Thursday, February 26, 2009

Baseball, Hamburgers and Politics

Last weekend I spoke to a friend and fellow Cubs fan. I hadn’t spoken to him since last October. As always, the first 20 minutes of our conversation centered on the Cubs and Baseball in general. Once the 2009 season begins we will be on the phone nearly once a week.

Then we moved on to health concerns, particularly mine. This lasted for about 3 minutes; he has no major health concerns (except for high cholesterol – he takes Lipitor) and mine are Status Quo.

Finally we moved on to meatier topics. Our new President, the Bailouts, the Economy and Hamburgers.

This part of the conversation began with Hamburgers. I asked him if he remembered the name of a certain restaurant in Melrose Park that served the best burgers that I have ever eaten. When I lived Berwyn in the early 1980’s I would take my girlfriend there at least once every ten days.

I began to describe the Restaurant and within seconds he said “Come Back Inn.” How could I have forgotten? I then asked him if he been there lately and he told me that it was closed several years ago. I said “What? – Why?”

He then asked me if I remember why he moved from Cicero (Cook County) to Downers Grove (DuPage County) in 1990. He had lived on the southwest side of Cicero for 38 years (from birth until 2 months before his 39th Birthday). The house that he bought in Cicero was just two blocks away from his parents’ house. So I said “To be closer to work (the Company that he work for had moved to Schaumburg the year before)?” He laughed and said “Guess again.”

My second guess was lower taxes. Wrong again! “OK I give up.”

He answered “The demographics (in Cicero) were rapidly changing, the crime rate was swiftly rising and the Democrats were outnumbering the Republicans (Cicero and neighboring Berwyn had always been a stronghold for the Cook County Republican Party). The same thing happened in Melrose Park, but at least the criminals there spoke a version of the English language; when they asked you for your wallet, you understood what they were saying and didn’t get knifed or shot.” Now it was my turn to laugh.

Next, I said “I guess that you’re not happy with the outcome of the last election.” He then said “What do you mean, I voted for Obama.” For a few seconds I was thunderstruck. All that I could say was wow. After the shock wore off, I asked him why?

He gave me the same reasons that other Chicago suburban area lifelong Republicans had given me.

For that one moment, they put aside the bigotry that they were taught (as I was) as children. They voted with their minds rather than their hearts. I hope that President Obama proves their decisions to be right.

The Beach Bum

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