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Take Two
by Job Conger

(introduction)
For months President Bush fed us lies
Served by pious, righteous cronies sleek and wise.
Some of us didn’t care to dine on their siren soup du fear
.Now digestion time is over, and the truth is odiferously clear . . . .

He’ll sing and dance like few Yale frat brats can
When W’s feces of lies hit the fan.
Though he sold us a war, second guessing is a drag.
It’s amazing what some folks take home when you wrap it in a flag.

He has stained our proud Stars and Stripes true
With new colors of brown, black and blue.
Those who saw through his blow,
We ain’t real Americans no mo
As W’s feces of lies hit the fan.

Front yard PATRIOT signs are the rage
Like armband fashions of an earlier age.
The feared weapons are as real as “the emperor’s new clothes.”
The facts should be clear to all who breathe through their nose.

The Congress feasted on pork barrel pie.
The “sounds of silence” was their battle cry.
They stayed cool and well-fed
While soldiers brave died and bled
And W’s feces of lies hit the fan.

Now he tells us “Saddam had to go!”
“Nobody ever really liked that guy, you know.”
Though the U.N. tried hard, they could not find a trace,
So the “compassionate conservative” threw war in their face.

So, as we hold noses tightly and pray,
It’s time to send CHIEF INSPECTOR O.J.
For gasless, germless blue skies
Can’t match a PRO’s alibis
As W’s feces of lies hit the fan. 

—– written June 26, 2003
================

The song was my “mantra” during W’s ‘rain of you know what,” but even songs, like wars, don’t seem to move folks the way they used to. I will play/sing Page Two in public for the first time in years at Springfield Poets and Writers Group’s Open Mike Night, March 20 at Robbie’s Restaurant on Adams Street — Springfield’s South Side of the Square along with my songs “Watching the Tide Go Out” and the song I wrote about my early days of treatment for my separated kneecap repair at Memorial Medical Center. I’ll also recite a favorite Vachel Lindsay poem as always. There will be talent and awesomeness a plenty, so please attend if you can. The fun begins at 6 pm. I hope to see you there.

live long . . . . . and proper.

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I awakened about 9:30 after one of the best night’s sleep I’ve had in months. The location was Peter and Byung’s office-turned-guestroom on the ground floor of their condo, a scant 15 feet from the guest bathroom with the night light above the vanity. I had said my goodnights to my hosts and their friend Chris, a delightful woman whom I thought might go out with me if two of us lived in the same city. She was so charming that before I toddled down to the guest room with a final nightcap of all the Sauterne wine I could pour into a medium-size glass without likely spilling any, I gave her a copy of my book Confluence of Legends. It was third of three I parted with during my visit, the second of two I gave away.  I was so at peace with the world that I almost forgot about the pair of shorts (Fruit of the Loom if you must know) I had packed for the excursion. I did, in fact, think of them. I considered the circumstance. I hadn’t perspired much over the last day. Everything in the shortsall area was commendably clean and un-offensively scented. “What the hell?” I said to myself. “I’ll save these shorts for Monday.” And I did

!Peter had invited me to come upstairs to their living room and read when I was ready to meet the day, explaining he is a “night person (as is Byung) and would not likely join me until pretty well into the morning. I was fine with that. While waiting, I finished the Mozart biography I had started the day before on the train. It was a small book. Peter and I were munching sliced apple and sipping coffee by 11.
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Then it was time to roll. I can’t remember the names of the main roads traveled but I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that if Peter had not taken a liking to me when I recited at Vachel Lindsay’s house in October 2010, I would have passed to dust having never shared this vista on a Sunday morning in Chicago. I consider Peter to be the A.J. Foyt, the Mario Andretti, the Sterling Moss of high-speed driving!
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The second picture here has been slightly retouched.

First stop on the day’s itinerary was the Chicago Zoo.
PP1216-5This part of the zoo is a small farm which is there to educate children of Chicago who will never see a farm: denizens of the city deep, who will never travel to rural USA far removed from a four-lane highway. I know this because Peter is a Chicago historian and tour guide for hire among other laudable attributes.
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We parked in a free parking curbside area near the lakefront. “On a clear day, you can see Indiana from here,” he explained. I was happy to see the lake; mad a memo to self to see more of it after the weather warms.  The zoo was closed for the winter, but the walking paths we well engaged by many on foot.

