Hanging Out in Rockford: It’s happening in Block 5

The mayor and Jim Thacker are sitting in the James Joyce booth. They invite me to sit with them, and I do for a while. Since Larry Morrissey has become mayor, I don’t like to take too much of his time. Most of the time when he comes to the Irish Rose now, it is because he and his guests are working on some project or another and I don’t like to interfere.

Tonight, however, is different. We talk about different things that are happening in town. Larry re-impresses me with his ability to set his own agenda aside and think about things from the vantage point of others. There have been a number of times this has happened since he has been elected. It reassures the faith I had in him. Larry is one of those unusual people, a truly good person.

He is in a good mood tonight, and he asks me if I would like to go to the Cheap Trick concert in Milwaukee Friday. Of course, I say yes. He has backstage passes. He suggests we should invite Frank Schier, and I say I will take care of that. I leave them alone to do their business, and walk down the street to Little Italy to have a glass of wine.

Frank is at Little Italy, and I relay the mayor’s invitation. He is as excited as I am, and I tell him I will get back to him with the information about time and so on. Later in the week, we are doing the mayor’s “Round the World” benefit, and I see Jennifer, his executive assistant. I mention we are going to the concert, and she says the mayor has to officiate at an event at the Clock Tower, so he will be late getting started. Not even the mayor is aware of this at the time.

The next day, I go to the market and tell all my suppliers that I am going to a Cheap Trick concert in Milwaukee and that I am going with the mayor and that we have backstage passes. All my suppliers are impressed. I am pretty excited about the whole thing.

Friday comes, and I get up early to do the money and run around to do some errands. I want to get everything out of the way for the day and have time to catch a nap, so I am full of beans for what I know will be a long evening. One of my errands is to renew my prescriptions. I call Rog at the downtown pharmacy, and he has them ready for me as usual. There is some kind of mix-up on my meds. Last time, I got pills that were only half strength, and for a month I think I was taking half the dose I was supposed to be taking. I am kind of unaware at that point and don’t figure it out. I take my new meds.

All of a sudden, I am in la-la land. I am getting dizzy and kind of whited out. I don’t realize it is because of the level of my meds being restored. I just know I am feeling pretty goofy. I try to take a nap, but I still don’t feel all that together. About 5:30, I call Thacker to tell him I have to back out.

Frank calls, and he has acquired a limousine for the trip. He is upset that I am not going, and he really pushes me to change my mind. But I am still not feeling really well, and I decline. He seems almost hurt. Later in the evening, I am consolidating what is left of my medication. I discover the two different labels. I suddenly understand what has happened. Relieved by this knowledge, I wander downstairs to the restaurant.

After a while, I decide to walk down to the Casbah to have a glass of wine. The initial effect of the increased medication is wearing off. I sit at the bar and have a glass of wine. Nello says his grand opening is a week away. I tell him I will bring a whole salmon. He tries to discourage me, but I am insistent.

More next week.

Mike Leifheit’s “Hanging Out In Rockford” reviews locally-owned restaurants, businesses and Rockford life. These columns are available on his Web site, IrishRoseRockford.com. Leifheit is owner of the Irish Rose restaurant in the downtown River District.

From the Feb. 15-21, 2006, issue

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