Wednesday mornings with Chris Erskine

The irony is not lost on me. Ask 100 people to describe me, and I bet 99 of them wouldn’t use the word patient. That’s why it’s fairly humorous that I get annoyed with my kids’ need for instant gratification.

chris-erskine-1There was a time when we had to wait nearly a week to see if any of our photos turned out… and still pay for the ones that didn’t.

You couldn’t fast forward through commercials. Instead those two minutes and 20 seconds were a scramble to clean up your stuff so mom would let you finish watching the program.

If you didn’t know a word’s definition-  there were dictionaries, encyclopedias, or people to ask.

And when you wanted delicious, ripe strawberries, you had to wait until peak season when they were only available at the store.

But that’s not today.

Today we could binge watch four seasons of Dallas and find out in a matter of moments who shot JR.

We have answers at our fingertips to questions we didn’t even know we had in just seconds.

And we can find strawberries on grocery shelves any day of the week… brought in from any part of the world.

Life is busy, life is fast, and we want to know everything now.

And that’s why I’m also used to the confused looks when people realize I still subscribe daily to the Chicago Tribune- yes, the newspaper, not the digital edition.

‘Why? By the Time you’re reading the news, everyone’s already heard.”
“Are you 80?”
“Can’t you read that on your phone?”

But, I don’t read the paper for the headlines, I read it for the Chris Erskine’s.

When I was a kid, the Tribune still allowed walking tours. I was entranced by the deafening sound of the printing. I was enthralled with holding a paper literally hot off the press and the dirty ink mark it left on my hands. I imagined the journalists and editors frantically typing floors above me.

Possibly the words they had typed only hours before I now held in my hands.

newspaper-3There’s comfort in knowing what waits for you on every page is in it’s trusted spot. As a kid it was the comics. Then Dave Berry. Now- I anticipate Wednesday’s with Chris Erskine.

Again, the irony doesn’t escape me… you’re likely reading this on your phone and I’m waxing poetic about reading in print (hey Tribune, I’m happy in black and white too!). Sure, you can share a blog/post/picture/meme with a million friends online, but it’s not the same as pouring over the page with your morning coffee.

Wednesday mornings are the one day I read the paper out of order and head straight to Chris’s place. I’ve followed his anecdotes of raising teens, attending endless baseball tournaments, and the oddities of growing up in Chicago and now calling California home. I waited for each week’s article to ensure his wife was winning her battle with cancer. And I cried sobbed when his son recently died.

The son of a man I’ve never met. Yet in a strange way I’ve had coffee with him and his family every week for months- and I was devastated as if they were neighbors.

I think it’s the tangibility of paper that creates connection. Articles, comics, editorials, horoscopes that I could cut out and mail to a friend (yes, I still mail letters with a stamp… no, I’m not 80), tape onto my screen, or tuck into my wallet like a secret.

There’s very little today that we truly get to anticipate. So we look forward to the little things… a new season of Shameless, peak season fresh strawberries, and Wednesday morning coffee with Chris Erskine.

What are you anticipating?

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