From this board walk, visitors in summer rent paddleboats to putter around a large, sheltered pond close to Lake Michigan. This area is part of Chicago’s Lincoln Park.
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One way to be certain you’re in Lincoln Park is this statue of Ulysses Grant on horseback close to the lake. At Chicago’s Grant Park, they boast a fine statue of Lincoln so visitors will know they’re in Grant park. This is a long telephoto pic, and I would looooooove to spend an entire morning or afternoon roaming this territory and getting close to Grant’s statue and beachfront.
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Another way to know you’re in Lincoln Park is this statue of Benjamin Franklin. That’s Peter posing for a picture he probably never thought would appear in this blog. The morning was chillier than I looks here. We were walking into a moderate headwind. It was good to know that the return to the car would be helped by  a tailwind.

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Mr Franklin was in good spirits. Must have been his hardy Boston lifestyle!

We were heading for the Chicago History Museum, a major attraction which should be on every visitor’s itinerary. It’s across the street from a major evangelist’s church, a beautiful brown stone complex with a sanctuary that seats about 3,000, Peter explained. He knew that the Sunday service had concluded shortly before we arrived on the museum side of the street, and he was curious about the place. So was I. There were still many attendees exiting the building after socializing, and the atmosphere was incredibly warm. Not a frown to be seen. We had no trouble entering that famous sanctuary and taking a few pictures. No one approached us and asked who we were or the purpose for our visit. Everyone was focused on their reason for being there; not ours.
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I could have spent an hour photographing the sanctuary.

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PP1216-13This is the view of the Chicago History Museum from the front of the church.
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Photography inside the museum is a challenge because of  the contrasting bright lights and moderate overall ambient light. Human eyes adjust to it better than cameras, but the displays are a real “tour de force” not only of Chicago, but of the culture of the USA as well.

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The woman is reading a very interesting, nutshell chronology of the land and the city. I knew the instant I saw her that I wanted to photograph her, but she was moving to the right faster than I hoped.  I neither know nor care what the door is on the right, and I know it’s a visual “ersatz element in this picture, but I did not want to interrupt her to ask her to “pose” for a picture more to the left.  I would have lost the authentic moment, and I do like how she stood at this fleeting half a second as she read the text on the wall.
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My true “photo harvest” from the museum came as we approached the stairway to the ground floor.
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The second picture is from the same position at the top as the first, but I stood closer to the edge to reveal the poster.

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Looking back up in the direction from whence we came.
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A final savoring of line and form.
PP1216-20Visible to the right of the fountain (closed for the winter) is the Chicago History Museum. Across the street is Ellie’s where we ate a fantastic lunch. It was terrific.

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A last look at a memorable museum.

I had a train to catch (that would depart Union Station) at 5:15, and we wanted to be arrived at the station with plenty of time to spare. En route back to Peter’s car — in fact almost across the street from it in Lincoln Park — we encountered this steel sculpture, another amazing presence . . .

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A pose of the wayfaring folkslinger (photo by host Peter). With Peter’s talent at the wheel, the trip to the station was a breeze.
PP1216-25Live long . . . . . . . . . . and proper.

Coming next on Return to Chi’ (or) I Didn’t Even Change My Shorts,  I have a picture perfect return to my home town as a sobering story unfolds before my ears. Look for it Sunday.

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PP1215-4Visiting the Windy City the second time by Amtrak is a lot easier the second time than the first.  I knew that wherever I exited the station at street level, if I turned right or left and kept the station on only my right or left side, walking around the block, eventually I’d see the familiar CVS Pharmacy across the street at one of four corners I knew I would encounter,  and that was the corner where I would wait for Peter. The night before, I had explained in a brief phone call that I had shaved off my mustache, but I had kept the rest of the manicured full beard.  It was conceivable that without that advisory, he would have driven by that guy with the brown leather jacket that looked like the one I wore last year when I visited . . . and the same guitar . . . and the same dress slacks . . . and not stopped because I was missing a vital element above my upper lip. Happily for MOI, he recognized me. The time was about 10:40. The rain was light.

