Monday, January 2, 2017

Who really needs to be first?

My parents these days are caring for a pair of dogs, Rocco and Carmelo, who have distinct personalities. But there is one significant difference I have noticed.
The Chicago-area's first-born baby is a girl who owes her name to this ballpark. It's a good thing the building at Clark and Addison doesn't still bear its original name -- or else she'd be going through life with the name "Weeghman"

Carmelo, the younger of the two (he was born back in May, but has grown quite quickly) wants to be assured he is first in everything. Just the other day when I tried opening a back door to let Rocco go outside for a bit, Carmelo ran up, shoved Rocco aside and insisted on being the first to enjoy some fresh air.

WHICH TO ME is what all of the incidents of having to be “first” make me think of. We’re behaving like animals.

So naturally, this is NOT the ideal time of year for me to be seeing various “firsts” that are now occurring. Because we’re now in a new year, we’re going to see a lot of happenings that otherwise would go unnoticed get significant public attention just because they’re first.

As it is, we already have the “first baby” of 2017 in Chicago – whom it seems was born early Sunday to a couple in the northwestern suburbs who are Chicago Cubs fans. They named their daughter “Wrigley.”

Which as far as I’m concerned means it would serve that couple right if the daughter winds up taking no interest in baseball, or worse yet, winds up developing enough sense to be a White Sox fan!

BUT BECAUSE THIS particular year began on a Sunday and government officials need to get their New Year’s holiday day off from work, they will have to have Monday free.

No mail delivery (including a pay check I’m expecting from freelance work I do) until Tuesday. In fact, all government entities will be closed on Monday.

Which is why the Cook County government will have to hold off yet another day. We won’t get their “firsts” until at least Jan. 3.

I remember back when I was a reporter-type person for the now-defunct City News Bureau of Chicago when we’d make a big deal out of the first party permit issued by the Forest Preserve District.

LARGELY BECAUSE IT was always issued to the same man. “Moose” Murphy always wanted to have Permit Number One issued to his group, the Antler Dancers, who would have a big, alcohol-laced, bash in the forest preserves every year for several years.

Murphy would make the point of camping out at the Cook County Building at the end of each December to ensure he’d be first in line to get that permit number one. Heaven forbid anyone had the nerve to try to cut in line or usurp that top spot.

Or if anyone just showed up in mid-summer at the forest preserve where Murphy and his buddies were gathered for their annual bash.

Of course, the fact that we news media types are so desperate for fresh news copy right after the New Year’s holiday that we highlight the story no matter how trite means the county is eager to get all the positive publicity available.

AS IT IS, the Cook County clerk’s office already informed us about how on Tuesday Clerk David Orr will be ready to celebrate whichever couple happens to be first in line to apply for a marriage license.

Orr will actually perform the marriage ceremony on the spot (he, along with a ship’s captain, gets that perk) and several companies have already pledged gifts including a hotel suite and meal at a luxury restaurant for the couple who happen to be “first” in line Tuesday morning.
No wrath is more furious than that of Carmelo (left) if Rocco tries to do something ahead of him. Photograph by Gregory Tejeda

I feel sorry for them if it turns out it was a couple that merely wanted to elope in secret, but will find their life’s partnership now blasted on every television station and newspaper in Chicago – all because we need to fill space or airtime.

It also makes me wonder if the process is reduced to the level of Carmelo feeling compelled to race outside and be the “first” to do his “business” in the backyard.


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