Write Derek at drksmart @ gmail.com
Write Phil at phil.bencomo @ gmail.com
Looking For A Breeze In The Windy City
by Alex Ciepley
It's Friday morning, and I'm having a fashion crisis.
I'm in Chicago. For some reason, I neglected to check weather.com before leaving New York last night, and now I'm stuck in the city of broad shoulders and deep dish pizza on a muggy mid-90s day without a pair of shorts. Why did I assume that Chicago would be as cool as it's been in New York? Because New York is the center of the universe, didntchaknow, and I couldn't deign to believe that another city in the world would dare have different weather than my home town.
Not that I'd wear shorts if I'd packed them. I have the pasty legs that come with my eastern European heritage, and I have several reasons for hiding them on this day, reasons that go beyond the general altruistic tendency to not want to blind strangers while walking down Michigan Avenue.
Today I'm meeting up with two friends, neither of whom I've actually seen in person before. I want to look good--casual, but good--and that most certainly means hiding the pasty legs and suffering in my sweaty jeans.
The first friend is someone Cub Town readers know and love. Derek Smart and I are meeting for lunch downtown by Derek's office. We're in regular contact, of course, but have never met. I'm excited. I also have a series of important questions to ask him.
1) If the Cubs played as well as you write, would they have lost a game yet this season?
2) I go into spontaneous convulsions when Mark Prior loses, and I don't even live in Chicago. Does the entire North Side tremble with fear and loathing when he starts allowing homeruns to the likes of Todd Pratt and Mike Mahoney?
3) So, was it worth it to wear my jeans and spare you the pasty legs?
First things first: I have to figure out how to get to Derek's office. I'm staying with some cousins in be-A-utiful Hyde Park, and am trying to wrap my head around this whole Metro-to-the-Red Line thing that I apparently need to do. Where's the 1/9? How 'bout the N/R? Why is this subway thing above ground?
After lunching with Derek, I plan to wander around the Loop, do some shopping (maybe buy some shorts!), maybe visit the Art Institute. All before meeting un-met friend number two, the best friend of the new guy I'm dating.
Talk about wanting to make a good first impression. Meeting your mate's family is one thing. We don't choose our family, we stumble into them, so if the sister or great aunt has a problem with you, you can try to rationalize it away as some deep-seated familial angst that has nothing to do with you, a quirk of genetics. But the best friend is different. Our friends are, to a degree, an extension of who we are in life, a reflection of the choices we've made. I'm excited as all hell to meet the boy's main guy, but I'm sure the sweat running down my sides will be due to more than just the humidity.
I suppose I'll do what I do best. Smile, be myself, and frantically chatter my way through the afternoon. We're heading to Millenium Park, which I've never seen, and I'm optimistic that we'll have a grand time.
I'm in Chicago, after all. The Cubbies are out of town, but who better to fill that void than Mr. Smart? And I'm really digging the boy in my life, too, so who better to make up for his absence here than his best friend? Chicago folk are great people--mixing the sincerity and kindness of the Midwest with the worldliness of living in an international city--and I'm certain I'm going to be meeting two great people today.