Mondays with Mike: Happy Mike wins!

September 5, 2016 • Posted in Mike Knezovich, Mondays with Mike, Uncategorized by

There was a time when people behaving badly could ruin my day and my mood, and lead me to behave in a way that would have a domino effect. Just ask Beth.

I’ll never be accused of being a Zen master, but over time, things have improved. Some of it has been a conscious effort—breathing and self-coaching. And, harnessing the negative force for the good—Nobody is going to ruin my day). A lot, I think, is simply aging and mellowing.

SummerDance cures all.

SummerDance cures all.

Still, there are days. This past weekend, Beth and I took a tandem bicycle ride. We took it on a weekend afternoon on a beautiful day. That may sound like it made sense, but we’re talking about the lakefront bicycle path, which is a lovely route along Lake Michigan. But, on busy days, it’s like this: Think of every entitled, self-absorbed, selfish and irresponsible behavior you’ve ever seen—happening in sequence, and repeating.

It’s equal opportunity with bicyclists, walkers, and parents with those enormous Humvee-size child strollers all doing their best to endanger everyone else, without having the first clue that they are.

There was the bicyclist riding at speed (on a Divvy bike) on a crowded Randolph Street sidewalk (today’s human being lesson for her: When you’re on the sidewalk, walk the damn bike).

The little family of four who rented the not-so-little bicycle for four (where they sit two-by-two and the thing occupies both lanes of the path), peddling leisurely and not so much as trying to give way other traffic.

The dog walkers with a little yip dog and a really big black mutt that leapt high into the air and toward each bike as it passed.

The distinguished elderly gentleman who liked to whip his cane in circles, a la Charlie Chaplin, every once in awhile.

The wandering, three- and four- abreast walkers who somehow don’t see the WALKING PATH, DEDICATED TO WALKERS, about 20 yards CLOSER TO THE LAKE.

And the young man, who, as he pedaled out of the part of the path that circles the Shedd Aquarium, wasn’t paying attention where close attention must be paid. He weaved into our lane and almost took out the bicyclist in front of us. He somehow stayed on two wheels as he whipsawed the bike back into his lane just in time. And as we passed, I saw the problem: He was staring at his cell phone.

Words were spoken.

After our ride, we walked to this year’s Chicago Jazz Festival at Millennium Park. Big crowds—all civilized and well behaved—maybe it’s the jazz? We drank a cold beer in the fresh air. We ran into friends who invited us to sit with them, and we saw a terrific act—the Victor Garcia Organ Septet.

Happy Mike was back!

Walking home, we were about to cross a seemingly quiet Wabash Avenue. The light was about to change our way, but I halted and saw headlights oh, about a block south of us. I stopped with Beth on my arm. The roar of the Mercedes sedan’s engine rose explosively fast and the car blew through the intersection, not catching the yellow, at what I’d put at 45-50 mph.

Next thing, we heard the squeal of tires as the cretin driver slammed on the brakes before the next block.

I spent the rest of the short walk home stuffing cranky Mike back into his box.

After that, we took a short but luxurious nap, assembled a picnic to go, grabbed the camp chairs, and it was off to SummerDance to see the Fat Babies.

There we ran into Ellen and Ulrich Sandmeyer, who operate the gem of Printers Row: Sandmeyer’s Bookstore. We talked, relaxed, took in the Summerdance tableau, and Ellen and Ulrich minded things while Beth and I took a couple turns on the dance floor.

Happy Mike won.

Must be the jazz.


Michael On September 5, 2016 at 12:19 pm

I’m glad I live in DC where this behavior is never experienced …….

Mike On September 5, 2016 at 10:22 pm

Yes. The drivers there are particularly not like what I described. 🙂

Mel Theobald On September 5, 2016 at 1:35 pm

Mike, you’re not alone. Putting “cranky Mike back into his box” reminds me of what a well intended therapist once told me, “Only you can make yourself angry. It is almost always a covering for something else.” So glad to hear you honestly addressing this not only for yourself, but for all of us. Sometimes, we just have to let it go and look to the front. It made me smile to read the words “Happy Mike won.” May it always be that way.

Mike On September 5, 2016 at 10:25 pm

Mel, I think anger has its place. Where that begins and ends, I don’t know. But it serves a purpose. On September 5, 2016 at 3:26 pm

Mike and Beth, As cyclists, my husband and I do sometimes love to ride in the city. Sometimes. You nailed it on the list of lakefront path behaviors on any given day. Since I worry about becoming totally an old fart curmudgeon, it was a relief to see someone younger than us steaming about this.

When people note how often we go to Wisconsin to ride on rails-to-trails, rural, paths, they say, “Don’t you ever ride on the beautiful paths in the city?” They haven’t had a weekend day like the one you two had. Glad there were no actual collisions.

Riding the lakeshore is much, much better, south of the Museum Campus, as you probably know, all the way down to the Point in Hyde Park.

Mary Russell, from Memoir 1

Mike On September 5, 2016 at 10:26 pm

Mary, we usually start at 11th Street bridge, and going around the Shedd is enough, but we started at Monroe, and, well, you know, that’s close to Madison where the Northsiders are.

Beth Urech On September 5, 2016 at 3:40 pm

I witnessed a huge black SUV that made a U-turn in State Street and then careened around a corner wheels screeching. I could go on but prefer to recap my favorite performances: Mike Allemana, a gifted and generous guitarist, Anat Cohen on clarinet and sax, Katie Ernst on bass, Scofiield and Lovano and at the Jazz Showcase Ira Sullivan. It’s the jazz!

Marilee On September 5, 2016 at 4:01 pm

It must be the Jazz!! I am pretty sure that was Flo’s choice of “therapy”. Can’t help but smile, dance and tap your foot! Glad that won out for you!

Margie On September 5, 2016 at 8:25 pm

Thanks, Mike. What a delightful story. Clive often has similar experiences cycling and comes home as Grumpy Clive. I will try to take him to Summer Dance next time!

Mike On September 5, 2016 at 10:27 pm

We’ll join you! (And he’s right to be grumpy.)

Annelore On September 6, 2016 at 9:36 am

You shared a pretty normal Chicago weekend, the good and the bad and the struggles that come with it. It seems that the civility of past generations has disappeared from out society… or are we simply too many?
As for biking on Lakeshore, I prefer to head south to more quiet paths or around Northerly Island for shorter rides. The view of the city is exhilarating.

Mike On September 6, 2016 at 10:08 am

Annelore, we haven’t been to Northerly Island since it reopened–we used to go there pretty often. Thanks for the reminder.

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