Wednesday, January 21, 2009

First try in the Second City

CHICAGO – Good Midwestern ladies. That's what we were looking for. After all, my mom is from the Midwest, and it's probably the most socially acceptable construct of the whole Oedipus concept, right?

I didn't have a good reason to be in the Chicago. It wasn't the right time to be visiting; the night I arrived it went down to -40, supposedly the coldest day in a decade. Our room had a view of Lake Michigan, and people tried to describe an elusive beach that locals consistently claimed would appear a couple months later. Instead, we looked out over a white expanse with strangely symmetrical wind blown patterns scattered as far as I could see.

My friend had a med school interview, and his dad got him a room at the W hotel. Chicago seems like a place everyone should see, and I’d never been. So on Tuesday night I bought a ticket that left late on Thursday.

On Friday I went to the Museum of Contemporary Art, something I would treat with marginal irrelevance in Atlanta, but as a visitor it seemed imperative. After taking in some of the most cutting edge art our country has to offer, I felt like I could return to the W with my head held high.

While trekking around on foot afterward, trying to absorb the city, I was forced to purchase my first scarf. An item that is appropriately bemoaned in the South by men, but necessary for all in the hellish climates to our north. I was unable to replicate the standard scarf wearing techniques, and settled for an arrangement I call the double noose.

Despite the temperature, I was really impressed with the place. And as we headed to dinner at a Chicago style pizza establishment, I had a good feeling about my decision to come.

All day we had been inquiring every friendly faced individual under the age of 30 for the ideal location to enjoy a night full of overindulgence. Our list was unrealistic:
• Attractive girls
• Authentic
• Lots of energy
• A grandpa like bartender, who loves to tell stories about the good ole’ days.
• Reasonably priced drinks
• Other acceptable establishments nearby, in case things go awry

Surprisingly, nothing fit our requirements, and we settled for a place named Rockit.

When John proposed I come with him for the weekend, he claimed that together we would "take the city over." True, Chicago is the third largest city in the country, but he rarely lies and we set out to do just that.

We bought an overpriced beer, and continued our now five hour long dialogue. Basically we were vibing. So much so that the only women who paid any interest to us were less than three feet away. Our vibe must have been misconstrued due to our new geographic location because they said, "you guys don't look like you're having fun."

Grateful for the new company, we immediately switched into hilarious mode. John took a liking to one of the girls, and after about thirty minutes I caught myself wondering.

Enter Jolene, the singular animate love of my trip. I’m not sure if that's a Midwestern name or not, but she certainly fit the wholesome prototype I was searching for – a simple seeming girl, who's an honest to God straight shooter.

Girls from the South are often referred to as 'sweet.' I think girls in Chicago would take offense to that adjective. I don't want to exaggerate, but I got the sense they were more interested in visualizing their independence than creating heart shaped cardboard cutouts for their significant other.

I love the feeling of freshly cut cardboard in my hand, so I’m not sure which I prefer.

Anyway, I'd like to think Jolene and I hit it off, but she left less than an hour after we met. Disheartened, I resigned to tagging along with John and the girls he was sitting casually with now.

About an hour later, after a 1/16th of a mile taxi ride, the girl John was with got a text asking her to give me Jolene's number. I instantly texted her, but she was in bed. However, she asked if we wanted to come to a party the next day.

We danced, drank, conversated, and checked our coats in and out of numerous coat checks.

After 3 a.m., regardless of consumption, I begin to sober up. Tired and approaching grumpy I snuck out to get a taxi, thinking I was doing John a favor by leaving him with his special lady friend. A couple minutes later, in the middle of a conversation with my driver about typical seating arrangements in taxis (I always try to sit in the front seat, and he claimed I shouldn't as a safety concern), I get a text from John asking if I'd already left.

He arrived home a few minutes after me, and we fell asleep with all of the lights on.

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