Panic In The Windy City

I thought it would be fun to tell a story on Saturday. I love hearing people’s stories. Life is, generally, rather usual. Most days our most interesting stories are about the new brand of cereal we tried, or the fact our son says the f-word instead of “truck” (love those toddlers). However, sometimes we have truly exciting days, and we talk about these days at dinner parties. Then our friends invite us back for dinner, because we’re interesting people with thrilling lives. 

Consider yourself invited to dinner. I want to hear your story, so maybe write it down and link it in the comment section. Or you can just post in the comment section of FB. Here’s my story for today. Enjoy!

Once I was LITERALLY chased through the streets of Chicago by a homeless man.

 He asked me for money as I walked myself to the Art Museum. I had big plans to hate Picasso and cry over the giant A Sunday Afternoon by Georges Seurat for the second day in a row but he called to me as I walked along, and trying to be polite, I stopped. He asked me for money and suddenly I remembered the giant wad of cash I had in my purse (TOURIST!) and thought it would be unwise to flash my wealth on the street. So, I said no.

Then he started chasing me. Well, he TRIED to chase me. I tried to walk casually, ignoring him and praying I would remember the way to the museum and not accidentally turn onto a dark alley. He was shouting things behind me, and honestly I have no idea what they were. I began to panic.

I would have, you know, taken a taxi from my hotel to the museum, but sadly I had just watched “The Bone Collector”(HATE it!) and taxi rides seemed like a bigger gamble than a foot race with a homeless man.

So there I was. Nineteen. Alone in the city. Carrying a ton of cash. Freaking out.

Suddenly two African American men stepped in front of me. They asked me if the homeless man was bothering me. I think I nodded. One of the men put his arm around my me and said to the homeless man, “Hey, leave her alone. She’s my cousin.”

They started arguing about whether or not I was really their cousin. The homeless man found it improbable. Finally the homeless man gave up and walked away. The men asked me if I was okay, I said I was, and we all went our separate ways.

The experience reminded me that some people in this world are crazy and slightly alarming. But mostly, it reminded me that there are great people in the world. People who step in when they see a stranger with a panicked look in their eye and a homeless guy at their heels.

I still didn’t take a taxi home. I walked with confidence. I didn’t feel so alone in the city. I saw people on every corner, and suddenly these strangers were my friends.

But I still hated Picasso.

Shel as Dali 

17 thoughts on “Panic In The Windy City

  1. I did enjoy. Chicago is one of my favorite cities. Is this going to be a regular thingy? If so, I'll tell a story – I have a few, but I'm too tired this Saturday.
    P.S. Don't hate on Picasso. His early stuff was good. 😀
    P.P.S. It's nice to know other people besides me cry when they look at paintings.


  2. Probably a regular thing. especially if I'm as sedentary as I've been lately (Thanks RIBS). I totally love Picasso's early stuff but I do NOT like Fancy Picasso. Makes me want to take a nap or slap him. I will say, he was a really really good painter. Have you seen his realism? Like, when he was 13 he painted like a freaking master. Which is probably another reason I don't like him.

    I totally cry at museums. I mean YOU CAN ALMOST TOUCH THE PAINTINGS.


  3. I love Picasso and hate Dali. But Shel looks good in that Dali get-up. Oh, and since you hate Picasso, I guess my facebook comment on Tobin's addition to your drawing did not have the effect I intended. Perhaps I should have said, ” that pink marker makes your drawing look like a Seurat.”

    I like your story. I know I have some weird stories to tell, but my mind is blank at the moment, except for the story about the next-door-neighbor's goat who lived in their back yard AND their living room, and who bleated at midnight so we called the cops because we thought it was the old lady behind us, calling for help. She had a very goat-y voice. But I've told that one here before, so it doesn't count.

    Oh, and once I had a nurse in the hospital who I'm convinced was an angel. Truly. I was super sick and not recovering well from one of my surgeries, and couldn't sleep and couldn't breathe because I had this tube down my nose and throat, and I was panicking. This 9 months pregnant nurse came in and saw my distress, and laid her hand gently on me and started praying out loud. I don't remember what she said, but a wave of peace swept over me, I was able to breathe, and after she left I fell into a deep, dreamless sleep. When I woke up my fever was gone and my health started improving steadily after that. If she wasn't an angel, I guess her child is about 20 yrs old now. I pray for her sometimes, that God will bless her for taking the time to pray for me, in the middle of her busy night shift, when she was heavy with child herself and exhausted, I'm sure.


  4. Yes it's his realism that I like. There are a few artists I want to slap. I think we should go together sometime to a museum. I'll bring tissues. Yes, you can almost touch the paintings. But I don't recommend it. You get yelled at *cough* Hey, I was a kid.


  5. I have quite a story about the time a man who was extremely unbalanced (mentally) rammed my car, then got out of his vehicle and came at me. I was stopped trying to merge into traffic from a parking lot. It's too long for this space, but it ended with him being taken away by the Police dept's psychiatric intervention unit. I was saved by an off duty police officer who happened to be nearby and heard my hysterical 911 call. It was scary, but made me feel truly grateful for the police, and truly sorry for the mentally ill.


  6. The 32 year old mom in me was thinking the whole time, “Why was 19 year old you alone in Chicago?!” The 19 year old still living somewhere inside of me was slightly jealous.
    I will try to write an adventure story next Saturday. It may include encountering homeless people in Chicago, or the time I saw Harpo studios (but not Oprah) and my mom's friend bought socks off a guy on the street.
    Or it may be the story of a shuttle bus driver (who did not speak much English)in Texas who drove off with four of the twelve of us trying to get to the airport for a mission trip.
    Thanks for helping me remember I used to have some adventures now and then!


  7. I hope you are feeling better !

    I love stories. And how you tell yours.

    I am a little loopy from meds now , so my story would meander and wander. I tend to meander and wander with my stories in general actually, completely the opposite of my writing. Strange.

    love you


  8. Stories of kind interventions could fill a book. And would probably be uber encouraging to loads of peeps. Just sayin'… I loved this story – more for the brutal honesty about having just watched The Bone Collector.

    While in college, I worked at a bookstore. I had an elderly woman, in a wheelchair, pushed into our store on Wednesday night, every single week, like clockwork, at 6:30 p.m. Her “pusher” would come right to me and ask me to pick out a book for her pushee. I was given no clues as to what she'd like or be interested in. I never knew what would tickle her fancy, but I tried to pick out a plethora of different stories and genres. When she passed, a year later, the pusher came in and returned each and every book to me in a gigantic box! She said the pushee wanted me to have them. And thanked me for livening up her days (I slipped in a passionate romance novel once in a while!). She, apparently, had the pusher read them to her, as she had failing eyesight. And as each book was finished, she asked that it be put aside for the Book Picker. Me. I still have many of them. I learned that you never know how an act will touch someone.


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