Two of the most important people in my life are Illinoisans. Terry Chesson, Navy shipmate and dear friend, is a son of Chicago. My dear wife, Jo Knox, is a daughter of the Illinois prairie. You'd think they'd be pals, drawn together by their Midwestern roots and Middle American sensibilities.
Sadly, this is not the case. Terry is a lifelong fan of the Chicago Cubs. Jo, since childhood, has rooted for the St. Louis Cardinals. Here in the Heartland, such a difference in team allegiances is not like the slight doctrinal differences between the Presbyterians and Lutherans or the disagreement over the merits of Jose Feliciano's cover of "Light My Fire" as opposed to the Doors's original. In the central Midwest, Cubs and Cards fans, like gin and turpentine, do not mix well.
|2006 NMA reunion in Louisville, KY. Shipmate Terry |
Chesson, (l.) and wife, Jo Knox (r.), begin the Battle Royale
while Frank Mullen (cravenly cringing in the background)
watches on with deep concern for his future.
"Stay out of it," you say. Oh, if only 'twere so easy. Problem is:
I'm a Cubs fan.
This puts me in the middle of a vicious arena, trying to balance the sacred marital duties of a husband, to protect his wife with the life-long bonds of camaraderie forged by those who have served together as defenders of freedom.
Sadly, the fires of fandom never burn hotter when Jo and Terry face each other at the NMA reunion. If you're wandering the hotel and find me cowering in the laundry room or tiptoeing through a fire door, don't think that I've flipped out. I'm just seeking a few minutes of respite.