Wednesday, April 23, 2014

No. 43 – Force Ten

Performer: Rush
Songwriters: Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, Neil Peart, Pye Dubois
Original Release: Hold Your Fire
Year: 1987
Definitive Version: Roll The Bones Tour, 1991.

I found a few versions of this song from the Roll The Bones Tour on the YouTube, but I couldn’t find the same one to which I refer. I think it was from Milwaukee, but I haven’t seen it in a while, and I can’t remember.

I love Force Ten, because I’ve always seen it as a call-to-arms song. You hear the build-up beginning, with Neil’s beat driving the song, and you’re up and rocking. That’s probably because, as I think I mentioned, Force Ten was the first Rush song I ever saw live.

Twenty-four years and 13 shows ago, Rush opened their show at Franklin County Stadium in Columbus—as they did every show on the Presto Tour—with Force Ten. It turns out the first FOUR Rush shows I saw opened with Force Ten—the one in 1990, two in 1991 and one in 1992.

I love the video for this song, which Rush still shows at least a portion of on stage while playing it. My favorite part is the second chorus with the sheep blissfully chomping away in the pasture, blissfully ignorant of the tornado bearing down on them until it’s too late.

But then who doesn’t love a good cartoon? I grew up on Bugs Bunny, Johnny Quest and Rocky and Bullwinkle. I’m old enough to remember when Scooby Doo debuted. Even after I stopped watching Saturday morning TV, I still loved a good cartoon, moving as an adult to Ren & Stimpy, Beavis & Butthead, The Tick, South Park, Spongebob Squarepants and the Fairly Odd Parents.

I can’t remember why, but in 1992, Scott sent me a videotape of Ren & Stimpy cartoons that he collected. (I had my own VCR so I could’ve recorded my own shows.) The tape was marked “Ren & Stimpy & Something of Interest.”

After Ren & Stimpy ended, I was greeted by the image of cartoon Rush landing behind their instruments—the start of the video that marks … Force Ten!? Hey, what’s this?

It was a video bootleg of an entire Rush show from the 1991 tour—the first such bootleg I’d ever seen. I was amazed that a guy was able to sneak a camcorder into a show and get away with taping the entire thing. (Three times he had to lower the camera—keeping the sound going—when, I assume, ushers came by.) Once again, Scott came through with a record-show purchase. It turns out that Ren & Stimpy were just the cartoon before the main attraction, like the movies in the really old days.

Rush, of course, means Canada. It’s amazing for me to write this, but it’s been nearly 16 years since I’ve been to Canada. When I lived in Michigan, I must have crossed the border at least a dozen times for various baseball, hockey and ballet trips.

After I moved to Columbus, it became more inconvenient to take off to the Great White North. Sure, I still went, but it became more sporadic and based around a specific event, such as the Barnes exhibit in Toronto in fall 1994 or Scott’s bachelor party in 1996.

Until further notice, the last time I was in Canada was in June 1998. The occasion was the first regular-season Reds games in Tiger Stadium. I’d made it to the first Reds-Indians game the year before, as I mentioned, (good ol’ No. 77), so I had to be at the first series of Reds game in Tiger Stadium since the 1940 World Series. So did Scott.

Scott also had a request. We were this close to Windsor, could we go up extra early and sneak across the border to the duty free to buy some Canadian beer unavailable in the States? If that means I can bring home a couple of cases of Brador—and it did—by all means. I didn’t have to ask permission, because Debbie liked Brador as much as I did.

And whilst we’re there, how about getting some ribs at Don Cherry’s? I asked for permission on that one, and Debbie readily assented. Neither Scott nor I considered asking whether it would be OK to hit the ballet.

So, Scott and Shani drove up Friday night, stayed with me and Debbie at our house and the four of us drove to Detroit the next day. We took the Ambassador Bridge across the Detroit River—a first for me—and I realized I’d never seen Windsor except at night. It looked pretty much like any other Canadian town: small, clean and not very crowded.

We went to Don Cherry’s first, and it was a little colder than expected, so Debbie requested a stop at a store so she could buy a sweatshirt to wear over her Reds jersey. I can’t remember the name of the store, but it was a Canadian chain that looked more like a Rinks of the 1970s than, say, a 1990s U.S. department store. She instead picked out a green long-sleeve Henley. (I ended up with that shirt after the split and still have it.)

