My wife being a lawyer ruined the Shedd Aquarium for me, for many years.
I probably should let you puzzle over what the connection could be for a little while, one of those links utterly mystifying until revealed, when it becomes obvious.
The answer: her white shoe law firm would have its Christmas party at the Shedd. A band, a bar, a dinner—I always ordered the fish, it seemed an amusing perversity.
Because of this, when there wasn't a lux party going on, the aquarium seemed plain. Just fish. I'd go back to do a story—my look at the enormous backroom operation feeding the fish is one of my favorites—but unlike the Art Institute or the Field Museum or the MCA, it just wasn't someplace I was going to swing by on my own volition.
Years went by.
That changed over Valentine's Day. My wife and I didn't have any plans to go out-of-town this winter, so decided on a "staycation"—a morning at the indulgent Ancient Aire Baths, lunch at RL, and then a visit to the aquarium.
Somehow, I knew I would like it more than previously, and I also knew exactly why: my iPhone. Somehow, taking photographs of the colorful fish made it more real than just looking at them. I don't know if that's a good or bad thing, it just is.
We spent two hours there, took in the whale show, bonded with an octopus to such a degree that I don't believe my wife will ever eat them again, not even perfectly broiled at Pstaria, though knowing myself I will find a way. I learned more about fish in those two hours than I've learned in the previous two decades, with plenty of intriguing species I want to explore more fully at a latter time, such as the swirling vortex of "false herring," a spinning sphere of fish which, given the name, must be something else masquerading as herring though, alas, the Shedd guide narrating to a group about fish in the tank could not illuminate the situation. I'll get on that.