While walking south on LaSalle between Erie and Ontario I was approached by a man wearing jeans, sneakers, and a T-shirt, like me, who also like me had a toothpick sticking out of his mouth. Possibly because he was black and I’m white, he assured me that he wasn’t a criminal or a vagrant before asking, “Are you an honest man?”


“I’ll bet you the price of a hot dog that I can tell you how many children your father had.”

“How much is a hot dog?” I asked, craftily.

“$2.79 at that place right down there.”

Too much money. “I’ll bet you a buck,” I said, before asking, “Are you talking about stepchildren too?”

“No, just the children your father had with your mother.”

“OK.” I pulled four quarters out of my pocket.

“The answer is zero,” he declared. “You know damn well your father didn’t have no children! Your mother had them all.”

I paid the man, but as he was walking away I called after him, “Hey! Bet I know where you got those shoes.”

“Yeah,” he laughed. “On my feet.”