Sunday, July 30, 2006


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The day came, hot and sunny, to leave my first Chicago apartment. I had very mixed feelings about leaving, cause it was where I had planned on living with Doug. For the rest of my life? I don't know. Maybe. I hoped so. I guess I was wrong.
I was walking out the front door with Gidget, Steve's cat, and one of the few boxes of my stuff, when I ran into Tim. We almost collided.
Tim was Doug and Steve's original roommate. I hadn't really spent much time with him, even though I lived with him for that first month. I had totally forgotten about him, actually.
"Whoa! Oops!" I said.
"Are you Brian?" Tim said.
"Yes" I said, a little stunned. "How did you know?"
"I used to live here, remember?! Steve told me about you. Are you leaving?" He was nice looking, and his wandering eyes weren't shy. I was almost regretting having to move.
"Yea, yea, I remember you. Yup, I'm moving. Right up the street to Belmont. Me and my friends found a cheap place. We're poor!" I said, laughing.
"That's too bad...well, it was nice meeting you, again!"
"Yea, you too. Can you tell Steve we'll call him when we get our new number?" I asked.
"Sure." He said.
Jody and I bring up our few possessions to our new room. We would be sleeping in the same room and bed. Scott paid a little more, so he had his own room.
As I unpacked my clothes, I held them up to myself and looked in the mirror.
I wish I looked good in black. I thought as I held up my lone black shirt.
I can't believe I still have this shirt. I think to myself. It was a brown plaid button-down, that had, to me, a Richard-Gere-in-American-Gigilo vibe to it. It seems like only yesterday when I bought this. With my parents money.
I let my mind wander back to two summers ago, when I was happily buying new clothes for school at the Kohl's across the street from my dad's house in Appleton. I was looking forward to spending my senior year of high school in Arkansas.
A life can change a lot in two years. I thought.
Putting that shirt away was another reminder I wasn't a kid anymore. My parents gave me some money last month, but if I asked for more, they said they were driving to Chicago and bringing me back to their house in Arkansas. I was determined, even if I had to starve, to stay here.

Jody and I took on the task of trying to clean our new place, on our hands and knees, with scub brushes and buckets. She gave up after an hour, I gave up after three. The dirt wouldn't budge. It's hard to clean something that needs to be ripped up and replaced.
The apartment had all it's original fixtures from 1901 or 1895 or 1910 or whenever the hell it was built. My guess is pre-WWI. And not the good, huge New York City pre-war style, but a midwest, next-to-the-factory apartment building. Let's just say I never saw a kitchen like that before. It would have been a cool place had it been taken care of over the years, but that apartment had to get through the depression and hippies, so I guess it could have been a lot worse.
We resign ourselves to the state of our new pad, and go with the 'vintage flow'. Scott took charge of the interior design:
We found a pristine two-piece 1950's couch with matching endtables and lamps at Value Village for a song. It was as though a trapped-in-the-50's neat-freak had just died. Cutains from the 50's, and huge, colorful ashtrays from the 60's clogged up every thrift store back then, too, so of course we had them in every room. We couldn't believe our luck. I'm sure all that mid-century stuff would cost a fortune today. Scott's grandmother's depression era kitchette and accessories were a perfect fit, too. His art-nouveau posters mixed well with the enlarged xeroxs of Kato and fashion models from JIL magazine he made at work for the apartment. I put up local band fliers in my and Jody's room, and I tacked up a 'Smiths' page from the phone book next to the phone on the wall.
We put Jody's tv and Scott's stereo in the living room. Our favorite shows were Moonlighting, Dr. Who, Batman, The Green Hornet, and Dynasty reruns. We didn't watch much tv back then, mainly because we loved to hang out on our new couches and endlessly play our music, gab about boys, and smoke and drink. They always teased me about posing on the couch. I think I was an odalisque in a former life, because the art of laying down came so naturally to me.
(I mention this now because someone accused me of posing on their couch last week. Old habits die hard...)
"Look Jody! He's doing it again!" Scott would say, and they would laugh.
"Aww, come on! I'm just layin' here!". I said as I made a mental note to try to 'butch up' how I layed down.
We blasted Changesone and Hyaena and The Head on the Door. But we were mainly obsessed with Pete and his look (which is odd for me to say these days...) from Youthquake: white lipstick, tall dark hair, and a smoking jacket. Jody bought me a beautiful purple one from the 40's, just like Pete wore.
When I left the apartment, usually on my way to Berlin or Medusa's, I did finishing touches to my hair in the living room shadow-box mirror. I found old wigs at thift stores and cut them up and pinned them into my tall, spiked hair. And on more occasions than not, said to myself: My hair is too big; I just can't go out like this!... but I always did.