We finished up at the duty free. I grabbed two cases of Brador; Scott also picked up some Molson XXX. Sated with another taste of Canada, we headed back across the bridge to Tiger Stadium.

The game itself was unremarkable except for two things. The first was that in the section over from where we sat in the upper deck, two foul balls came whizzing up at different times and plunked people hard enough that they had to leave. Bring your mitts, people!

The second was that the Tigers were giving away free Detroit Stars caps … to kids 14 and under. Not only did they refuse to give me one when I asked, they refused to give Debbie one when she asked in the fourth inning, even though they still had boxes of them unopened.

What a ridiculous policy. What kid wants a cap of a team he or she has never heard of? I mean, the Negro Leagues were dead long before I was born, let alone some 14-yar-old punk who couldn’t NAME a single Negro Leagues player if you spotted him or her the Satchel. Yet the folks who actually might KNOW ANYTHING about the Negro Leagues, let alone the Stars, were denied caps.

The Tigers should have handed the caps out to everyone in this case, but that’s the Tigers in a nutshell, at least back when old Tiger Stadium was as empty as the surrounding neighborhood. Why bother caring about the few fans who actually came to a game?

But the highlight of the trip already had taken place—the side trip to Windsor. When I was asked the standard three questions at the border—Where are you from? Where are you going? Do you have anything to declare?—I had no idea that that would be the last time I’d ever be asked those.

Of course, now if I want to go to Canada, I have to take my passport. God only knows what questions I’ll have to answer now to cross the border again. Are you freakin’ kidding me?! It’s Canada! We’re really that scared of our shadow that we can’t trust Canada any more … as if I had to ask.

… BYE!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

No. 44 – These Dreams

Performer: Heart
Songwriters: Martin Page, Bernie Taupin
Original Release: Heart
Year: 1985
Definitive Version: The studio version.

And all this time I thought Nancy Wilson wrote this song …

These Dreams is a perfect example of how timing is everything when it comes to music. When this song came out, I dismissed it as innocuous hair-band pop from a band that lost its edge. Sometime in 2002, I was flipping through the TV late at night, and I stumbled upon a show on Bravo where Ann and Nancy Wilson were the featured guests. It was a mix of interviews and performance, and shortly after I tuned in, they played this song.

It was unplugged, with Ann on egg shaker and Nancy on an acoustic guitar that sounded like it was amplified through a buzzsaw. Adhering to the Unplugged doctrine of Pearl Jam, Nirvana and Alice in Chains that a good song is a good song no matter how it’s arranged, the quality of These Dreams shined through in that performance.

Not long after that, I was at Plank’s CafĂ© on Parsons in Columbus with Chuck, Andy and Holly. Holly wanted to load up the juke, so I went with her. I added a few more dollars, and we traded picks. As she punched in Voices Carry by Til Tuesday, I spotted a Heart greatest hits CD.

Remembering the TV show, I punched in These Dreams. That night, as we shot the breeze over beers and Plank’s incomparable pepperoni pizza, the dreamy L.A. sheen of the song washed over me, and I realized that I was wrong about it: It was a truly great song. These Dreams became a regular play at Plank’s thereafter—always after Voices Carry, as I mentioned (good ol’ No. 287).

You know, sometimes, dreams DO come true.

Like most newspapers, The Dispatch had an internal publication to announce hirings and style notes and whatnot. In 2002, about the time my opinion of this song changed, I came across announcements of the new crop of interns.

I fell on a picture of one in particular and couldn’t stop looking. She was stunningly beautiful, with wavelets of brunette hair that cascaded over her shoulders and a come-hither smile. Her name was Shannon, and she was a copy editor. Wow, typically, babes at a newspaper briefly are reporters before they make the inevitable transition to p.r. When I saw Shannon in the flesh for the first time a short time later, I saw the rest of her matched the quality of the picture. Mental note: Go upstairs more often.

That summer, Shannon came out to the Thurman with my crew, so I got to meet her … and find out that she had a boyfriend at Ohio University, where she was about to start her senior year at J school. OK, so it just would be one of those unrequited office lusts. Still, I can look all I want for the rest of the summer.

But then a funny thing happened after that: Shannon came back in the fall. She worked out well on the rim and didn’t mind the commute from Athens (almost an hour and a half), so her internship became open-ended. After that, something better happened: I learned that Shannon broke up with her boyfriend.

