Dear Log Cabin,
Back in my familiar bocce surroundings like Johnny to June, I find my thoughts drifting to you. Where the perfume of perennial cigarette smoke and bitter gin cocktails somehow made everything taste like timber. Where rather than roll, the balls gently polka’d towards pallinos, reminding us all that life is always better when you allow yourself to dance. Where the slapdash antiquity almost formed perfect constellations, until stubbornly interrupted by a toy truck or weathered bikini babe wall art. Who needs the stars when gravity pulls all of us closer to your imperfection?
It’s not one thing. It’s the accidental convergence with a koi pond while winding through Pole’s Labyrinth. It’s the way your league manager introduced me to each passing player with the pride of a first grader at his own birthday party. It’s forgetting that I’ve met half of your players over the years, and while it’s just bocce on a Monday, it’s a symbol for fellowship, and the bocce bond.
It’s the dog dressed as an Ewok. It’s the free sandwiches. It’s meat grinder noir meets license plate chic.
It’s the several warnings to stay away from Hippie if you don’t trust your toke up tolerance. It’s Harriet, or maybe it’s Yagoda, who stands on the meridian of traditional Polish tavern and bocce paradise shouting, “anybody needs anything?”. It’s as calming as a commuter rail’s whistle, and it’s so engrained in the league, that one team is named exactly that: Anybody Needs Anything.
It’s the way Spicy offered up his spot in seniority just to get us in the league, or how a tourist like me could be reffing games before 9:00 and taking shots with strangers by 10:00.
It’s a small bocce league at a small Polish bar in a small Chicago suburb with a big heart. It’s everything, all at once.
Empty bocce courts feel like abandoned towns to untrained eyes, but those of us who worship see hope chests filled with stories and anticipation. And baby, if you don’t mind me saying, yours is full to the gills.
You could build a bocce court from Campo to Campania and not capture as much character as you can on a league night at The Log Cabin.
Alex P. Bocce