One of the first subject to come up after stowing the luggage and instrument in the trunk was lunch.  Peter assumed I had eaten on the train. He wasn’t hungry and he didn’t expect to be hungry for a while. It was 10:40 in the morning and I hadn’t touched food since 7 last night. I wasn’t famished-hungry, but my body was telling me it was time for more. Even so,  I can miss a few meals, and not have to buy new pants. Besides, I had not come for the cuisine, I had come to see the city. Soon we were barreling down a major avenue in the direction of a silent auction fundraiser at a visual arts gallery/studio which had been a beautiful large home in ages past in a healthy-looking neighborhood in the general vicinity of University of Chicago.  PP1215-5We arrived about 11:10 when they were taping yellow silent auction forms to a wonderful variety of creations already placed. More was on the way. Peter knew Laura, the director of the event, had taken a course at this house. The arts organization that had rented it for years had lost their lease, and the auction would raise funds to help the move to a new location if they could find a new location. I felt I was visiting a funeral home before the “guest of honor” was wheeled in and the chairs had been arranged. The event  — the silent auction — would begin at 1 pm, but we were welcome to look around, even go upstairs. There was a lot to see: within and from within. Former fireplaces were focal points in every room on the ground floor. I would have loved to have seen the large portrait that must have hung above the piano room pictured here. What was his/her name? Occupation? What had happened to the painting? It’s obvious in the picture that one honkin’-big painting had presided over that room possibly in the early 40s but not likely much later.
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We strolled past the piano room into the room where the wine would be shared. Everything was very much “in process.” I believe the hanging fabric was an artistic creation, but I didn’t get close enough to tell for sure.
PP1215-10I paused to take this picture before we drifted up the stairway to the second floor . . .
PP1215-9  In addition to the gift shop at that level were rooms which had been studios, maybe living quarters for artists. I could imagine being inspired by the natural light  and perhaps sitting for a portrait in the room pictured left.
PP1215-6The view from a window in the “gift shop” revealed a Unitarian church just down the street we would soon  walk by it on the way to building that might have served as home to King Arthur.
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On the way back to the stairs, I noticed the Soft Room with the door slightly opened. It was a fascinating concept. The “no shoes” warning was an excellent touch. If we had visited on a sunny morning with a little more time, I would have taken off my shoes and gone inside.

Peter told me about the place we were walking to, but I didn’t have my digital tape recorder, and I wasn’t taking notes.  It was much more than a meeting hall on the University of Chicago campus. The few pictures I took inside will say only what they can say . . .
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This was the central gathering  area. Forward here took us to a lecture hall if I remember right. To the right was a hall to other rooms and to the left was a stairway going up.

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View from a landing halfway up to the second floor shows a tastefully garlanded hand railing. I imagined this space in the 30s before plastic event registration tables and folding chairs contributed a touch of garage sale ambiance to the otherwise Harvard-esque tableau. It was time to go.

PP1215-13  The Smart Museum of Art, also on campus was next.  It was the highlight of the day.  I could have spent two hours here solo with a camera, pen and paper for taking notes.  The incredibly spacious lobby — big as Texas — featured a coffee shop with baked snacks, table and chairs. I seldom eat when I can avoid eating, so I had coffee, and it was excellent.
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This is the view of the lobby. A welcoming greeter is behind the desk on the right, refreshments behind him and tales and chairs in the center area. The large mural is a black & white composite photograph from Czechoslovakia (if I recall correctly)  created on a  fabric hanging that came together from four separate pieces, each about as big as Vermont. The photo above shows natural color photograph.  The mural is very interesting; lots going on  For the fun of it I created a colorless rendition from my original.
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This is the ‘grey scale edition.

By fully saturating the picture with my computer’s photo software, I “hyper-colorised it.
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I gave the same treatment to a closeup of one of my favorite parts of the wonderful mural.  PP1215-28 PP1215-29                                                                 The following photos are shared for the most part with no information about the art. I was floored, knocked out, by the variety and quality of what was displayed . . .

