#822: 7 Lies I Intend to Tell at Tonight’s High School Reunion

July 28th, 2017 § permalink

As mentioned earlier this week, I will be attending my 20th high school reunion this evening.

In advance of what is sure to be a night of memories, revelry and conversations about which teachers were gay, I have prepared seven lies to tell my former classmates.

These lies are not intended to impress the Class of ’97 — what a sad slog that would be, to care about a virtual stranger’s judgment of your life because you sat near each other in fifth-period Econ — but rather for the sheer love of lying to people I kinda sorta know.

Let us begin. » Read the rest of this entry «

#821: The Man in Gray

July 26th, 2017 § permalink

He stepped out of the black SUV by the train station, and I was pretty sure.

His back was to me, though, so I couldn’t be certain. The small man in the gray suit and the two large men in black were consulting over an iPad, so I couldn’t catch a face. The man in gray and one of the men in black broke off to enter the station, leaving the other bodyguard, the SUV and me behind.

I was a step behind the man through the turnstile — I got through, the sensor didn’t beep his Ventra so he did that embarrassing thing where you clonk into the bar. The momentary clonk let me catch up enough to see his face. » Read the rest of this entry «

#810: Guilt Trip

June 30th, 2017 § permalink

I’m on a train now, heading south.

I’m scribbling into a little red notebook to transcribe later at work hoping the boss doesn’t notice. My destination isn’t far into the South Side. 1600 South, a toe past Roosevelt, on a section of Michigan that’s nice and built up but on a mile no one would call magnificent.

It’s for work, but this trip is my biggest dip into an entire half of the city in months. This four-blocks-past-Roosevelt jaunt is another reminder in my constant humiliation: My Chicago blog sucks at covering the South Side. » Read the rest of this entry «

#797: Just Keep Walking

May 31st, 2017 § permalink

I wanted to say this to the woman crying on the train, I really did.

I wanted to say something akin to “Don’t worry, kid. It’s OK.”

But is that trying to be a white knight in a situation where I should just let a young woman be? Is that not trusting her with her own emotional imperative? Is that kindness or sexism? I wouldn’t tell a woman walking down the street to smile. Why should I tell a woman on her morning commute it’s OK to cry?

These were my thoughts. I’m not using this as a way to mock feminism or modern gender views I’ve learned from Twitter. I just wanted to know if being kind would hurt the crying woman. » Read the rest of this entry «

#768: Rules for Not Being a Jackass Tourist (and Why Ferris Bueller is Crap)

March 24th, 2017 § permalink

The days are longer. Atypical languages like Italian are heard on trains. Selfie sticks are extended at an exacerbated rate on downtown bridges and the City Winery location on the Riverwalk has clear, plastic geodesic domes for rent so people can sip wine at sunset without freezing their jacquard knit popovers off.

The tourists are coming. » Read the rest of this entry «

#767: On Rooftops

March 22nd, 2017 § permalink

I wonder if I would think about rooftops so much if I didn’t live in Chicago. » Read the rest of this entry «

#760: On This Day in History

March 6th, 2017 § permalink

On this day in history, a woman with red earmuffs walked a French bulldog.

On this day in history, a different woman with a crisp short haircut and six-inch stiletto boots stumbled for a second on the pavement by a nail salon.

On this day in history, Bayer patented aspirin, the Supreme Court issued a decision in the Dred Scott case, Rob Reiner was born and an old man in a Union Pacific cap and Metra jacket flipped through a calendar of the muscle cars of his youth as he rode the Brown Line to work. » Read the rest of this entry «

#744: Unnoticed

January 27th, 2017 § permalink

Yes, I peer at phones.

I peer and prod, sometimes under the pretext of whatever form of journalism I imagine this site to be, sometimes just because I get bored on the train but reading makes me motion-sick.

So I peer over shoulders, watch people swipe through Pinterests of shoes or scroll past images of friends both real and Facebook. Or, in the case of the shortish woman with the dark curly hair and the tam-style winter cap, the text exchange she was having with an unnamed someone.

She was angry and sniffly, vexed look on her face as she shot perplexed, suspicious and nasty looks around the car.

I knew who she and the unnamed were texting about. » Read the rest of this entry «

#741: Isaac and Ishmael

January 20th, 2017 § permalink

It couldn’t have been the big blue purse.

It was large, made of a plastic that apes leather, and bright. Crayon-bright blue on the Green Line.

It couldn’t have been the gleaming white sneakers either, the ones bedazzled with the line of rhinestones that curled into two little hearts as it snaked across her metatarsus. She tapped one foot gently, almost nodding it as the train pulled out of the former manufacturing district that’s now the spot for the hottest of hot restaurants.

It couldn’t have been the blue jeans with the six metal buttons pulling each cuff into the perfect skinny cut either.

No, it must have been the piece of cloth on her head that makes her hated. » Read the rest of this entry «

#728: January 24, 1975 10:55 am

December 21st, 2016 § permalink

The triple beep every CTA rider knows did its business.

“Beep beep beep. Your attention please…”

It was a medical emergency this time, one that slowed us every few dozen feet it seemed. Southbound on the Red Line, in the underground subway section where the world vanishes around you.

Luckily, we’re girded for these bits of dark. We people-watch, check our machines, read our books or just stare up at the train ads and wonder if “YOU ARE NOT ALONE” is a good thing to have on a sign reaching out to paranoid schizophrenics for a research study.

My eyes flitted around, looked at faces, ads, tried to read off the screens of others’ digital devices, when I saw the heart. » Read the rest of this entry «

Where Am I?

You are currently browsing the Transit category at 1,001 Chicago Afternoons.

  • Get Stories by Email

  • Chicago Corruption Walking Tour

    Join the email list for tour dates and info.