Not that I thought I had a chance. I mean, I’m 38 and she’s 21. I’m me and she’s hotter than Hell. But still … she had been to the Thurman before. I had to find a way to get her to start coming regularly, get to know her better and … well, one step at a time here, Casanova.

The first part happened on its own. Now free of any entanglements, Shannon started coming to The Thurman regularly with other copy editors. That meant I began to engage her more, like anyone else in the group, you know.

One night in January 2003, I was on fire. I was in a great mood, and it was just one of those nights where everything you say is insightful, funny or both—and at precisely the right time. As the night progressed, I thought Shannon began to look at me a little differently from before, maybe even flirting a bit with me. OK, Step 2 is complete. Now I just had to get to Step 3.

Someone once said bravery’s easy if you don’t care whether you live or die. You can do anything as long as you have nothing to lose. It just so happened that I fit that profile.

I was leaving, you see. The plan was that after Andy and Holly’s Eighties costume party in January, I’d tell my crew that I was leaving. Then, I’d drop my two week’s notice on my bosses and head to Cleveland—and a new chapter in my life—at the end of February.

Because of that, I could pursue Shannon, come what may. Why not? If something might happen, I could stick around. My remaining time in Columbus was open-ended. If not, I was gone. I had nothing to lose.

I made sure in the days leading up to the party that Shannon would be there. She was looking forward to it. So was I.

The bash was fun, and my Greed costume (good ol’ No. 644) went over well, but I just was biding my time. Shannon had to work that night, so she wouldn’t be there till after midnight. Finally, Shannon showed up, as Punky Brewster. I didn’t have anything for Punky Brewster until that night.

Infused with new blood, the bash went on for another couple hours. I wanted to keep Shannon as close to my side as possible, and it wasn’t that difficult. She stayed close to me on her own. The flirting of the previous night continued, and it seemed as though the opportunity was there where I could ask her out at some point. I just had to get her alone.

That occurred when the party broke up. Shannon parked at Plank’s, and the neighborhood wasn’t the best one for a female to walk around alone, so, being the gentleman that I am—and having an ulterior motive—I asked whether I could walk Shannon to her car. (I parked on the street in the opposite direction.) She accepted.

We left just after Chuck, and as we got to the parking lot, I saw him drive off in his electric blue P.T. Cruiser—the Chuck Wagon—honking at us. Now alone, we talked for awhile, still bubbly from the party, or at least the libations. Shannon started to make toward leaving, opening her car doors to put away her purse and bookbag.

Saying nothing now, Shannon shut the passenger side back door and walked around the back of her car and shut the driver’s side back door. I held the driver’s door open for her to get in. OK, this was my chance. I'd ask her out, and I felt confident of the answer.

What happened next was another moment where time slowed to a crawl. Shannon’s walking toward me, in slow motion, smiling. I’m smiling back, and suddenly, with crystal clear realization, I see that … she’s … not … stopping …

And then she’s in my arms, and she’s kissing me, and I’m kissing her with everything I got, everything I’ve felt about her and everything I’ve ever wanted. And all I’m thinking is … absolute joy.

Shannon had planned to stay with relatives that night, but her plans changed. She stayed with me at my place. It was a great night, but nothing could surpass that perfect moment in the Plank's parking lot when to my delighted surprise, I learned why older men date women nearly half their age.

Because THEY CAN.

Monday, April 21, 2014

No. 45 – Fields of Gold

Performer: Sting
Songwriter: Sting
Original Release: Ten Summoner’s Tales
Year: 1993
Definitive Version: All This Time, 2001.

This song is ranked this high because it’s me and Laurie’s song. That simple. I like it fine anyway, but if we were to break up, this song would go spiraling down the list quickly. That Fields of Gold is about remembering a past love—not a current one—matters not at all.

There comes a time in every new relationship when you decide either to take it to the next level and start thinking long term or you go your separate ways. Laurie and I reached that point in March 2005.

We’d been dating, more or less, for four months and both had used the L word to the other, but … something was missing. Neither of us could put our finger on why, but we both felt it.

After I got back from Cooperstown, I couldn’t wait to see Laurie. It had been five weeks since I’d seen her, but the visit in March didn’t go so well. It wasn’t that we quarreled or anything like that, but I definitely got the sense that Laurie wasn’t really over the uncertainty she first expressed on my second visit, the previous Thanksgiving.

