It felt good to be driving the Mini again. I had missed it. The highway was all bumpy and beat to shit but it was still a fun drive. Ann and I didn’t talk much. We had done enough talking for a while. Instead, my mind was left to churn over all that had been said. I wondered if I had just set myself up for a truly depressing, frustrating, self-confidence deflating experience by agreeing to go to Chicago. Specifically, going to Chicago with Ann. More specifically, going to Chicago with Ann under the no sex, no touching, no kissing rules she had laid out as precondition. I mean, I liked her and enjoyed her company. And enjoyed talking to her. And enjoyed just being around her. A lot. A whole lot. She was just really an amazing person. But, and I say with emphasis, But, that doesn’t mean I don’t really still want to sleep with her. In fact, probably now more than ever. What the hell was I doing? They just might as well rename Chicago Blue Balls City and just be done with it. What’s the word I’m looking for? Doomed. Yes, that’s it. Dooooooooomed.
So, we’re driving along and I’m feeling pretty good, physically, anyway. Which actually went a long way towards making me feel pretty good mentally. It almost made me understand why old people tended to be so nasty all the time. Oh God, come on, you know what I’m talking about. Don’t even. Anyway, as much as I have been tempted to just tell the nasty old cronies to die and be done with it (No, I haven’t. Once again, it’s painfully clear what you really think of me). I feel for them, in a way. I mean, I know how crabby I feel when my body is in discomfort or pain. So, I can only imagine how they feel. That, and just the constant frustration you must always have being old and just not being able to make your body do the things it’s supposed to do. I guess in some ways, I was lucky to avoid all of that. No old age, slow-body decay, sitting in a chair waiting to die story for this one. Oh no.
The lack of conversation with Ann was a nice break. No need to think of clever things to say and to be constantly amusing. What do you mean, I’m never amusing even when I try? Have I reminded you lately I know where you live? In any case, we just drove along the highway darting between trucks and stupid yuppies driving gas-guzzling-environmentally-irresponsible-dangerous-to-other-drivers-still-doesn’t-compensate-for-the-fact-that-both-them-and-their-pathetic-little-lives-are-dull-and-boring-and-not-further-from-“rugged”-or-adventurous-than-you-could-possibly-imagine S.U.V.s. Fuckers. And then we hit traffic. Lots and lots. And lots. Of traffic.
We were stuck just outside of Chicago in one of the never ending construction zones. The kind with fluorescent orange vested gorillas waving you all into one lane from six. Oh, the joy of driving in America. Great Open Road, MY ASS! Not to mention the fact that as much I love driving a stick, in heavy stop-and-go traffic it is really a pain.
“Well, this sucks.” No, I didn’t say it. Ann did. About the traffic. I really do like that girl, sometimes. Simple, to the point and hopefully, soon to be naked. I know, I know, what about all the preconditions? What about just liking spending time with her? All true. I still wanted to get her naked. I mean, what did I have to lose by trying? Other than my balls when Ann cut them off for not respecting her or some such. Then again, the way being around her was going to make them so blue and swollen unless I succeeded in my quest, maybe I’d be more comfortable if they were removed, anyway.
So, as part of my oh so slick seduction, I started talking about construction to her. Do I know how to woo a woman, or what? I started off about talking about how in Europe the roads are paved with a better, but more expensive, way that makes them much smoother and makes them last much longer. In fact, they last long enough to actually work out cheaper in the long run than American roads that need to constantly be ripped up and repaired. Not to mention, loss of productivity, real-estate values, effect on the environment and all sorts of other things that have real, but less apparent, effects on the economy. Not to mention that American Highways just basically sucked. However, Joe Politician in America really doesn’t give a shit about long-term anything. He wants to take care of the problem as cheaply as possible in the short run and get re-elected. Hence, the tendency of most governments, but particularly our beloved democracy, to make some really, really bone-headed decisions.
To which Ann responded by going into this whole thing about taxes in Europe being so high and the geographical and cultural differences in traveling and so and so and so on. All of which was really pretty damn intelligent and insightful of her, I must say. I love smart. Smart is sooo sexy. I felt myself getting a hard-on when she started to talk about “cost per capita of infrastructure.” Which is why this was all going really well. I was seducing her, you see, just like I said.
Still don’t get it? Fine. Give me your little hand and I’ll walk you through it nice and sloooooow. The conversation went from traffic, to transportation, to a particular art exhibit I knew was going on in Chicago on train travel. An exhibit which we would be getting into town too late to see this evening, but which we could see if we stayed in Chicago overnight. Now, are you with me? Finally. Am I slick or what? I really did want to see the show and planned on going when I was in town for the Bears game. This was even better, though. Especially since Ann seemed really interested. She said “sure, let’s stay and go back tomorrow” and that was that. And just as I was wondering if it would come up now or later, she added “but separate rooms.”
