Sunday, June 11, 2006

Despite Straight Lines

Not long after Jody and Caren moved in, my roommate Steve had a visitor. His nickname was PJ, and hey! I just now this second remembered his name, after wracking my brain all week. Wait, that might not be it . Oh well, let's just pretend I'm right.
The day before he arrived in Chicago, Steve asked me:
"Brian, would you spend sometime with PJ tomorrow? I have school and work all day. I think you'll like him; you have a lot in common. I think he may be gay, too."
"He might be gay? He's your friend, right? You don't know?" I said.
"I'm better friends with his older brother. Just ask him!" he said.
"Yeah, like I'm just gonna say 'I'm a gay homosexualle are you one, too? I wanna kiss your tinkie'" I said.
"Oh Christ... he wants to see Chicago on his summer break! Bring him downtown, ok?" He yelled.
"K." I said, as I inwardly screamed. I didn't know how to get downtown. On my last attempt, despite written directions, I failed miserably. I ran out of the Addison station, convinced my directions should have read 'north' instead of 'south', because an ominous warning echoed in my head:
"Never go to the south side, white boy!!"
And I was way too dorky to ask for help. (To finally cure myself of the fear of trains and getting lost, I went to Paris alone for ten days in 1993. It changed my life.)
I confessed this to Steve, and he promised to show me how to get there with PJ, using a map, drawing a map, writing extremely detailed directions, and making me sign a piece of paper that said, on the crazy chance we get lost, 'I promise to ask a cop for directions'.
"Alright, alright, thanks. I'll be ok" I said.
That night I got The Reader, and we all sat around the table to see what was going on that weekend.
"Oh my God Oh my God!!" I screamed.
"Andy Warhol is going to be at the opening of a new store on Halsted and Armitage, called Ringo-Levio, and that same night he's going to be at the opening night party of Limelight!!"
(I still have the first thing I bought from Ringo-Levio: a pair of Matinique pants. And a great Hugo Boss tie. I'll show you some photos once I get my scanner hooked up!)
I was a life-long fan of Andy, because of his glamorous antics at Studio 54 in the 70's, and from reading Edie: An American Biography when I was 16. Oh yeah, the art. I love his art.
"Wow. Cool. Too bad you're 19." Steve said.
"Shit, that's right." I said.
"What about going to that store? It shouldn't be too hard to find." Caren said.
"It's late, I'll write out the directions tomorrow" Steve said.
Well, with all the commotion the next day with PJ's arrival the directions to the store were forgotten. PJ and I immediately hit it off; he was very cute and adorable, and I was smitten. We took the train from the Addison station to the Chicago station. I wore my resale-store Girbaud jeans and a paisley shirt from the 60's. We spent the day at Water Tower, 'cause he wanted to find some cool clothes. At the Express store, he found some great pants. They were a green plaid, with paisley accents. The girls were cool with us and let him try them on, because we were in a women's store, and probably due to fact they were a hundred bucks.
"I never spent that much on pants before!" He said.
"Well, they're super-cool, you should get them..." I answer back.
He hemmed and hawed, and after 20 minutes, he decides to buy them. After hanging out on Michigan Ave for a while, I felt confident enough with my sense of direction to walk us over to the Parachute boutique on Maple, cause Doug took me there once. After drooling and not buying, we take the train to Belmont. Next to the train is the Belmont Army Navy Surplus store.
I was at the Belmont El stop today. They tore down the Army Navy store to expand train station. I thought that the building for the store was the only one on that lot, but on the upper part of the building next to it was revealed a very old and faded advertisement. I can't make out what it was advertising, but it got me to wondering what was there before the Belmont Army Navy Surplus, and all the lives lived there, and all stories I will never hear; stories that I never even knew existed!
Uh-oh, I think to myself.
Soon PJ starts yelling at me.
"Why didn't you tell me about this place! Why did you make me spend all my money on those pants! This stuff is way cheaper and cooler!" He went on and on, tearing through the store.
I walk outside to smoke a cigarette. He comes out of the store a little while later, with a new bag. "I thought you spent all your money" I said.
"No. I'm sorry I yelled at you. It wasn't your fault I bought those pants" he quietly said.
"No, I'm sorry. I totally forgot about Army Navy. Did you get something cool?"
We continue our conversation as we walk down Sheffield back to the apartment. Later that night, Steve asks how Andy was.
"Oh shit, I forgot all about him! And, well, we didn't know how to get there."
I was pretty upset I didn't get to see Andy, but I was very distracted by PJ. We instantly fell into a rhythm of a couple who's know each other for years. I really liked him and didn't know if he was gay or not, but he didn't live here anyway, so what was the point of starting something, especially when he said he was starting school next month in Missouri or some shit like that?
I told all that to Jody and...
The next day, Jody pulls me out the back kitchen door and starts whispering a story to me:
"Brian! Brian! When I got up at 6 this morning, PJ was up, and we started talking! You were asleep, so we snuck up to you , and I said 'Isn't Brian the cutest sleeper?' and he walks closer to you, bends down, and put his face like, three inches from yours, stares at you for a while, and turns to me and says: 'Yes.' "


Anonymous said...

The Army Navy store is gone! Can't you all leave Chicago the way I left it! What's next? Aldermen refusing kickbacks?

It's weird, now that I don't live there, it makes me so sad to hear about the city changing. It's like this huge chunk of my life is just frozen in memory. It feels just like after a break up and someone tells you about how your ex is moving on without you.

Yeesh, could I be more self-involved (sadly, I could)? Nice blog, Bri. You made me feel and think. Isn't that what makes a successful posting?


David said...

I can't believe you didn't have sex with him! What were you, a new wave nun?

BC said...

I knew you were going to say that... I knew you were going to call me a new wave nun.

JL said...

I lived in Chicago from '85 to '02 when I moved to live closer to where the boys are, Fort Lauderdale.

Today I'm patching a hole in the kitchen wall left by the idiots who renovated my kitchen without fixing this hole and I went into the plastic bin I keep my painting gear, and what do I find? My Ringo-Levio t-shirt! It was the only thing I could afford in, like, 1987 because it was something like 15 or 20 bucks.

I decided to google Ringo-Levio while waiting for the spackle to dry and I found this. Thanks for helping me remember!