I’m in the Windy City for a short business trip and I always welcome the opportunity to return to this town that knows how to cook a pizza and hot dog. It’s a beautiful downtown with canals running through the streets and the skyscrapers are breathtaking.
As I look out my hotel window, I see the John Hancock Building, which is one of the tallest structures in the world. I love the city lights at night, but I’m longing for something. I’m longing for some peace and quiet so I can sleep.
In Carrollton, I occasionally hear a fire truck and ambulance in the middle of the night and the midnight train always soothes with its whistle as it passes Tanner Grocery. In Chicago, however, the sounds of sirens pass my street every three minutes. The garbage trucks are just as loud.
Despite all of the noise, I love spending time in big cities. From the freaks to the geeks, I love the characters. On one block, a saxophone player plays the blues. Two blocks away, a man with feathers in his hair performs a rain dance. It’s people like this and others that give a city character, charm and culture.
This isn’t my first trip to Chicago.
In previous visits, I’ve belted “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” in my very best Harry Caray impersonation with the fans at Wrigley Field. I’ve taken the elevator to the top of the Sears Tower now called the Willis Tower. I’ve witnessed the trading at the Chicago Stock Exchange and viewed the Monet, Degas and van Gogh paintings at the Art Institute of Chicago.
On this trip, however, my goal was to walk in the footsteps of John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray. It started at the Second City Theatre.
Second City is regarded as the most influential and prolific comedy theater in the world. From Saturday Night Live cast members such as Belushi, Gilda Radner and Tina Fey to other modern day comedians such as Stephen Colbert and Steve Carell, this place can be summed up in one word — funny.
“I want to warn you that if you’re sensitive to comedians making fun of politics and politicians, then you may not want to go,” said the hotel concierge that night as I inquired about a ticket for the show. “Do you still want me to get you a ticket?”
Without hesitation, I quickly replied with a big smile on my face — “Yes.”
The show was fantastic and the day after my meetings concluded, I decided to take a walk along Michigan Avenue.
Along my walk I saw a sign for the world famous Billy Goat Tavern that inspired the famous Saturday Night Live skit “Cheezborger, Cheezborger, Cheezborger. No Pepsi.” I walked in and marveled at the cooks dressed in white aprons and hats, but realized John Belushi doesn’t work there anymore.
When I returned to my hotel, I craved a Coca-Cola as my trip came to an end. I sat down at the hotel bar and ordered a glass of Georgia’s finest. My bartender handed me my $6.72 soft drink. So, I finished the Coke and paid the tab.
I quickly realized that buying a Coke in a Chicago hotel is quite different from purchasing one at Luv’s Country Corner in Tyus. It was time to come home.
Besides, they didn’t even offer me any peanuts.
Garrett is a Carrollton resident and businessman. You can read more of his columns at joegarrett1.wordpress.com or contact him at email@example.com