I made the remark a few times over the weekend that I'm in Chicago so often they'll probably start charging me taxes. And yet this most recent visit was infused with so much randomness, chance, and serendipity, so many truly enjoyable new people, and so many unorthodox new places that my appreciation for the Windy City has been completely recharged. I meant to leave on Sunday, but I was having so much fun...
Before hitting the road, I had to stop by la maison de whoisjunk
for some official business. I cannot imagine a better way to be sent off; he put a cup of coffee in my hand as I stepped in the door. Then he gave me a slice of key lime pie that was made in heaven (by whoisjunk). Then
his lovely lady friend gave me several large canvases ready for paint, and two styrofoam wig heads! Two! I picked up Calyx
, and we headed for breakfast. 297 miles lie between St. Louis and Chicago. They flew.
We arrived at Kristin Gish
's and met Steve Rules
. I had just enough time to change and give my best friend a kiss. They had to dash to Wicker Park and I to Checkpoint 2: Tea Party at the Underpass. Yas, EV, and Josephine were great company.
The Tea Party:
The view over our shoulders:
We four superbly-dressed young ladies were waiting under the scenic 90/94 underpass to offer the fatigued runners refreshing cucumber sandwiches, cupcakes and hot tea. And their excitement was infectious.
Downtime- when no runners were present- was also fun, as we garnered confused stares and bewildered questions from everyone who passed on bike or by car... It was here that I also had the night's first encounter with the police. They rolled past, staring, and looped back around to interrogate. I walked up to the car and- this is very important- didn't let them ask any questions.
"Hi! We're playing a game tonight, sort of a foot race. This is a checkpoint, so many people are going to come through here, but only briefly. However, we four will be here for the next 2 hours. We hope this is okay (question mark, smile)" They were sort of amused, but i couldn't tell if it was by our clothing, our tea party, or the fact that 150 young people were having good, wholesome fun on a Saturday night in Chicago. They laughed and explained that they had gotten a call.
"Someone reported Bizarre Activity here, so we had to check it out. They said there were people dressed as Pilgrims having tea on a blanket under the highway." I jumped up and down laughing, and said, "Yeah, that sounds about right." I offered them a cupcake and we didn't see any more police at Checkpoint 2.
After playing "base" for many excitable and sweaty young runners, we headed to the finish line to watch the runners and chasers roll in. I heard battle stories. I met more people! And I took pictures.
The dreaded Beetle Bomb:
yes, I took one too. I mean, look at them. Sean and Laura:
Calyx with Antlers:
Zer0gee and Dax present the trophy:
And here we are:
graciously turned her birthday party into a JTTEOTN after-party. There is something to be said for the type of people that SF0 attracts, as many of us were there meeting for the first time, and yet conversation flowed easily and laughter could be heard all night. Team FOEcakes
are great hosts, it turns out.
At the party, Calyx suspects the tower thief
is present, and keeps trying to obtain a warrant. He finally got a picture of it on his phone and shows it to me, saying "We have to arrest this person, who is
it?" As if on cue, the door opens. In walks Zemaluco
, and I say, "Who, that
guy??" When Calyx presented the warrant, the wily thief presented to him
a Queen of Spades from an otherwise full deck, with the promise of meeting for a face-off the next day. Calyx had to accept, because of the general complacency of the waning party attendees. Little did they know, he had the tower on him at that moment...
In the morning, Kristin and Steve made us scrambled eggs, sausage, blackberry pancakes, and grilled cheese sandwiches! Finally, Calyx and I headed to the park to enjoy the spring weather when we heard from the tower thief. We quickly amended our day's plans and met the wily villain for a game of cards on Lake Michigan, an event we began referring to as "the party at the end of the St. Lawrence Seaway." The match was intense and unending! As the sun set, we were forced
to drink whiskey in The Irish Oak. The game went on, and we even gained spectators. They actually thought we were playing for a dubiously-acquired cattle ranch in northern California and watched our faces eagerly, like we were reality television. We were
putting on quite a show, as the stakes were high...
Finally the match was won. Calyx had beaten the tower thief and now he agreed to go quietly. But it was a little too late to head back to St. Louis... so we met Inky
, Beetle Bomb
, and Mean Jeannine
for tacos and played more games:
like the old favorite, Guess Inky's Sign!
Guess Which is Bigger! (note the picture on the wall, pure coincidence)
Later, there was an Oatmeal Creme Pie on my windshield. Ink Tea, do you know anything about this? (we ate it)
I secured last-minute accommodations for Calyx, Sutro stealer Zema, and me with an old buddy. Joseph Charles St. Martin provided a fold-out couch-bed, a bottle of wine, and a Czechoslovakian New Wave movie called "Daisies
." All this at 3:30 am. And our host stayed up and watched the whole thing as I nodded off. Before we left, I gave him one of my Styrofoam wig heads in thanks. He really appreciated it.
Finally, after more tacos, some shopping, and bean-gawking, it was time to get the wily thief back to St.Louis for questioning.
Just outside Chicago:
in McLean, IL:
is the last place the tower was seen!
The slithery Sutro stealer made up some sad, sappy story about how he wanted the tower and the Arch to meet. But as we were introducing the landmarks to eachother, the thief absconded! He escaped! He left no trail, seemingly vanishing in mid air. We were so close... perhaps there will be more Sutro sightings as the thief undoubtedly flees the Midwest. But for now I regret to inform you that we were so
close... but Sutro and the thief are still at large.