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PP1215-17 PP1215-18           PP1215-23                                                                                   PP1215-21                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               PP1215-24                                                             Here, my friend and generous host Peter reads about the table and chairs designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.   It was approaching 2:15: time for lunch.
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Here’s the view of the opposite side of the enclosed yard as we departed for the excellent walk back to the car. There were people on the sidewalks walking places. No one got in the way. Faces were focused forward . . .                                                                                                   PP1215-31

       a closer view

Peter recommended a place called Steak & Egger. I was in no mood for breakfast, but I was game for anything but a filet of sole with the name Floursheim embossed into it.

Located in a former very high traffic location during the industrial age, the territory around was still busy after becoming home to many newcomers of Mexican and Spanish origin. Even so, the menu was in English. It reminded me of a Steak & Shake with a long counter overlooking the major part of the cooking area and surrounded by a wide “U” of tables and chairs. There was a lot of convivial patter and chatter, smiles everywhere and surprisingly busy for mid-afternoon. I was absolutely delighted with Peter’s taste in restaurants! After a delicious fried chicken special with mashed potatoes, string beans and a nice dinner salad. The owner kindly wrapped the thigh and breast I had not eaten in aluminum foil. I intended to savor the leftover for dinner  after I returned to Springfield. I honestly and truly recommend Steak & Egger to all friends and amigos y amigas visiting Chicago with time to find it. Peter took my picture outside before we headed for his condo about 4:15. You see here a satisfied man!
PP1215-32After unpacking at Peter’s and Byung’s I sat in on some Ph.D candidate students’ informal gathering with Professor Byung whom they addressed by her unmarried last name — Professor Soo, I believe. They were all deep into paperwork and final projects. most planning  to graduate next year.  The field was school administration. The friendly repartee between professor and students was as between colleagues focused on great mutual affection and respect and shared goals. After the conference, the students departed and friends began arriving for the Christmas party where I had been invited to play and sing.

It was a most terrific Christmas party!

Live long . . . . . and proper.

Next time on “Return to Chi’ (or) I Didn’t Even Change Shorts” our hero and his exceedingly kind host Peter visit Lincoln Park, the Chicago History Museum and during the long day’s journey into night, I listen to a marriage come apart as my seat mate argues with his wife about their coming separation on his cell phone. Stay tuned.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

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I would be a satisfied social being if I had one evening social commitment every week away from AeroKnow Museum. Most weeks, that’s exactly what I have. But when the calendar goes a little crazy with coincidence, so do I. Take this week, PLEASE. 

The neighborhood association I helped organize more than 10 years ago and served as president (twice) vice president (twice) and secretary, thrice, was beginning to draw me back to it. A deletable explitive (I’ll call him Bill, his real name) was no longer at the helm, and I thought I might enjoy working with the new president. I was wrong. He’s as big a pain as the other one. On the other hand, both worked/work hard for the association. I had decided the meeting on the 13th would be my last for another few years, but I was mistaken. More important than personalities in a neighborhood association is the need to be an element of cohesion, rather than division. Personalities must come after organization prioriies. The horse’s patoot who appears to have left his or her brain at the door can still be an ally if I share a common goal.  I’m still on the fence with this crew. I will try to attend for the rest of the year if I last that long.

The second commitment this week was to the poetry organization I’ve been a part of since before 1994. I’ve run hot and cold with this crowd.  I have nothing left to prove as a poet or reciter of poetry  I intended to attend as a goodbye gesture. I wore the “amazing technicolor sportcoat” I had worn when I emceed an open mic downtown . . . . just one last time I thought. Two things happened that put me on the fence again. A friend, a neighbor from across the steet and I chatted in a way that includes “respect” and approaches the  affection and appreciation of “friendly” for the first time in a few months. All in all, it was the most enjoyable evening of this kind I’ve attended in about a year. I did not TEMPT FATE by ordering food this time. The last two dinners from the previous two months — sub-par, majorly: a sandwich that was dryer than the Saranghetti in summer and a chef salad with diced, rather than sliced meat and enough water from a fast wash and poor drainage of the lettuce to float a canoe.  Last night I took no chances; I ordered no food.  I savored three Samuel Adams bottled beers for $12 and a $3 tip and they were fine; just right.  Next month when I am the big SIX FIVE, I will likely have more, but I had had my last meal there.  I immensely enjoyed a prepared chef salad purchased Tuesday night from Shop N Save en route home from the museum.

