Stayed a few more days in Chicago after PokemonGo Fest, and it was an amazing vacation. I learned the metro system, toured the Loyola campus, visited the Museum of Science and Industry, found an Amazon bookstore, kicked it with the owner of a local comic shop that could literally fit into my living room, ate some amazing food, tried a few local brews, hit up the gay bar with some interesting friends my hosts kept, and genuinely had a wonderful time.
I mean, there was this one instance that maybe wasn’t so pleasant but I’m going to share it because it’s hilariously out of character for me, and I want to hold on to this person. Allison and Andy keep an interesting crew of friends. Most of them she met serving at a pretty high-end taco shop. It was one of their birthdays, so we met them for dinner (at the taco shop) and had a few drinks with them. The party moved to a bar down the street from Allison’s place, and a few late-arrivals walked in.
I don’t remember his name, and it doesn’t matter. Apparently this kid is just a bad apple and he needs some help – which hearsay tells me the whole friend group has at one time or another offered him, forced upon him, or tried to give him. Whatever this kid’s deal is, I guess 3-pints-deep-me wasn’t having it.
We were sitting at a hightop bar table, the kid across from me and one of the girls to my left. He was eating pizza, grabbing the next slice as the cheese stretched an arm’s length away. He dangled it in the air, hovering the slice over his mouth until he landed it on his tongue and smacked his way up the cheese line to destination pizza. I’m not one to hide my face under normal circumstances – even sober me could not have hidden it well. However, tipsy me flat-lined a “Gross” while my face contorted on its own.
This is the moment my brain packed its bags and moved outside of my body. I was simultaneously experiencing the conversation as it unfolded and witnessing the scene from another table.
“It’s not gross.”
“Nah, it was gross. I was here to see it.” The girl to my left confirmed that it was “a bit much” and “you eat loud.” “See,” I said? Two for three, it was gross.”
“If it were any one of you, it would’ve been sexy.” That struck me stupid. My head cocked and I noticed my senses sitting at the other table. Other-me nodded, raised her Guinness, and gave me permission.
The conversation devolved rapidly into a sexist vortex of stupid and the poor girl between us was simultaneously trying to keep the peace and call him a pig. I can’t remember the majority of the conversation, but I do recall saying, “It’s not the size of the boat, it’s the motion of the ocean” while defending the small-penis-wielding population.
I stood up. “The fact that I’m now having to defend fragile masculinity in the face of your even more fragile masculinity is astounding. Figure it out, dude. Til then, fuck off.” And I calmly walked to the bar and ordered another drink.
Unfortunately, the evening quickly wrapped itself up, the whole crew apologizing to me over this friend of theirs. “Everything is perfectly fine,” I explained. “I not upset at all, I just moved away.” The crew laughed and everyone was shoulder-punching and repeating, “Yeah, that’s just (whatever his name was).”
“No, that’s not an excuse guys. Y’all will grow up one day and realized “that’s just (name)” doesn’t suffice. You’ll see, because y’all are fun people and he’ll either change or you’ll leave him in the past.”
I want to be this person on a 24-hour basis. I want to be able to stand up to stupid -isms and move away when things get uncomfortable. I want to remember I have the power to leave, to speak, to coach at any and every given moment.
I laughed at myself the whole rest of the night. “I can’t believe you told a guy you just met to ‘fuck off.’ So much for making friends of friends, eh?” I apologized to Allison and Andy the next day just in case I made it awkward the night before. Both of them said not to worry. “I’ve been wanting to tell him that, too.” Andy chuckled. “And poor Allison over here just tries to psychoanalyze and help him.”
I finally get it. I get the pull of a big city – the bustling people living on top of one another. I get it. Chicago is a magical place, and I plan on visiting again.