Friday, April 14, 2006


During the weeks after Doug moved back to Wisconsin, I was a little freaked out. I guess because I felt rejected and hideous, and I would miss him, and felt to blame for him leaving Chicago. And with him gone, it meant I had to do this by myself. By this I mean live a life: I had to pay my own bills and feed myself and bring home the bacon and meet friends and do things. I wasn't all that confident I was up to the task.
It was just Steve and I for the summer of '85, because Tim, our seldom seen third roommate, took his summer break at home. The weather was so beautiful that year; it had such a sleepy serenity, like a peaceful summer of a care-free childhood. Maybe it seemed that way to me because mine were such a recent memory.
Doug had paid for the rent for a few months, so after that it was up to me. I spent a lot of time during the day alone, because Steve was at school. I would get up early and go buy a dollar's worth of doughnuts and some cigs, if I had the money, or walk the streets looking for "good" cigarette butts to smoke if I didn't. Yeah, I know it sounds gross, but when you're hooked, you're hooked. Gotta feed the monkey(s). There were a lot of factories in the Addison and Racine area back then, and those guys never had time to finish a cig.
And those streets were empty back then, if you can believe it. No one on the side walk and rarely a car on the road. It was almost like being back in Appleton. I usually walked down Addison to look in the windows of the cool vintage furniture stores that were near Southport, and at all the pretty greystone houses that looked like little castles.
When I got back I would watch two or three Lettermans. (See my past post: "Well it Was the Eighties..." from January, 2005.)
In the afternoon, I would sometimes walk down Racine to Diversey and visit Chris. She was Tony's roommate, and Tony went to art school with Scott in Pittsburgh, and Scott and Doug met out one night at Trianon. Got all that?
Trianon was a gay bar in a unique vintage building that played fab music which no one went to during the week but us. It later became Club La Ray and later yet a futon store, then obliterated to make way for Marshalls and DSW on Halstead by Belmont. (On that same block was also another gay bar, Windy City, and if you've ever been there, you'll understand me when I say that that is an entirely different blog for another time. I swear, proof of multiple addictions was required for entry. "Yikes!" is right.)
Anywho, Chris was going to school, too, and was a doctor's kid. She was obsessed with Bowie, and had all his rare posters and albums in her room. I never really "got" 70's Bowie until I met her. She had the most gorgeous skin: silk and suede somehow combined.
"Look at your skin! Look at it! It's just so...look at it!" I said as I gently squeezed her arm with both my hands.
"Whaaat!!??" She would giggle.
Tony told me later, after I would leave, Chris would squeeze her arm and ask:
"What does he mean by that?"
All the action took place in the back of their apartment. The kitchen was always a mess, food and dirty dishes everywhere, over-flowing ashtrays and magazines cluttering the kitchen table. Their bedrooms were the same way. Stuff everywhere. Typical student apartment. But the front of the house, that was a different story. Totally immaculate. And not a stick of furniture. Only a stereo. They said it was "cool" that way. You would walk in and get this minimalist Japanese vibe, which was promptly shattered when someone said "let's hang out in the kitchen."
We would spend some time in the empty living room smoking and getting high and blasting Joy Division and Bauhaus and Beethoven.
"Come over and watch some Lettermans with me. We have chairs." I said.
"No! No. Noooo....(whimper)"
"Aww, come on. Let's go to the water, then. It's so nice out. Sunny even. I know how you like some sun."
"Well, yeah I do, but..."
"Come on Chris, I can't handle this hardwood floor any more."
Chris was afraid of the city, so it was hard to get her to leave the house.
"Well, how do you get to school?" I asked.
"I run to the El."
"Run. You run to the El." I said, not believing her.
"Yes! I run as fast as I can down Diversey! Then run back home!"
I just stare at her.
And there's Tony standing behind her, quietly nodding his head, buldging his eyes, giving me that "she's-not-kidding" look.
I refused to let her fear be anything more than a tiny blip on my radar, and I would drag her down Diversey to the lake front, kicking and screaming. Tony was grateful whenever I came over.
"Get her out of the house before she dies of scurvy!" He would yell.
We had a great time once we got there. Smoking and gabbing and playing our headphones and getting in the way of the bicyclists. One time on the way back a car load of Mexican guys found her quite alluring, and told her so.
"Do you have your gun money? Get your gun money ready" She said.
"You know, gun money! I need a GUN!"
"Oh for Christ's sake, Chris" I said as I rolled my eyes and grabbed her hand and quickly walked her home.
Scott would come over after work, and we'd head to his place. He lived across the street. We would eat up all his food and try on his clothes and use his artist's chalk for make-up, and stink up his place with our cigs and laugh laugh laugh while we got ready to go out. He didn't have a working tv, just a very cool plastic red and white decorative one, so another way I would pass the time 'til we left was to make hats. Fez-type hat were tres chic back then, and they were easy to make with a needle and thread and a groovy 60's tie and a piece of cardboard. I would usually add a few Boy Georgie-type braids to the back. We'd wear them, a little back on our head, and tease up our bangs nice and big, usually off to one side to cover over an eye. Then Scott and I were off to Berlin. Always Berlin during the week; dancing in their little corner of a dance area.
Get up the next day and do it all over again, like that song.
By the third month, Steve, sadly, had to give me an ultimatum. He very sweetly, very gently, asked me to pay my share, or move out. He was floating me for the past month.
"Sure, Steve, of course," I said. "But I have an idea that may help us both....."

p.s. The comments are back!

1 comment:

David said...

BC Kalz, glamourous hobo.