Sport Seats

Dearest Rachel –

It’s a well-established fact that dreams, by their very nature, needn’t be expected to make sense. But some dreams are just that much weirder than others. Some have bizarre psychedelic imagery, with swirls of colors more at home in a bad acid trip than restful slumber. Others just construct strange scenarios, with characters that resemble nobody I would know, leaving me wondering where my mind came up with them.

This morning’s character in question turned out to be an inanimate object; a chair, more specifically. If I had to describe it, it was something of a plush version of a barber chair. It looked comfortable enough to practically fall asleep in while you were getting your chin scraped (which, for all I know, might very well have been the point).

And for whatever reason, we were considering buying it. Yes, I said ‘we’; you were there, and actually seemed more interested in getting it than I was (which seems a little out of character, but then, you often wanted what you wanted, and who was I to challenge you on such matters? Especially when we could afford it, and we now have room for it in several different places). The previous owner – at least, I think that’s what he was; in any event, he was trying to sell it to us – pointed out that it was an excellent chair in which to watch sporting events, presumably on the television? He seemed to be implying that it was actually taken from a stadium (which again, seems improbable, but then, dreams). Which one, he didn’t specify, but presumably from one of those luxury sky boxes. It was clearly not one of the stadium seats that we as members of the hoi polloi would have occupied on those rare occasions when we went to watch a sporting event in person.

Now, of course, you weren’t particularly taken by the idea of watching a sporting event while sitting in it. In fact, as you were trying to persuade me to buy it (which again, seems kind of silly, as most of our purchasing power comes from your family’s side. Even to our very last days together, you were trying to acclimatize me to use ‘our’ in describing that money rather than ‘your.’ The point being, I always saw you as having discretion over spending, because to me, it was ‘your’ money to spend. All I would’ve been concerned with, is where to put the darn thing), you pointed out that it could be used for a very different sort of ‘sporting’ event, as you climbed onto it, straddling its seat to demonstrate, and giving me one of those looks.

You were always pretty persuasive when it came to getting what you wanted.

The only thing stopping you this time was the fact that the dream burst rather abruptly at that point. Rather a pity, if you ask me. Still, even with the place cleaned out as it is, I’m not entirely sure where it would’ve fit in in this house. But I’ll give you credit, you certainly sold me on that chair.

On the subject of sports seating and stadiums, I don’t suppose I’ve filled you in on the most recent development in the neighborhood. Not that it matters to you – or even that it would’ve mattered to you necessarily were you still around – but it seems that the local professional football club has decided to purchase the park barely half a mile north of us for the site of a future gridiron venue. Yes, if things work out, our very own neighborhood could turn into a football-based equivalent to Wrigleyville.

Take that however you will.

You know perfectly well that, despite living very nearly my entire life in the shadow of the park (from which our village derives the emblem in the midst of its seal), I’ve had a rather… let’s say, ambivalent relationship with its existence. You’ve heard me tell the story of being on vacation as a kid, complaining about it in a restaurant about how “we have seventy-five thousand honest people in our town, and all we’re known for is that darn horse track!” to which a passing waiter stopped in his tracks to respond to me.

“Did you say… ‘horse track’?”

“Yeah, I’m from Arlington Heights. What of it?”

“You didn’t hear about it? The place burned down last night.”

And the crazy thing is, I was gobsmacked not by the fact that the place burned down the very day before I was complaining about it (which, I want to point out, I don’t do very often. When traveling, I don’t even generally refer to myself as being from Arlington Heights – since most people don’t recognize that location – I simply say I’m from Chicago, which has its own recognition problems. The years when Michael Jordan was ascendant were nice, but before that, it was all Al Capone and the Mafia, and since then, it’s been mostly ‘Chi-raq’. Mine is a city that can’t catch a break when it comes to the popular imagination), but that this waiter in a hole-in-the-wall restaurant in a resort town in northwoods Wisconsin was aware of it before I was. Sure, I was on vacation, and not reading the news, but still

The place rebuilt, of course. In high school, I marched with the band at their grand reopening. Still later, you and I went there a couple of times as part of my company‘s summer outing. Didn’t know what to do with ourselves, and pretty much wasted the free chits we’d been given to bet with.

For a long time, we would go there on Independence Day to watch the fireworks – including one of Daniel’s first days out in public, when we found ourselves needing to protect his carrier, as the wind that evening was blowing toward the stands, causing the cooling ash of the exploded fireworks to fall onto us like rain – until they started charging admission. After that, we would just walk over to the courthouse across the street, set up our lawn chairs, and watch from there. The view from the stands was always pretty good, especially because you could see in the distance the displays from a number of other towns as well. One amusing aside; I’m using a photograph you must have taken of me at one of those July 4th displays as my main profile picture on the dating app. Now there’s an outcome neither of us saw coming.

But this year, the owners of the place, Churchhill Downs (yes, that Churchhill Downs – it’s all a corporate franchise thing these days), decided they were losing too much money with it, and that this year would be the final season. So they started looking for buyers for the facility. Wouldn’t you know, the McCaskey family have had their eyes on the place going back to when Papa George Halas was running the team. I hadn’t realized that, and I assumed that the Bears were simply using the park as leverage to get some better deal from the city. Evidently, I was wrong, and they’re perfectly serious about moving here.

Don’t know what that’s gonna do to us around here, and of course, you couldn’t have cared less if you were still here. But I thought, as long as you were trying to talk me into a chair to watch the game (among other things, wink wink), I’d let you know about that little tidbit as well. Like with so much else on this little mud bowl you left behind, you can take it for whatever you think it’s worth.

Take care, honey; love you.

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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