Tuesday, September 13, 2011


All in all, from the time the first attendees arrived till the time the last ones left, our celebration lasted almost a week, an Indian wedding without the elephants. After the final “goodbyes”, Dr. M and I repaired to our cabin in Indiana for a few days of much needed R & R.

It went like this:

When we stepped out of O’Hare Airport, the sharp, autumnal chill in the air sent a clear and personal message:

“You have packed the wrong clothes.”


Before departing Chicago for our cabin, it had become our habit to make a pilgrimage to a locally famous food stand called Johnnie’s, to partake of their wonderful Italian beef sandwiches, which are so succulently juicy, they come with a discount coupon to a dry cleaners. Everyone drips the au jus on their pants, not just me. Though I may be slightly more flagrant. You can barely tell what color my pants used to be.

On our way over to Johnnies, I noticed these signs, prominently displayed outside places of business:

Goldy Locks

(“They’ll remember us. We’re the ‘funny locksmiths.’”)

A medical franchise (we saw numerous branches on the way to Johnnies) called, ominously, at least to my ears,

Resurrection Health Care

(“Do we have to pay for the days we were dead?”)

We passed an Italian restaurant called


(“My great Uncle Al set my grandfather up here with a loan. Only charged us sixty per cent. Not till we paid off the loan. Forever. I’m still payin’ his grandson. Oh, yeah. My grandfather also had to ‘whack’ a guy. But that was a long time ago. He’d probably be dead by now anyway.”)

We noted the curious incongruity of an office called the

Advanced Dermatology and Urology Center

(“For pimples, and pee problems.”)

And then there was

Fit 2B Tied Formal Wear

(“The ‘2B’ saved us two letters worth of sign paintage. The name makes no sense, but at least it’s shorter.”)

Just stuff you notice on the way over to Johnnies.


The trip started great right from the top. For the first time ever, we caught every green light on the street going to the airport. When we checked in, we discovered we could depart on an earlier flight, cutting our waiting time in half. We were also assigned the bulkhead seats, offering the extremely desirable – especially to folks of advancing years – extended legroom.

From previous commutes to our cabin, we were prepared for:

Severe traffic on the I-294.

There was no traffic at all.

We expected serious delays due to highway construction, a frustrating constant for the past twenty-five years.

There was no highway construction whatsoever.

Arriving at our cabin, we anticipated the possibility of being unable to get inside. (We once had to call an “‘All Night’ Locksmith” at midnight, because torrential summer rains had warped the doorjambs, causing our lock to become unaligned.)

This time, our lock worked impeccably.

As did the electricity, the hot water, the sewage pipes, the refrigerator, the stove, the shower, the fireplace, and the washer/dryer. Our new shed looked beautiful. (A falling tree had decimated a previous shed.) And there were not a single mosquito in sight. The cabin itself was virtually spotless, and relatively dust-free. Rather than taking two hours or more to make the place livable, it took twenty minutes. And the…


If you encounter no problems in what you’re going through, your stories will be


So, when the irritating, the annoying and the unexpected occur, remember:

“At least I’ve got something to write about.”

To make up for the foregoing – which was informative without being worthwhile – I will reward your forbearance with one of the funniest lines I have ever heard.

I read it in the memoir Yosarian Slept Here, written by Erica Heller, the daughter of the revered Catch-22 writer, Joseph Heller. Erica describes a family trip she experienced as a teenager to Paris and Rome, where they took in all the traditional places of interest. At the end of an exhausting day of sightseeing, Erica’s ten year-old brother, a Jewish youngster of minimal worldliness, inquired,

“Who was the guy on the ‘t’ in all the churches?”

Take a moment to savor the deliciousness.

And I’ll see you tomorrow.


Kathy said...

Living in Chicago/Niles I know of Johnnie's Beef, and by your description of the business' along the way I know what street you took to get there. BTW--Resurrection Hospital ("big Res") is located north of the exit you probably took to get off of I 90. That's why you see so many Doctor's offices on that stretch of street.(your description is priceless) Enjoy your stay in the Midwest, it will be chilly this week.

The Ghost of John Isenbarger said...

I enjoy your Travelogs - they fit you (& us) to a "T"!

Indiana, our Indiana,
Indiana, we're all for you.

Gnasche said...

I think that 10yr old has been watching Arrested Development:

"Where can I get one of those cool 't' necklaces?"

"That's a cross."

"Across from where?"

Earl Pomerantz said...

The kid's line predated "Arrested Development" by forty years.

Zaraya said...

Dear Mr. Pomerantz; You still have till then of your stay to give us the payoff. I wait in anticipation for the denouement.


Frank said...

Maybe it was Mr.T.