Betty Duffy

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Just a Perfect Day...

Kids tucked away at my parents, my husband and I took off for South Bend on Friday morning, coffee in hand, Red Barchetta on the radio, two books on my lap, five more in my bag. Though my husband makes furniture by night, by day he works on DNA sequencers, and had to do a quick call in one of the labs at Notre Dame, for a client with debilitating (for others) halitosis. And I got to hang around campus while he worked.

There are probably a million things to do on the campus, but it was cold, and the Church was warm, so I went to Mass and Adoration at the Basilica. I had a few irrational morning devils to wrestle anyway--little boogers that might cause me to say something like, "you work too much," when (after this call) my husband's putting it all aside for a weekend in Chicago with me.

"Do you feel holier now?" he asked, when we met up for lunch.

I wish I did, but that's never really how I feel when I've been to Mass. "I feel loved," because I was thinking about how marriage is such a bonus in life. The stained glass windows around the monstrance showed all of these nuns in habit on their knees before Jesus who is pointing to his Sacred Heart.

We ate at Bruno's pizza buffet. Stuffed face. Gluttony. Two men at the bar shared three bottles of wine at noon, and talked to Bruno Jr. about future plans for the restaurant, and how investors respected his father, but him, less so. Italians talk loud, which is so much more entertaining than the flat screen TVs that have gone up on the walls since the last time we ate at Bruno's.

Onwards to the Windy City, where we arrived downtown just in time for (FREE) Chamber Music at the Symphony Center: Brahms Trio, Shostakovich Quartet, Prokofiev Quintet. Noticing that the audience at a Chamber Music performance is not unlike the worshippers at a Daily Mass: older people, innocents and eccentrics. And this woman: tall, middle-aged, frizzy hair in a haphazard updo, a long scarf over her sweater, skirt and clogs. She's all over the cultural and spiritual venues. She's a prodigious mother of grown children or perhaps a professor with no children, and her wizened eyes peer over the rims of her rhinestone encrusted reading glasses, content, but not terribly impressed by any of it, because, Dear, she has seen it all before.

Shop Michigan Ave on walk back to Hotel. Don't buy anything because it's insanely expensive, and causes existential angst to see so many shoppers with so much money buying all that stuff: Mother/daughter pilgrimages to American Girl Store to pick out a doll that looks "just like me;" the Orwellian operation of choosing the perfect doll combo--brown eyes, short blond hair, freckles (your perfect American Girl is number 32). And then there are the women, walking for miles on stilletto heels with their faces so icy and determined. What are they looking for? Oh, but it's fun to walk among them for a day on streets illuminated by strings of Christmas lights, handle the merchandise, leather bags and Waterford crystal, and wonder the whereabouts of the thrift stores where all these good shoes and purses go to die and live again.

Dinner at Tai Restaurant. Stuffed face. Gluttony. At nine p.m. a man and a woman from Indiana drank several bottles of a beer--because it's only money, right? And you don't come to Chicago every weekend, right? And somebody at the restaurant has to talk loudly enough to entertain the other diners. Might as well be us.

At 10:00 we jumped in a cab to Oldtown for an eleven o'clock show at Second City. I've always harbored a secret fantasy to be a.) a lounge singer or b.) a comedienne, and I imagine that sketch comedy combines both careers nicely. Second City is the alma mater of the Belushi brothers, Steve Carell, Tina Fey, and many more. In a parallel life, I moved to Chicago after college and enjoyed a pleasant run at Second City before being recruited by Saturday Night Live. In real life, I finally show up at the Second City stage, a prodigious mother in a long scarf over a long sweater, and I watch with wizened eyes, but am not terribly impressed by any of it, because, Dear, I've seen funnier stuff on Simcha's blog.

Anyway, an entire weekend followed this perfect day--but I'm getting tired of writing this post. If anyone wants permission to go away for the weekend and spend oodles of money right before Christmas when money's tight and everyone's busy and no one really wants to watch your kids [but they'll do it if you act desperate enough (thanks Mom!)]--I will grant you the affirmation you need to get the heck out of dodge. Go. Just go.

I believe these are seven quick takes!


Peter and Nancy said...

I was wondering how you got your mom to watch your kids!! I'll have to hone my technique. After about 4 degrees of seperation, I feel like we've brushed elbows -- my two best friends from college work for CSO, and I'm sure they know who Ms. Rhinestones is.

Kimberlie said...

Oh how I long for just two days away with my husband! I almost got it too. My parents were going to watch my kids this thanksgiving weekend for two whole days. Luxury! That is until my brother went all "hospitality and courtesy" on us and invited two of his soccer buddies to spend Thanksgiving with him since they are from France and Brazil and a) had no where to go, and b) had never had a Thanksgiving dinner. Now there is no room at the inn so to speak and our weekend has been reduced to a long day out. Sigh.

Happy for you though. ;)

Erin said...

Just had to break out of my lurkdom (I'm nursing a new - and my first - born so I have one hand free to scroll but can't type... hence the lurkdom) to say: I came into the Catholic Church in that Basilica! My freshman year at ND. Have you been towards the back to see their impressive relic collection? That church is magical when the late afternoon sun filters through the stained glass windows... sigh... need to go back sometime!

BettyDuffy said...

Are you in Chicago Nancy? Blogging does make the world seem a little smaller.

Keep trying Kimberlie! And once you get the green light, don't think twice about it, just go. Everything will be fine.

Erin, Congrats on the new baby! There are so many good memories made up at Sacred Heart. My sister and her husband met and courted there--I think he proposed to her at the Grotto.

BettyDuffy said...

Nevermind, Nancy, You're India to APPLETON! Duh.

Cheryl said...

Next time you're in Chicago, you should check out the Monastery of the Holy Cross - wonderful, meditative liturgy and always (almost) an intelligent, thoughtful homily. They also have a fantastic B&B (