I also didn’t take my camera, and I intentionally did not sit in my usual across-from-microphone-central seat where I had the best view for photography. Instead I sat with my friend, former Pacific War LST helmsman, then school teacher then school principal, the honorable Ken Sibley whom I respect more than any man alive today. I also respect women, but that’s another Honey & Quinine.  In the past, I’ve never photographed people whose ways with a microphone made me want to puke in my salad b0wl.  I decided it’s better to encourage participants by not distract any of them: “the good, the bad and the ‘does the zoo keeper know you’ve escapted?'” So I didn’t even bring my camera to the evvent last night. THAT was a good move. One fewer distraction for me as well. And I tried EARNESTLY to HEAR and APPRECIATE the poetry the people were sharing. I enjoyed most of what I could hear. At one time in the evening, before I shared from microphone central,  I planned to gurgitate my HUMBLE OPINION that I would rather HEAR BAD POETRY than NOT QUITE HEAR Springfield’s newest Shakespeare. I kept that opinion to myself. I was satisfied with what I shared and I think most of the audience was as well. I did not mention my birthday and did not mention that Wednesday was probably the last time most of them will ever see me. No need to generate concern for a circumstance that probably won’t happen anyway. If I am around on the third Wednesday of September, I will likely attend, participate, and try to be nice.

Today, all I want to do is go home after maybe a half hour at the airport museum. It’s been raining a lot of the day (THANK YOU oh BENEFICENT SKY!) and I’m perspiring in high humidity and moderate heat like I’ve been moving furniture all day, which I haven’t. I’m tired. I want to watch a ball game, eat another salad from Shop N Save and swallow me some Burgundy. But I’ve deccided to be a friend to a friend. I promised him last night I’d attend this event tonight and take pictures of him and his music group Bosso Azul. I was invited by an organizer to recite poetry between music acts. I was one of the music acts (guitar and folksinging and my own songs too) at the July event, a regular ThirdThursday gallery gathering/reception/arts marketplace at Floyd’s Thirst Parlor downtown.  I’ve decided I will work at the museum through the early part of the event downtown, I shall take camera and books of poetry to the event with cash for a few bottled beers and I shall be sociable for an hour and a half. I can do this much. The museum at the airport and I will survive (or as country folk frequently say “will both survive”) to live an other day . . . . “good Lord willin’ and the creeks don’t rise.”

Live long . . . . . . . . . . . . . . and proper.

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When I took the last sip of Carlo Rossi Burgundy in the duplex I was renting in about 1989, I had no inkling that I”d have that bottle with me in a duplex I owned 22 years later. It moved when I moved: from 326 S. MacArthur to 521 S. Glenwood to 1213 Interlacken to 428 W. Vine, and today it moved to my WELCOME Room office of AeroKnow Museum at the airport.a bottle of good cents

a bottle of good cents

It came to the airport  because the thought of someone breaking into my home and stealing this investment of time and memories was more than I wanted to live with. At best the burglar would have taken it. At worst, he or she would have dropped it to the floor from where it sat on my bedroom chest of drawers since 1997 and left me to filter the valued metal alloy from the shards of broken glass — pretty much what I’ve been doing recently, metaphorically speaking, as I approach the big SIX FIVE.

It came to the airport also because putting every penny I brought home from purchases here and there was not filling the bottle fast enough for me. I was determined that I would not go to a bank and exchange a $20 bill for the equivalent in pennies. That would be cheating.

At this time in the blog I concede there is nothing artistic about the process, I do not intend to write a poem or folksong about it, proclaim the name of Cheeses (when I talk to myself I call myself Cheeses as in CHEESES, that was stupid of me!), talk about restaurants, silver dollars,  Facebook, how much I love Chicago or Fort Monroe or Ft. Wayne, Indiana or Manitowoc, or the Shymansky family (my sister Dorothy’s side) Johnny Appleseed or Vachel Lindsay, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and yardcare. I’ve been ticking off these items on my categories list so I can suggest to readers this post is about them . . . . . and thus court additional readers who pay attention to blogs when these categories are mentioned. NOW . . . . . . . where was I?

the bottle and the barefoot boy with cheek of tan

Oh, yes, I remember. . . . The photograph of the boy behind the bottle is of the same boy ahead of it when the picture above was taken.  If I was three years old, the year was 1950. I will post more about the picture as I approach September 5. Suffice to say now that I show that picture to darn near every visitor to AeroKnow Museum. My goal, starting this morning, is to give visitors who don’t care to share heavy dough-re-mi with the museum will lighten their pockets of pennies. I want to fill this the bottle by my birthday.

