During the winter, I cracked my leg on the sidewalk. When spring came, I decided to do something completely different and crack my finger in the garage door. At that point I needed a break from the breaks, so I took a Spring Break trip to Cincinnati.
I was wearing too many casts to drive, so my friend Tom took me on a road trip to see our old high school classmate, Tim. Tim is a history professor at the College of Mt. St. Joseph and I was scheduled to speak to the news writing class there.
Freezing rain followed us all the way down I-65, so I was glad I was wearing my Easter fleece. We went straight to Tim’s new house, which he had built almost single-handedly during a sabbatical. His wife, Peg, and daughter, Abby, were thrilled with their new surroundings, which they share with deer, wild turkeys and an occasional fox.
The next morning, my impersonation of broadcaster Edward R. Murrow went well and the students asked many thoughtful questions. Professor Buffy Barkley said she hadn’t seen some of her students so awake for a 9 a.m. class.
Tom and I then attended Tim’s history class on the Cold War. We knew most of the answers but that’s because we cheated by living through it. After class, Tim led us to one of the many Irish pubs he’s found in Cincinnati.
Reminiscing and Guinness – does a road trip get any better than that? The next day, Tim took us on a tour of General Grant’s old hometown, the Ohio River and a bald eagle’s nest. The part I liked best was the Irish pub we found in Maysville, Ky., because I finally got warm.
That night, Tom cooked Chicago-style pizzas from scratch. This earned him the title of “Best Houseguest.” I had been running a distant second even before he made the pizzas. We stayed up until the wee hours, swapping high school stories and discussing septic tanks.
That night, I felt a sharp pain in my chest. I realized that my reckless Spring Break behavior had broken my esophagus. After a sleepless night, I felt like many spring breakers had before me – somewhere below pond scum.
Hospitable as always, Peg fixed us a big breakfast. I wasn’t quite ready to eat but I should be able to tolerate food in a few weeks.
As we headed back, I looked back on the break. True, it didn’t include warm weather, non-stop partying or co-eds gone crazy. But that’s not what we had been looking for. What we really wanted was to guide the next generation into the newspaper business, tour Tim’s house and prove that flying is now cheaper than driving. We also found that Cincinnati is a lot like Forest Park, if you focus solely on the Irish pubs.