The last time we hung out with Lloyd in Chicago — or anywhere — was in 1976. You do the math. Trust me, it’s been way too long.
Me as a Crate and Barrel catalog cover girl.
Although I think both of us still look fabulous, we sure look wiser! But it’s an old comfy shoe friendship, and apart from catching up on a hundred and two years of our collective lives, it was soon back to our mutual interests now that we’re all grown up. They would be: food, politics, music, architecture, travel, the crossword puzzle , books and book selling — the profession Lloyd gave most of his life to, and man, does he have great author stories — and animals.
That’s why this post is called Animal Style, although In and Out Burger doesn’t do business in Illinois. To blog the last packed four and a half days sequentially could be a medium length novel. I’ve decided to take on the visit thematically, and begin with our animal friends.
Lloyd’s a cat person and our cats assumed their usual roles. Willow resembles the late Princess Margaret — ready for company, society and lavish compliments, but nolo mi tangere. Ajax did his usual informant in the Federal Witness Protection Program and disappeared for three days. Feline business as usual chez nous.
But the overarching animal narrative was that of Tiny the missing chihuahua:https://cheapcheer.wordpress.com/2010/04/24/on-the-street-where-i-live-tiny/. When I sent off my food column to The Village Chronicles, Lou suggested I pitch the Tiny story. Because the theme of the post was more slanted to the Zen of the “Ville than just another sad lost pet article I did, and the editors loved it. It hit the mailboxes of everyone in Warrenville on Friday. We hit the Frank Lloyd House and Studio in Oak Park,and lunched at Mickey’s, a quintessential Chicago-style hot dog/gyros/Italian Beef/burger/rib/steak sandwich joint on Harlem Avenue. When we got home I walked the few houses down to Tiny’s house and knocked on the door. A stranger answered and the news wasn’t good — no sign of Tiny.
On Saturday we lurked in DuPage County, with heavy emphasis on Naperville because Lloyd, the fount of all things book selling, wanted to visit our star local independent, Anderson’s. I think it was corned beef and cabbage for dinner.
Now it gets blurry fast. Lloyd and I hit Chicago on Sunday — more later — and we returned home to find this on the coffee table:
Lou explained that Tiny’s diminutive owners had brought the candle as a thank you gift for the lady who’d put Tiny’s story in the paper. Lloyd was starting to get the ‘Ville vibe now and there weren’t too many dry eyes in da house.
On Sunday we were up betimes because we had a date for choral Evensong at St. James Cathedral — and the whole Millennium Park, Michigan Ave. experience — more tk. I checked my email and clasped my bosom. Tom from Village Chronicles had emailed me on Friday with the news that he’d received a call from a man a town away, in Batavia, who had Tiny on his sofa. What kind of journalist am I, not to faithfully check her emails? Two Tiny days had elapsed! I printed out the email with Tiny’s savior’s phone number, ran down the street and knocked on the door. The boy who had spotted my printer in the window rubbed his eyes and checked out the printout. Lloyd and I were finishing coffee on a lovely May morning when a handsome man who looked about fifteen, appeared on the doorstep with the three kids. Um, I’m no journalist — I assumed Abel was the Dad. I should have done some fact-checking, because this absurdly youthful man, Renato, was in fact the father and Abel is his cousin. Renato told Lloyd and me that they’d set up a time to recover Tiny. I gave Lloyd my ever more polished Loop architectural tour and we were sitting with a drink at home yesterday night when a joyous explosion erupted on my front porch. Nine beautiful kids and Tiny, on a very short leash.
Lloyd has the good pictures of the event, but he’s on the Empire Builder right now and I can’t post them until Thursday. But when the kids ran home, his hand fluttered over his heart in the international symbol for Overcome. In the ‘Ville. Thank you newspapers and the Village Chronicles. This story emerged on the internet but it’s a free local paper that made it happen.
This morning I was loading Lloyd’s luggage into the trunk of my 2001 Focus and looked down the street. Beautiful children and Tiny ran to us and acclaimed me. Lloyd said: “You’ve got new friends for life.”
Tonight I walked down the four houses and asked the little girls if I could snap one photo for my blog until Lloyd gets home and emails better ones. Here it is: