The Illegibility of This World
This weekend, between the World Series and Halloween, I’m alone. Ellen’s in Buffalo for our daughter Annie’s thirty-sixth birthday. Friday, I drove her to Midway, then went downtown to my one-room office on Adams, checked the markets, bought a Kansas City municipal, faxed a letter to our insurance agent, sent copies of our living wills to our granddaughter—old enough now to be in on it; who knows, she might be the one to unplug the tubes—and walked five blocks to the Pub Club for the best hour of the day, lunch at the Round Table on the eleventh floor looking over the silver river and the blue bulge of the State of Illinois Building.
I’ve been a club member 35 years. It’s more important than ever now that I’ve retired. I used to ridicule my Uncle Bert’s New York life, a shuttle between the City Athletic Club and his rooms at the Hotel Warwick across the street. I thought that 25-yard shuttle the icon of his narrowness and ignorance. Now my Chicago life resembles his—I arrive early enough—11:45—to ensure a seat at the Round Table. (It’s gauche to turn up earlier, but if you come as late as 11:50, the table’s full and you take your chances with less congenial company.) The table doesn’t have the best view, but I’ve had enough scenic views in my life. I hunger for the day’s stories, for jokes, for the latest aches, grandkids, market tips, slants on the news.
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