I woke up this morning with the really strong feeling that I should have the day off work. Then, I checked my email and had a message from Millie’s Pierogi, a mail-order pierogi outfit based in Ohio. (Yes, I subscribe to a lot of e-commerce newsletters through which I can order meats, cheeses and starches.) This convergence of events led me to realize: It’s Casimir Pulaski Day!
This day is very important to me for several reasons:
1. I am not Polish but I know a lot of Polish people, having grown up on the South Side of Chicago. They make excellent food (see above: pierogi and let’s not forget sausages or kolacky) and excellent White Sox (see: A.J. Pierzynski).
2. Growing up, this day always marked a three-day weekend for Illinois public schools, even though most of us, when pressed, would not have been able to tell you much — if anything — about Casimir Pulaski. We should have been able to: Look at his amazing mustache, above, not to mention his showy horse-riding skills.
3. Pulaski is a street about a mile from where I grew up in Chicago and contains many landmarks of which I am fond:
- O’Reilly’s Daughter, a pub outside of which I met and shook hands with Barack Obama in 2000 at a fundraiser for the only election he ever lost;
- a Showbiz Pizza (I think now a Chuck E. Cheese) where I celebrated my birthday once, even though my mom was very nervous I’d be kidnapped there;
- a cigar-store Indian on top of an optometrist that I’d pass on my way to I-55, the Stevenson Expressway;
- Brother Rice High School, whose prom was more fun than my own with better music;
- Wojo’s, a hot dog stand with 60 flavors of milkshakes!
4. Because Casimir Pulaski Day weekend figures prominently in my book, The End of the World As We Know It. I can’t be sure, but I sincerely think it might be the only teen action-adventure sci-fi comedy ever to be set on and around this auspicious day. And, yes, I do promise that if you read it, you will have a more-than-cursory understanding of who Casimir was and why he was important. (Plus, other stuff.)
Now, how fast do you think FedEx can ship me some pierogi?