To Dig Chicago, Part 3: Finish It All Before You Can’t Anymore
I woke up at 10, dehydrated and feeling like hell. I lied back on the couch and surfed the internet trying to unfuzz myself and planned out my last day in town. I had Second City tickets that night and was going with a girl named AmyJo, a friend of Robert’s from Houston, so I knew I had to be back by 6 to shower and such.
THINGS TO DO:
Eat a slice of deep-dish pizza
See Chicago from the Hancock Observatory
Check out some art at the Art Institute of Chicago and feel like Ferris Bueller
Go to Chicago Comics one last time
Get some souvenirs
I set off fairly late and waited in line at the Hancock for a long time, but the view was worth it. All of Chicago stretched out before me in four directions. I snapped and uploaded a few photos and took in the majesty of urban collectives and decided to get back down in it at once. A hop onto the Red Line put me right next to the Art Institute but the line for tickets was out the door and I didn’t feel like going through something like that again. I sat on the steps and listened to a hipster tear up a fiddle. I noticed, of all things, a Bennigan’s across the street so I Instagrammed it and continued walking.
I found a place called Lou Malnati’s that did deep dish so I ordered a personal size and dozed off in the booth as I waited 35 minutes for it to come out, as was advertised on the menu. It was good enough pizza but I wasn’t blown away. I found myself wishing that I’d taken more time to get authentic Chicago pizza other than this one experience. Oh well.
I went to a t-shirt shop and had a Chicago flag printed up on a gray tee and walked down to Chicago Comics for one last look around. I convinced myself not to buy a $100 brick that collected all 100 issues of Batman: Shadow of the Bat but failed when it came to a replica of Matt Smith’s red bow tie from Doctor Who. As I was browsing I was pleasantly surprised to see Jason Poland’s Robbie and Bobby collection in the Humor section. I talked to an employee about how good it is, hoping that he’d use some of the things I said as selling points, and made my exit when I discovered the time.
I was dead tired so I took a quick nap that made me run late. AmyJo was texting so I took the cab down to Second City and met her in the downstairs lobby. She’s a beautiful girl with a great smile and joyous presence so all was well fairly quickly. She’d just got to town at the beginning of the week and was doing two weeks at Second City for writing. She had the glow in her eye that I had at the beginning, star-struck and surreal. It was a good thing to see and be around on my last day in town.
The main stage show was way better than the ETC show I’d seen when I first got here. The theme was more coherent, the players more confident, the tech even more spot-on. It had its share of strange sour notes, though. They nearly alienated the audience at times by being a little soap-boxy and breaking into strangely bitter anti-Republican taglines. Some of the physical comedy was too “clever,” as Jet would say. Some scenes, though, were hilarious and are making me laugh as I’m typing this and remembering it. Steve Waltien was in it also, creating a bit of full-circle apropos to be in the same room with him at the end.
As we filed out AmyJo asked me what was playing at iO. When I told her it was Improvised Shakespeare she flipped and we took a cab down and squeezed in. I saw Caitlin and some other intensive students and I turned my head to avoid them. It was an unexpectedly close feeling to saying bye to a friend after lunch and then walking off in the same direction towards your respective cars. I already said goodbye. I didn’t want to say it again.
Shakespeare, unsurprisingly, blew AmyJo’s mind. They did a Tempest-influenced play called “The Funky Monkey” and my favorite performer Ross was pimped out to sing a great many amount of songs. It was definitely the weakest of the shows I’d seen but it was still awesome.
I walked AmyJo to the Red Line and waited for her to catch the train. As we talked and she gushed about Improvised Shakespeare and expressed a desire to sign up for Haterade the next day, Ross walked up and sat down at a bench waiting for another train. After some prodding I got her to walk up and talk to him, which made her day immensely. I smiled wide. Coming off of what just happened to me, to hang out with someone at the beginning of it all just felt good.
She got on the train and I was about to head home and call it a night when I got a text from Lauren to meet up at Joe’s. I got there and waited for her in the 66 degree weather as a group of drunken partiers left to go to Big City Tap. When Lauren arrived the atmosphere was perfect. We talked and relaxed and were ourselves, a thing I’m finding easier and easier to be when I’m around her. At 2am we walked over to her apartment. I used the restroom and when I came out she’d gone to her room. I went to open the door and she stopped me. “Don’t come in, I’m changing!”
I could see her body, breasts bare and pants halfway down. I had a choice of barging in like I did in the old days, something I knew would garner a positive response, or respecting her privacy and going to the couch to sit down and wait for her to come out. I chose the latter.
She came out in loose-fitting cotton shorts and an oversized A&M shirt and lied down in my lap as I was watching Seven on her digital cable.
“You know after all this time I still love you?” I asked.
“Yeah,” she replied, relieved. “I love you too.”
“I don’t know if I ever stopped.”
“I didn’t either. It’s so silly.”
Then I leaned over and we kissed for real. And we meant it.
Before we knew it we were asleep in weird positions on the couch so I stirred us awake and we moved over to her bed. I stripped down to my boxers and climbed in after her and we played around tickling each other and laughing before I put my arm around her and we spooned each other to sleep in the quiet apartment. We told each other we were still in love and I thought back to a line about Lauren that I wrote in a letter to a friend. “I get the feeling that if Lauren and I were to continue our relationship further we would end up married.”
Then I was taken away by the silent whisper of sleep.