November 17 ~ 27
La Grange Park
Officially, a routine visit for the Thanksgiving holiday. Unofficially, one of both the most fun and the most depressing trips home I’ve had. My travels took me right near the house of the first girl I fell hard in love with (R onto Lake, L onto Jefferson, R onto Fulton…), the girl I lost my virginity to (55-S to 355 to 88W…), the house where I bought my first car, the Blue Beast; my high school (when did that new wing appear?) and all the familiar haunts… Funny how powerfully memory attaches to a place, and you can never forget the first time you were there, or who you were with. Kinda depressing how distant it all seems now.
This is mostly for my own personal documentation, but if you’re the type who likes to read all the excruciating details (including, for the ladies, “how not to solicit a marriage proposal”), read on.
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After arriving in Chicagoland, hightailed it to Morris where my folks and Ron were deer hunting for the weekend. As I pulled in there were two field-dressed deer hanging from the tree in front of the house (one Dad’s, on Ron’s). Dave and Frank showed up later; Dave went out hunting most of the next morning, but didn’t see anything. He seemed a little upset by this, kissing a ton of ass to get deer hunting weekend off work only to come back to his boss empty-handed. On a grocery run later, snickered at the people camped out in front of the Morris Wal-Mart for the next shipment of game consoles (Wii?) to arrive.
Sometime later, Dave got a call from “Rubber Mel”*. The three of us went over and hung out there one night in his basement-turned-recording-studio. I spent most of the time ogling the equipment. While we were there, some neighbor kids came over after somehow breaking both doorhandles off their 2-door crapmobile, so we all went out and spent the better part of an hour helping them break into it with a coathanger, tire iron and some scissors. Rubber Mel made Dave copies of some really cheesy porns, one starring the girl from Diff’rent Strokes.
Monday night, my bro and I went trashin’** for old times sake. Figuring Trash Night Before Black Friday would yield a bumper crop of slightly-less-than-new gadgets from the snooty richers the next subdivision over, we were rather disappointed in the mediocre haul. But did pick up a 21″ monitor in excellent condition.
Met up with J* and Ja* for some pizza, and had a long catch-up and many discussions of a bawdy nature.
Met up with E*, (with whom things branched into the more-than-friends zone last time I was back), but she had to be at work soon and couldn’t stay long. We sit down and she asks me: “Ok, so I’ve gotta ask…what are your plans?” Long story short, she was kinda looking for me to promise I was going to move back to the Chicagoland area, and give an estimated date of return. Which I couldn’t really do, because I’ve got a sweet gig going out here so far and don’t really have plans to move back anytime soon, if ever. Then the bomb dropped. E*: “Well, you’d better hurry up and decide, because my plan is to be married by 25.” Whoa. We have just lost cabin pressure. Anyway, once I found my eyeballs and put them back into my head, it was decided we should just be friends…
Met up with my cuz Da*, and we saw Let’s Go To Prison. There was exactly one person in the theater besides us. I thought it was pretty funny, even if the this-is-your-bunghole-in-prison thing was overdone a bit.
Then, Thanksgiving dinner! We had it at the cabin, and a bunch of relatives from my dad’s side (Iowa peoples) that I haven’t seen in forever came out. There were supposed to be more, but a bunch cancelled out at the last minute. But those that came didn’t do the typical run-in-eat-and-scoot thing, my one aunt and uncle actually spent the night and helped us attack the leftovers the next day :P
Later, Nando called me up with some plans to go out to a club downtown, so we chugged out there in the big Nando Van and to my astonishment found a place to park it right nearby. Nando knew most everybody working there, so we got in for free. One guy even did the covert “ah-choo!-free-drink-tickets” thing while pretending to tie his shoe. I don’t know how he swings this shit–and maybe don’t wanna–but hey, free drinks. Once the action was waning there, we come home to hang out there. Just then this girl calls and tells us about a party she’s at. We grab my bro and head out again. End up in the upstairs at what looks to be a converted warehouse downtown on Lake St, about 3 blocks from No*’s parents’ house (they’d totally shit a brick), and it’s actually more of a rave. Windows blacked out, psychedelic lighting and everybody’s rolling on one thing or another (except us, of course). Anyway, Nando meets up with his friend and the rest of us meander into the least-loud room for a while. This cute girl with glazed-over eyes starts chatting me up, we exchange numbers etc… anyway, the girl’s damn near throwing herself on me, with her leg up doodling the ol’ junk, and…oh hello, who’s this big dude giving all the dirty looks? “Oh, that’s my fiancee.” Yyyyyeah, like, no sale miss. But I mentioned I was in engineering, so she’s pestering me about getting her brother (who, as you may guess, I’ve never met) an interview. Meanwhile, the Nandster has fallen in with his ladyfriend and this grizzly-looking old dude whose circuits have probably been blown for the last 20 years or so. None of us could make sense of anything he tried to say. (They were all words, just seemingly not laid out in any deterministic fashion). Of course, that doesn’t stop the Doctor from accepting and ingesting some unknown substance (claimed to be LSD) from him when offered. We stay for another couple hours, grooving along to music and hearing some “what did that guy give me? It’s not doing anything! It’s been like, two hours” etc. So we pack it up and head home, as the sun’s starting to come up and he has to be back to his house before his pop wakes up. I crash out immediately; Nando takes a little nap and then heads home, but by then his, er, party favor is starting to kick in. Got to hear all about it the next day, him frozen wide awake all morning watching the ceiling tiles in his room shift and swirl around, and trying to hide the trippage from his folks when they kept barging into his room.
Hung out with Kristoff for a couple days. This involved a lot of drinking. And The X-Files. (Note to self for future reference: Vodka and vanilla cherry coke = tasty. Tab Cola = just plain nasty, mixed or unmixed. If your tongue was coated with latex paint, you’d probably still taste the Tab, and it’d be nasty. I didn’t know they still made that stuff.) We got to talking about how people end up where they do, and how many people tend to come back to the area where they grew up, or someplace like it. It seems like the pull of familiar places and especially friends and loved ones is too strong for them to resist.
I borrowed my folks’ big red hoopty van to get there; unknown to me, there’s a “known issue” with the brake lights sometimes failing to shut off when no braking is being done, so when I tried to leave the next day the battery was flat dead. Kristoff (an EE, mind you) wouldn’t let me jump it from his Beetle (various claims about “it’s German, they use a different system” and “I heard somewhere jumper cables will mess up the ECU”) so we actually went to Meijer and bought a piece o’ shit battery charger to restart it with. I was somewhat pissed off.
Meanwhile, while all this was happening, my brother randomly ran into a girl I I had a crush on in 6th grade and hadn’t seen since about then. He called me and passed along her number; we arranged to meet up, and as soon as I could start the van I was gone. As I was nearing her house, Ice Ice Baby came on the radio…basically the last time I heard this song was on a mix tape I gave her way back when. To my mild surprise/embarrassment I still remembered most of the words, and sang along (windows up to preserve the sanity of other motorists). Met up at her place, and we spent literally hours talking and catching up; our respective disappearances/escapes from SJHell, bouncing around different schools, etc. all the way up to the present, oddball neurological similarities, and everything else in between.
* officially going by “Brother Mel”, he talked to Kristoff for the first time over a bad cellphone connection. “Hey dawg, this is Brother Mel, Dave said to call you.” “What? Rubber Mel?”
** Joyce prefers the term “curb-side shopping”.