May 28th, 2005

The Windy City, day 2...

Steve was up around 8:30, and I got up at 11. We missed breakfast, which only goes until 10:30. But, technically, we had breakfast at three in the morning at IHOP.

Steve had spent a good portion of the morning going through all of the papers and magazines, getting familiar with the area, and suggestions for two different days' agendas -- one nearby in the area of our hotel, and one up in Boystown. We settled on the "local area agenda," and then got showered, and dressed to go out.

I wore jeans, a t-shirt, and my sweat jacket, as the Weather Channel broadcasted 62°.

We asked at the concierge desk if there were any places nearby that might have a brunch. It was a little after noon at this point. She directed us to "The Cheesecake Factory," which is just around the corner, and handed us a business card saying, "This will get you priority seating there." We walked around the corner, and came face-to-face with the John Hancock Building, which is "on the agenda" that Steve put together for us, and which we had no idea was that close. Food was still a priority at this point, though.

We went into The Cheesecake Factory,but the line there was way too long, so after Steve being cruised by a real cutie in line, we turned around and walked out. In that same little area, which was a little downstairs area, which included the entrance to the John Hancock Building Observatory, there was a little coffee shop/bakery/deli, and we went in there to check it out. We both agreed that a bagel would do it for now, so I got a Cinnamon and Raisin one and Steve got an Onion one. I got coffee, and Steve got a Tab. Hadn't seen one of those in a long time, but Steve said they're available in Raleigh at the Harris Teeter.

We sat outside, but it was a little cold, and eventually started raining, which disappointed us both, because neither of us had brought an umbrella. We did manage to finish out bagels before it was raining enough to seek cover, and we did, by going to the entrance of the observatory, where there was an overhang under which you could stand. It never rained hard or anything, a heavy drizzle, enough to get my glasses wet.

When Steve finished his cigarette, we walked across the street to Filene's Basement, which was actually an escalator, and included three or four stories -- Filene's Attic, if you will. While Steve shopped the "men's floor," I called Robert, and had a nice chat. Steve mentioned that he'd heard there were umbrellas on the next floor up, so I went up there, and grabbed the last two Tote's "mini-umbrellas," which were on the "floor" of the rack amongst the rest of the umbrellas, which were all foo-foo "women's" looking umbrellas -- lots of floral prints, handles that turn up on the end, and some of them with the ends of the material cut in the shape of crescent moons instead of just straight across. None of them matched my outfit.

I also bought two picture frames that I really liked, for my ski pictures. I want to give one to Robert, if he wants one, and the other to either my sister of my parents. Or I may give one to Robert, one to my sister, and break up the two that I have in a dual frame, and give one of those to my parents. A little heavy on the ego to think they all want one, I know.

We stopped in to the Ghiradelli Chocolate Shop, promptly accepting the free sample square being handed to us with tongs at the entrance, by this pleasant looking black lady at the door. Steve, always one to have a conversation, besides saying, "Thank you," said, "Are you having fun?" To both our surprise, she wrinkled up her nose, and said, "Not really." It was too funny, and she laughed with us. My sample square had caramel in it. Perfect.

We looked for white chocolate squares in there, but ended up not getting any, mostly because we were at the beginning of our day's walk, and a decision that I later came to regret when I got my yearning for something sweet. We also decided not to get some ice cream there, which was also available, mostly because the line was so long, and neither of us "needed" it. True to our form, though, as we were exiting, I said, "We can always come back later on our way back," and then we both said at the same time, "And get another free sample on the way in." Bless our hearts. As we like to say, "It's not easy maintaining these figures."

Leaving there, we crossed the street and went into the Hershey store, which was highly commercialized. They had a fondue pot in the shape of Hershey's Kiss -- brown even. They also had a ceramic candy dish in the shape of a Kiss, which had a button on it to press. When you did, the lid slid to the side, and it played, "Your Kiss Is On My Lips."

We passed a couple of interesting street characters on our walk along "The Magnificent Mile," which is what that section of Michigan Avenue is called -- resembling Rodeo Drive or 7th Avenue (or is it 5th Avenue?) in New York -- the stores with the names: Needless Markup, Tiffany's, Bloomingdales, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, etc. We saw two of those people who seem to spray paint themselves all one color, and then stand on a pedestal as still as a statue.

The first one we saw, was actually a guy all in silver, but moving, as he was sitting on a little store window-type ledge eating lunch. I said, "Oh, look, Steve. He's one of those statue guys; he must be on lunch break." Sure enough, right around the corner was, evidently, his "cohort on duty," another metal-man standing still with a cash box at his base. Those people are just amazing to me.

Further down the road, we came across a woman, who was sprayed, and dressed, entirely in black, doing the same thing. Also, along the way, we passed the "Disco for Dollars" guy, who was just hysterical. He was just an ordinary looking guy with some speakers playing disco music, doing the stereotypical "Saturday Night Fever," if you will, dance moves. He was just-a-smiling, and looked like he was having a ball. An Indian lady walked by him, and her face as she looked at him was just priceless.

