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Tuesday, December 9, 2014


Yeah, I've seen all the movies. You go on a road trip, revive old memories, laugh, cry, get drunk, get a tattoo or two (butt and face of course), find a baby and a stray lion. Yawn!... So ordinary. That stuff happens all the time.

Wonderful Chicago from top of the Prudential
So when my youngest son threw a road trip for his older brother and his pop because we both had landmark birthdays this year, it was all of that and more. Sure, we found the baby... but he had a messy diaper so we passed on that... and saw the lion--two in fact--guarding the front entry of Chicago's Art Institute. Tattoos hurt so we were thinking tacos because that sounds similar... but when we walked by
Giordano's Deep Dish Pizza we decided that would be so much better--and it was!

We got pretend drunk--three beers and a glass of wine--and witnessed a killing--the Dallas Cowboys killed the Chicago Bears--from great seats in Soldier Field. Now I won't exactly say they were the best seats but Pope Francis sat on one side of us and Mike Ditka on the other... so you figure it out.

Pope Francis was a stitch... but unbelievably, he was rooting for The Cowboys (and I thought he was supposed to be ecumenical). Says Romo sounds Italian and it reminds him of Rome. He and Ditka kept trash-talking each other right in front of us. Ditka likes "smash mouth football," he tells His Holiness. Pope Francis says, "My favorite play is the Hail Mary." Ditka hums The Super Bowl Shuffle and the Pontiff comes right back with When the Saints Come Marching In. I asked The Holy Father why he didn't root for the New Orleans Saints and he says he can't root for any team that is 5-8, even if they are leading their division. "You can't even be a saint in heaven with less than 10 wins," he says... and he should know. When the game was over, Pope Francis gave us his blessing and Ditka offered a knuckle sandwich. We all walked out of the stadium arm in arm singing, you guessed it,  "Oh when the Saints... " 
His Holiness

Before the game, we tailgated, which is why we were too full to accept The Pope's burgers and a beer invitation. We had brats, buns and mustard with two cans of beer in each of our pockets. No grill... no problem. We asked to use someone's who had extra space. That's the thing about Chicago--people are super friendly and will lend a grill at the drop of a hat. I guess that comes from years of rooting for loosing sporting teams... you get kind-hearted and really nice because you have no bragging rights. Take that Yankee and Cardinal fans.

"Cloud Gate"
Next day, after a great breakfast, we took an architectural tour of the city's beautiful buildings and very snazzy Millenium Park just off Michigan Avenue by the Lake. The architectural tours of different parts of Chicago's downtown areas are renowned for their quality and the buildings and stories are well worth it.

"Looking Into My Dreams Awilda"
The huge ice skating rink in Millenium Park was in full use and the Jay Pritzger Pavilion designed by Richard Geary (like his Rock and Roll Museum in Seattle) was incredibly beautiful, as were the sculptures and other art.

Then it was drinks in the lounge on the 96th floor of the Prudential Building, pizza at Giordano's and settling down in the hotel lounge.

We laughed a lot too!

This was so nice a two-day affair that it was difficult to say good-by the next morning. In life, things happen that leave a mark. I've been so fortunate and grateful to count many of those, this being the latest. I told my sons that they could do it again, anytime, even after "you know what." They would take my ashes with them, of course, and remember this and all the great times we've had.

Thanks guys... and all the wives that let this happen. I'm super "touched," in the best of those definitions.

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