Monday, July 24, 2006

What's a Girl to Do?

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In June, 1985, Scott was still living on Diversey, in that mini Flatiron-like apartment building, where Diversey meets Lincoln, but he needed to move out. I was walking by there the other day, and I really wanted to go in there and look around, cause I hadn't been there since he lived there. He needed out because he couldn't afford to live there in the first place. He had moved in there with a roommate, but he took Scott's first month rent and security deposit, and skipped town. And his meager wages weren't cutting it. He told this to me over dinner one summer night at his place, with his boyfriend, Philip. Philip worked at Vidal Sassoon, and I was quite jealous of him. (It seems like I was jealous of everyone, doesn't it? Well, I was.) Philip, despite his glamorous aura and excessive drug use, was very down to earth and easy to talk to. I found him and Scott an odd couple. I guess because Philip was all 'Guitars and Cadillacs', and Scott wasn't.
Philip asked me why I worked at such a ahem, slow salon (his code word for lousy) when Jimmio's was right across the street. I confessed to him I did have an interview with the manager once, but I was so intimidated by the scene in the salon when I went in and asked for a job, I never showed up for it.
I never showed up for the interview because these people were living a life a had only dreamt about; this was the fast-paced salon in Desperately Seeking Susan!
(I saw this video a million times in beauty school, and although the hair salon scene is only shown for two split seconds, that was all I needed...)
At Jimmio's, their clothes were real, their attitude was real, their homes, their lives were real. When I walked in there, I realized everything about me was pretend. I didn't have this life yet, this life I had dreamt about, a life Madonna and Rosana Arquette had so glamorously portrayed on the silver screen: a fun life in the big city!
(Desperately Seeking Susan really wasn't the inspiration for my career. I was inspired to become a stylist when I discovered how hair and make-up could transform people into abstract art, as they looked in my mother's avant-guarde style magazines from the early 80's. People get paid to do this?! Sign me up! She owned a salon then, when I was in junior high.)
To me, that was too easy: I couldn't just walk in the door and have a life! I felt had to start small, so I chose the lesser salon across the street. I would work my way up.
"Maybe it's for the better. A lot of scary things go on there behind the scenes, if you know what I mean..." Philip said. He had recently left Jimmio's to work at Sassoon.
"I wasn't going to mention it, but Doug told me about that. He didn't want me to work there." I said.
I also knew, despite how perfect the salon looked to me, it's nefarious reputation kept me at bay. I told no one this, but my past history with mind-altering substances taught me I had only needed to know they were around me, and I was off to the races. And in the races I ran, honey, everyone came in last place.
So Scott asked me if Jody and I wanted to get a place together.
"Yes!" I said. I liked living with Steve and Jody and Karen, but Tim was coming back to Chicago for school when summer ended, and he wanted his room back, and Karen was about to move in with her boyfriend. I slept on the couch, so a bed sounded good to me.
"I already found a place, just up Racine by Belmont. $ 275 a month! Want to see it tomorrow?" Scott said.
"Yes!" I said again.
The next day we show up and the owner buzzes us in. He's big and smelly, but very sweet, in a 'slow' kind of way. He walks us through the two bedroom apartment. It looked like very little had changed since the building was built in 1910. Really. It did have electricity, though. Not a lot, but some. It was dirty in there, too. Seventy years dirty.
"Can we paint?" I ask.
"Paint? Ya mean decorate? I already decorated!" He said. Scott and I give each other not in this gay's opinion looks.
Against my better judgment, I ask if we could sign the lease now. It was a hundred bucks each a month! I had no choice. I could barely afford that.
We cross the hall, trying to avoid his pungent wake, to Dean's (we called him 'Dean', cause the dumpy bar on the corner used to be called Dean's Place) apartment, to finalize the paperwork.
Upon entering, it took a minute for my eyes to adjust to the darkness. Dean runs in and sits down at what I guess to be a table, facing us.
"Have a seat. There's two chairs there." He said to Scott and me.
I pulled the chair up to the table, and sit on little of it as I can, because for what I at first took as a poorly lit room, I realized now, was really a filthy room. It was like a film noir movie, but instead of shadows creating the mysterious mood, it was dirt. Film saleté, if you will. And do I mean dirt. The few patches of clean, or less dirt, were from the placing and removing of plates and forks from the table. Wear marks!
How can anyone, why would anyone, how is this possib..., oh my God... I think to myself, as I start to feel dizzy.
A TV was on in the other room, and I think I saw an occasional flicker of someone's eyes on me, but I can't be certain. I start to imagine a deformed creature of a child, dragging it's self from room to room, when I force myself to stop my hyper imagination.
Scott and I look at each other, and sign the lease. This mess will be across the hall from us, and yet we sign the lease. His job situation was worse than mine, so his hands were tied tighter. I wish Jody had been with us that day. She never would've let us move in if she had seen Dean's apartment.
Later, after we left, we vow to scrub our new place from top to bottom, hide Dean and his apartment from Jody for as long as we could, and to furnish it ultra-cool.
"It's only for a year" he said. "We will be making more money then, and can get a better place." He said sadly, trying to cheer us up.
Scott has such amazing taste and furniture, so I knew if anyone could transform the dump we were about to move into, he could...

