July 04, 2004


Today, after bidding adieu to the Kimmitts, Kathy and I headed down to Grant Park. We took the Metra and walked to the Taste, where we were just in time for the Old 97s. I called Paul's cell and we managed to find him right away; we stood on the sidewalk and talked for a while. Gradually, the group accumulated people, each with one degree of separation from the next, making a rather odd conglomeration. At one point there was a guy Charlie, who I knew from IMSA alumni stuff, and his friend Aaron from college, all the way over to my cousin and his friend Henry from work. Fascinating.

After that we wandered a bit to get drinks, then headed back to the TMBG concert. I spotted Maura walking about ten feet ahead of us, and we chatted for a minute before she went off to find her friend from work, but we agreed to meet back where Paul was. There we sat just off the second sidewalk slightly into "left field" to listen to the TMBG concert, which was good. Charlie and I talked about the pros and cons of replacing a property tax with a land tax. Maura and I caught up on recent events, such as the house she just bought and is now fixing up.

Eventually that group dispersed and I wandered off to get food. Originally I intended to get some stuff and bring it back to eat it, but it turned out to be more efficient just to eat as I walked, maintaining a short queue of food items. At the Taste, (almost?) all of the food vendors have one item called their "taste portion", for a buck fifty, to let you try a little bit of everything. I had a half a breaded steak sandwich from Ricobene's, two pieces of crab rangoon from Quang Noodle, a garlic cheesebread from Lou Malnati's, and a small fried dough from Harry Caray's. All pretty good, although I don't think crab rangoon is really my thing.

Back at the Petrillo Shell, I walked over by where we had been, but didn't see Maura or Paul, so I stood there listening to the Counting Crows concert and watching random portions of humanity walk by. There was the middle-aged guy with leathery-brown skin wearing only a pair of sweatpants shorts who was, I can only describe it as "cavorting", down the path. There was the long-haired goateed Latino fellow in long white robe carrying a miniature cross over his shoulder. At one point a guy from British Columbia who was stranded in Chicago due to an airline snafu struck up a conversation with me about a variety of things, including the amazing climate of western Canada and his relief at finally completing his divorce. (No joke.) After I went back to wandering, I spotted a whole group of people, mostly guys, who were charcoal-black from head to toe with mud, presumably from a big pit up by the fence.

Eventually, I left the concert just before it ended, to beat the rush. I gave my remaining two tickets to some homeless guy near the exit, then dropped a couple quarters on a busker who was packing up his saxophone---while he was playing on the corner, this other guy wandered up about fifteen feet away and launched into a poor a capella rendition of "This Little Light of Mine", to which he only knew one verse, sung repeatedly. I hope the kid found a better place, because his saxophone playing was really pretty good.

At this point I started thinking about what I was going to read on the train. I had the triple-whammy of it being past 7pm, on Sunday, and a national holiday, so none of the bookstores were open. I couldn't even buy a paper, because all the newsstands were closed and apparently they didn't bother to put papers in the vending boxes last night. I could see stacks of the Sunday Trib in the newsstand in Northwest Station, but they weren't to be had for love nor money.

So I just got on the train. I followed a group of guys on and sat on the opposite side of the upper level of the train from them; eventually the car filled up, and a group of girls sat next to me. I overheard that they were going to the Palatine station, which was nice because it meant I could go to sleep, since they'd have to wake me to leave.

I don't think I ever really got to sleep, but I looked like I was sleeping, which was a great position to eavesdrop from. I found out that both groups had gone to Palatine High School, and the guys were sitting next to some girls who'd gone to Cary-Grove, so they were comparing notes about Palatine and talking about places I knew about, which was fun. I decided not to mention that I was from Palatine too, because that would first of all entail admitting I'd been eavesdropping, but more importantly it seemed like it'd be awkward, since we were unlikely to have any other shared experience. The conversation started out about the Counting Crows concert, but meandered around and was entertainingly post-adolescent.

After I'd given up on sleeping, I glanced down and thought I recognised someone sitting on the lower level across from me. Indeed, it was Miranda, one of the three dedicated students in my ballroom dance group at Knox! Turns out she's from Lake Zurich. In the course of that conversation, I mentioned that my parents live in Palatine, and when she inquired further, I pinpointed it as right by St. Thomas, and between Jane Addams and Winston Park, if that meant anything to her.

I never found out whether it did or not, because the upper-level Palatine folks caught wind of this and started making a lot of noise. Whoa, where did I live? Had I gone to Palatine? They booed the fact I'd gone to Viator ;), but not only were the girls next to me PHS alums, they had in fact gone to St. Thomas and all lived within a few blocks of me. None of them knew my sister, alas, although I suspect if I'd gone through the whole list of Kathy's friends that I knew, I probably would've found something there. I had overheard that a couple of the guys were going to Miami University of Ohio next year, which is where my cousin Emily will be, but I figured I wouldn't push that one either. Probably should've, oh well. Still, best train ride ever.

And then we got back just in time to catch the fireworks finale here in Palatine. Great day!

"I give you my blessing... AND my permission!" --Tevye

Posted by blahedo at 11:57pm on 4 Jul 2004
Well, shoot, it sounds as though you were 15 yards from another whole bunch of IMSAns. Sorry we missed each other! Posted by liz at 12:44pm on 6 Jul 2004
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