Five Easy Pieces

The last time my friend and fellow blogger Jessica was in town, she told me that even though she had been to Chicago many times before, she never really saw the appeal of the city. I took this as a challenge. So last week, when she was in town again for business, I was convinced that with my patented five step program, I would make her fall in love with the city by the end of the week.
Step One: Begin on a full belly
You can’t really appreciate the beauty that is Chicago if your belly is rumbling, so I took Jessica to my all-time favorite restaurant, where I hope to become such a regular that they deliver my food before I’ve even ordered. However, as much as I’d love to tell you the name of this restaurant, Natasha made me swear to never again mention the name. Nat is convinced that the place has become insanely crowded ever since the last time I mentioned it on my site, even though she and I are the only ones who read this blog. But perhaps putting the name out into the universe somehow made it more popular, so I can’t risk it.
In any case, [restaurant name withheld] didn’t disappoint. I had to pace myself with the wine, though, because the last time I was there, I drank almost an entire bottle myself and started hugging co-workers. And with Jessica’s self-professed hugging tendencies, I just couldn’t risk a scene.
Every detail of dinner was perfect – from the wine to the main dishes to the desserts and coffee – that is, until Jess pulled out her credit card to pay for dinner. Her card had a strange design on the front of it, so I asked if I could get a closer look.
“Oh, isn’t it the cutest? It’s an Anne Geddes card.”
As I looked more closely, I saw that there were two babies dressed as flies sleeping peacefully on what appeared to be – pardon the disturbing imagery – a gigantic pile of shit. I literally tossed the card back at her plate and screamed, “Noooo! You DO NOT have an Anne Geddes credit card! She’s psycho! Why do you have pictures of baby maggots on your credit card?! All her pictures look like dead babies!”
“Wha- ? No they don’t! They’re cute! They’re not flies – they’re fairies, sitting on a toadstool! And a percentage of my spending goes to child abuse victims.”
“Um, you mean like those babies she drugs and hangs inside of pantyhose to hawk her calendars? Like those child abuse victims?”
“Whatever. I think they’re cute.”
I just prayed that the waiter didn’t think the card was mine. I couldn’t risk ruining the good thing I had going at [restaurant name withheld].
Step Two: Take in some live entertainment
After our fabulous dinner, I wanted to expose Jessica to some of the activities we common Chicago folk engage in on a regular basis, so I took her karaoke singing with some friends of mine.
“If you guys are really good, I’m gonna be so pissed.”
“Don’t worry, Jess. We’re not.”
I never knew quite how accurate a statement that was until I started out the evening singing Lionel Richie’s, Hello, about two octaves too high for my already limited range. Every attempt to recover resulted in a bloody mess of flats and sharps. It was the longest three minutes of my entire life, and I honestly think it really did hurt me more than it did them.
I tried to convince myself that maybe it wasn’t as bad as I thought, until Jessica called me the next day and said, “Hey, so something’s been bothering me that I want to talk to you about.”
“Okay, shoot.”
“So, I was just thinking about yesterday at karaoke when you sang, Hello, and I’m thinking that you just pretended to sing that badly so that I wouldn’t feel uncomfortable going up on stage.”
“Uh… what?”
“I mean, I was telling my husband about it, and we both just thought that there’s no way someone whose voice was truly that horrendous would actually get up on stage, right? You were just trying to make me feel good, right?”
“Oh. Uh… yyyyeeahh. Yeah, you got me. That’s me, all right – just always trying to put people at ease…”
That evening, I discovered that Jessica is more than a little bit country. Her Missouri twang came out in full force as she chose one country song after another. I had never heard any of the songs she sang, so I can only assume that she did an outstanding job. I was a bit disturbed, however, at how excited she was to sing a song about a girl who was really poor and had cockroaches running across her feet and then her dad sold her into white slavery and then they all called her fancy.
I was all, “What the f*?” And she was like, “No really, I love this song! It’s a good ‘un. Mmm hmmm.*”
*Ed. Note: In reality, Jessica sounds nothing like Billy Bob Thornton from Slingblade, but I like to pretend that she does: “Mmm hmmm. Some folks calls it a weblog. I calls it a blogsite. Mmm hmmm.”
When I sent Jessica off in a cab back to her hotel at the end of the night, I had no idea what cast of characters awaited us the following evening.
[To be continued]

18 Responses to “Five Easy Pieces”

  1. shari Says:

    Because nothing says “gracious” like extremely bad karaoke. You’re my hero, Jen.

  2. TCho Says:

    I love Chicago. I almost considered moving there. In some ways it’s better than NY. Anyway, tell me the name of your favorite restaurant. I want to try it!