p.s. Click the eponym in the link in the title; you won't be sorry!
p.p.s. And this one.
p.p.p.s Some names have been changed to protect the innocent. (Or not so innocent)

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

A Three-Way Tie for Last Place

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Living on Racine and Addison that summer of '85, there never was a dull moment. Those 'not dull' moments were usually courtesy of one of my roommate's friends who came to visit Chicago.

I came home one morning from a night out, to a very loud, bizarre noise coming from Tim's recently abandoned bedroom. (He had just moved home for the summer.) Do I mean LOUD. Like a dozen passenger jets taking off loud. Or a hundred cars sounding-their-horns-at-once kind of loud.
What the hell is that? I think as I creep up to the bedroom door. I open it and find a lone guy in a sleeping bag on the floor in the middle of the room, snoring like there's no tomorrow.
How is that possible? That noise was so unnatural in every way, it defied a rational explanation. I laid down on the couch and prayed I had drank enough to make me pass out.
Things only got worse when he woke up.
The next morning, Sunday, Steve introduced me to his friend from back home, in Missouri, Alan. He was in town for a few days for his first visit to the Windy City.
After a loud morning of them catching up on the news and gossip from home, as told over Steve's music, (whenever Steve had a friend over, he commandeered the living room stereo, it was his after all, and blasted his music. His taste ran a little more hardcore than mine, and I tended to run out the back door and chain smoke in the courtyard whenever he did that. This always reminded me of A. how tolerant Steve was of me using his stereo and B. how much our taste in music differed, and how tolerant he was of that. Now I like the music he listened to. It just took me twenty years to appreciate it...) We set off that warm, summer day, excited to show a new visitor our beloved northside neighborhood.
"What's with all these shitty-looking buildings?" Alan said, as we walked on Sheffield.
"Why is everyone wearing black when it is so hot out? Black clothes will just make you hotter!" He complained to Steve and me.
"And everyone is dressed so well. I don't get it. They all have to be in debt. Those clothes look expensive. Everyone in Chicago uses credit cards too much." He whined on: "And what's with all these crappy, dumpy buildings? If there were houses like that in my town, they would be long gone!"
Again with the buildings! I think to myself.
I snuck 'I hate you right now!' looks to Steve whenever I could. How does he know someone like this, let alone call him a friend. Steve was the most easy-going person I had ever met.
"What's wrong with that guy?" Alan said, as he pointed to a grimy looking man sleeping next to a dumpster.
"He's homeless! What's wrong with you!" I couldn't take it any more. An hour of his crap was enough. I stormed away from them, to Dunkin' Doughnuts on Clark and Belmont. I sat down with my back to the window, so I couldn't see him, and ordered a cup of coffee. Back then they had a counter, like a diner, and you could sit and smoke, just like that painting. I wondered if they were trying to avoid someone, too.

