Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Westward, Ho! (part the second)

Fun as it was to party at the Pranitis' homestead, the Halls knew it was time to get a move on.  Delivering a final birthday hug to Mr. Pranitis, Mrs. P. loaded all their paraphernalia into her little roundabout and headed for the Arlington Park station.  "Call when you get in safely!" she waved, but knowing how Mrs. Hall felt about being in the city, she knew that wouldn't be for quite a while.
 Arlington Heights has much to be proud of for a community as a whole, and not the least of which should be that when they admonish the local inhabitants of the illegality of alcohol on their trains, they immediately assume that the beverage of choice would be a martini.  "Now, that is a progressive neighborhood," remarked Mr. Hall.  They settled in for the trip and caught up with the latest news headlines in the paper.
 The towns flew by in a blur and before they knew it, they were in the lower Loop.  A very happy Mrs. Hall had noted that the Amtrak they had selected to convey them home was not scheduled to depart until much later that evening.  "Let's check our bags at the Metropolitan lounge and hit the streets!"
  They managed to get about a half a mile down Canal Street before Mrs. Hall softly asked if Mr. Hall was hungry too. He looked at her incredulously; they had spent the better part of the last two days doing nothing but eating. But just to the right of them, impossible to miss, was the neon glow of Boston Blackie's, buzzing with activity and beckoning to Mrs. Hall's digestive juices.  "Oh, all right." he said, " But only if we can sit at the bar so I can follow ESPN! "  They turned in, and although the hostess offered to seat them in 30 minutes or so, a spot miraculously opened at the bar and they slid in.  A couple of reubens later, Mrs. Hall was chomping at the bit to go. "But there's only four minutes of the game to go and W. Virginia's ahead of the Hoyas!"  "Well, then we don't have to watch.  Com'n, we're burning daylight!" The weather was unseasonably pleasant, so they toddled east to Michigan Ave. and decided to work their way north from there. The weekend had flown by and it was Wednesday already, but that did not stop the God of Hilarity from striking; the one place Mrs. Hall had hoped to visit was the Museum of Broadcast Communications, and they were completely devastated to find out it was only open Thursdays through Saturdays.  The Chicago Cultural Center had a marvelous collection called "Morbid Curiosity", but Mr. Hall shuddered and remarked the last thing he wanted to think about was work.  Over the river, they noticed the new addition to Pioneer Plaza.  Mrs. Hall giggled and waved Mr. Hall on; it was unlikely she could have quelled his interest anyway.  No matter how maligned the Marilyn statue may be in the city, it must certainly be one of the most photographed. Scores of onlookers ( or is it underlookers?) gathered at its base.  And indeed, so would have Mr. Hall, if he hadn't caught sight of the television screen in the Tribune Tower window.
"Georgetown won?  In overtime?  And you made me leave the bar??" Mrs. Hall discreetly moved on along the magnificent mile.
 The shopping was delightful and Mrs. Hall nearly forgot the time entirely until Mr. H. inquired how much further north was the Hancock. A slow smile crossed Mrs. Hall's face, and she quickened her pace.  They reached the lounge on the 96th floor just in time for happy hour.  "Here's to the best view in the city!" he said, and though she assumed he was referring to the lovely waterfront, Mr. Hall seemed to only have eyes for her.

 The picker upper was much appreciated; a little giddy effervescence is the best way to take on the high end boutiques of North Michigan. Mrs. Hall stood poised to purchase several items, (and would have readily put the pinch to her wallet,) but for the quick thinking by Mr. Hall, reminding her she really wouldn't want to be weighted down dragging them around town. They slipped onto the subway and made quick break back to the lower loop.  At the corner of State and Adams, stood the dark empty shadow where the Court coffee shop used to stand.  Mr. Hall could see Mrs. H. on the verge of falling prey to a nostalgic funk.  He whispered to her, "You know, we still have time to make a short stop at the venerable old Berghoff's," and she brightened immediately.  "Too many favorite places, too little time." Mrs. Hall managed to muffle out, through the kraut on her mini thuringer sandwich.
The wind was picking up and with the construction over the canal, many of the  detours took them through some rather fierce wind tunnels along the way.  But the views could not have been more beautiful, and when they finally settled back into their bunks, they could barely lift their heads to watch the train pull out of the station.  "Wake me when we roll back into Syracuse," mumbled Mrs. Hall, but Mr. Hall was already asleep.

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