Some years ago when we lived in Florida, Mark bought a cute picnic basket with dishes, wine glasses, and all the other accoutrements necessary to recreate a Georges Seurat painting. Ever since he dragged that thing home, he has been begging me to go on a picnic with him. I have been pooh, poohing that idea because I know it will end up with me schlepping that heavy picnic basket across hundreds of yards of sand, or through woods infested with bugs. He brought that thing up here to Chicago with the intention of having me lug it along for some genteel gathering in the park that he imagined we would be going to. Wrong! I’ve seen picnics here in Chicago parks. Basically they consist of Mexicans and Puerto Ricans barbequing chicken, and kicking a soccer ball across gay boy's picnic blankets.
I'm not sure when I started finding picnics distasteful. I used to love picnics when I was a child. Mom and Dad would take us out to at least two or three picnics every summer. There was the Tau Club picnic, a club my mom and dad belonged to consisting of all the folks they knew from the old neighborhood. There was the church picnic, the Parkside neighborhood picnic, the picnic thrown by my dad's place of work, and after my brother entered the seminary, there was the seminary picnic. Each picnic had its own flavor. I especially liked the church picnic that was held at Carlson Springs Woods. I mostly remember all us kids roaming deep into the woods, far beyond the call of our parents. Today you probably wouldn't let kids do that. It's not that we didn't have perverts and child killers back then, it's just that the area wasn't as highly populated as it is now. Basically not enough pervs to go around. My second favorite picnic site was the seminary that my brother had been sentenced to... I mean that my brother attended. The picnic was held on the grounds of the seminary that included five large ponds, a dam, a stream, a spooky little chapel out near the woods, and spookiest of all, a dead kid inside the large church. Yes, a dead kid. Inside a glass box, inside the church, was the desiccated body of a child that had been made a saint. We just could not leave until we had snuck into the church to see the dead kid.
Out of all those picnics we went to as kids, there is one that stands out vividly in my memory. The picnic my dad's place of work held. I remember the day, the place, and what the weather was like. The Associated Truck Lines picnic was held in a forest preserve on Ogden Avenue in Lyons, Illinois. And the only reason I remember it so clearly is because that was the day that I discovered Colonel Sander's Kentucky Fried Chicken. That was what the company had provided, buckets of Kentucky Fried Chicken. It was like crack cocaine to me. I couldn't stop eating it. I possibly ate an entire bucket of chicken all by myself that day. Funny thing is, I don't really like KFC anymore. Not sure if it's the recipe that changed or me. Or it could be that without the bugs, flies, dirt, and heat of a picnic, KFC Chicken just doesn't taste the same.