…in Mich-i-gaaaaan. Hmm. That song doesn’t really work without that extra syllable, does it? Ah, but who cares? A long drive home from the undisclosed location last night — 10 hours at freeway speeds, except in the Chicago area, which hardly ever runs at freeway speed. Not that everyone isn’t trying. Aggressiveness was a feature of the big-shouldered city even before the invention of the motorcar; the high-end SUV — yes, I’m talking about you, BMW drivers — only gives it a new, fun outlet. I’m talking weavers, tailgaters, bumper-to-bumper 70 MPH expressways.
The best compliment I ever received on my driving came from John, when we were traveling from Fort Wayne to Milwaukee for Deb’s wedding. We had time, so we got off I-90 after the Skyway and took Lake Shore Drive through the city, to enjoy the sights, but of course the driver doesn’t get to do this, as you must play DeathRace 2000 to get through not only unscathed but un-f*cked-with; show any sign of weakness, and soon you’ll be pulled off on the shoulder weeping into your hands. (Something like this happened to Bob Greene the last time he drove a car; I remember reading this somewhere.) Witnessing my transition from happy Hoosier to snarling urbanite, John said, “It’s just…seamless! We passed some invisible boundary, and you became an urban driver!”
You better believe it. Now let me in this lane!
I found the western edge of Chicago driving around the Cook County line on I-90. On one side, calm and courtesy and slower traffic on the right. On the other, every man for himself. I actually refused to let a driver into my lane because he had a Bush/Cheney sticker on his Honda, shocking even myself, but what can I say? I’d been listening to war news for a large portion of the trip. If I can’t make the president himself pay, his supporters will have to do.
So now I’m home. What a difference 10 days makes. The leaves have gone from a delicate, pale green to a deep, takin-care-of-bizness green. The lawn needs mowing. And today the dog goes for his summer haircut — photos t.k., as we say in the newspaper biz.
As for me, I’m off for a bike ride along the river and a chance to listen to the MP3s I ripped out of Alex’s record collection. You think you know a person, and then you find Grand Funk Railroad’s Greatest Hits in his CDs and realize: Facets upon facets — aren’t people wonderful?