Because Doug beat such a hasty retreat from Chicago when I first moved here, (see post "Pleased to Meet Me" from April, 2006) he forgot his friend Mimi was coming for a visit. She was stopping in Chicago for a few days, on her way home to Wisconsin from Paris. Doug asked me if I could spend some time with her while she was in Chicago, because by then he would be back in Oshkosh. Mimi and I met a few times back home, but I forgot how outrageous she could be; Diana Vreeland with the mouth of a horny truck driver:
"Wow, Brian, you look great, let's go to bed! Wanna? Let's have sex! It'll be fun!"
For lack of a better response, I laugh. I'm not sure if she was trying to make me laugh or not, but I knew she wasn't kidding. She looked a lot like Diana Vreeland, too.
"Where's the bedroom? Over there? Let's go, come on. Ya wanna?" She said, smiling and nodding her head. I say nothing, my mouth hanging open.
"Wanna? Yea? Yea?" Nod, nod.
"Nooohahahhah!" I laugh nervously some more. I still couldn't tell if she was joking or not. She had just walked in the door not two minutes ago!
"Now come on, tell me about Paris!" I plead. She tells me about going to school there, and how glad she was to be home, for a about ten seconds, and launches right back into the raunch:
"Come on, let's fuck." She motions with her head to the bedroom, with that weird smile, nodding some more. "Sex. Over there. Bedroom. Vagina. Penis." Emphasizing each word with a motion of her head.
"Mimi, come on, you know I just broke up with Doug! Let's go to..."
"Omigod! He didn't tell me!" She interrupts.
We spend the rest of the afternoon together, and I tell her the whole story about me and Doug. She was able to get an earlier flight home, so her visit in Chicago was only for a few hours. I ended my story by telling her I felt Doug hadn't told me the real reason he left Chicago, and I half-heartedly asked her if she could try to get the real story out of him. Mimi and Doug grew up together, so I knew her allegiance lied with him. She was a blast to be around, most of the time, but I often felt 'less than' whenever I was around her. I don't know if I was just intimidated by her mega-wealth and style, but after I saw her, I wanted to burn all my thrift store clothes, and start shoplifting in fine department stores. She had that kind of effect on people.

