Eat healthy, die anyway


Even the sign points to White Castle
I’m hungry. But I’m on the way to the doctor today to get an echo something or other to kind of test on my heart when I realize that I’m hungry because I forgot to eat earlier. I pull into a White Castle because it’s the only “restaurant” near the doctor’s office. Well, since I’m going to the doctor anyway, why not have a few sliders? The reason the doctor recommended the test was because I went for a physical and he recommended an EKG in his office. That was quite painless until he read the results–you know, that chart that just has a bunch of squiggly lines. He spotted an “event” in those lines. He said it could be nothing, but I should take another test just to be sure I was healthy. I wondered if my diet contributed to my “event.” I only worry about these things whenever I go to the doctor. However, I haven’t worried about this for years because I couldn’t remember the last time I went to the doctor. I know I stopped going when my family physician died of a heart attack.

Anyway, a man–I didn’t even know his official title–did an ultrasound of my heart in the doctor’s office. He wanted to know why I was having this test done and I told him about the “event” that could be nothing at all. Well, he told me that a cardiologist would look at the pictures of my heart and then determine if I had any problems. This ultrasound guy gave me his unofficial opinion; he didn’t see anything wrong with my heart. So I worried for nothing about taking the test. I probably took it for nothing, but I felt comforted by the fact that I have health insurance. Suddenly, I didn’t feel so guilty about eating those sliders.

But I feel fine!

Bob Bloom Roofing


The south side of Chicago

So I was at the gas station at 55th and Ashland this morning filling up my tank. The first thing I thought of was how this used to be my neighborhood on the outer boundary of Back of the Yards. I used to wait on this corner for the bus whenever we went to the Museum of Science and Industry. Sometimes we would eat at the Burger King on the corner there. I used to deliver newspapers in that neighborhood. Then, the neighborhood changed and it became the “bad side of town,” but when I hear that I have to laugh because it was also called that when I lived there in the 1960s. So I’m getting gas there this morning and I’m getting dirty looks from people who think I shouldn’t be on their turf. I just smile at them, knowing they don’t know that I feel comfortable right there on their turf because it’s still my turf.

The second thing I thought of was Bob Bloom Roofing. You see, I was pumping gas when I looked up at the roof in front of me, when I wasn’t watching my back. I saw the black tar that repaired a once leaky roof. When I owned my house at 1018 W. 32nd Place, my roof started leaking. At first, I was in denial because I couldn’t afford to get a new roof. I talked to my brother Jerry the fireman because it is a well-known fact that all firemen  have a side job because of their work schedule that gives them forty-eight hours off after working twenty-four. In fact, my brother is a also painter on the side who will paint apartments, houses, and just about anything else on his days off. In college, he majored in art. So he’s overqualified to paint your house, just in case you’re interested.

Anyway, I told my brother about my leaky roof. Yes, it continued leaking despite my denial. Jerry recommended Bob Bloom Roofing, a fireman who worked with him. Off-duty firemen seem to gravitate toward jobs that involve ladders. Jerry gave me his phone number and Jerry promised to talk to him before I called him. This is how Chicagoans take care of each other. They recommend a contractor who is trustworthy and then they’ll call him up and tell him to take of his brother, or whomever.

I never actually met Bob Bloom Roofing until years later. To this day, I still think of him as Bob Bloom Roofing because whenever we spoke on the phone, he always, but I mean always, called himself Bob Bloom Roofing. He was always advertising his company. And that’s why I still remember him, I mean his business, all these years later. Anyway, I called him up and explained my roof leak to him. We couldn’t find a mutually convenient time to meet in person at my house because I was busy every day and evening for the next two weeks, but I really needed the leak fixed. Bob Bloom Roofing suggested that he could go check out my roof on the way home from the firehouse. He left me a message saying that it would be an easy repair and he would only charge me about $150. I agreed and within three days my roof was repaired. I mailed the check to Bob Bloom Roofing’s home and we were both happy with our business transaction.

