Monday, October 1, 2012

Irish Bars and Stripper Poles

Dear L.A.B. RATS,

I hope you will pardon me recent absence, but Klecko has been out on the road.

Last week I was off to the Windy City to join in on a Baker's Think Tank.

Sometimes these types of events are totally lame.

And other times they can be kinda fun.

This turned out to be one of the better gigs I've attended.

My host had me on the hook the moment my flight touched down at Middway.

Waiting for yours truly......... a stretch limo.

Now I know I have taken pride in flaunting my peasant roots, but c'mon.....just avoiding having to ride the "L" is a blessing, but to kick back...stretch your legs and have some cat named Jeeves schlep you up to your accommodations is priceless.

I stayed at the Hotel Felix, and everything in my room was white.

Not just white, but sparkle white.

And hanging from the door of my bathroom was a Hotel Felix bathrobe.

I've never had a hotel bathrobe made available to me.

As I unpacked my gear, I stared out the window and saw the Sports Authority store, it used to be the Nike warehouse in the 90's.

13 years ago, I took Sue McGleno and 8 year old Tydus to Chicago to catch our first ever Cubs game and my wife put me in charge of packing for me and the kid.

Well, it so happened that I forgot to pack socks, and me and Tydus had to walk into that store to buy some.

13 years doesn't seem like all that long ago, but I remember being worried that this additional purchase might cut into our travel budget.

Klecko didn't have much money in those days.

So now there I am sitting in my hotel room and unpacking and missing my son.

The following day he would be turning 21.

This made me feel blessed and sad at the same time.

All the highlights in Klecko's life have his family members in it, and now that he's getting older.....he's kinda turning into a pathetic - sensitive old man.

I think it's 2:30 in the afternoon now, and I don't really know many of the peeps who are at this dealio, and eventhough I'm only going to be gone from home for 36 hours....sadness begins to creep in my heart.

So now I'm getting irritated with what a whiner I've become, so that's when I decided to hit the streets and let Chicago have their Klecko reunion.

The first thing I noticed strolling down the avenue was Chicago people were different than my peeps in the Twin Cities.

When the good people of Chicago walk the streets, they walk with purpose. Each and everyone of them have someplace important to go to.

I began to drift hoping that an art gallery or band of super models would collide with my path, but after about 1/2 hour....I gave up hope and slid into an Irish bar.

God invented Irish bars to give us a sense of home no matter what part of the planet we are on.

I mean let's face it.....everyone of them is identical. They all serve Guinness, have soccer games on TV and have pictures of JFK stapled to battered panneling.

Now I felt at home, but the difference with Irish bars in Chicago is...their bartenders are actually dudes from Ireland. They have that bad a** accent.

In Minnesota, an Irish bartender is often the Norwegian dude from the suburbs.

When the Think Tank was over and it was time to leave the site, a shuttle parked in front of the college.

The second I popped my head inside......I would lie if I said I wasn't shocked.

Flashing lights swirled throughout the cabin. They were bouncing off a disco ball. There must of been a dozen speakers blaring "Boy Band" music and at the back of the shuttle was a large screen that viewed music videos.

And if that wasn't the middle of the aisle was a strippers pole.

Me and my fellow commuters, all of which were dudes, dudes built like offensive linemen or sumo wrestlers sat without saying a word.

I'm pretty sure I was the first weary traveler to speak when I uttered.........

"If anybody breaths a word of this....they are going to die!"

We all laughed really hard and wondered how this ride selection came to be.

So after the pimp shuttle dropped me off at Middway, I ended up sitting in a bar with a guy from Panera Breads.

He was from Boston, so while the 2 of us ate dinner, we discussed bread and Red Sox baseball.

I was grateful for his company.

The guy was bright, and I learned a thing or two from him.

When I got home that night, it felt really good to be home. Sue McGleno was sleeping, but my 4 mutts all joined me on the couch to watch ESPN.

It felt like I had been gone a year.

Around 3 a.m. I woke up to let my mutts out to pee, and while they were doing this, I checked my Droid for Facebook messages.

Just minutes prior, little baby Tydus posted a rant from what appeared to be the tail end of his night on the town, dedicated to his 21st birthday.

It said........

"For those of you I left messages in Russian on your voicemail last night, I'm not sorry in the least."

I can't tell you how hard I smiled.

While spooning Deedle-Deedle the chihuahua, I realized my son was as big of a loser as me...LOL!

It made me miss him more than ever.