"Here's that shampoo I made for you at work today, Brian." Jody said as she handed me a bottle. She worked at a chem lab at the time.
"I still can't believe you can just make shampoo at work." I said.
"It's easy." She said. "Oh yea, my co-worker Jerry wants to meet you."
"Oh yea?" I respond. "Who's Jerry?"
"My boss, a gay scientist." She smiled. "He's ten years older than you, though. He likes new wave boys, and I told him I live with one now."
"Well, is he cute? Would I like him? Do we have anything in common?" I said to her.
"I think so... you should just meet sometime and see what happens." I could tell she wasn't telling me the whole story.
Was he gross? Disfigured? Fat? Maybe just plain boring? I thought to myself.
Jody comes home for the next few weeks with "Jerry updates". She said he makes her tell him what I wore that day, what I did, what we talked about, etc. Each day, she said, he gets more and more anxious to meet me.
"Well, why doesn't he fucking come here, then!" I playfully yell at her.
"He can't durning the week, but he wants to come to with us to Berlin some weekend night. I tell him about all the fun times we have there."
Many weekend nights came and went, and he never showed up. A message of apology was always passed through Jody to me about how 'something came up' and he couldn't come.
Me and my insecure self thought he had secretly went to Berlin, saw Jody and I, and didn't like what he saw. I told Jody this, knowing she would tell Jerry.
(That story was just the tip of the iceberg: I have a way, when I like someone, of unintentionally coming on way too strong. Too strong in a 'love me because I hate myself, your love can cure me' kind of way, or in a 'starting now, for the rest of our lives, we'll always be together' kind of way. Jerry probably thought I had already picked out matching his/his coffins.)
He, of course, denied my paranoid Berlin scenario. We talked a few times on the phone, I think, but it obviously wasn't a memorable experience.
One day I realized I hadn't heard any new 'Jerry' news in a few days, and asked Jody about him.
"Um, he thinks you're mad at him for blowing us off so often, so he doesn't talk about you all that much any more." She said.
"Well then, what do you talk about?"

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

A Song from Under the Floorboards

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This story is a little out of sequence, but I just heard that Magazine cover...
I was living on Pinegrove with Jodi in November of 1986, when I got a phone call:
"Brian!" said a voice in a whisper. "It's me Kelli. Look, you gotta come over right now! I mean it! Right now!"
It was after ten p.m., and I had just settled in for a quiet evening with my Benson and Hedges menthol lights, Tinderbox, and my sewing machine. I made all my own clothes back then.
"Kel, it's late, I'm tired, I don't wanna come over now. How about tomorrow?" I whined.
"Brian, you HAVE to come over now! I need your help! You're the only one home tonight!
I have a crazy guy in my house!" She panted.
"Kelli, call the police! Why are you calling me! I'm blocks away" I yelled at her.

Kelli lived on Belle Plaine and Broadway, in the same building as my friends Donny and Erin. All the apartments had an odd shape and feel to them, cause I think when it was built, it was a grander building in a grander neighborhood, but now the area was pretty rough, and the grandness was chopped up to make way for more tenants. Whenever I was there during the daytime, I often heard an opera singer and a french horn player rehearsing, sometimes together.
I didn't know Kelli very well, for I had only recently met her through Donny, them being neighbors and all. She had dyed-black, curly bobbed hair, bright blue eyes, and her generous mouth, usually painted a shocking pink, set off her big round head. She achieved a level of vintage with her 'look' many of us could only dream of. She worked for Baroni make-up, and had recently given me a ton of samples. I felt I owed her.
(I just tore apart my apartment looking for the empty Baroni containers I know I saved, but I think I threw them away a few years ago. I could puke, I hate myself so much right now.)

