Party on where cheese is king " Wisconsin |

Party on where cheese is king " Wisconsin

Fried rice
Heidi Rice
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

“Why do people in Wisconsin wear foam rubber cheese wedges on their heads?” I asked Husband-Head curiously. “Do they think it’s attractive or is it because they’ve had too much to drink?”

Husband-Head just shrugged.

“That’s how we do,” he said.

We were on our way to Wisconsin, where Husband-Head hails from, to a family gathering to celebrate his parent’s 60th wedding anniversary.

We flew into Milwaukee and arrived at his parent’s home along with many other family members. Husband-Head is the youngest of six children in his family, which now also includes kids, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

“My nephew has two kids,” Husband-Head pointed to two little mites running around in the yard. “That means you’re now a great-aunt.”

He thought that was funny because he knew I was not at all happy about being a great anything.

On the day of his parent’s party, a whole slew of us gathered at his sister’s house to get everything ready. We had to go to the grocery store to pick up the food, haul table settings, baskets, coolers, utensils, beer, wine, cakes and everything else to feed a crowd of about 80 people.

“This is mass CHAOS,” I whispered to Husband-Head as people went in and out of the house like a bunch of army ants on crack, putting things in various cars and no one having any clue as to who was bringing what or who to the park.

“These are the same people who left me at home for my first Communion,” Husband-Head commented, shaking his head. “Everybody thought somebody else had me.”

It sounded just like the 1990 “Home Alone” movie starring Macaulay Culkin, an 8-year-old boy who was accidentally left behind when his family left for a Christmas vacation to Paris.

“What did you DO?” I laughed.

“I stayed in my room and played with my toys until somebody finally came back and got me,” he shrugged.

In the end, the massive chaos turned into a massive party and I think everyone had a good time. Not that everyone probably remembered having a good time ” but they did.

“People in Wisconsin like to eat and drink … a LOT,” Husband-Head confided in me afterwards. “That’s what we do.”

“We’re fat alcoholics, but we’re happy!” should be the state motto.

And the fun didn’t stop there.

The next day, some friends wanted to take us to lunch at what is, apparently, a famous restaurant and bar in downtown Milwaukee called “The Safe House.”

Que in the music from the 1960s James Bond series of movies, “Secret AGENT Man! Secret AGENT Man!”

The Safe House, owned by a friend of a friend of ours, whom we can’t disclose or else we’ll have to kill you, is a very fun place ” especially after a martini that is shaken ” not stirred ” and sent flying around the building in a tube before it’s delivered to you.

When you walk up to the red front door of the Safe House ” which is only marked by the symbol of a keyhole ” you enter a room and must say the password or push the secret button to open the door into the establishment. Everyone I was with had been there before, except me ” so they decided I should be the one to try and get us in.

I walked around and around the room. The funny part is that everyone INSIDE the bar and the restaurant are watching you on closed circuit television and laughing as your happy butt tries to figure out how to get in.

But because everyone in my group was hungry, someone finally pushed the secret button. Sure enough, the fake book case turned around, a la the Anne Frank secret annex in Amsterdam, and we gained access.

Inside is a plethora of spy paraphernalia, along with secret nooks and crannies and funnier-than-hell tricks. One of them being a booth that turns into the bar next door which happens to be the Milwaukee Press Club ” which was founded in 1885 and is the oldest press club in the United States.

Above the press club’s bar is a petrified cat, which was apparently found in the walls of two buildings by two journalists investigating a fire and prompting the motto of the Milwaukee Press Club which is, “Where the only thing dead is the cat.”

Hundreds of signatures on chalk boards adorn the walls of the press club that include presidents, journalists and Hollywood stars.

I may get in trouble for this, but the password to the Safe House is: “I’m looking for a Safe House.”

“You never told me you Wisconsin people were so much fun,” I ribbed Husband-Head as we left the joint.

“That’s how we do,” he shrugged.

Heidi Rice is a reporter for the Post Independent. Her column runs every Friday. Visit her website at or feel free to comment on her blog on the Post Independent website.

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