Once in a while the distinct urge to run away strikes me. The idea of getting away from it all, even if just for a few hours, is a treasure.
Sometimes a hot bath will do just the trick. Other times I feel the need for south of the border. Imagine lying poolside and sipping a cocktail with a handsome bartender serving up the next one before I finish the last. Yeah, I could use that this weekend. Couldn't we all?
Well, reality is such that there's no plane waiting to squire me away, even though I'm feeling oh-so-restless in my soul about lunch time on Friday. I walk down Race Street after visiting my optometrist and find I'm walking nowhere in particular. The leaves are swirling my ankles and the sun is warm on my face, but I'm oblivious.
The sound of a ringing phone annoys me in my daydreaming state when I realize it's my cell ringing. Damn, I hate it when it's me who disturbs the peace of the city. I glance down to see it flashing "Chicago" on the caller ID. Well, I can think of worse places to be and less interesting calls to be receiving, so I pick up.
"Hey, gorgeous, when are you going to get up here and rock my world?" Chicago says ever so casually that I blush right there on the corner.
God, maybe Chicago is what I need -- or, should I say, the guy I associate with Chicago. He's tall, artsy and has piercing blue eyes that can see through the crap. Both of his ears are adorned with small silver hoops last I knew, and he shaves his head. He can get away with it being in Chicago and an architect to boot, plus he was doing it before anyone else even thought of it. All I know is he has more refreshing enthusiasm for me than I have for myself these days and, damn, maybe I need a dose of him.
He quickly says, "Meet me in Indy. It'll be fun. I promise."
Yeah, well, if memory serves me correctly, it'll be more than fun. It'll be all about fun. No strings, no Christmas family dinners and no soulful goodbyes. Call me selfish, but I seriously consider heading west on I-74.
He suggests that we meet at the Indian Ripple exit off of I-465 at the bar of P.F. Chang's. I love the idea of it, particularly when he says, "Oh yeah, and wear those boots that I like."
How does a 26-year-old get away with telling me what to do? Well, those boots are made for walking, as Nancy says, and one day not long ago I did. You see, Chicago is like a breath of fresh air and we all like oxygen -- but too much of the pure stuff and you get a headache.
Chicago's world and mine are not all that much in sync. He still lives day to day with roommates and pizza in his life. Mine is quite a bit more stable and responsible, but I do find a window into his world amusing and entertaining once in a while, as he does mine. He finds me serious and sexy.
I find him carefree and crazy, but from a distance. Up close, he makes me nuts.
I'll never forget how we first met. I was in Neon's on the Friday after Thanksgiving with a couple of girlfriends when Chicago and his dad were taking in the scene. He was in town for the holiday. I was supposed to hook up with my current squeeze on Main Street later in the evening.
We were knee-deep into flirtatious conversation when I was picked up and spun around by my Cincinnati squeeze to meet his buddies. Chicago slid into the background until I felt him slip a business card into my hand rather coyly.
Months went by before I came across that card again in a purse I seldom use, but same as this weekend it was perfect timing as I was going to Chicago with some friends in a couple of weeks. I made a mental note to look him up and see if those eyes were as blue as I remembered. Mr. Cincinnati didn't survive the holidays, as it turned out, so I was free as a bird.
When I called the number on the card, he didn't seem to recall our meeting at Neon's or me really for that matter, but he invited my friends to his loft for a party his roommates were having. The address was in a definite warehouse area of Chicago, but we were intrigued enough to give it a shot. It was a large party and I didn't see him at first, but I picked a spot along the wall and waited.
He was taller and thinner than I remembered but definitely in his element. The art was funky and the crowd very young, but when he spied me his eyes smiled. He showed me around the loft and, when we came upon a sleigh wagon in a room lit totally by candles, I commented on the ladder up to the top. He laughed and said, "I won't let you fall off."
Hmmmm, who sleeps in a bed 10 feet off the ground overlooking rooftops with the skyline of Chicago in the distance? Guess that would be me for the next couple of nights and an occasional weekend over the next few years. Not too often and never enough to tire of each other.
Chicago and I lost touch when he took a sabbatical to Spain to continue his studies. It was time. We didn't have all that much in common outside of the obvious chemistry thing, but he always said I was an amazing thought that would run through his mind in the most inopportune moments.
I guess he must be back in Chicago, which means we could meet once again in Indy and for a moment rock each other's worlds or at least cause a tremor or two. Don't you know I'm tempted to see if he still has those piercing blue eyes that occasionally remind me of a less complicated me I used to allow myself to be. The truth is I like myself better now, complications and all.
No, Chicago, my boots and I are in Cincinnati this weekend. We have some stuff to sort out.
-- Wendy Robinson
Diving for Oysters
Since I was preparing for a hot date on Saturday night, I decided to make Friday night a relatively calm one. I asked my friend Shannon out for dinner. She felt like eating oysters. Even though I'll eat sushi any chance I get, the though of eating oysters freaks me out. I don't even like to look at them, much less eat them.
We asked around, and the only place we could find serving oysters after 9 p.m., which was when Shannon got off of work, was Joe's Crab Shack in Newport.
After we parked at Joe's, the first thing I saw was a group of drunk yuppie men wearing those twisted balloon hats you normally give to kids. I knew right then that Joe's wasn't going to be the place for me.
The hostess and most of the waitresses were wearing T-shirts that said, "Got Crabs." Maybe it's just me, but I don't like to have somebody force me to think about STDs, even in a joking manner, before I eat. We decided to sit at the bar, so we wouldn't have to deal with any of the crowd in the restaurant.
Sonya, our bartender, wasn't wearing one of the offending T-shirts. When we ordered our margaritas, Shannon and I were both pleasantly surprised when she carded us. I laughed and asked Sonya to guess my age.
She said, "I'd guess you're 30."
She was only a year off, but it made me wonder why would she card me if she thought I was 30 anyway. She told me to guess her age. I guessed 26, but it turned out she was the same age as me.
Shannon ordered a dozen oysters for an appetizer and a crab cake sandwich. I ordered clam chowder and a sampler platter. The sampler platter turned out to be a plate full of everything they could find in the kitchen that they could stick in the deep fryer. The shrimp, fries, hush puppies, fish,and crab balls all tasted identical. I couldn't even eat half of my food. Shannon said her crab cake sandwich tasted "fishy" and was only able to eat half of it before she set it aside for a cigarette break.
The next thing we knew, Sonya was taking Shannon's plate away and throwing it away without even asking if Shannon was done with it or if there was a reason why Shannon had eaten only half of her sandwich. This only mildly pissed off Shannon, but when Sonya came up to me and asked if I wanted a box, Shannon got really pissed off and decided to take it out of the tip instead of getting into an argument.
As we were waiting for our check, a tall, dark-haired twentysomething woman came up to the bar to order a drink. She had what I can only describe as two floatation devices implanted where her original breasts had been. Shannon caught me staring at them and dared me to go up to the woman and asked her if they were for real. I told her I wouldn't do anything that rude. I could always pull an Elaine and trip in front of her and grab on for dear life.
-- R.L. Newman