The Great Chicago Groin Anomaly


42 hours in Chicago was long enough. That is: long enough to capture its essence. And long enough to realize Chicago is a great American city.

Our recent day-and-three-quarters in Chicago featured tattoos, a broadcasting revelation, and an unexpected groping by a perfect stranger. Everything anyone could hope for in an unplanned Windy City experience.

If our visit was sort of an unannounced inspection of Chicago culture, then the city aced it.

Getting stranded at O’Hare Airport on the way home to New York turned out to be as much fun as our Cancun honeymoon–although the groping was far better in Mexico. (See what I did there, honey?)

Just about every decision we made in Chicago paid dividends and produced memorable moments, starring some compelling Chicago characters and venues.

Even our random choice of accommodations was serendipitous; the beautifully designed Hyatt Regency near the airport in Rosemont was hosting a weekend tattoo convention! As far as the pastime of “people-watching” goes, this event would have to be right up there with, maybe, an Amway retreat or a gathering of Elvis impersonators.

Don’t get the wrong impression. My wife and I do love tattoos. On other people.

One brilliantly tattooed dude strolled through the lobby, confidently sipping a can of Miller Lite, while cradling the rest of the case of beer under his arm like a football. Ditka woulda been proud.

Priceless. And the sounds from the Hyatt were great, too:

Tattooed Woman (at the lobby bar): “And that comes completely from the depths of my soul.”

Tattooed Man (vacating his seat next to her): “Wow, look at the time.”

There was more great people-watching Saturday at the Fashion Outlets of Chicago. Beth made a nice connection, trading marathon stories with a tattooed employee at a sports shoe store. But my question about whether our new friend knew about the convention at our hotel–that touched a nerve.

“Yeah,” she said, with a derisive sneer. “I’m stayin’ away from that f—-in’ place.”

The gist of the issue apparently stemmed from the Johnny-inked-lately sycophants and “soccer moms” (her term) who only recently discovered tattoos, and how they failed to measure up to more worthy tattooed veterans such as herself. Dennis Rodman woulda been proud.

Since Morning Radio Host has been my occupation (and my excuse for not having a real job) the past 30 years, our rental car was tuned to a lot of different Chicago stations, like WLS, XRT, and The Drive. They were all sharp, but the one making the biggest impression was the legendary WLUP.

The Loop was running an “NC-Double Play Weekend,” coinciding with the first weekend of the 2015 NCAA Basketball Tournament.

Here was one message in between a pair of Aerosmith tunes:

It’s an NC-Double Play Weekend–more fun than college basketball…when you figure out how to bet on it. The Loop, Chicago’s Classic Rock station.

Bravo! Too many stations “phone it in” or play it too conservatively when it comes to the imaging statements running between the songs–especially on weekends. You can still get the station’s brand across, without sacrificing a sense of humor.

Which brings us to the groping incident at the airport. Going through a security check Sunday for the flight back home, I triggered an incident with the TSA.

“We got a Groin Anomaly over here,” barked the agent to his colleagues, while pointing in rubber gloves to the results of the x-ray image of me:

Groin anomaly

It looked similar to the picture above, except the yellow block on my body was located directly over my crotch. Beth is trying to figure out how to brag to people about having a husband with a Groin Anomaly.

So, I received the official TSA groin pat down, by the book, with the BACKS of the agent’s gloved hands. Some consumers complain about this kind of treatment. Not me. Anything airport security officials need to do to guarantee our safety has my full approval. He was just doing his job, and doing it well.

The conclusion: Chicago is feisty, independent, and creative. Chicagoans work hard and play hard.

We saw proof. Whether it was while receiving a pat down, marveling at the results achieved by the crews in charge of sprucing up downtown Chicago (the cleanest US city we’ve ever seen), or enjoying great food and service from Ryan and Cameron, our manager and waiter at the Little Goat Diner.

Our dinner at the Little Goat was such a stellar experience, it inspired me to read up about the infamous Curse of the Billy Goat on the north side’s long-suffering Cubs.

That led to a trip to Wrigley Field, where crews even on a Sunday morning were working hard to ready the stadium for Opening Day. I half-expected to see the Cubs’ refreshing new manager Joe Maddon out there in a hard hat, lending a hand. To celebrate, I went to the Cubs’ store across the street from the iconic stadium and bought a cap to support the team.

Chicago is alive. And (mostly) well. Take it from a guy with a Groin Anomaly, which, by the way, sounds like a great name for a band.

Please drop your suggestions and observations about Chicago in the Comments section below. We’ll use them for our next trip to the Windy City.

Dave Coombs is a longtime morning radio host. He just discovered that is an available domain name.

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