"No, I can't call the police, it's my old highschool boyfriend; he ran away from his home: he's off his lithium! You gotta help me, I don't want him to get in trouble. Just come over for a couple hours, please!"
"Ok, I get it. I'll be right there. I walked in the November cold for a few blocks, smoking and contemplating what I was about to get myself into, and then hopped into a cab.
Kelli buzzed me in, and I opened her door to find them on the floor, sitting around a little burgundy cassette player, smoking furiously.
"Hey guys" I said as I took off my coat.
"Brian! What a surprise! Come in the kitchen and I'll get you a beer. Be right back, Ron!" Kelli said as she dragged me out of the room.
"Thanks for coming." She said, her face inches away from mine. "I called his dad, and he should be here in about an hour to pick him up. He's not violent, I think, but I just didn't want to be alone with him now, with the state he's in. He should be taking his pills, and he told me he hasn't for a while, and that's probably why he ran away, to my place. He's done it before. He doesn't know his dad is coming, so don't say anything! He can't leave til his dad gets here!"
We walk back into her tiny living room, and join Ron on the floor. He takes a tape out of the player, and puts in another and presses play. The Sweetest Chill comes thumping out of the little player, with a sound quality I didn't know existed in a boombox that small.
What did he do, time travel to the year 2000 and bring that back? That thing must've cost a fortune! I think to myself.
"Hey! I was just listening to that before I came over" For a crazy guy, he sure has great taste in music.
As we talked, I studied Ron. He was a good-looking kid, my age, although a little disheveled. He had fine, naturally black and curly hair, and big brown eyes. I could tell he came from a family with money. The expensive piece of electronics was a big clue, but he also had that look of someone who would never want for anything. He looked cared for. He had a clear complexion and a glint in his eyes. Regardless of his behavior or his mental state, he was loved, and rich, and he knew it. He had an enviable coolness, even in this state he was in.
Oh, what I could do with only half his looks and money...
Conversely, at the same time, I could tell his money and looks and family didn't have any value to him. He didn't hate these things, per say, but his priorities were on a level I knew I could never understand.
Behind the Sun comes on next.
"This is nice. What is it?" I ask.
"Eric Clapton. I like this song. I listen to it a lot. " He replies.
He continues on, talking a mile a minute, about things I don't understand. Kelli and I often exchange puzzled glances. All I can think about is how deeply unfair life can be. I wish I knew him before he 'got sick'. I wish I could talk to him when he was taking his medicine. I wished for him to get all he wanted from his life.
Rattlesnakes starts to play.
Where does he get this amazing music?
We play Rattlesnakes over and over, and lay down on the hardwood floor, and sing along with the chorus "...she looks like Eva Marie Saint, in 'On the Waterfront'...", filling up Kelli's ashtrays.
I think about how nothing can protect us from who we're meant to be; how we're given our life's cicumstances, regardless of who loves us or how much money we have. I also wonder how my parents would react if the roles were reversed. Then I realize I've truly had many moments similar to this in my young life already, and how they've passed by unnoticed by anyone, save for a few friends. I think how lucky he is to have medicine to take, because I don't even know what the hell is wrong with me!
We ask him where he wants to live; where is he going? We ask him how he'll do anything without cash or a job. We suggest he go home to his parents house first, then figure out a plan.
"Ok, I'll go home. But not to the hospital." He sadly replies. Soon his dad is at the door, with an expression of relieved gratitude, and they leave without incident.

The next day Kelli called to thank me again, and told me the story of them dating in highschool; how she loved him and thought she would marry him one day, but how that all changed as his personality deteriorated; as she watched him slowly get sick. He rejected any kind of treatment so much his parents felt they had no choice but to put him in a hospital.
"Donny told me you were gay, Kel" I said.
"Yes...well... yes, I am." She said.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Ball and Chain

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I woke up one morning to find several beer cans on my window sill. We lived in a garden apartment on Racine and Addison, and our window sills were level with the sidewalk.
"Did you see all that crap by the windows this morning?" I asked Steve later that day.
"Cubs game yesterday. We're only a few blocks from Wrigley Field, remember?" He said.
The next day there was another game, and I happened to be home. I was watching tv in last night's eye make-up and hair-do, wearing my highschool English Settlement t-shirt, and nursing a big nasty hangover. It was a sunny day in June, so all the windows were wide open, and our couch faced the windows.
"Hey! Whatcha wachin'!" A guy asked as he crouched down to talk to me through the window.
"Letterman on tape." I humorlessly replied. I didn't want to be too much of a smart ass, seeing as he could easily take a dive through the screen into my living room.
"Hey! You should come with us to the Cubs game! We have an extra ticket!"
As he said that, I noticed his friends milling about, swigging cans of beer.
"Who are you talking to, ya idiot!" One of his friends said.
"No thanks. Gotta go to work." I said back.
As they walk away, a group of girls walks up:
"Heeey! Wathcha doin', cutie!"
"Watchin tv!" I reply.
"Oh yea?!"
"Look, I gotta get ready for work now".
"Aww! Don't go!"
I get up and pretend to leave the room. Five minutes later, another group was at the window:
"Hey, you!, you know how to get to Cubs Park from here?"
This went on all morning. I try closing the windows, but it's too hot, and we didn't have curtains, anyway.
"I FUCKING HATE BASEBALL!!" I scream as I slam the door to Steve's room, where I throw Sisters of Mecy on his stereo and blast it.

