Come On Feel The Illinois(e), Part One

When the stupid alarm went off on Thursday morning, I thought it was a joke. The stupid alarm, you see, went off at 4am, and there is little in life more unpleasant than being forcibly woken up at 4am, except for being forcibly woken up at 4am when there is no coffee in the house. So that was a fun hour between crawling out of bed and crawling into the airport. Did you know how many new curse words you could make using variations of just one curse word?

 

We landed in Chicago just after noon and bravely navigated our way into the city on the El. I love public transport in other cities, particularly train lines, and the El was no exception: So cheap! So easy! So full of friendly employees who come out of their booths to answer your question, even though you asked it just as they were about to take the first bite of their sandwich. Thank you, El employees: you should all get medals for dealing so calmly with flustered tourists like us. Hey, if any of you live in Chicago, pat one of them on the back for me, okay?

 

After checking into our hotel and wandering around in a near state of starvation for half an hour---"WHERE IS THE FOOD? WHY IS THERE NO FOOD IN CHICAGO? QUICK, SHOULD I ASK THE INTERNET TO FIND ME A DELI? ISN'T THIS WHY WE HAVE iPHONES?"---we stumbled upon Giordano's, where we had our first real Chicago deep dish pizza. Honestly, I did not think it was legal to inject that much cheese into any foodstuff. I felt like I was breaking five different laws with the first bite.

 

Our waiter was nice but strangely excitable and when we looked at him curiously, he flapped his hands around his face as though batting away flies. "Oh, I'm so sorry!" he said. "I'm all over the place---I just met Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada! They were eating right across the street. You just missed them!" Ardent Yankees fan that he is, Sean stared at the waiter as though the jealousy coursing through his veins was about to make him leap up from the table and rip out this man's tongue to grind up with the Canadian bacon for the Canadian bacon and pineapple pizza we'd just ordered.

 

(Incidentally, I tried to imagine who I'd like to see randomly outside a Chicago pizza restaurant on a cloudy Thursday afternoon---who would cause me such excitement that I'd consider murdering a waiter just to steal the autographs he'd recently procured---but I couldn't think of anyone. Brad and Angelina? Oprah? Bachelor Andy Baldwin?)

 

The game itself was a lot of fun, and this is coming from someone who can only attend roughly three to four baseball games a year before the boredom switch is clicked firmly into the ON position, where it remains until the end of the season. I really wish I was one of those girls who could enjoy watching sport, but since I don't have any tolerance whatsoever for playing sport, my threshold for watching it is markedly low. (Confession: sometimes I think I would rather just watch an hour and a half of someone using the elliptical machine at the gym, because then I would at least understand what they were doing.)

So the stadium was packed, and at some point between entering it and locating our seats, I lost Sean. When I turned around to look for him in the teeming crowds, he wasn't there, but then it took me a few seconds to realize that he was there, he was right in front of me, in fact, but I hadn't noticed him because he just looked so small.

 

Now, Sean is not a small man---he's pretty broad, he's close to six feet, he once hurt my friend Gareth's hand just by shaking it---but you guys in the Midwest are putting something in the water out there, because dude, the men of Illinois are ENORMOUS. I don't mean that they're fat, just that they're big: big, healthy, strapping, corn-fed boys who look like they all grew up playing football and eating their spinach, but only if that spinach was served alongside some meat and potatoes. "Where are all the small, skinny, hipster men?" I asked Sean once I'd found him, accustomed as I am to small, skinny, hipster men making up at least a third of any crowd I've recently been a part of. "Oh them?" said Sean, "They've all moved to San Francisco."

 

(I guess it's good that the men of Illinois are all large and strong, however, because I witnessed THREE SEPARATE fights taking place in the stands during the game, one of which took place only a few rows from us and featured one man doing a total fake-out and pretending to apologize and walk away, before DOUBLING BACK AROUND and throwing his beer in the other man's face. It all ended in tears, of course---and arrests, and likely broken bones---but it was still one of the most awesome things I've seen to date in recent years, and you forget that I have seen a lot of OK Go videos.)

