A Chicago weekend sans drama? What!?
Warning: No deep insights here, just a chronicle. Proceed at your own risk!
I had another great weekend in Chicago! Last Thursday evening I took a Greyhound from Milwaukee, which cost $21.12. The trip was smooth and the bus fairly empty. Once there, I took the No. 8 bus from West Harrison Street up Halsted Street to Boystown. It was my first time on a city bus other than in Madison, and the first time I paid cash on a bus. I admit I was a bit worried I would look stupid trying to figure out where to put the money, though at least I looked up ahead of time how much to pay!
Once I got to Boystown, I stopped at Jarrett’s place, as Andrew wouldn’t be home for another hour. We talked about the last time I was in Chicago and a few other things. It was nice to see him again! Eventually I left for Andrews, which was a few blocks away. Then him and I ate at an apparent classic restaurant called Nookies Tree House, open 24 hours on the weekends. I ordered a burger, as I usually do at new restaurants with burgers to offer. The one I got had mushrooms and gouda, and it was pretty delicious. After the soup, pickle and fries, I ate half the burger and took the rest home in case we were going out.
Once home, we tried to figure out who was going out. It turned out no one was, until Bill texted after midnight saying he was finally going to go out. Andrew wanted to just stay in at that point, so we just went to bed soon after that.
The next day, Andrew went to work while I slept and putzed on my laptop till evening. Then we ordered pizza from Giordano, a place that puts cheese and things inside the pizza, like a pie. It was quite thick and quite good, though a bit more challenging to eat than regular pizza.
Then we prepared to go to David G’s house. Andrew doesn’t like to drink before going out, but I usually prefer to have a couple of drinks to boost my confidence, especially before meeting new people. Maybe some day I’ll grow out of it…
So Friday night was pretty ridiculous. I think I was at several bars, but lost track, and also didn’t take any photographs. At least I somehow managed to keep my camera with me the whole time. I think the night started at Scarlet, as that was my first Foursquare check-in, and apparently I met my Twitter friend Jordan B, based on tweets the next day. I don’t really remember that at all. I do have sparse memories of being at a bar called Jackhammer, which apparently has a basement area that requires shirt removal or a piece of leather. Andrew tells me him and I removed our shirts. This I do not remember. Either at that bar or somewhere nearby we went to a store of some sort that sells cock rings… and I guess someone bought me one. I don’t remember that at all, either. Oy.
After the bars, Andrew, one other and I (I think we were the only ones.) went to eat at Melrose Restaurant. I’m not sure how it came to be, but we ran into Jarrett F and he ate with us. Andrew was upset from when David and I apparently ventured off without him at Jackhammer, but I don’t really remember anything about eating there. I discovered the next day a receipt, so apparently I paid.
When my memory starts to kick in is when we were walking home as a group. A friend pulled me into a door. “Let’s check this place out.” Steamworks. Yeah, the bathhouse we always joke about going to in Madison. Well, it was actually quite interesting. I got an informal tour of the facility; it was clean and filled with dark corridors. Eventually I was left to explore on my own. I kind of ventured trying to find someone near my age, though there weren’t many that morning. Eventually I ran into a 20 year old guy from Peru, so him and I walked around, sat in the pool and explored for who knows how long.
Once we left, I was shocked and appalled to see how bright it was outside. 8:30 a.m.! Holy crap, I had no idea how long I was there or when I got there, or where the friend who brought me went, but then I was worried about where to stay. I headed toward Andrews and started calling him, fearing he wouldn’t answer due to being passed out, having brought someone else home or both. Luckily he answered as I neared his place, I relayed to him my experience and back to bed we went.
Once we got up, it was the late afternoon, and it was time to plan the evening activities. I messaged Bill on Facebook to see about a possible movie mentioned the night before. He responded asking if we had dinner plans, to which I replied in the negative, and he invited us over at 7. As the time neared, apparently some things came up and the engagement was postponed, canceled and then reinstated at the postponed time. I was glad, partly because I was hungry and mostly because I really wanted to see Bill again, and the previous couple of nights that did not happen.
“You’re a player.”
“Wouldn’t that imply pursuing multiple guys, simultaneously?”
“Well, you’re a smooth operator.”
So Andrew and I went to Bill’s a bit before 8, and we then ordered food from an Asian restaurant called Ping Pong. It was pretty good! Bill discussed his work as a jury consultant with Andrew and I for quite a while. I hadn’t previously known about that concept, so it was fascinating. We also talked about photography after he complimented my Nikon D7000 and showed me his new Sony. I was glad we got to have a decent discussion about something of substance and where I didn’t make an ass of myself.
