It has begun. Not the Costco kind of Christmas displays before Halloween but the full on yuletide yoyos. And I was Griswald.
Since I had to drag the kids with me to pick up work downtown, I decided to treat them to the Chicago Toy and Game Fair. I prefaced it by saying we would only be buying Christmas gifts for others. But I wanted to buy every thing there.
The first exhibitor was freakin’ Legoland. I didn’t have Legos as a kid, or if I did I acutely knew the true Lego kids, so my kids have a shit ton of Legos. But they play with them every day. Five minutes into the Expo I had to drag away my begging son to the next exhibitor. By the end he’d forgotten all about the overpriced Danish brick.
We lost a half hour playing with citiblocs, or hipster Lincoln logs, then we had a cookie, played Bug Out, rode cars, mugged with Darth Vader, hopped on a pogo stick, watched a shark fly to the ceiling, then mini helicopters, scribbled on Doodle Rolls, played catch with a hand trampoline and finally had lunch at 4pm. I blew $50 and that was with full restraint. Could’ve spent $500.
Then the kids talked me into Happy Feet Two at the IMAX. And yes, even dancing singing preachy penguins can be cool on 60 three-dimensional feet.
Now I must tell you about parking, for all of the fatherhood wonders there is nothing like parking that can make or break an adventure. When we arrived the garage was full, and cycling around the pier, I found a side road, a quarter block really, east of the new park between Grand and Ohio and just west and under LSD. There were maybe ten cars on either side; the west side of this quarter block, by the park, had a pay box, but the side opposite had nothing except the green curtain of the construction site. No pay box. I linger on the details because I wish that you would park there, even if you have no business there, just to park for free in the city, in an area where $3/hr is a steal, and garages cost you $26, park in this 10-spot Xanadu, sit at the end of the block if you want and watch all the people fighting for parking and racing against tickets and emptying their wallets in the garages; go out on a Saturday or Sunday when there’s no construction, go out and park, my friend, park and revel for free, park for free in this City of Fines and tell me you don’t believe in a god.
My blessedness ended abruptly.
Tail lights stacked red like an orgy of depraved elves. Even a fire engine wasn’t moving. I cut over; all west bound lanes were closed. Pedestrians were out like occupiers. The lit the tree. What could be stupider than a shut-down-the-street-tree-lighting ceremony? A fucking parade. There, after eight hours at Navy Pier, I was caught in premature Christmas ejaculate on the Malfeasant Mile, saying words the kids said I shouldn’t be saying.
Took a half-hour to circle back around to Columbus to get over the river and out of Ho-Ho-Hell when, what to my wondering eyes should appear? Fireworks. The kids put down their windows, told me to stop, gawker walkers spilled onto the street, and we crawled over the bridge. But now this was very cool: the police had blocked off the middle of the bridge, presumably so the barge launching the fireworks between the Columbus and Michigan bridges wouldn’t shoot anybody’s eye out. We got a drive-by firework show, at eye-level. A moment of splendor: the Grinch’s heart grew three sizes that day. The spectacle ended as soon as we crossed the bridge. Then we were outta there. Enough for one season.