The Sporting Life

We should be landing in Cork riiiiiiight about….NOW.

(John looks ’round, side to side).



Nope. We’re still in Madison.

I had great flights booked, for yesterday.. Get a full day’s work in, leave Madison at 7 pm, fly out of Chicago 10 pm, fly out of London 2 pm the next day. No more than two hours on any layover. Just enough time to get a Hot Italian Beef at O’Hare. Wet. Wit.

The skies were clear, if frigid. It appeared to be prime travel weather.

I finished up Munchkin Quest (yes, you heard me…FINISHED!), and started getting ready for the first leg of the journey. The house sitters had arrived…we were packed and ready…the starting line was near…

…and the Lovely and Talented Judith checked the web.

All Madison flights to Chicago O’Hare had been cancelled.

Flights were leaving Chicago fine. Many flights were landing fine. But all Madison flights, on all airlines, had been cancelled, for no very well explained reason.

OK. Fine. It’s only 6 pm. We can still make a 10 pm Chicago flight, if we start driving NOW! So we rented a car at the airport, and hit the road. It was a grand idea. I felt like a real grown-up, a true traveller, all problem-solvey and shit. True, it was a Chevrolet Kobold – I’m sorry, I meant “Cobalt” – but there was plenty of room for us and our not insubstantial baggage. And if you ignored the slightly tinny, plastic-y feel of the handing, it was all fine.

Until we hit the highway. Which was travelling at 30 mph.

Due to an incredibly light mist (mind-bogglingly light, I mean, really, really NOTHING to speak of, the kind of mist that words like “microtron” and “nanometer” and “oh, crap…is that another eighteen-wheeler in the ditch?” were invented for) the Madison-Beloit section of I-90 was, we later found out, “icy and hazardous.” It took us two hours to white-knuckle it 50 miles, by which point any hope of making the O’Hare flight had vanished. Vanished like the ice that suddenly seemed to decide that – since any chance of making the O’Hare flight had vanished – its job was done, and it could go, now.

We’d neither of us eaten, so we pulled into an Applebee’s in Beloit, just off the highway. Because I wanted one of the most dispiriting meals I’ve ever seen, that’s why. Applebee’s was apparently designed for people who think Chili’s might be a tad too exciting. Forget “TGI Friday’s,” this is more like “OMFGI Monday’s.” I mean, I could be a death-row inmate who just discovered that the Governor’s pardon got through in time, and I’d still feel depressed if the next words I heard were “let’s go to Applebee’s.” So given the sour moods we were already in, the Crispy Fiesta Wrappers (who breads egg rolls, I ask you? Who? WHO?) never had a chance.

It briefly crossed our minds to give Matt Forbeck a call, but the Mini Bacon Cheeseburgers arrived, and we both realized we’d never want to subject a good friend to what had become Our Personal Hell.

We drove back to Madison, desultory and defeated: in part by the weather (which you can’t take personally), and in part by Steak Quesadilla Towers (which you sure as hell should).

God willing and the creek don’t rise, we now leave for Cork lunchtime today, and arrive in plenty of time for the opening of Warpcon, Friday.

Still, we missed a day in Cork: We missed hanging out at the English Market; we missed dinner at the Ivory Tower; we missed a night at a lovely Bed & Breakfast; and we missed friends.

And we had to eat at Applebee’s.

Oh, the humanity.



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