 

(Also, another awesome thing that I was disproportionately amused by at the baseball game: an advertisement for a local product that used the telephone number 1-800-94-WINDY. In my family, ever since I can remember, we've elected not to use the word "fart," preferring instead to employ the adorably descriptive "windy." The fact that a discombobulated voice kept echoing through the packed stadium, urging me to call 1-800-94-WINDY, made my inner eight year old squeal with glee. I almost texted my family to tell them about it.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

1
Jules
Apr 29, 2008

How funny! I was just getting online to see if you'd written anything about your trip here yet and right at that moment, my feed alert beeped with a star next to your blog. Glad you survived your first excursion; I thought about you guys when the skies ripped open on Friday and poured down rain. Looking forward to hearing the rest of your Windy City adventures!
Jules
House of Jules

2
camels & chocolate
Apr 29, 2008

On top of "mother of pearl" you've just been responsible for the addition of "windy" to my lexicon. Perhaps I should use this with Scott, who hates to think of girls passing gas and instead says they "poof rainbows." Windy is so much better in so many ways.

3
Gretchen
Apr 29, 2008

Criminey. The last time I had to wake up at 4 a.m. for a trip, it was a Windstar cruise in the northern Caribbean and totally worth it. For Illinois? Dude, I just don't know.

Although I must say that I love Chicago for its abundance of brunettes. Did you notice? It's the only time since moving to So Cal that I didn't feel odd for being a non-blonde Caucasian girl.

4
Kaley
Apr 30, 2008

How long were you in Chicago? I was there on Monday, but only to return from Spain. I was studying abroad there for 4 months, but I just thought it was odd, since I read your blog faithfully (although I never comment).

5
kelli
Apr 30, 2008

Delurking...
but I have to, because I laughed out loud when I read your description of the broad-shouldered Midwestern fellas - it's true, and not just of the guys! i grew up in Iowa, with a 6'4" father (who is tall even for there) but never thought that my 5'8" was anything but average for a girl til I moved to the East Coast in my early twenties. Suddenly everyone was giving me the front passenger seat in cars to accomodate my "long legs" and asking me to reach things from top shelves. At parties/dances, I find myself instinctively looking for Midwestern boys who have moved here to Philly so that I can dance with someone who's at my eye-level! (but Philly, like San Francisco, has a high proportion of skinny hipster boys - who are adorable, but mostly shorter than i am. )c:)

Anyway, enjoy the loveliness of Chicago, and please, for the love of Pete, don't forget to get a Chicago-style hot dog before you go! mmmmm....

6
jonniker
Apr 30, 2008

Midwestern men ARE huge. HUGE! Bostonian men (like my husband) resemble the small, hipster men of SF. He came back from a trip to Minnesota recently marveling at how TINY he felt, and really, like Sean, he's NOT THAT SMALL! He's six feet! And yet, he's no match for the Paul Bunyans of the Midwest.

7
Chanel
Apr 30, 2008

Yay for Sufjan Stevens! Holly your writing is quite funny, as usual.

8
Diane
Apr 30, 2008

So that is where all the tall men are. Toronto has a large proportion of the smaller framed man. And gah! 4am to catch a flight? I am with Gretchen - the last time I crawled out of bed that early was to leave for my honeymoon and a catamaran cruise in the Caribbean. I don't think I could do that for Chicago - wonderful city though it is. You both deserve a medal!

Glad your trip was fun!

9
Teej
Apr 30, 2008

I was thinking that you might have witnessed a fight involving one (or more) of The Mouse's cousins, but then I realized you were at Comiskey. The cousins do their fist throwing at Wrigley. They are also all taller than 6' 3" (one is 6' 8" ohmygod) and make a sport out of fighting and getting thrown out of places for fighting. One of the cousins got thrown out of a bar for picking a fight with a White Sox pitcher last year. Charming. How my boy ended up clear-headed and pacifist, I will never know.

