The Farewell Tour
by Mark Andel
Two weeks post new year, my wife Linda recommended having a "Farewell
That was enough to strike fear into my post-divorce heart, but what she
meant was saying good-bye to the fast food establishments we've known and
loved over the years and begin an austerity program. But not before having a
gluttonous celebration with them and spending some "quality time" with their
We would spend the weekend visiting our favorite fast food restaurants
one more time - make absolute pigs of ourselves - and then at the end, we
would slide out of those orange plastic chairs, scrape incredible loads of
paper products into trash bins by the door from our plastic trays, and bid
It seemed like a plan: so much better than going cold turkey (but if
you've ever had the cold turkey at Erik's Deli on Oak Park Avenue - I
digress). It was going to be tough. Not only would we eat meals out, we would
watch a few movies and load up on Milk Duds and popcorn, and Twizzlers - and
then say good-bye to those as well ("My sweet!"). I did happen to find a
Hershey with Almonds in my coat pocket yesterday, which I still haven't told
Linda about. I have to wait for the right moment. I fear slipping in one
night to find her at our well-lit kitchen table holding that sleek silver
wrapper with the chic block letter brown jacket and saying, "Is there
something you need to talk to me about?"
For breakfast, it was going to be the bacon-egg-and-cheese biscuit at
McDonald's. Ounce for ounce, it's a real contender in the fat-'n-calorie
festival that our Farewell Tour was all about. For lunch? Two slices of
Gigio's sausage pizza, the one near Broadway and Lawrence. Painted on the
window of this small joint under the el tracks is this line: "Best pizza in
town!" For years, no argument from me. "Buonissimo!" And now, "O Solo Mio!"
And dinner? We were watching "The Sopranos" on HBO, and in every other scene,
someone was eating pasta that looked gorgeous - with the emphasis on "gorge."
I had to get the meat ravioli at Napoli's. My wife had an Italian beef. And
it was over.
It is over.
Farewell and adieu.
And now? The places that were left out play on my mind like scorned
lovers: the saganaki at Central Gyros ("Ooopahh!" it seems to cry out to me),
the steak-and-eggs at the Alpine on Irving Park, the barbecued pork chop
sandwich at U-Dawg-U on Touhy, the char dog at Flukey's on Western Avenue,
with the pickle relish that's as green as a field of clover, the warm pecan
pie with whipped cream at Baker's Square.
Farewell, old friends! We'll meet again.
(Just not when my wife is with me.)