One of my earliest sports-related memories, apart from being forcibly drowned by the summer camp bus driver/swim coach, was going to a Blackhawks game at the old Chicago Stadium, pre-MJ. I was maybe six, too lanky to play, didn’t know how to skate anyway. Plus I was already permanently embarrassed due to a bad stutter, which nearly kept me bedroom-bound. The first game Dad took me to, during Denis Savard‘s first stint with the Hawks, was an eye-opening experience: I was doused with my first Budweiser, ate my first Vienna Beef Chicago-style hot dog (Mom’s dogs were slathered in nothing more than ketchup), and I almost caught my first puck. Or Dad did. He’s pretty adamant he was the one responsible for reaching up and knocking it down before it peeled off into a deeper row, and now that I think about it he’s probably right. But, in my youthful nimbleness, I was the one who darted between foreign legs and picked the puck up. We still have it, all these years later.

Last night, after raucous all-night celebrations on the streets of Chicago, my brother got to touch the Stanley Cup. Which I think is illegal, or frowned upon.But that’s the way we do it in Chicago: there ain’t nothin’ on a pedestal, not even the stinkin’ Stanley Cup. As it well should be in what’s supposed to be this democracy of ours.