Monday, August 16, 2010

What I Learned at Wrigley Field

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Vacations are generally for rest and relaxation and the opportunity to enjoy different activities in different parts of the world.  But whether intentional or not, there's always something to be learned on vacation.

So, what did you learn during your summer vacation?  My kids learned a lesson or two on Chicago's north side this summer.  Here's my latest newspaper column.  (Here's the original column and the printable version as well.)


School is quickly approaching, and as a favor to my kids – I hope their teachers aren’t reading this – I thought I’d give them a leg up on that traditional back-to-school paragraph.

So here you are kiddos, cut and paste.

What I Learned This Summer by Meg and/or Ethan

This summer my parents took me to Chicago.  We did the normal stuff like shop downtown, eat at cool restaurants and go to the Museum of Science and Industry, but by far the most educational experience was going to a baseball game at Wrigley Field.

Just getting to the game took lots of learning.  First of all you don’t drive to the game, you take the Red Line north to Addison.  (That’s the "L" or "EL," which is short for “Elevated Train,” even though downtown it’s a subway.  Go figure.)

I didn’t think taking a train would work because, like, where do you put the tables and chairs and coolers and stuff?  I’ve been to a Brewers game or two, you know?  Then I learned you don’t tailgate at Wrigley.  Really, I’m serious.  No tailgating.

Instead of parking lots, a neighborhood surrounds the stadium.  There are apartment buildings across the street from the outfield.  Home runs can - boink! - hit someone’s front porch.

And get this.  There are bleachers on the apartment buildings.  So, like, you could say, “Hey wanna play catch in the yard?” and your buddy could say back, “Nah.  Let’s go on the roof and watch the Cubs.”  Then my dad said you still have to pay a bunch of money to sit up there, so what the heck?  Might as well buy tickets.

Wrigley Field is old, but Chicago loves that place like it’s a church or something.  I did some research and learned that Wrigley Field was built before the following things were invented: TV, bubble gum, ballpoint pens, Monopoly, and dirt.  (Ha ha)

Some Cubs fans’ vocabulary is colorful.  (That’s the word my dad used – colorful.)  I didn’t hear any colors, but I did hear things like “Blankety-blank Brewers fans!”  When we were there, the Brewers won 18 to 1, so I even heard Cubs fans use “blankety-blank” followed by the names of Cubs players.

No, “blankey-blank” is not a compliment.

There was this guy sitting next to my dad, and he said it looked like Abe Frohman, sausage king of Chicago.  So I thought I’d meet someone famous or something and I was bugging my dad to introduce me until Dad told me to be quiet before he got snooty.  Or snotty.  Whatever.  He’s the one who brought it up.

Finally, after the Cubs lose again and you’re leaving the game, hold tight on to Mom or Dad’s hand.  That’s important.  There’s a bajillion people leaving the park, and they’re all headed to the L.  That’s a river of people, and you don’t want to float away from your parents.

I did a lot and learned a lot this summer, but there ain’t no education like the one I got at 1060 West Addison.

That’s Wrigley Field.

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