I was ready to move on to the next phase of my life, whatever that would be. I already had done the Clippers thing, and it had been idyllic, but I was committed to doing it again. The second time doing something is never as good as the first, and I was a little miffed that Laurie had asked me to stay in Columbus for another summer and then seemed to be pushing me away. Maybe I should’ve made my break to L.A. when I had the chance.

Well, I can do it just as easily at the end of the summer. I mean there have to be worse things than spending another summer going to the ballpark, right?

That was the backdrop when we agreed to see each other the final weekend of March, which coincided with Opening Day the following Monday. (Opening Day for the Clippers would be in another two weeks.) When I left that Friday, I did so with the expectation that it would be my last trip to Chicago.

I figured Laurie and I would have “the talk” on the day I left. I didn’t really have the money to spend on date weekends in Chicago, and I was tired of driving six hours each way.

As I drove, I geared myself up to call it quits, and I just got more and more angry. It reached the point where I decided I wasn’t even going to stop for flowers, like I always did, in Merrillville. At the last second, however, I talked myself out of that. Look, you’re still a guest in her home. Do the honorable thing, and take her flowers. You’ll be glad you did. So I stopped.

Doing that didn’t make me feel any better, however. The thing getting my goat now was how Laurie wanted “to change things up” by meeting not at her place but at a neighborhood bar. I didn’t want to do that. I was tired from the drive, and I just wanted to relax back at her place when I arrived.

I parked the car, stuffed the bouquet under my jacket and hiked to the bar, which was about a half-mile away from Laurie’s apartment building. My disgust continued to build. It wasn’t enough that I drove six hours to be here; now I have to walk another half-mile. I’m tired and cranky. This weekend was not going to go well at all, and I was already ready for it to be over.

The bar was the Hop Leaf on Clark in Andersonville. It’s a real hipster hangout—the craftier the beer you buy, the cooler you are. Geez, right up my alley. OK, time to drop the attitude and get your game together. I opened the door and saw that it was packed. Every table was full, as were all the seats at the bar. A few folks even stood by the bar like it was a Wrigleyville joint.

No one paid me any attention … except for one person. Toward the back of the room, standing and looking my way was Laurie. She was smiling, not unlike at Jin and Paul’s wedding the previous September (good ol’ No. 120). And everything—my anger, my sense of foreboding—just let go.

I was so happy to see Laurie again. I gave her a hug and a quick kiss, and revealed what I had hidden under my coat—flowers. She loved that.

We stayed for only a single beer and talked about Return of the Native, which was our first book club choice. I think I mentioned this, but we decided to read a book together on our own, so we’d naturally have something to talk about when we were together. By the time we got back to her place, all the misgivings I’d felt after the previous visit were wiped away. We were connecting.

The next day was even better. We started with brunch at a cajun place downtown called Wishbone. Laurie had an audition nearby (thus the choice), so I hung out at Wishbone while she ran her errand. After that, we headed out to the day’s main event on the agenda: The Morton Arboretum.

Even though it was a gray, drizzly Saturday, Laurie still wanted to go. She just wanted to get outside now that it was warm enough to do so, and I was fine with doing whatever she wanted to do. Laurie loved walking in parks, but so did I, and The Arboretum was tailor-made for nature lovers.

As we made the long drive out on the Ike, I pulled out All This Time. Laurie had it among a few CDs in her car, and I’d never heard it before. We were able to listen to the whole thing by the time we rolled into the parking lot at The Arboretum’s welcome center.

The Arboretum is large enough that it’s a good idea to drive to spots around the park and then hike on the paths therein. Laurie wanted to go to the Big Rock. That was in the back—southeast—corner of The Arboretum, so we drove there, stopping at various groves along the way. There wasn’t much to see in the way of flowers or leaves, but I just like being around trees, as does Laurie.

At one point, we hiked through a forest of maples until we arrived at a fir grove, not unlike those at Torch Lake. It was incredible—a grand cathedral of evergreens amid all these deciduous trees that didn’t have their leaves yet. It was mystical and wonderful.

Finally, we reached the starting point to the hike to the Big Rock. It wasn’t more than a couple miles through the woods. After a while, we reached an opening onto a huge field of gray. No plants were growing, and beneath the leaden sky, it appeared as though we stumbled upon Hardy’s Egdon Heath itself. That just made the walk even better.

