Saturday, July 23, 2011

City of the Big Shoulders

Sixteen days after my arrival in the town that Carl Sandburg dubbed the "City of the Big Shoulders" I am still fascinated; still excited.

It's July and Chicagoans are just adorable. The blistering, humid heat makes everybody on foot soak through their shirts in less than a block, though it is only 8 a.m.

Most of us lug computer bags and backpacks as we walk the streets of Chicago. Most of us wear loose cotton shirts and pants to work. A lot of men wear shorts. You see very few suits, sport coats and ties. That's smart. After just sixteen days even I know those suit-and-tie guys are business travelers trying to earn their freedom, comfort and confidence.

Mid-Westerners are smart and practical. We dress as comfortably as we wish while still looking respectable; neat, clean and simple.

My wild West-Coast Hawaiian prints have no place here except in a box.

Staggering through beautiful streets in the steamy heat we mostly keep our heads down so the perspiration doesn't drip onto our shirts and blouses. Occasionally we look up, nod, and give a pained but encouraging smile to our brothers and sisters who pass us on the sidewalk. We're all in this together.

We have many destinations but one common goal: to just get where we're going.

Chicagoans don't complain.

The City of the Big Shoulders doesn't suffer weather, it wears it with a shrug, a wink and a wry grin.

Everybody here  loves to warn me about the coming brutal winter. They tease and bait me. I think they're trying to goad the guy from Southern California into whining about the heat and humidity; they want me to worry about snowfall and the coming icy Arctic wind

I'm having no part of it. I have big shoulders.

I'm a Chicagoan.

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