7/20/2005

Innocents Abroad

I’ve returned. And how I’ve missed you all. Lacking a computer, I had to pilfer through newspapers and classic literature instead of your blogs. Despair!

As you know, traveling books are all the rage. Everybody loves a good traveling book. It gives the reader a vicarious glimpse into the splendor, tedium and misery of travel. I figured I’d write a travel blog entry in which I regale you with tales of my adventures.

Mark Twain wrote a travel book, Innocents Abroad, which revealed the consummate ass one becomes while traveling. I’m happy to report I upheld this tradition diligently. I never missed an opportunity to make an ass of myself. While visiting Six Flags Great America, I forgot where I parked and spent a good hour reconnoitering the parking lot, hunting for my car. Agitating matters were the African-Americans harassing me in the parking lot (Great America has a culturally diverse patronage). I feared a violent exchange until I eased the tension by asking indignantly and with much gesticulation, “Can a cracker get a break up in this muthafucka?” With that remark I earned my due respect and at once felt a kinship between me and my potential assailants, who labor under the delusion that slavery is still practiced in parts of the country and that their vote is counted at the rate of three-fifths.

Great America was a blast, notwithstanding the parking lot incident above. I rode several roller coasters. A new coaster, Superman, was very entertaining. And it gave me quite a fright! I highly recommend this attraction should you find yourself at Six Flags. But please make every effort to avoid the center seat in the back row. I soiled it. I confess to depositing a little bar of “kryptonite” during the 185 foot ascent. My apologies to the ride operators.

I immersed myself in Chicago culture. I visited several museums and ate more food than Marlon Brando on a marijuana binge. Chicagoans have 3 food groups: pizza, bar food and cheesecake. I hope that with time this bit of culture trickles down to Tucson. I ate a hamburger from a North-side deli that I’m still thinking about 8 days later. The pizzas are legendary. Even the Chinese food is better, which is strange because Chicago has a city ordinance banning Asians from the city proper. Regarding the ban, I attempted to register a complaint with the Chamber of Commerce, but the clerk told me to “hop in your rice-burner and drive the fuck back to San Fag-cisco, hippie!” You’ve got to love Chicago’s hometown pride. I also got into an argument with some Polish bitch cashier over what flavor of sundae I ordered. I clearly said “chocolate,” but she evidently heard “hot fudge.” Cunt!

My old neighborhood sure has changed. It’s doubled in size and population. New buildings are popping up everywhere. When I write “new buildings,” I mean either car dealerships or restaurants. Evidently the only two things to do in the suburbs are buy new cars and eat out (I just conceived a new theme restaurant!). Everywhere in Chicago one can see evidence of gentrification, which is a shame because a slum is the only place I can afford to live. Chicagoland is one thriving economic powerhouse, benefiting all those who don’t own their own home, run their own business, park their cars (roughly $15 -- $20 per day), pay Illinois income taxes, drive the highways or visit. That’s progress!

My travels reminded me of the consummate ass I can become while traveling. But I had to stand back in awe of my own stupidity upon my trip home. The following was my coup de grace of asininity: I had to park my car at the airport. I accidentally left my dome light on. After nine days I returned to find my battery dead. My trunk wouldn’t open by remote (because of the dead battery) so I set my luggage down and chased the tram driver for a jump. I should add that I had packed a huge, 9-pound, six ounce bottle of Open Pit barbecue sauce in my luggage, a brand you can’t buy in Tucson). The tram driver jumped my car and drove off. I backed out -- and rolled over the luggage that I forgot to put in the trunk! In my bag were my digital camera, a Sonicare electric toothbrush, a brand new electric razor and new Nike gym shoes, along with some of my favorite clothing.

So, it was a plastic bottle of barbecue sauce versus 4000 pounds of Chevy Lumina. Care to guess who won? Luckily my camera and other items were O.K. But several articles of clothing succumbed to the BBQ sauce. As I rifled through the saucy luggage to assess the damage, I could only pray a surveillance camera didn’t capture this episode of stupidity. If it did, I’m sure it’s making is way across the Internet via email attachments everywhere. I’m not making this up, folks. I really backed up over my own luggage and detonated a 2-gallon bottle of barbecue sauce in my travel bag. Kinda makes you reconsider those flattering comments of "genius" you may have left on my blog, doesn't it?

Oh, in case you’re wondering what my favorite part of the trip was, I’ll tell you. It was sitting on my grandma’s porch, just after sunset, watching the lightning bugs flash and glow in the night air. I hadn’t seen a lightning bug in 17 years, since I moved away. Those little pulses of light brought me back to the wonderment of childhood, if only for a short while. Heaven.

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