The Night Counter One of The Chicago Tribune’s Hot Summer ReadsJune 7, 2009
All my life I have written down on forms “Chicago” when asked for birthplace. So this is particularly sweet for me. Not that I know Chicago well–I’ve only been there once since we moved when I was five. But I’ve always thought I was lucky to be born in such a cool city, despite my rather limited and rather uncool memories: Mostly what I remember is playing around a fountain with my brother (which I now know is in Grant Park), drawing on the walls of the tiny bedroom he and I shared in the cramped apartment we lived in, and the basement of Marshall Fields (at least I think it was the basement), where there was a big, long candy counter with green and red and yellow chewy things and old man on a bench that was quietly eating his orange slice candies trying to ignore my staring. He eventually smiled and offered me one out of the bag. I took it and smiled back–the only thing my mother said as I chewed was “you better have told him thank you.” I’m old enough to remember when it was okay to take candy from strangers.