The look of bewilderment on their faces when I tell them who it's REALLY in honor of is usually worth the price of a 20 oz Diet Coke out of the company vendo.
Since tomorrow is the 23rd, I thought it would be a good time to share this story and officially document it, because, as you will see, "23" not only is special to me, it started a tradition that, for a short while, was an obsession amongst a small group of friends and Marquette Delta Chi Fraternity Brothers.
I've tried to figure out how to tell the story without revealing who "23" is before the end, and frankly, it's just impossible, so here we go...
23 honors of Ted Lyle Simmons, and as a Cub fan, it's only Ted from his Milwaukee Brewer & Atlanta Brave playing days, not any time before 1981!!!
But Ted did NOT drive the tradition. He was the upshot and/or outgrowth from, what else, drunken behavior by a bunch of college students.
It was the Fall of 1985, sometime after Halloween and the infamous Miami (Ohio) walk-out. It was a Thursday night just after 10:00pm and the phone in McCormick Hall 1225 rang.
"Duey, it's Dink. Me, Greff & JY are hungry, wanna go get some Slyders?"
"Where the hell's the nearest White Castle? I didn't think there were any in Wisconsin."
"We're going across the border"
"No, corner of Addison and Elston in Chicago."
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We piled into JY's '73 Chrysler Newport, which, if you don't know the car, it's similar to a US Navy battleship in size and it handles about as smoothly. But before we hit Eastbound I-94, we stopped off at Marquette Liquors. Richie and Paulie asked us what we were up to and Greff said something like "If we have to tell, we'll probably have to kill you" which cracked Richie up. He was the only one that had a sense of humor anyway. After the purchase of a case of ale, off we went.
Now, for all you youngsters out there, I, in no way condone drinking and driving either by the driver OR the passengers. Most people do them in the order mentioned, but for some reason, on this night, we did both simultaneously.
The ride was somewhat uneventful and when we pulled up to the Castle, the excitement welled up in us like, well, like when you've had about five beers in an hour and you're about to pee your pants. All four of us crammed into the bathroom which only had two places to "take a comfort break". Two places, that is, to normal human beings. There was, thankfully, a sink. No swords or streams were crossed.
We stumbled out of the bathroom and up to the counter. The woman taking our order reminded us of Blondie. Could it be her bizarro twin? We ordered up a ton of Slyders and sat our butts down. We finished and since we "took orders" prior to leaving Milwaukee, one of us went back up to the counter and ordered a load for the road.
Upon getting back into JY's boat, we realized that we had a ton of empties and we needed to get rid of them. What to do? Well, what's a midnight trip to Chicago's Northside without going to see Wrigley Field? So we head East out of the parking lot until we arrive at 1060 W. Addison. We still have the empties.
JY decides to "round the bases" turning Left on Sheffield. An unnamed occupant of the vehicle cracks open his back door and starts dumping the empties out on the street as we are moving.
Hey, there's Murphy's! clank. Rounding second on Waveland it never dawns on us that the Firehouse is up on the right-hand side. clank. Better get rid of all of them as dropping them onto Clark is going to draw attention.
Ahh, one lap completed, let's take another!!
After three (or so) laps we decide it's best to "head home" and off we go. It's gotta be something like 1:00 and this means we'll be probably getting back around 2:30. Now, most people just KNOW that smell of Slyders. It's really a smell best handled when you're out of your gourd. It's NOT a smell that you want for 90 minutes sitting in the back of a car that's as big as a bus.
Note to self: No more "taking orders" in the future. If they want them, they have to come with.
End of Part I