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.)