Category Archives: Chicagoland

Possibilities and Chili Fries

I quickly put my newfound powers of possibility to good use. At Hollywood Grill with Adam and Moriarty one day, I felt a certain craving. I said, “What I’d really like are nachos, but not with chips, with french fries. I had some at ESPN Zone for a work party at the end of a huge project, and they were the best thing I’ve ever eaten. Crumbled bacon, sour cream, melted cheese, green onion, piles of olives, all seasoned and spiced. That would really hit the spot.”

The waitress came out. “What can I get ya, hon?”

“Look, I know it’s on the menu, but I have to ask. Would it be possible to get the nachos, but without the nachos, and with fries instead?”

She looked at me for a long moment.

I tried again. “I mean, all the nacho toppings placed on top of a big plate of fries.”

“I’ll see what I can do.”

Adam clapped me on the back. “You really talked to her! You convinced her of the possibility, and she went for it! That’s how it’s done. Wrong on, dude.”

“Wrong on? What are you talking about?” asked Morty.

“It’s sort of an inside joke. Scott and I realized how much we both like to be right, so we decided to embrace being wrong to get over the hangup. See, there’s this racket about-”

“Wait, is this Landmark stuff? I don’t want to hear it.”

“All right. The point is, we say wrong on instead of right on, but it’s just a joke.”

A few minutes later, the food came out. Indeed I’d gotten my fries with nacho toppings. Sad, Hollywood Grill toppings, which meant cheap greasy cheese and a lump of ground beef along with a couple of wilted jalapenos on a plate of undercooked fries. No olives, no green onions, most definitely no crumbled bacon or sour cream, and I knew well enough that the fries wouldn’t be crinkle cut, not the way I really liked them, not the way ESPN Zone did them. I got exactly what I asked for, but not at all what I wanted.

When the bill came, I saw the waitress also solved the problem of figuring out the proper price by just charging me for both a plate of nachos and a plate of fries, no discount for the missing chips. Fair, I guess, but disappointing. Even worse, Adam kept talking about it for weeks, unwittingly reminding me about the bad outcome.

Bear Country

Bear Country

By the ember’s dying light,

Three campers had a beastly fright.

From the darkened murk out there

Came cries of “awk!” and “hss!” and “bear!”

Langston went forth to look about;

The others heard just a muffled shout,

Then silence—

Amy strode swiftly the other way

Hoping for escape that day

She made it out to the nearest stream,

But splashing turned to piercing scream

Then silence—

Scott stayed huddled in his tent

Praying that no harm was meant

But he, too, faced the fangs and rippers

The shriek of rending cloth, screech of zippers

And, eventually, silence—

Horseshoes in Aspen

Now I confess. I had played horseshoes exactly once, one week before, at my office summer picnic. And even then I’d been taught by someone who seemed to be making it up as he went. So with a complete lack of care I just made up whatever seemed fun. I knew about ringers, and the cliche about being close, and I may or may not have been fudging when I had special rules for leaners, danglers, sliders, burrowing bees, hellsmount footpads, and one special combination I liked to call a “reverse Mormon.”

All the same it was a good time, both our spirits brightened, and when Langston finally beat me 24a to seventy-blue, we agreed neither of us had had such fun since the Great Wumpus Rumpus of ought-four.