Quote of the week:

“They'd have to shoot me to get me back to Illnois."

~Abraham Lincoln upon going to WDC to become president

Monday, June 23, 2008

JOLT & A Weekend of Firsts

This is a two-fer posting, as I seem to have difficulty in my desired regularity in daily or multiple times a week in posting. I still haven’t continued the travelogue.

This post falls in line with the I Heart Chicago posting a month ago.

I took off Friday. My plan is to take every other Friday off during the summer to give myself some long weekends to do things like catch up on my blog. I obviously failed.

Friday night I had plans with my friend Mark to go to the free concert in Millenium Park. Chicago does this wonderful thing of providing free concerts and movies in Millenium Park during the summer. Before Millenium, it was Grant Park. There is the Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus, who play (and sing) classical music. They also get big names to perform. After Taste of Chicago in July, they will start up with Tuesday night movies. People bring picnic dinners, their lawn chairs and blankets and settle in for a night of entertainment under the Chicago sky. (I’d say ‘under the stars’, but you really can’t see them in Chicago).
It’s great, because you have the melting pot that is Chicago at these events, from the white collar ‘suits’ of Michigan Avenue, to poor students from the Art Institute School, to the laborers, and immigrant families.

Anyway, Mark and I were going to picnic and go to the concert. (I don’t even know who was performing. The weather had been dicey most of the day threatening rain and actually raining. We held off until late afternoon, and we decided, yes the weather was going to cooperate. Then it rained a bit, and we opted to go see a movie instead. We have the rest of the summer for picnics and shows in MP. We went to see “The Visitor”—very good flick, I highly recommend it. Mark and I hadn’t see each other, talked in quite a while so we were catching each other up on our lives. In the El, on the way home, Mark says, “And how’s Euckie?” It was like I’d been punched in the stomach—no, it was like he had reaching down into my throat and pulled my intestines back out through my mouth. I stammered out, “Didn’t you get my email in April?! I had to have Euckie put to sleep.” He’d forgotten. He apologized. But it really threw me, because well, it really threw me. Although it’s become ‘routine’ to come home and know that she’s not there to greet me, it’s still difficult on occasion, when I first open the door and for that split second have forgotten that she’s gone, until I open the door and she’s not there. It still sucks shit. But, I was surprised that I had such a visceral reaction almost 3 months after the fact. Fucking grief that lurks around the shadows then sucker punches you when you aren’t expecting it—I loathe you. The times that are difficult, that you would think would be the opposite, are the times when I can be more spontaneous, and not have to worry about getting home right after work, or making plans to go out and be away during the usual walk and feeding times. I mean, I’m now freed up to be more spontaneous, and meet someone after work or go out Saturday afternoon and stay out without coming home in between times. (See story below.) In some ways, that makes her absence all the more profound. Let me repeat. It just sucks shit.

Unlike Marc Acito http://marcacito.blogspot.com/ , who has made it a point to do something new every day, I have made no such self-commitment. (Apologies to gdad--I tried making the hyperlink word, and couldn't get it to work--that Turrette's like string of obscenities you heard on Monday night coming from Chicago and me trying to make the freaking thing work.) Saturday morning I woke up early, as my body seems wont to do now that I no longer need to do so for early morning walks. I ate my cereal, drank my mocha latte, and checked things on the computer. I called my friend Bart, who I go with to the gym on Saturdays to see if he wants to go earlier. It’s usually noonish or after when we go. He didn’t answer, must still be in bed. (It was after 8:30 for the record.) I call a bit later and he begs off for the day. So, I get my gym bag, and hop the train. When I’m leaving, I check my phone and there’s a voice mail from my sister*, Karen. She and Brian (her husband) had tickets with friends (another heterosexual couple) for a concert at Soldier Field, and because of all the rain, and crop situation, Brian had to stay and do farm work. Would I like to go in his place. It’s county music—Kenny Chesney, Keith Urban, Leanne Rimes, and Gary Allen. I’d heard of the first 3. I’m not a country music fan. I’m not anti-country music (mostly), it’s just not something I follow. It was a chance to see Karen, so yeah, why not?! It’ll be great to see Karen, and I’ve never been inside the Stadium at Soldier Field. This would be a first. I know it may be hard to believe, but I don’t have season tickets to the Bears games.

We made the arrangements of where to meet at outside the Stadium. The concert is to begin at 4:00. They’d been waiting 10-15 minutes when I arrived about 4:30. Karen dispenses the tickets, we go through the gate. We cannot take our open bottles of water in. Karen can’t take her umbrella. WTF, are we at the airport?! Are these guys TSA guards? Now, had I had a flask of Vodka in my back pocket, we could have gotten in easily with that.