There’s a nearby donation jar for those who care to be extra-nice with larger coins and folding money.

So if you find yourself of mind and spirit to see this bombastic enterprise in the weeks ahead, please bring pennies. The dollars . . . . almost . . . . won’t . . . . matter.

Live long . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . and proper.

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A Springfield Chapter Illinois Pilots Association usually meets at a Springfield airport t-hangar for cookouts during warmer weather months, but this week the temperatures had soared beyond warm to “faGETaboutit!” Instead we met at Fairview Restaurant on Sangamon Avenue. The members like the food and one of the waitresses is a relative of one of our best members.

At Wednesday’s gathering, I ordered a fried shrimp dinner that would come with a salad and baked potato, mostly for the salad and baked potato because the only beef on the menu came as steak or ground beef, and the price for the steak was as atmospheric as the temperature outside.

“Would you like butter or sour cream with the potato?” the courteous waitress asked?

“Butter will be fine, thanks,” I said. Sour cream overpowers the potato in my experience, and butter would be a compliment to the meal.

I also ordered an appetizer of fried onion rings because I was hungry and knew it would be a while before the kitchen could produce dinner for the 30 or so in our meeting room. Fried onion rings are listed as “Appetizers,” but to be sure the waitress and I understood each other, I explained, “I”m really hungry, and I want these BEFORE the meal.” She assured me that she understood. About 25 minutes later, the rings arrived, followed five minutes later by the salad and ten minutes later by the main course.

“butter” at Fairview Restaurant, Springfield, Illinois

The rings were still almost too hot to eat when the salad arrived, but that’s almost beside the point. On the plate with the shrimp, what appeared to be a tablespoon of the vegetable du summer (cut corn) and the foil wrapped potato, was a solitary portion of what’s pictured above. It was enough for one half of my opened potato, and I calmly asked for another. As I began enjoying the meal of room-temperature corn (no worries about scalding tongues here) and decently cooked shrimp, I motioned for the waitress to come over. I had a question.

“Do you remember when I was ordering, you asked me if I wanted butter or sour cream, and I asked for butter?”

“Yes,” she replied pleasantly.

I showed her the label I had peeled of the top of the “butter” portion and queried, “Is this “Whipped Spread” actually BUTTER?”

“Yes it is,” she said.

Twenty-minutes later, I remarked to a nearby friend I thought I was waiting a long time for a second container of butter, and she offered me the tartar sauce she did not use on her fish. I took it and applied it to the other half of my potato. Five minutes later the waitress arrived with my “butter.”

“Too late” I said. “I used some of my friend’s tartar sauce.”

“Okay,” the waitress said, smiling. “I’ll just put the extra here on your table in case you want to use it for something else.”

I brought it home and took a picture of it Thursday morning on my office chair.

At the risk of PONTIFICATING, what the waitress claimed to be butter was not butter. I know this because butter is always labelled “BUTTER” when it is packed for restaurant use and sale at the supermarket. The silly thing is that is is probably not margarine either, though I can’t say for sure.

“Ingredients: Liquid and Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Water, Salt, Vegetable Mono & Duglycerides, Soy Lecithin, Potassium Sorbate and Sodium Benzoate (As Preservatives), Citric Acid, Artificial Flavor, Beta Carotene (Color), Vitamin A Palmitate Added. Contains: Soybean.”  Does any of that read like “butter” to you?

Anyone who imagines you’re getting CHEESE on your fast-food (that you wait 15 minutes in line to order) is cheese also believes that the ghost of Joan of Arc would be a perfect vice-presidential candidate for Wilbur Romney. But that’s another story that contributes to the fraud perpetrated by the food industry and the general public who tolerate it. If I return to the Fairview — and odds are not good that I will — I will bring my own wrapped stick of butter in a small insulated Thermos and ask for nothing on my potato.

Live long . . . . . . . . . . and proper.

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