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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Night Out in Chicago (with Uncle Joe and the Girls)

With Uncle Joe there is always laughter!
Last month I drove out to Chicago to attend the ACBSP Annual Conference.  ACBSP has been an important association for me over the past sixteen years, and I have missed only two (both because I was in Romania) of their late-June annual conferences since attending my first, in Kansas City, in 1998. I drove out this year in my Hyundai Santa Fe, rather than riding out on Rocinante, partly because it was hot and sticky that week, so I wanted the air conditioning, but mostly because I had arranged to stay at the home of a friend who can no longer drive.  Joseph McCloskey is 92.  Joe was my high school English teacher in my sophomore and senior years at New Trier, and he is still a great personal friend. He is also legally blind due to macular degeneration, and cannot see well enough to drive a car.  Since I'd be staying with him for three nights, and wanted to take him out to a dinner a time or two, I took the car.                 
With Cristina G. at a Starbucks on N. Clark Street
As it turned out, two Romanian friends (both from Baia Mare) would also be in Chicago that weekend, a fact that led to two auspicious events.  The first was my reunion with the angelic Cristina, who was charitable to me in 2008, in Cluj, when I was suffering severely from arthritis in my left hip.  Walking from the UBB Faculty of Letters, where my car had parking privileges, to my apartment in Piaţa Mihai Viteazul, was an exercise in agony. Standing hurt as much, if not more, than walking. Along Strada Horea in that stretch there was no park bench, no bus stop, no place at all for the public to sit down. One day, unable to face the final quarter-mile of that kilometer walk, I went into the (now defunct) storefront travel agency, Marsel Travel.  Sitting there, at her desk with a customer chair beside it, was the kind Cristina.  I told her that I was having pain in my hip, and asked if I might sit for a few minutes. Cristina welcomed me in perfect English, and we have been friends ever since.  Fate had taken Cristina to Chicago, and Facebook had brought us together for a coffee that day.
Emily, me, Cristina, Joe, and Diana
Also from Facebook, I had learned that Cristina's and my mutual friend Diana Stephania (an attendee at the Fantastickest Birthday Party), also from Baia Mare, was going to be in Chicago, so we called her, and arranged a dinner party, to include Uncle Joe (which is what Mr. McCloskey had asked us, his former students, to call him.)

Though the exterior of the Middle Eastern restaurant where we met was unimposing, and though Joe entered it with misgivings, the ladies spoiled us both, and made the occasion altogether delightful.
Cristina and Joe
     We were joined at the table by the girl-friend of the Diana's Chicago host, another native of Baia Mare.  That young lady's name is Emily. The food at Babylon proved delicious, the wine that I bought and brought in to this BYOB establishment lubricated our conversation, and a good time was had, by all!                                                          

Perhaps the truest comment on the evening was this one,  posted by my German-Romanian friend from Suceava, on the group picture that I put in Facebook:

Waltraudi Morosan: all the time the mans are ok if around have young girls...ha ha ha..i like to be young.
Emily and Joe

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