The price of ‘survival’ is… ridiculous.

However, I was carrying my own wallet, and I was in a situation where there was a dire need for food, because I knew without the proper nourishment to sustain my health, I would surely collapse and die within a matter of weeks. The setting of this life-and-not-quite-death situation was Chicago, the home of deep-dish pizza and the White Sox, although, as far as I could tell, nobody really cares.

Chicago is quite alive, considering the fact that it experienced a devastating fire only a few years ago. No, wait. Maybe I need to read some more recent resources.

I was actually in Chicago with the International Lions Convention. I?m in the local Leo Club, which is a lot like a Lions Club except?and I admit I?ve used this explanation before-?all of its members have their original key joints.

I was actually in a group of about 55 other Leos from all over Kansas and a handful of adult sponsors who miraculously did not lose us, simply by drawing imaginary lines on the floor and threatening us.

But that is not the main thrust of this column. The main thrust of this column, once I actually get around to thrusting it, is that I am trying to thrust the word ?thrust? into this paragraph as many times as thrust able.

OK, that about does it.

Seriously, the main point of this column is that by careful observation of human beings, many businesses have discovered that people will buy just about anything for any price, as long as there is at least a slight need for it. One of my earliest over-spending moments on the trip came when a small group attended a concert featuring Glenn ?The Rhinestone Cowboy? Campbell, legendary country music star and rapidly aging man.

This concert was at the United Center, home of the Chicago Bulls. As it was around supper time, we visited the concession stands. My personal plan of action was just to get a cup of pop. My conversation with the woman behind the counter went a lot like this:

Me: How much for a small Pepsi?
Her: Two dollars and seventy-five cents.
Me: OK, I?m going to think about that for a while.

I then proceeded to scuttle away as quickly as possible, before the dollar bills voluntarily began jumping out of my pocket. I had just narrowly avoided paying for an overpriced food item. That time.

However, halfway through the concert, one of my friends said he was going to get something to eat, and offered to grab me something. Being completely enraptured with the star in front of me, I mumbled something about pizza without thinking, and handed over some money.

What I got was a slice of deep
dish pizza?which, for the
record, was not really that
good?for a lovely price of
almost $5.

And while I mentally scolded
myself for not being frugal,
things only went downhill from
there.

For our last night in Chicago,
a small group of Leos and sponsors
attended a performance of
the Broadway-hit musical
?Wicked.?

The doors opened at a certain
time, and we had gotten there
early, so we spent several minutes
crammed into a small area,
where it soon became very hot.
Once the doors opened, there
were several stands for either
souvenirs or concessions.

Being thirsty, I quickly passed
the souvenirs and ordered a bottle
of water. What I ended up getting
was a small, plastic bottle
that contained enough liquid to
barely fill a coffee cup. And I
happily paid $3 for it.

After the show ended, the theater
got more of my money by
making me feel so inspired from
the plot and music that I just had
to buy a souvenir book. For a
whopping $40.

(In my defense, it is full color.)

After reading this, it should
not surprise you that I paid
nearly $15.for a sandwich and a
bottle of pop at the convention
center.

I knowingly played into the
ever-going game that no matter
the price, people will continue to
pay outlandishly high costs just
to satisfy their current need.
However, since I got a whole
column out of this, I think it
would be completely appropriate
to count it as a work expense,
and that the Free Press should
be more than happy to pick up
the tab.

Of course, I?m just kidding.
Sort of.

I still have the receipts.

* * *

UFO: Although I can?t find
whether this is still true, the slogan
of 105.9, the classic rock
radio station in Chicago, is, or at
least was at one point, ?Of all
the radio stations in Chicago…
we?re one of them.?

Don?t ask why.