down from me.
The son looked like a child actor who was trying so hard to land the role of Jason in the Blaine Community Players' production of FALSETTOS that he wore a "Jason costume" to his audition for the new Corky St. Clair musical theatre extravaganza.
For that reason, I'm calling the boy, "Jason."
Our bus was just about to cross Erie.
Now, for those of you who don't live in the Windy City, please note that the words "street" or "avenue" or the like are hardly ever used after the names of our thoroughfares. There's Michigan Avenue and Halsted Street (sometimes) but more often than not, we Chicagoans travel down "Wacker" or "Monroe" or "Cornelia."
Jason looked up, noticed the name of the street we were crossing and said this exact phrase...
"Erie? It's kind of eerie that we're crossing Erie."
And you know, as simple as that is, I had never thought of Erie as having anything to do with "eerie."
Well, there was that guy's condo that I "visited" one late Saturday night that was located on Erie, but his dungeon was much too well lit to be considered eerie in any way, shape or form.
At any rate, I know it's not an awe-inspiring or mind-numbing observation, but it is a simple example of how blind we are to our everyday surroundings.
How OUR TOWN of me.
Linda Lavin sang it best...
"Goin' through life with blinders on,
it's tough to see."
it's tough to see."