We kept walking along The Magnificent Mall, looking for Chicago Street, which is the one we're supposed to take from our hotel, then up to State to catch the metro. This was part of our agenda for the day -- to find the subway stop closest to our hotel. We kept passing intersection after intersection after intersection. "It's got to be the next one," became our mantra.

We stepped into a mall at one point, and I sat on a bench, while Steve walked quickly through it. I called Joe while I was sitting there, to find out they hadn't gone to the beach yet, the weather was not good today, and they were going tomorrow, spending the night -- he, Loren, Doug, and Nick. Ben and Dale were going to ride down for the day on Sunday.

On the way out, we stopped at the information desk, and asked how far down Chicago Street was. "It's about six blocks back that way," the guy responded. We were shocked. Evidently, we had passed it without even knowing it, and as it turns out, it was the intersection where the Ghiradelli Chocolate and Hershey stores were. There was a guy, who evidently was a friend or co-worker, of the guy at the information booth, and he said, "It'll only take you about four minutes to walk that. They're city blocks."

I said, "Well, it'll probably take us a little longer than that; we're not city boys."

He gave me one of those head to toe once-overs, and then said, "Yeah, that's obvious."

"Bitch!" I retorted. I think it was all in jest, but if it wasn't, I got the last word in.

Since we were so far down on Michigan, we crossed over the bridge, and checked out the Hyatt, which was the host hotel for the IML (International Mr. Leather). Oh my god. Wall-to-wall men. Hot.

We sat at this cool hotel bar off the lobby, with the entire, huge back wall of it glass looking out into the city, with hundreds of bottles of various beers and liquors on glass shelves up and down the wall. Here's a shot of it:

We ordered two Bloody Mary's, one for each us, and I'm sure our mouths dropped in unison when he said, "That'll be $20.90." They were $10.45 each.

They were good, but not so much better than ones we had later in the weekend for less than half the price. They wet the rims of the glasses, much like what's normally done for salt with margaritas, but dipped them in celery salt instead of regular salt. This was in place of celery stalks, which they did not contain. It tasted great, but it stunk to high heavens. They had three, huge, killer-tasting green olives in them.

From there we walked in the direction of the Sears tired, since we were as close to it as we'd been this trip, and came across a little restaurant to have lunch in. I think it was called Cosi's. We each got a "personal size" pizza -- Steve had a spinach and cheese one, and I had a different kind -- can't even remember what was on it now, but it was good.

From there, we hopped a cab to the Sears Tower, which was on Whacker St. We said, "Whacker?" "I'm not even mad at 'er."

We got in line for our tickets to the top of the tower, which were $12.95 each, and then got in line for the 8-minute movie they made us watch before going up. One lady had a digital (I presume) video camera, and she taped the entire eight minutes of it. I only know because, though she was three or four rows ahead of me, her arm was up in the air the whole time, and I could see the video screen viewer with the movie on it -- a picture-in-a-picture to me, if you will.

The elevators zoomed up the 103 floors, and there was an idiot in the front of the jammed elevator who thought he was clever and funny, when in reality he was neither. Attention seeker.

We enjoyed the view from the top. The weather had broken nicely, and it was clear and sunny. We thought about the tower getting hit by an airplane while we were at the top, and the horror of being anywhere near the top of the building at the time.

We cabbed it home, and I took a nap -- for four hours. Steve went to Walgreen's while I was asleep, and I awoke to find him with some supplies -- a bag of off-brand Cheetos, and a bag of strawberry flavored Twizzlers for us to share, and a plain Hershey's chocolate bar for me. Yum. Richard Gere was on the TV, in Pretty Woman, and Steve and I both lusted after him in a scene in which he was shirtless. I repeat, "Yum."

He told me about his "outing" to the Walgreen's and that he had then slipped back over to the Hyatt to check out the afternoon scene there. What he found himself in was the middle of a "cigar party," and he said, it was one huge cloud of smoke in the lobby.

Now that does not appeal to me, but he likes it. But, he said that it was so bad in there, that the servers were wearing surgical masks while they were working, as were all of the people at the registration desk. I'm so glad I did not go along on that jaunt.

After a while, we got ready, and then cabbed it to Charlie's -- the Country & Western bar up in Boystown. It was a fun place, and we had a fun time, sucking back the drinks. The bourbon and diets were only $3.00 there, and we had two shots of Goldschlager in between those.

Steve met a couple of people, one named Kurt, who had a red cross t-shirt on, and another guy whose name I didn't get, but he was a dancer, and we two-stepped together, and then started the Barn Dance together. I did a couple of other line dances while there, too: Dance, the Circle Jerk, and Boot Scootin' Boogie.

From there we went to the Cell Block, where it wasn't quite as festive as the previous night. There was a "dress code" to get in "the back room," and we didn't meet it. Bastards. :-)