The Curious Inscription

In addition to Richard Lindberg’s Return Again To The Scene Of The Crime: A Guide To Even More Infamous Places In Chicago, and the September 1961 and October 1964 issues of “Modern Man: The Adult Picture Magazine,” and the October 1956 issue of “Cabaret: The Adult Entertainment Magazine,” and the April 1962 issue of “Ace: The Magazine For Men Of Distinction,” and also the June 1959 issue of “21,” I picked up a copy of Rainer Maria Rilke’s Duino Elegies. If you’d been there, you’d have found all this, and more, at Manager Mick’s annual yard sale in Wicker Park. 

Long before Mick managed a coffee shop, he made anatomically correct Ken dolls. He also did things to Barbie dolls Mattel probably wouldn’t approve of. To his credit, his collection was featured on an episode of “Wild Chicago.” 

Mick used to pay the bills by performing as a stripper. He sold drugs, too. But he also found work as an interior designer. Like so many real-world things and folks, TV seems to get strippers, drug dealers, and interior designers all wrong. Mick is a big teddy bear type. You’d want him as an uncle. All your secrets were safe with Mick. 

But inscribed on the first leaf of the Rilke book:

“Happy Birthday Thomas
I hope you like the 
Book. — 
Love, Thomas” 

I didn’t ask how the book fell into Mick’s possession. But what if there was only one Thomas? That is, what if Thomas got the book for himself? If he did, after he inscribed it, I hope he wrapped it up. But first, I hope he treated himself to dinner and a movie. And if he did, I hope he made a reservation for two. And at the table, he’d move back and forth between the two place settings. I really hope he told the waiter, “I’ll have what he’s having.” But I wouldn’t want him to buy two movie tickets and two buckets of popcorn. No, that would be a waste of money. And way too much popcorn. One bucket is too much to begin with. 

Say “Thomas” is one of Mick’s aliases. In fairness, I don’t know if Mick has any aliases. But if you’re a drug dealing, interior designing stripper, how could you not? 

13 August 2004 

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