One of the blessings of the recession is that it’s helped me appreciate everyday pleasures like walking the dog and taking a bike ride. It’s also given me more time for these activities. Of course, it’s made it tougher to indulge in pricey entertainment. But thanks to the generosity of friends, I had a day off Ferris Bueller would envy.

His was a fictional account of savoring Chicago’s many pleasures. Mine was real. It started with the Columbus Park Invitational. My friend Tom and I were the only golfers invited. On a pristine Saturday morning, we pulled up and drove off the first tee, without any waiting.

With Tom leading by three strokes, with three holes left to play, it looked like I was going to finish out of the money. But Tom had an unexpected breakdown on the 7th hole, where I carded my first par of the season. After I beat him by two strokes, Tom graciously invited me to the White Sox game that afternoon.

The Sox were already down by two, when I got to the bleachers but they set the tone for the game by tying it in the second. The score see-sawed back and forth, as the Sox kept making dramatic comebacks with thrilling home runs. Tom and I watched seven balls leave the yard and a chorus line of relief pitchers. When the game went into extra innings, I had to leave. Phil, another generous friend, had given me a ticket to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra concert that evening.

I had to eat something first, so I sat at the bar at Miller’s Pub devouring a succulent lamb sandwich and hoisting a Guinness. I watched the Sox lose 10-8 in twelve innings (I told you this wasn’t a movie).

Symphony Center was only a block away and I was pleasantly surprised to see they were playing all French music, my favorite kind. Phil’s seat was literally the best one in the house, 5th Row on the aisle. I was accustomed to gazing down from four stories and here I was looking up at the pianist ten feet away.

The first piece was modern and experimental, featuring a weird amplified instrument that we usually associate with 50’s monster movies. When it was over, the patrons around me complained that it “sucked” and they should have walked out or booed. Hey, nobody died. The second half was more traditional with a rapturous piano work and a piece by my favorite composer, Ravel.

Several of us were whistling the themes from Rapsodie espagnole as we shuffled out into the night. Except for the fact my seatmate on the “L” took off his shirt, it was a perfect day. And I didn’t have to spend it with an annoying guy, like Ferris Bueller’s friend.

John Rice is a columnist/private detective, who has seen his business and family thrive in Forest Park. He thoroughly enjoys life in the village and still gets a thrill smelling Red Hots, watching softball and strolling through cemeteries.