At the end of “the heath,” we came upon the Big Rock. That’s what it is—this gigantic granite boulder surrounded by trees that apparently farmers a century ago dragged from what had been farmland to the edge of this forest, after glaciers deposited it there thousands of years before. It’s about 6 feet tall and 20 feet long.

As we hiked around it, it started to rain a bit harder, cutting through the canopy above us. I’ll never forget how Laurie looked then, her wool hat pulled down tight, her hands in the pockets of her fleece jacket, rain dripping on her smiling face. I was so in love with her that moment and said as much, and she said it back. Right then and there, I no longer had any doubts about us.

After that moment, I remember almost nothing about the weekend. I couldn’t tell you where we went to dinner that night, although I think it was the first time we went to Dave’s Italian Kitchen at its new(er) location in Evanston. I couldn’t tell you what we did later. I have no recollection of what we did the next day. I remember being in the library downtown, because it was Opening Day. The Reds won on an Adam Dunn home run. I know because Scott called to celebrate with me.

But none of that mattered. What mattered was that Laurie and I agreed: We were going to go forward. This WAS going to happen … us.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

No. 46 – Acrobat

Performer: U2
Songwriters: Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton, Larry Mullen Jr.
Original Release: Achtung Baby
Year: 1991
Definitive Version: None.

So how did this obscure closing track from U2’s best album become my favorite U2 song over Bullet the Blue Sky, which had been my favorite U2 song for 25 years? It could be due to relative newness, but I don’t think so. Acrobat was Jenna’s favorite U2 song back in 1992, which I think I mentioned somewhere, but it was lost to me. I found Acrobat a few years ago, and I liked its frantic build more every time I heard it.

By the time I started this here list, I had Acrobat pegged for top 200, then top 100. Every time I’d run through my song list, I’d move it up just a little bit. I hesitated for a long time before I decided to put Acrobat ahead of Bullet, until I couldn’t deny it. Yes, if I were on a deserted island, and I could have only one U2 song with me, it would be this one.

When Laurie’s 50th birthday arrived in January 2010, I was as excited as she was—maybe more so, because I knew what was coming. All I had to do was spring the surprise.

Part of my surprise was that I would take the day off from work—actually two half-days. I wanted to have the afternoon of Laurie’s birthday to make final preparations and then the following morning to sleep off the celebration. Laurie, of course, had no idea about any of this until after the fact.

I knew we’d be dressed up for the birthday, but I had to have work clothes the next day, and I figured Laurie would want to wear regular clothes home on the L. So I packed a bag for us to take to the Peninsula—necessitating the half-day off on Wednesday, because I wanted us to just go straight to our room.

On the weekend before, I packed a change of clothes for each of us and some toiletries while Laurie was away from home. I took the suitcase to my car and tossed it in the trunk, where she’d never see it and thus suspect what was up.

I tried to pick clothes that she didn’t wear much, so, naturally, on Sunday, Laurie wanted to wear the corduroy pants that I packed the previous day. Have you seen my beige cords? Umm, no … I can’t find them. (Of all the luck.) Well, I’m sure they’ll turn up at some point … (heh heh). It was all very mysterious to Laurie.

Finally the day arrived. I drove from my train station to the L and took our luggage downtown. I checked in at the Peninsula and tipped the receptionist after she gave me a tour of my room—a first.

It wasn’t a suite, but it might as well have been. The bathroom was massive, with separate bathtub, shower and toilet room. A dressing area was outside the bathroom and then the actual room itself had a gigantic king bed, a sofa and executive desk.

I unpacked and hung up the clothes, put the Mikimoto pearl necklace in the room safe and called the desk to order a bottle of champagne to have chilling in the room for when we’d get back from dinner, about 11 by my reckoning. Then, there was nothing to do but wait.

It was only about 3 when I was done setting up things. I didn’t want to go home, because I usually got home about 6, so an earlier arrival would arouse suspicion. (This was when Laurie was between jobs.) So I decided to hang out in my room. I set up my computer on the desk and did some work, making a couple phone calls and editing a story.

As I sat there, in my incredible room in the best hotel in Chicago, I thought about all the arrangements I’d made for that night and smiled. So THIS is what it feels like to be rich. Rich people do this stuff—the Peninsula, Charlie Trotter’s, nice jewelry—all the time, because they can. I could do it only once, but it felt great.

I got home about the usual time, and Laurie and I cleaned up for our big night. Laurie knew we were going out to dinner and to someplace nice—I’d dropped big bucks on birthday dinners before—but she knew nothing else.

