A number of weeks ago I had two friends interested in making a trip to Chicago, so I just rolled them both into a single, super weekend. To far right in the picture below is Hinako, someone I had gotten to know a bit while in Japan. She’s now learning English in L.A. but decided that flying in for only a weekend could be justified. The two on my right are fraternity friend Matt Wiersum and his special friend ‘Sally’ from China (wearing my cardigan…). Then to the far left is my housemate, token Wisconsinite and co-host extraordinaire, Jason. Of course you have myself as well, significantly happier than what this ill timed exposure might suggest. I was skirting the empyrean…
There was a lot of running around to get everyone under the same roof on that Friday: two trips to O’Hare, and another all the way down to Midway. It wasn’t until about midnight that we convened in my kitchen to take that photo, prime up, and take off to do a little dancing. We were out for a couple hours before coming back, but everyone had a solid time.
The next morning we really soaked in the comforts of our beds and couches before tackling the day and being productive. When we did finally greet the shining sun, it was to go and get some Portillo’s, the finest of Chicagoan food. I had never been, but Jason’s weekly raving meant it warranted investigation. The inside is filled with flair, and a unique atmosphere. I navigated the line and at was able to sit down along side this glorious Italian Beef Sandwich. Notice, it has the giardiniera peppers that are popular in these parts.
Once we finished our filling feast, it was time to regroup at home and then take the train to The Loop. I’m sure we squandered the morning hours, but even walking around for an afternoon was going to be good. The train takes about 45 minutes, which is so much better than the cost and time associated with a daily commute from downtown. Once arrived, we just stated ambulating in the direction of the shore. I knew for sure that we needed to make it to the bean, but also wanted to take a stroll down the Magnificent Mile. Millennium Park was our first landmark though. Expected photo to follow:
We moved north from there for a good while before hitting the Magnificent Mile, and later the base of the John Hancock building. Our plan was to go up to the skybar for a drink to enjoy the sunset in class. The ground floor is as far as we got though, since China decided to leave her ID at my place. This curtailed our evening plans greatly, so we set our sights on the 20:30 train (rather than the following one at 23:30) but not wanting to truncate it too basdly swung into The Billy Goat Tavern. My guests cared not about the whole legend of the Cubs and their goat curse, but were happy to enjoy soak in this local landmark.
We narrowly made the train back thanks to Hinako’s sloth-like pace, but ride it we did. We called in an order for the Chicago deep dish I knew they had to have, so that we could stuff our faces and enjoy some NCAA basketball with Jason. I think it’s clear just how happy this all made me. That, to my left is an empty salsa jar…hint hint.
As we supped and reveled in the company of each other, excitement began to bubble up and soon the inevitability of another great night out was coming on like a freight train. We were able to get an earlier start than the night before, and swung by a German bar first. We were all enjoying conversation in a booth, but those seats were soon unable to contain our energy. We gushed out and started the limb flailing synonymous with uncoordinated white men dancing. This was a sign that we needed to get back to Durty Nellie’s, where they always have live music. We went there the night before and it was just alright (“The band’s name was ‘Stache’, and none of them had a mustache!”), but this was a clean slate. The five of us were all meshing well, so we just danced in our little bubble, laughing and having a great time. We walked home in the wee hours, myself certain that the riot of that Palatine outing would be placed on a pedestal and not likely ever eclipsed. I should point out that the Badgers made it to the Final Four that night, hence Jason’s hat, and also opine that Sally was the only one who looked good here.
We got up the next morning and went over to Grammy D’s to enjoy a glorious American diner breakfast. Both girls had no idea how to order their eggs, which is fair, since something like ‘over medium’ would only ever be said in that situation. I’m so glad I didn’t have to learn English as a second language… After regrouping at home, Hinako packed up and we set off for the lake. I felt like missing Lake Michigan would mark my failure as a host, and though we only have had a brief while to spend there, it was good. I assured them that the Michigan side is significantly better. We dropped Hinako at the airport, and then rushed home after that. Sally was feeling the ebb and flow of the road, and really wanted to sleep off the nausea. That hiccup aside, grand times were had by all throughout the weekend. I’ve always enjoyed playing the role of host (the gift runs in the family) and look forward to some shindigs coming up on the horizon.