The entry title is not quite a 1990s Print Shop banner hung by a resentful Dwight Schrute, but for now it’ll do because I’m not interested in checking on the internet’s mood swings today to see whether or not it’s cool to openly celebrate the Fourth of July. I’ve managed to avoid Twitter doomscrolling for a full 24 hours and plan to continue that streak until at least Sunday because, all things considered, right now I imagine the last three months’ worth of discussions have devolved into repetitive anti-holiday vitriol that’s about as fun an atmosphere as wading into a chatroom of bitter single straight dudes on Valentine’s Day.
For the past nineteen years my wife Anne and I have maintained firm boundaries between work and home. Home is our refuge from work, our earthly reward for jobs properly done, our container of collections and comfort, and our humble haven for our hearts. Work is an intrusion we’ve allowed inside only in extremely rare circumstances.
In this new era, our ongoing worldwide catastrophe, effective this week the line between work and home is one of many luxuries we’re no longer afforded.
Four months ago our family added a new board game to our collection. Pandemic’s what-if scenario of infection spiraling out of control worldwide has been a plot device in occasional movies and TV shows. It seemed like an interesting concept for a fun game. Any supernatural foreshadowing inherent in this benign purchase was lost on us at the time.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: as part of my 47th birthday celebration, my wife Anne and I drove from Indianapolis up to the Art Institute of Chicago and spent four hours with our eyes wide, jaws dropped, curiosities aroused, and cameras and phones at the ready. We barely saw half the museum and will have to return someday for more.
The exhibit hall one level below “Modern American Art” is labeled “American Art Before 1900”. It’s not entirely accurate, as we saw works that clearly disregarded the numerical boundaries (including a few of the Sargent paintings). The groupings did work in terms of like-minded sensibilities, which is my way of saying the “Modern” section engaged me more than the other, lower floor did. A few pieces caught our eyes — Anne’s more than mine, to an extent.
The voluminous main floor of the National Constitution Center was interesting and educational in and of itself, but an unusual display awaited us on the second floor in the George H. W. Bush Gallery, a room in which the momentous signing of the U.S. Constitution takes on real-life proportions and surrounds visitors in history and metal.
More Philadelphia! More American history! More icons of Americana! More really old things! Finally we were getting to the part of our road trip that Anne had been dying to see.
At last, the day my wife was waiting for on this Philadelphia trip: some American history! And some Philadelphia!
For a vacation that was supposed to be all about Philadelphia, we found ourselves awfully easily distracted by other major attractions within a short driving distance. Such is the curse of visiting any of your major New England states — they’re overflowing with history and significance.
One lovely lady in the area combined the best of both. Two, if you counted my wife while she was in town.
One thing we struggle with whenever we’re planning our vacations is, once we’ve settled on our ultimate destinations, what do we do when we realize said destination is not too far away from something equally cool? Or even cooler? Possibly even iconic? Say, monumentally so?
Behold the big save-the-day rallying moment from What If? (vol. 1) #44, cover-dated April 1984, which left an indelible impression on me when I was eleven. Three decades later you can take this dramatic splash page totally out of context and pretend it’s symbolic of you as the one true arbiter of What America Is Really All About, Spider-Man and alt-universe Sam Wilson’s army are your friends who agree with you on everything as far as you know, and the other Captain America is everyone whose idea of America is the exact opposite of yours, thus making them evil impostors who must be crushed. With all those Zip-a-Tone layers giving it more lighting depth than any other page in the issue, I have no idea why no one ever turned this into a poster.