Did you find some hipsters in Wicker?

10
DiaryofWhy
Apr 30, 2008

After living in Boston, home of the skinny hipster guy for the last five years, I think it's time I got myself to the midwest.

11
Anne& May
Apr 30, 2008

Boys in Texas are like this too. HUGE. It's weird. Men in Florida were blonder than normal but they were normal sized.

Can't wait for the next installment.

Now I have to get a bagel from the break room. The picture of the pizza on Giordano's site made me hungry.

12
Moose
Apr 30, 2008

I must move to Illinois. I like big men. There's something disconcerting about walking through a crowd of underfed hipster boys and thinking, "I weigh at least 15 pounds more than any of these people." And envying their ability to wear skinny jeans.

Fun fact: Two hours and forty-five minutes into an interview, when someone asked me about my preferred writing length, I blabbered on about liking short. Then I said, "But my blog has been getting windy lately." I, of course, meant to say "long-winded." But instead I said WINDY. MY BLOG IS WINDY.

13
Manda
Apr 30, 2008

I totally cried my eyes out at the Giordano's once!! It's a long story...
AND I married one of them big Midwestern boys!! I love it!

14
heidikins
Apr 30, 2008

love love LOVE Giordanos! Best! Pizza! Ever!

xox

15
Sheila
Apr 30, 2008

Best. Post title. Ever.

16
jdg
Apr 30, 2008

remind me next time I see sean I have to tell him about what it was like to go to high school with derek jeter.

17
Nothing But Bonfires
Apr 30, 2008

Oh Jim, please don't tempt him.

18
sarah
Apr 30, 2008

Oh my gosh, you are SO RIGHT!! All the men (well, not ALL, but a lot of them - the skinny hipster guys are in that Wicker Park place so many people told you about) in Chicago are tall and big! That's what's different here in Seattle! I keep thinking that I'll never find a guy here because they're all skinnier than me, and I've never had that problem before (I refuse to date someone whose pants are too small for me)! Thank you for pointing out what I just couldn't put my finger on for the past year!

19
Nicole
May 01, 2008

I'm delurking to say that I'm a university student in Illinois who was also raised in Illinois--and yeah, we have heaps of the strong & tall type. My brother literally towers nearly a foot over me at 6'4", and most of his (completely hot, thank you, brother, for your unwittingly fine selection of eye candy!) friends are about the same height. When I see skinny hipster men, I am very, very confused, and have a hard time reconciling them as coming from anywhere in the Midwest.
Plus, I agree with sarah: what's the fun of dating someone if you can't borrow their pants? I'm afraid it will always be Illinois men for me.

20
Hilary
May 01, 2008

Hilarious! We grew up saying "windy" too! (The song about the "Windy City" cracked us up! ;-))

21
Jamie
May 01, 2008

Were you at a Cubs game, or a Sox game, because that will make all the difference as to how many fights you witnessed. On the south side, they fight a lot in public - the north siders are far more passive aggressive - they'll just sneakily have another five or six beers, then find a way to hit on your BF/GF or just vomit near you. Seriously - Cubs fans are sloppy drunks, and Sox fans are mean drunks.

Hope you enjoyed our fair city!

22
Nothing But Bonfires
May 01, 2008

It was a Sox game! So that explains it.

23
Sara
May 01, 2008

Oh sad! I didn't read back far enough to comment on your original request for Chicago-centric activities. Not sure if there are tickets left, or if someone already mentioned it, or what your take on beer is for that matter, but there is the Beer on the Pier Festival at Navy Pier this Saturday. http://www.beerfestintl.com/chicago/flash2.html
Basically an informal beer tasting with 2,000 of your closest friends. I went last year and I *think* I had a good time :) Enjoy your time in Chicago!

24
metalia
May 02, 2008

"Windy" is being immediately added to my personal lexicon, for it is awesome. Thank you, Holly.