A couple of years later, another section of my roof leaked and we went through the same process to repair my roof. I never actually met Bob Bloom Roofing until one day my brother had a party at his house and he invited a lot of his firemen friends. As I wandered through the party, I would introduce myself to the firemen, who are not exactly known for being polite guests. Eventually, I introduced myself to one fireman who responded, “Hi, Bob Bloom Roofing!”

You gotta love Chi-Town!

Health Club


I exercised in Spanish!

When I was in Mexico, my cousin Mara invited me to go with her to her health club. I really didn’t expect to go to Mexico to workout, so I didn’t have any workout clothes with me. Mara said that I could just wear some casual clothes. So off we went to the health club. Well, I didn’t expect them to let me right in, but I didn’t expect them to ask me a bunch of personal questions regarding my health. I had to jump through some bureaucratic hoops. I had to answer questions to a woman who entered all my answers into a computer. Amazingly, the process only took a few minutes. Just when I thought she was done and I would enter the health club with Mara, the woman told me I would have to take a physical. And they just happened to have a physician in the building. Well, the doctor himself took my vital signs. I was surprised he didn’t have a nurse in the office the way they have in Chicago. He spoke Spanish with a foreign accent, so Mara asked him where he was from and he said Haiti. When he examined me, he told me that I should lose some weight, despite the fact that he had a similar build as mine. And he told me to eat healthier, but he said he said I was healthy enough to work out. I worked out, wondering the whole time if I was actually healthy enough to work out. Of course, I was curious because I had not seen a doctor in the last ten years. But of course I was healthy enough not to keel over or the doctor wouldn’t have let me in the health club. The doctor was there to prevent civil lawsuits. So I pushed myself as hard as possible at the health club. And, as you can see, I lived to tell the tale.

I thought working out was supposed to make you feel better.

Construction paper


My son's homework.

When I was in grade school, we used construction paper for just about every art project. I’m reminded about this because my son Adam was working on a school project and was coloring white sheets of paper with a purple marker. If he would have asked me for advice, I would have brought out an aging pad of construction paper that I’ve had for years (mainly because my sons never think of using construction paper) in order to speed up his project. Could it be that because he’s been trained to do many homework assignments on the computer he no longer thinks of using his dear old dad’s techniques? On the plus side, he has become very independent and he is intelligent enough not to need my help for his homework very often.

When I was in grade school at Holy Cross, art class was a very special time of day. If a student misbehaved, he or she was deprived of participating in art class and would have to sit in the corner with his head placed down in his or her folded arms for the duration of art class. And take it from me, that was no fun at all.

Okay, okay, I was deprived of art class one time or two or three, but I was framed! Each and every time! When we had art class, we always–I do mean always always–started with one sheet of construction paper. Usually, it was manila-colored, but for those special art projects we could get several sheets of construction paper–each a different color!

I remember one class, Sister Francine told us told us to hold the sheet of construction paper–I can still smell it!–vertically. Meaning standing up and not lying down. She even showed us the sheet of construction paper in the upright position from the front of the classroom and then she walked between every aisle between all the desks to ensure that every third grader in the class had the construction paper in the correct position. I was certain that the health and wellbeing of every American citizen depended upon our completing our art project successfully because Sister Francine’s face reddened every time she observed a student with the construction paper in the wrong position.

Finally, every student had the paper vertically in front of them on the desk, including Claudia who sat next to me. Sister Francine then instructed us to fold the paper vertically, from left to right. Not from right to left, but left to right. She repeated several times, in such a stern voice that I thought I would crack from the tension that was building up in the classroom. But lo, I correctly folded my sheet of construction paper in half vertically, as instructed, and I even passed Sister Francine’s eagle-eyed inspection. I was spared her wrath for the moment. However, she turned to Claudia and Sister Francine blew a gasket! Claudia had folded her construction paper–not vertically–but horizontally! Widthwise instead of lengthwise! Much to Claudia’s embarrassment, Sister Francine led her up to the front of the classroom to show her construction paper folded horizontally. She was the only student who could not–no would dare to defy a direct order from Sister Francine–follow instructions.

I don’t even remember what art project we did that day, but I do remember how badly Claudia felt. Now that I think of it, why did I like art class so much?