Sunday, January 15, 2012

A Night with Bulls

In the Golden Age of my job, we used to get invited for regular overnight visits in hotels, to concerts, to parties, to baseball games, and soirees at hotels with fabulous prizes.  Unlike most golden ages, we knew we had it good and that things were wonderful.  We liked and appreciated these times with their selections of bacon-infused vodka, vodka-infused caviar, martinis served cold through the mouth of an ice sculpture dragon, and a selection of cheese that would make the head of the most knowledgeable cheese aficionado explode.  There were celebrations of champagne, festivals of destinations, simple get-togethers to experience a stunning view in a Chicago rooftop bar that ended with parting gifts.

These days are mostly long gone, until last night.

Last night, our entire department was invited to a luxury suite at the United Center to see a Bulls game.   I feared it might be way up high under the rafters but it was on the lower level and it was magnificent from beginning to end.  The food was delicious -- hot dogs, quesadillas, and Italian beef for some and salads, antipasti platters, and veggie slices for others, and a dessert cart for all -- and there was plenty of soda, beer, and wine, with a view of the court that was incredible.  Better still, the Bulls won handily over the Toronto Raptors.

No one told me there would be a dirigible.
The most stunning thing about the game is that something is happening from the beginning to the end.  If the Bulls stop for a time out, Benny the Bull comes out and shoots t-shirts into the crowd with a cannon, the Luvabulls dance and shake midcourt, the Swingin' Seniors do a routine, or the Bulls blimp comes down from its mooring in the roof of the United Center to fly around the arena.  There is a half-time show and more shirts shot into the crowd with giant slingshots.  Benny the bull is put on a small, padded platform on casters, giant bowling pins are set up, and Benny is shot across the arena with a giant slingshot with Benny as the bowling ball.  (We all wanted to do that last one.)  Finally, a basketball game doesn't last that long.  If the game starts at 7pm, you are probably out by 9pm, and you will not have been bored because every participant -- entertainer or player -- is giving everything full-out the entire time.

I had the option of driving but I chose to leave my car at home, instead meeting up with my coworkers and taking public transportation.  I got a seat on the bus and had a sweet conversation with a young man who is attending barber college on the southeast side.  His commute from his westside home is at least an hour but he is very happy to do it.  The school is good, the experience is useful and necessary for his license, and he looks forward to one day leaving a legacy of a haircutting business to his seven-year-old daughter.  His only objection was that the bottles of disinfectant he had to carry each day, along with the shears, clippers, and scissors, made for a very heavy thing to tote around.  He knew that was a very minor objection because he knew his life was going to better once he had his license and he had started working.   I personally believe the same.

On the way home, it occurred to me that maybe I do want to get a nice phone with Bus Tracker on it.  My friend and coworker, Michael, gave me bus tracker updates for the Milwaukee bus and a young woman on the train gave me updates for the Belmont bus when we had to leave the train at Logan Square as it had to run express.  Run express?  At 10:30 pm?

There was a drunk passed out on the platform at Logan Square, the motorman saw him and refused to leave him alone like that.  He called CTA dispatch and we had to wait for the guard to come.  "You're gonna run express, aren't you?  You're gonna run express to Jeff Park, right?" I asked.  "Yes, I think that's right, " said the sweet-faced motorman.  "OH MAN!" I blurted.  "I'm just going to the next stop!"  "If it were up to me," said the sweetie, "I would just stop, but it's not up to me."  "OH MAN!  Fine, thanks.  Thanks for being such a sweetie," I said, because he was and he was not displeased with the compliment.  As predicted, the train was instructed to run express and at least 65% of the train got off to get the local and stare at the passed out drunk, which is when the young woman offered up the Bus Tracker information.  "It's coming in three minutes," she said as it got to Belmont, which she and I and all my co-riders easily caught.  It was a good winter night for a walk home from the bus stop:  clear, all things easily made out in the bright snow, and no moisture hanging in the air to chill one to their bones.

FOJ Tim Tebow and the Denvers Broncos were pulverized by Tom Brady and the New England Pats.  Tim should not be saying the game is won because of his savior.  Saying it all came from a higher power dismisses the work of coaches and teammates and the talents that were there when born.  If it all came from deities, then any hard-believing football fan could be out there leading their home teams to victory and that is just never going to happen.  If it all came from deities, then linebackers could still be powering through in their sixties.  Talents have to be fed and nurtured and massaged and treated like the special things they are but even still they can relax or expire.  An Almighty can't stop aging.  An Almighty also can't seem to zip Tebow's lips.  Amen.

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