After eating, the gay troupe arrived: Jeff W, his new boyfriend Leo M, an 18 year old named Tim L and Brock W, the one whom I first met when he came to see Joey in Madison. It was slightly awkward upon their arrival, perhaps mostly because I had been wanting to talk privately with Jeff since the incident last time, never had a chance, and now he was here with his new boyfriend. But Jeff sat next to me and we got along fine, so I guess it’s all right now.
We all started having some drinks, some more slowly (Andrew!) than others (cough). I was offered drinks but opted to finish the rum I had brought, and the rest drank wine and Svedka (not together, I hope). Bill is quite accommodating! After an hour or two, it was time to go to Jack’s for a prebar gathering, which I was slightly nervous for because I thought Jack didn’t like me that much previously. I guess that turned around.
A strategy I often employ to get photos at parties with people I just met is to let someone else take the photos. I chose Brock as the trusted guardian of the camera, for better or for worse.
The socializing went fine, and then we went out to Scarlet first. I re-met Twitter friend Jordan, and had a great time overall while limiting it to a couple of drinks. Somehow I came home with more money than I left with, even after buying a drink and paying cover and a coat check.
On the dance floor at Berlin, I met Jake G, who I was delighted to learn uses Twitter also. We danced together for a long time and eventually incorporated Brock into the festivities. It was quite a ridiculous spectacle I am sure, but that’s what I live for.
Somehow I had lost Andrew at the previous bar, so as it neared closing time, Jake graciously volunteered to host us. Luckily he was within walking distance of Andrew’s, but Jake did have to go to a lunch thing at 11. At least it forced me to get up at a reasonable hour. Brock had to leave by 7, so I wasn’t complaining. I think he only got an hour of sleep, but I can’t vouch for when he awoke… so I hope he made it to track practice or whatever it was. It sounded important.
I’m glad I spent time with those two; I really like them.
Sunday I returned to Andrew’s, fell asleep for a few hours and woke up just in time to realize I was late for the bus to go back home. I spent less than five minutes packing all my things, saying thank you and goodbye to Andrew and heading out to find the No. 8 to head back down to South Halsted Street. The bus took longer than Google said it would, and after running from the stop to the Greyhound station, I made it just in time for the 4:54 p.m. departure. I was one of the lucky few to not get his own seat, and had I known this would be the case, I wouldn’t have walked all the way to the back to end up sitting right next to the bathroom. Thankfully no one made it smell terribly on this trip.
I slept most of the way listening to CocoRosie. Mom picked me up at the Milwaukee Intermodal Station, and I was hoping we’d get food, as I hadn’t eaten since the night before (thankfully). It turned out Mom and friends had just gone to El Rey and had a package of carnitas, so I just ate some of that.
Once home, I got ready for Jim S’s game night. Josh and Ryan were in Madison, so I tried to convince a new Facebook acquaintance Bo to come. Somehow I succeeded, so I went and picked up Bo and then headed to Jim’s. (Actually, I got to Jim’s, and then “succeeded,” so continued on to Bo’s and then came back.) Conversation in the car maybe was a bit strained and lacking, but it wasn’t that bad I suppose. Bo was adorable, so that was good.
I wasn’t sure what to expect at Jim’s, as I had no idea who would be present or what would be going on. I was delighted to see some familiar faces upon arrival, and the situation wasn’t too awkward. I ate one of the precheesed burgers they had prepared, and after some kitchen conversation, we migrated to the living room to partake in some gaming action. It took a while to decide, but we eventually played a round each of Wits & Wagers (quite fun and quick), Balderdash (really fun) and Family Feud (which I sucked at). Bo and I got along pretty well, and I really liked his withheld smiles. He admitted he almost flaked, but was glad he went through with the night. I was glad, too.
After midnight, the party eventually broke up, as some headed to bed and others headed to the bars. I left with Bo, hoping we could hang out a bit more. I might have made a suggestive comment, though I wasn’t as forward as I often can be. So I took Bo back and then returned home. We talked a bit online and arranged to hang out the next day.
The next day: I was quite unproductive in the afternoon, looking forward to hanging out with Bo after he finished at work. It turned out he didn’t work due to the snow, and went to work out in the evening. I was fine, thinking our hanging out was just delayed. Eventually it became clear he was likely going to suggest an alternate date. And he did. But I persisted. Might have guilted. But not too obnoxiously, I hope. Anyway, he eventually agreed to hang out, and we did. We watched The Insider, a favorite movie of mine. I’m not sure what he thought of it, but we had a good time.
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