  3. teahouseblossom Says:

    Hey, I love Chicago! Too bad you can’t share the name of the restaurant..who knows if I’ve been there as well?
    And Anne Geddes creeps me out just a little bit. I guess I’m not the only one who feels that way?

  4. Jessica Says:

    Jenny, you are so cute!
    By the way, you not recognizing any of the songs I sang was part of my strategy (hence, no basis of comparison).
    Run Jen Run loyal readers – if you want the name of the restaurant, please visit me; when one dines at this place for the first time, they feel it is their American duty to get the message out immediately – as a result, I’ve totally named and linked to the place on my site.

  5. Jessica Says:

    I forgot to mention…I was uploading my pics and found that, in an effort to photograph my terrible rendition of “Operator”, Natasha accidently recorded a portion of it instead. You hear my attempt at singing and then you hear Nat say, “Oh, sh*t! I think I’m making a movie.”
    Hee Hee!

  6. jenny Says:

    Shari: “(All the children say) We don’t need another hero (hero)! We don’t need to know the way home!” Now I have a new song to butcher at karaoke – thanks! :)
    TCho and THB: It would be wrong of me to send you both personal emails with the name of that restaurant, wouldn’t it? That would just be wrong, and I would never do anything like sending you an email letting you know what my favorite restaurant is…
    Jess: Ingenious strategy – I may employ it myself next time! And you’d better prepare for the wrath of Nat if that restaurant gets more popular. Oooweeee she’s gonna be pissed!

  7. Kevin Says:

    Jen, that’s not fair!
    Being a Chicagoan myself (okay, a “suburbanite”… quit your scowling), I am always looking for new places to eat. I gotta know the name of this place. Please? You can e-mail it if you want to keep it quiet.

  8. Caitlinator Says:

    Ha, blogsite. I love it. Mmm-hmm.

  9. Jessica Says:

    She handed me a heart shaped locket that said
    ‘To thine own self be true’
    And I shivered as I watched a roach crawl across
    The toe of my high heel shoe
    It sounded like somebody else that was talkin’
    Askin’ “Mama what do I do?”
    She said, “Just be nice to the gentlemen, Fancy
    And they’ll be nice to you.”

  10. Tracy Lynn Says:

    Dude, I totally agree with you about Anne Geddes- Those babies must be drugged or dead, because real babies are way too squirmy to be posed like that.
    And why can’t people who want to know the name of the restaurant just look in the archives? Or did you pull a J Edgar Hoover and black line it, hmmm?

  11. jenny Says:

    Kevin: Okay, if I tell you, you have to swear not to tell anyone else. Not even your wife – you must blindfold her in the car and drive all over IL first so she can’t figure out where you’re at. Then, and only then, will I tell you the name.
    Caitlinator: Mmm hmmm. Jessica likes french fried taters, too. Mmm hmmm.
    Jess: This is me, not knowing what to say: “…”
    Tracy Lynn: Now, why did you have to go and get all Veronica Mars on me? Listen Nancy Drew, if everyone were all about living in the past and digging through archives, where would that leave us? How would we ever repeat our old mistakes then?

  12. communicatrix Says:

    OMG!!!! I love “Fancy”! Megan Mullally sings a cover of it on her album. Of course, she’s doing it ironically. Does Jessica sing “The Grand Tour” too?
    Damn. Why does nothing like this happen when I come to Chicago?

  13. peefer Says:

    You see dead people too? How wonderful.

  14. Anonymous Says:

    Dear Jenny,
    I am now afraid of pantyhose.

  15. mike Says:

    Oh come on, what’s the harm in telling the Canadians the name of [restaurant name withheld]?
    And can we come next time? (I speak for all your Canadian readers when I say”we”)

  16. jenny Says:

    Communicatrix: Uh, hello? Because you said you were obsessed with finding the perfect giardiniera the last time you were in Chicago! That’s no way to hit it hard!
    Peef: I mostly only see dead people in inspirational greeting cards and calendars. So I avoid the Hallmark store like the plague.
    Viv: I guess I assumed you already were. I mean, isn’t everyone?
    Mike: Are you joking? With as friendly as the Canadians are, your (my) entire country is like one huge telephone game. I tell you, then you tell Sweeney, then he calls Peefer, and Peef calls Sass, pretty soon my favorite restaurant gets bought out by KFC and there’s one on every corner. [shudder]

  17. Anonymous Says:

    you slay me jenny! ha ha ha.
    your lionel ritchie moment is so akin to my barry manilow moment. (warning: all barry songs are outrageously long. you will feel as though you have died 3 times by the time you escape the karaoke stage. stay away. far away.)
    “here’s your one chance fancy, don’t let me down!”
    ha ha ha,

  18. mike Says:

    Does that mean we can’t come, then? :(