There are a few intersections in Chicago that present a geometrical nightmare to someone who spent his sophomore year in high school math pining after a POE-crazed, Kool-Aid hair dyed, near drop-out, Geo driving, pot smoking skinny girl who was in love with a bad boy named Billy. Billy was so bad he vomited on the carpeted floor that year. Twice.
I'm always reminded of the time I wasted skipping class to get high and go to Denny's with a girl I knew I could never attain when I'm on the verge of being hopelessly lost. The correlation my brain makes between my usually trustworthy sense of direction and my occasional poor choice in women is a palpable example of my mind's penchant for torturing me with cruel analogies at the most inopportune moments.
Spinning in concentric circles looking for a familiar Burger King or Taco Bell at the most obtuse of triangular intersections is not the best time to begin ruminating on the theorem (the reader will note my rudimentary use of geometrical terms in this essay) that had I been only a year older, that misguided 17 year old, late 90's burnout in a 16 year old's class (for the second time) could've been mine. No, that would be the time to buckle down and find out where the fuck you're supposed to be going.
Although, I suppose this action, this diversionary tactic, that my brain presented to me at this particular moment was not completely irrational, and my brain should be given some credit for trying to take itself off the slew of information and experience it had running through itself at this particular moment. I mean, I had just walked nearly 15 minutes out of my way only to realize that I was heading in the opposite direction of my house, after exiting the train station at an unfamiliar location in the hopes of saving time, after having to leave my bike locked up to a bike rack, since my lock decided to stop working, forbidding me from riding home, which occurred directly after having a meeting at the place of employment I was fired from five days ago for a karaoke performance the night before.
And, while the above statement may appear ludicrous, were one to know my history, one might not be so surprised at the eventualities that led me to the situation I found myself in on this quickly cooling Chicago winter's day. (I hasten to add that the glossed over nature of the above paragraph will not stand for long. You have all asked, and I will be reporting on it fully, as soon as certain obligations permit me to do so. Wait for it..)
A light snow had begun to fall, but was no match in the race it and the temperature were having. Watching the breath float out of my nose and into the noisy din of the rush hour bustle, I thought momentarily that it might be in my best interest to cross the street, to walk, somewhere, anywhere, rather than stand on the curb for another five minutes. I knew I'd find my way eventually, even if a 20 minute walk took two hours. Who gives a shit- it's not like I have a job to get to, I thought.
Having resolved to let the genius of The Frogs, which was blaring through my headphones, carry me wherever it deemed necessary, I stepped into the street. Where I was headed didn't matter at this point. I had already let pride win out over basic survival by deciding not to ask anyone for directions. I slushed through the first puddle of my sojourn into the unknown when I heard a muffled "Hey!" through the lyrical gold on the "It's Only Right and Natural" record (Lotta cute guys in the club tonight. Lotta juicy asses hangin' out!). I continued walking, and only briefly turned to see where all the yelling was coming from when I heard "HEY, MAN!" again.
Shooting a sidelong glance over my right shoulder, I saw a rather large dude in an even larger red windbreaker staring at me. And, though I've never seen a fat kite before, I feel like I have a better grasp on what one might look like now. He wore clear sunglasses. I assumed that these were safety goggles for the fashion-savvy construction worker, but who knows, maybe he had a deathly allergy to UV rays that only dumb looking, wrap-around, clear shades could prevent. Having never seen this strange man, and fearing the worst, I gave him the universal "Whaddup." nod to allay any doubts he may have had about my downness.
"What's up dude?," he exlcaimed. "How you doin'?"
Shaking my head slightly, pulling my headphones off, I said, "Hey... man. What's goin' on?"
"Ah man, shit! You remember me from the other night at the bar? Fuck, when was that, Tuesday? Yeah! Tuesday! Remember me? Holy shit!"
"Uh, what?," I asked. "Where?" I knew my short term memory was terrible.
"The other night, dude! At the, at the fuckin'... bar! Down the street!"
"OH, yeah! What's up, man?" I hadn't been to a bar since Saturday, and it certainly wasn't down the street from where I presently found myself.
"Damn, dog, I knew I recognized you! That shit was CRAZY the other night, huh?"
"Yeah, man.. yeah! I was wasted. I was all, Who the fuck is this guy talkin' to me, then I remembered that crazy night at the bar! Haha! Sorry, dude," I lied. "So what're you up to, just coming home from work?"
"Fuuuck yeah, man- I'm working down at Shedd Aquarium, replacing all the tile in the new exhi-"
Who is this person, and why are we friends?, I wondered, as the Kite told me about his day.
"So, what're you up to, man?," he asked, snapping me out of my inner dialogue.
"Oh, man, I'm just walking." Wait- benevolence! Why stop a stranger to ask for directions when you can just ask your good friend from the bar?
"You know where Fullerton is?"
After beautifully detailed instructions and the benefits of taking said beautiful directions over much less convenient ways, I gave the Kite daps and turned to walk towards home.
As I thought to myself, The City, she does provide, I heard a bellowing "See you Tuesday, homie?"
"Oh, hell yeah, man!," I returned, walking backwards and waving. "See you there!"
Thanks, City, I thought, and made my way home, beating the severe cold front by mere minutes.
I retired to my apartment and decided to make a bowl of chili with corn and potatoes- a perfect, if not wholly cliched, end to my icy walk. I gathered the necessary cans out of the pantry, wondering, momentarily, why it was that these cans were wet. Perhaps some condensation from the cold, I thought. Wait, why.. what.. what the fuck is that smell?
"Oh, goddamnit. Awesome."
Clearly, the city does giveth, but she also taketh. Pantry Cat, also referred to as Gordie, whose theme song is "Can I Play with Madness," by Iron Maiden, decided that this would be the perfect day to piss all over my food. Hanging my head in acquiescence to the City's fickle finger, I switched off the pantry light, and just laughed.