Of course, I wanted the big reaction when each new surprise was revealed. Part of the fun is the oh-my-GOD freakout factor. The first one would be the limo. For years, when I’m out walking around with others, I like to joke when I see a limo that “there’s my ride” instead of a Honda Civic. Now, I couldn’t wait to walk out the door of our apartment, see the limo and say “there’s our ride … No, really.  THERE’S our ride.”

Unfortunately, that part was spoiled when the limo driver called to announce his arrival. When I booked the limo, I specifically said I didn’t want the driver to say anything about where we were going, just give an address. But the call, just as we walked out the door—I had been on the lookout for him, so we’d be outside when he arrived—kind of wrecked the moment, because when Laurie saw the limo, she knew something was up.

It still went over pretty well anyway. I’d never been in a limo before, and it was pretty cool. It was stocked with wine and beer, and we had a beer as we sat beneath the purple LEDs and took in the view of our city from the Lake Shore.

Laurie had no idea where we were going—even when we pulled up—for dinner. That was good, because the limo driver came down the street the wrong way and, to pull up on the same side of the street as the restaurant, did a U-turn in the middle of the street. Think: Austin Powers trying to turn around that cart for a visual.

Finally, we were out and going up the steps. The only signage at Trotter’s was the logo on the door. There were no signs outside, so it wasn’t until a black-tie-and-tails doorman opened the door and welcomed us to Trotter’s that she had any idea. Laurie was genuinely pleased, but I still didn’t get the reaction I wanted, because, well, she thought she had to keep herself under control given the circumstances, as she told me later.

Dinner was fantastic in every way—the food, the wine, the service, the ambience. If you never got a chance to experience Trotter’s, you missed something. Given the chef’s untimely death a year ago, I’m all the more glad to have done it once. That said, it wasn’t the best meal I ever had. (That honor goes to another upscale restaurant in Chicago: Arun’s. Go there. You won’t be sorry.)

We did the carnivorous prix fixe menu of nine courses and the wine flight. I had an inkling of what the bill would be at the end of the meal, but four years later, it remains the highest of any dinner tab I’ve ever seen. For comparison’s sake: I recently took Laurie, Casey and his girlfriend, Claire, to dinner at the aforementioned Arun’s, and the tab for the four of us was below what the amount was for Trotter’s that night.

The limo driver, whom I called about a half-hour before we finished, was back in front, waiting for us when we left. As we climbed into the back, he called through the window from the driver’s seat, “OK, now we go to the Peninsula, yeah?” ARRGH!!

So, yes, we went to the Peninsula. Fortunately, because Laurie and I had been a few times to the tony hotel bar, she didn’t think anything more of it than a nightcap until I turned the opposite direction from the bar out of the elevator. “Let’s go this way …”

When we got to our room on the seventh floor, it was an anticlimax but no less a nice surprise for Laurie. I did get more of a reaction when she saw the room itself, particularly with a chilled champagne bottle and two flutes—and some courtesy chocolates—on the table next to the sofa. She particularly loved when I opened the coat closet. Hey, look! How did your beige corduroy pants get in here?!

We were like kids after I opened the bottle of champagne, kneeling on the sofa so we could look out the window at the Water Tower, the park below and the Hancock Tower rising over everything. When we sat back down on the sofa, I announced that I had one surprise left.

I went to the safe and pulled out her present. This time, I got the reaction I had been seeking all day, and Laurie showed me her appreciation by putting the pearls on and taking everything else off. I didn’t even mind that we left the curtains open.

The next morning, we had to be up and out by a certain time, because, well, I still had to get to work. Besides, Laurie had a lunch date with a friend. Unfortunately, I didn’t pack a sensible pair of shoes for her to wear, so she’d have to wear her heels on the L. A chance to do a little shoe shopping wasn’t a bad thing.

Before we parted, Laurie still in her pearls, we had the world’s most expensive breakfast at the Peninsula—$120. I’d never approached a C note for breakfast before, but, well, I’d gone this far. Why not go just a little further?

So, yeah, when she went back to the cast of her play and reported why I hadn’t spent much on her actual birthday (good ol’ No. 228), everyone agreed that I more than made up for it. For the record, I dropped five grand on Laurie’s 50th birthday all told, and I’d do it all over again. It was worth every penny.