I few days later, I was walking north on Sheffield, by Belmont, with Scott and Jody, all of us in our black-clad, tall, spiky-haired, brooch-y glory. Ahead of us were two big gorgeous guys.
"Check 'em out!" I say to them.
Just then, two other guys start yelling at us:
"Look at the fags! Going to go suck some cock?!" They start laughing.
"Oh shit! A Cubs game!" We say in unison.
The two sexy dudes heard what they said, and turn around and run back to them, and come to our defense:
"What did you just say to them? Nothing?! Bullshit! We heard you call them fags. You can't do that in this neighborhood. We see you around here again, we'll beat the shit outta you! GOT IT!!" They say as they push them around a bit.
"Wow!" We whisper to our selves. "Cute and courageous! I wish they could always walk ten paces ahead of us!" But our mood quickly changed:
"We better get outta here and home fast." Scott said.
A few blocks later, a guy walking with crutches, lugging his bright white, toe-to-hip leg cast, screams "FAGGOTS! GODDAMN FAGGOTS!" at us from across the street. Actually, from across two streets, cause we were by where Clark and Sheffield meet; he was that desperate to yell at us. We all stop for a moment and look at each other, because the look of utter disgust on his face was more shocking than the expletives.
"Jesus, what's wrong with him? It's one thing if we were having anal sex on the sidewalk, but we're just new-wavers; two guys and a girl! Why be so disgusted! How did Boy George ever have a career!" I say to them.
"Boy George?" Jody said.
"JESUS CHRIST I FUCKING HATE FUCKING BASEBALL!!" We scream as we walk through the gate to our court yard.
I learned quickly that if there was a home game, I had to walk the long way to work, and take the long way home.
Later that night, we walked to the 24 hour 7-11 on Sheffield and Addison for some ciggs. As we got closer to the Cubby Bear, we saw the long line of combat boot clad skins and mohicans that regularly appeared there. (Back in 1985, the Cubby Bear, kitty corner to Wrigley Field, hosted many hardcore rock bands. Hard to believe, I know...)
"Uh-oh, look at the line..." I said to Scott and Jody. We were too intimidated by the crowd in the line to walk past them, so we crossed the street. They didn't like us, either. I guess we weren't extreme enough for them. Back then, a 'line' was crossed if you shaved your hair down to the skin, as opposed to 'just short'.
I was always so stunned to see those extreme looking kids so close to 'the enemy'. I couldn't imagine the carnage if there was a night game (night games didn't start 'til the 90's) or a daytime punk show. It was like a fucked-up ying and yang, or like seeing a zebra and a lion on the plains of Africa, oblivious to each other's presence because there is an elephant between them: a potentially explosive situation diffused by a simple phenomenon called timing.
Those vocal reactions were always so odd to me, because I was always very extreme looking in my little hometown, and I rarely encountered any harsh comments. (HIGHSCHOOL, in another town a few miles away, is an ENTIRELY different story.)
My grandpa called me a lot when I first moved away.
"Hey Bri, have you gone to see the Cubbies yet?"
He's a life-long, die-hard fan of the Cubs. I remember spending many Sunday afternoons as a kid watching the game with him. I was secretly more fascinated by the odd commercials for Bert Weinman Ford. They spun the cars around on a spinning stage, in a brightly lit, blue studio, and the announcer's voice was very cartoon-like.
"Bert WEINman Ford!", emphasis on the 'wine'.
My ten year old brain ran amuck: How did they get those cars in there! How can the stage spin those heavy cars like that! Why are they spinning so fast! Why is he talking so weird!
"No, grampa, I haven't seen the Cubs yet, but they've seen me..."