Patrick Murfin: Once Upon a Royal Wedding Chicago Style

April 23rd, 2011

The Norton Anti-virus folks warn Americans to stay away from infected web sites promising exclusive photos or videos of the Royal Wedding. More than 80 percent of web surfers were reported to be likely to follow the event.

Well, I’m safe.

I don’t give a rat’s ass for the doings of the hugely unaccomplished House of Windsor (AKA House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha), or the offspring and descendants of Mrs. Mountbatten (AKA Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of England) or anyone else even vaguely affiliated with the late, great British empire.

If the Brits want to put up with their shenanigans for old time’s sake, I suppose it’s their business.  But we gave the heave-ho to the addled King George III more than 200 years ago, so I don’t understand what the fuss is over the coming wedding of a balding princeling and a woman reasonably attractive enough to get a job pointing at Jaguars at auto shows.

But I have to admit, I was part of the international audience for the wedding of the current chump’s dad, Prince Charles, and the allegedly fabulous Dianne.

I remember the first one….

You may remember it.  He wore Alfred E. Newman’s ears.  She wore puffy sleeves, a shy smile, and a train apparently several blocks long.

As it happened, I was officially homeless at the time.  My previous abode, a shingle-clad rooming house on Diversey near Ashland dubbed the Green Bunker by its denizens, had burned one day while I was at work, leaving me with nothing but the clothes on my back.

With most of my income earmarked for Lincoln Avenue saloons, I knew it would be a while before I could afford a new permanent flop.

One of those saloons was the Consumer’s Tap — a long bar behind a liquor store across the street from the Biograph Theater.

It was the kind of joint that opened at 7 A.M. to supply guys who need “eye-openers” and its clientele were local blue collar folks, hard-core drinkers, and the remnants of the old Lincoln Ave hippie street scene that had flourished a decade earlier.

The proprietor was a youngish cop of Greek extraction.  Hearing my plight, he gave me a second job mucking out the saloon after it closed.

William & Kate love The Third City….

I would find some couch to surf earlier in the evening after getting off a day job repairing and sewing sweaty football shoulder pads and get up to have a drink or two at the bar before it closed at 2 A.M.

After the bartenders counted the cash, I’d throw the stools up on the bar, empty the garbage of broken beer bottles, swab out the toilets, sweep the floor, and mop.

Unless there was more than usual puking or blood to clean up, I finished in a couple of hours.  All the while I would leave a TV on to keep me company—usually an old movie on WGN—and nurse a beer or three.

When done, I’d put the stools down, stretch out on the bar with a roll of paper towels for a pillow and nap until 6:30, when the morning bartender came in to start it all again.

Then it was off to the day job.  Not an ideal existence, but one which prevented me from freezing to death that winter.

One morning in February, the usual black-and-white movie classic was replaced by a live broadcast of the Big Event from Westminster Abby.

I admit, I was gobsmacked by the needless splendor of it all.  Why just one of the bride’s pumps could have paid for a room with a toilet and running water, a kitchenette, and a bed that didn’t fold down from the wall for a few months.

I didn’t want to be bitter.  But I was forced to pour a stiff three or four fingers of the boss’s best John Jameson Twelve Year Old and pray that those IRA bastards who once blew up the bridegroom’s uncle would have good hunting.

I am, you will be pleased to know, no longer homeless.  I live a life of semi-respectability in a heavily mortgaged home, worth considerably less than the debt, in the wilds of McHenry County.

But when this next wedding comes on, you can bet I will find something else to do.

Editor’s Note: The Third City is proud to welcome Patrick to our humble pages.  When you aren’t reading him here, you can also catch him on his own blog:….

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