Now, admittedly, it’s been many, many years since I’ve dated women. But I’ve don’t plenty of social activities with women in the interceding years. I don’t remember this: I think once we get in the stadium, we’re going to find our seats. My mistake. First, the woman friend wants to stop at the T-Shirt vendor to check on Keith Urban shirts. (Karen and her friend have crushes on Keith.) She doesn’t like them. OK, off to find our seats. Oh, no. Now they need to go to the bathroom. We find them one level lower. We get back to our level. Let’s get beer while we’re down here. OK, that’s copacetic. We get the beer. NOW, off to the seats. “Oh, why don’t we get something to eat while we’re down here.” I swear, I think it took us over 45 minutes from entering the gate to actually sitting our butts in the seats! Is this typical heterosexual married life? OMG, I was ready to scream. This is the stuff of sitcoms that are supposed to be parody.

The concert itself hadn’t started yet. The music we’d been hearing was recorded. I leaned over to Karen and said, “I don’t mean to be stupid, but who is this we’re listening to right now?”

The concert begins with the Gary Allen guy. He’s good. Then Leanne Rimes. I’d at least heard of her. She was good. Then comes Keith I liked him a lot. To me, he has more of a 70’s rock vibe, a la Eagles, America, Lennard Skinner. And, he’s really pretty hot. I now understand the crushes on him. Nicole was there. The jumbo tron showed her a couple of times. Friday had been Nic’s birthday, and Keith had the audience of 50,000 people sing Happy Birthday to Nicole, while the screen showed her blushing. And speaking of hot—there were a LOT of hot buff country boys at this concert. Who knew so many hot men liked country music. Damn, I may have to begin expanding my musical horizons. It was like the pretty boy section at the gay bars. In addition to the hot men, there were a lot of overweight women, wearing clothing that did nothing to hide, nor showcase their bodies in a flattering manner. With all of the hot men and fat women, it made me think I was the voyeur at a convention of pretty gay men and their fag hags. But, I digress.

I really enjoyed Keith. He’s an excellent entertainer. He did something I haven’t often seen. After he sang his first few songs, he introduced his band, and highlighted each member individually, giving them a turn in the spot light to play and/or sing. I liked that.

By the time it was Kenny Chesney’s turn, it was getting dark. Midway through his concert, the Saturday night fireworks went of at Navy Pier, and we were in a prime spot in the stadium to see the fireworks display over Lake Michigan. This was another Chicago first for me. It was after 11:00 pm when Kenny ended the show. It was a fun afternoon/evening. I had many firsts: Inside Soldier Field (for an actual event even), my first country music concert, my first outdoor stadium “Big League performer” concert, first time seeing the downtown fireworks from Navy Pier. The other firsts of my weekend are not for public consumption, so we’ll end the story with the concert.

* Karen, and her older sister Chris are the daughters of my Mom’s best friend from High School. Their parents are my Godparents, and who would have been my guardians had something happened to my parents when I was still a minor child. Karen and Chris have been more like siblings to me than my brothers, and for years we’ve introduced each other as sisters/brother when meeting one of the others friends. It’s the thing that gays have done so well in creating ‘family of choice’ when family of origin have not been what we need family to be.


GDad said...

Sorry that the pain is still so fresh. I hope for the memories to remain clear and the pain to fade to nothing.

Regarding the married life, I have observed similar behavior in het married couples. Our group of friends tries to account for the "Sarah Effect" (not her real name).

Sarah is a very picky eater, and she is also very much into avoiding the highway. So, when we go out to eat, she insists on guiding us through a maze of back streets, which takes us much longer to get wherever we're going than it would if we went along the highways.

Once we get to the restaurant, she must read the description of every entree and ponder it. If a waiter or waitress is available, Sarah will ask questions about five or six of the entrees. Then she'll order a drink and "need a few more minutes." She can't stand to have onions on the table, so we all have to avoid them.

Our group of friends has figured out that we should all plan ahead and eat at places that have their menus online. That gives Sarah time to think about what she wants. Of course, our plans have sometimes been thwarted by well-meaning waiters who describe the daily special that's not on the menu.

gay CME guy said...

Thanks. That's what threw me. I didn't think it was still that raw. I'm sure part of it was that it caught me so off guard, occurring in the midst of an otherwise innocuous conversation.
I am going to figure out this friggin hyper link thing or die trying! Sarah sounds very high maintenace. My commentary was more observation and not necessarily bemoaning. I found it interesting and something that I don't generally experience.

Forty_Two said...

Excellent quote regarding Puritanism.