Friday, August 8, 2011
Wicker Park, Chicago, IL
Dan is talking. I can hear him. I was listening. Something’s tuning me out- bah, be responsible man- I’m tuning out to something… someone, across the bar. A woman is staring me down like she means to jump me in the alley. I revert back to Dan. What he’s saying is important. He works for Be The Match, a bone marrow donor non-profit, and is debriefing me on exactly how it works. All they do is swab your cheek and- dammit, there she goes again. It’s not that I want to engage with this gal, it’s the look she’s giving me- it’s not sexual, it’s not interested… it’s conspiring. Perhaps I’m paranoid. After watching the Lincoln Lawyer- which is not your typical Matthew McConahay movie and if you say different, I will shave off your eyebrow- I’ve began to read into gesture a little more than the average cop. Sidenote: I’m not a cop, however this woman is still seeing to it that she either murders me with her eyes or sizes me up long enough to shank me outside of this bar.
Back to Dan, back to the conversation, back to the fact I’m in Chicago in lieu of my future-brother-in-law’s bachelor party and having the time of my life with an old college friend. Dan fills me in on his promotion from the Minneapolis branch of Be The Match, to h.m.i.c. of Chicago’s branch. 2 of his 3 things to follow in life are to be on time, and have fun. I forgot the 3rd, but I’ll ask’em later for it.
“Excuse me, are you Toussaint Morrison”, murmurs a voice from the crowd. I can’t find it for a split second, which sends me into a frayed confusion of “what the fuck is going on here, am I going schizophrenic this late in the game- ugh, I really am a late bloomer”. Quick, I turn nonchalantly towards the voice… it’s the woman from across the bar. The woman who wants to kill me... with her eyes, at least. She has vamped from across the bar to right-next-to-me town. Dan and I look at each other… take a moment… and laugh. “No, nooo, is that really a name? Or is that some kind of French word for “toilet”? I boast. She doesn’t look humored by this at all. Her friend to the left, is laughing and smiling, whilst her friend to the right is deadly not amused. People that aren’t amused… well, aren’t amused, but I always make the effort to test it- do my damndest to see how unamused they can look.
“You must be the mom of the group”, I tell the friend to the right. The other two girls laugh aloud. The friend to the right leans in, smiles, “I’m the crazy one”. And that’s when I realized I have a predisposition to be attracted to the craziest woman in the building. Aside from the obvious- Back to the woman with killer eyes- less “how the hell does”, but I’m more intrigued how would she know my full name? Is she making sure she has the right person before she pulls the shank from her purse to gut me? Who the hell knows me in Chicago?
“I work with Jake… He does the mixtapes with you…” Ahhhhh yes, an affiliate of Dr. Wylie. I can’t really put the guy in anonymous for this stuff, but Dr. Wylie’s name is Jake Wylie. We met in ’01 at the dorms in Hamline before I dropped out after two weeks. However, during those two weeks we put together beats and recorded two or three songs that immediately became cult classics amongst our peers. Now, piecing together mixtapes for DJs and the general public, we’ve easily graduated, 7 years later, to a game of national draw and online numbers.
I introduce Dan, the gal and her friends chat with us, moments pass, we bid adieu. After their departure, Dan & I pause… look at each other and begin laughing, again. It wasn’t the odds of the encounter, it was the fashion in which it was designed. Women don’t usually approach guys, hence the reversal of it all is humor in itself. Culturally we’ve been prepared as men to hunt down the date, initiate the verbal communication, and walk the tight rope of social interaction. Given this woman had an outright reason to approach me, but it still doesn’t take away from the fact it was her initiative. Bet your ass people see people they recognize all the time and do their damndest to not initiate a thing. Either way, it would happen to me the next day at a bar called Burton’s after Rockmen’s bachelor party… still just as humorous.
Dan and I trek into the thick of Wicker Park; hipster hangouts, hole-in-the-wall bars, danceterias, etc. It is fortunate; to converse with an old friend now in the midst of a new chapter. Although having just lived in the Chi for a few months, Dan moves quick: allied with a small group of young professionals meeting once every few weeks to network, swift with bus & L directions across the city, and on top of damn near every facet of his job before he even landed.
Not before I wonder aloud, “It’s like 2 out of every 3 women here are hot fire”, Dan gives me the run down on his experience in Chicago. I give him the run down of me finding the craziest gal in her circle to be the most attractive. “Yeah, she was Schaumburg”, replied Dan. “Excuse me”, I said. “Schaumburg… like the suburb outside of Chicago. It’s close enough to commute, but far enough to make it a pain in the ass to drive. If you meet a woman in Chicago, have a connection, but then find out she lives in Schaumburg… she’d have to be hot enough for you to make the commute. Schaumburg hot.”
I revisit several past relationships. I won’t tell you how many were worth it of commuting the distance to Schaumburg, if any at all. I’m assuming Schaumbeug Hot is transformative over time, whereas the “crazy” girl, from the group that approached us, was damn well Schaumburg Hot… but give it a week or two, and I might’ve been less likely to commute a block rather than a 3rd ring suburb. I don’t know… and most likely never will. The mystery is more attractive than the actual knowing, sometimes.