And then the “ZONE OF HELL,” otherwise known as “under construction,” finally ended and the Mini screamed with joy as it happily weaved in and out of traffic. Or maybe that was Ann screaming with terror that she was going to die in a car crash. Whatever. Somebody was screaming. And then the city came into view.
Entering Chicago from the North side is really a visual stunner. I mean, to begin with it’s truly a great skyline. Not anything like New York, mind you, let’s not get crazy here. But really something. The John Hancock Tower stares right at you. The lake is to your left. The Sear Tower gleams in the distance. Just really nice. The perfect moment in fact for a great helicopter shot to subliminally remind the audience of the one showing the main character, ME, leaving New York over the George Washington Bridge that I so skillfully mentioned way back then. Ever-so-long ago. Hollywood, are you listening?
Hollywood thoughts aside. It really was one of those moments. I had been to Chicago countless times before, but it had never looked this magical to me. Maybe it had something to do with the totally hot woman sitting at my side. Maybe it had to do with the great little car I was in. Maybe it’s because I really, really felt how special this moment would be and how precious it was because I wouldn’t be around much longer. In a weird way, the Grand Plan was finally doing what it was supposed to, I guess.
Which lasted all of about three minutes. I wanted to check into a hotel and park the car. My knee was sore and the Mini and me needed a little break from each other. Ann, on the other hand, really wanted to drive around a bit and cruise the streets just for the hell of it. Normally, I would really admire this attitude. As would the people doing the Mini advertising, for that matter. Which starts me thinking. Which gets me pissed. Clearly, there are people who are actually good at advertising and know what they’re doing. Yet I got stuck with Thomas. Talk about being robbed. Anyway, so we were driving around for no good reason other than Ann wanted to. Which kind of was a good reason. Except, I really needed to get out of the damn car soon.
And so I did. We just happened to end up by the New “W” Hotel they built right on the lakefront. I normally avoid “W”s because they’re owned by the same people that own Sheratons and get all these khaki-clad, preppy, duller-than-dull, young business types there trying to be cool by staying in them. That and the scenesters trying to get into some PR hyped bar which was even worse. However, they (the hotel, not the scenesters) did have some sense of style and I remember seeing something about this one, in particular, being especially cool. And at least it wasn’t the usual corporate blah style. So, there you go. And there we are.
Two rooms. One lakefront view room for her. One city view room for me. Ann approved. Of the rooms. Not of the fact that I was going to pay for both of them. I had even floated the idea of getting a suite with two adjoining rooms because it was a better value (which it wasn’t). But Ann nixed that one right away. I made sure to harass her about how she didn’t want the suite because she didn’t trust herself to keep her hands off of me. She smiled at me and said “maybe you’re right but we’re still not getting the suite.” Messing with my mind. Just messing with my mind.
The room was pretty neat in a very studied, which-boutique-hotels-can-we-rip-off-for-style, sort of way. No, it was good. Rip-off style or not, it was really nice. The kind of place you wish your own apartment might look like as a young, single person instead of the second hand and Ikea crap you really had. Well, actually I kind of liked Ikea. Good stuff at good prices. And really good advertising. Anyway, as I was saying, the room was cool. Ann seemed pleased with hers, as well. Even more so. For one, it was an even nicer, larger room than mine. I guess most people consider facing the lake a step up from a view of the skyline. Ann certainly did. Not that you could really see much of it in the dark. But somewhere out there was Lake Michigan.
Speaking of being in the dark (damn, I’m good). The next thing Ann said to me was that she really wanted to take a shower after sitting in the car all day. Kind of odd considering that even with traffic hell we weren’t really in the car all that long. And it wasn’t like it was hot or anything, either. All of which makes me really think that she just wanted to watch me as I pictured her in the shower. Naked. Water running down that firm, curvaceous body. Her face as…See! She’s evil I tell you. She did it on purpose. I just know it.
So here I am, in bed, alone. As Ann is naked. And in the shower without me. But what a pretty picture…Yum. I must say, it had been quite a strange day. A good one, I guess. But pretty damn odd, wouldn’t you agree? Fine, be that way. I need to call My Mom. No, not to ask for advice about Ann. To tell her I won’t be home tonight as I told her I would be. That’s just the sort of always-thinking-about-the-well-being-of-others, considerate guy I am. Was that a laugh I just heard?
After My Mom I start to call Nancy. Which is kind of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it would be really good to get her advice on things. But, the flip side is that it would not be good to be thinking of her now. Especially the way I had been thinking about her. Talk about muddling the issue. I put the phone down and redialed. I call Paul. His only comment or question is, of course, “did you bang her yet?” Why do I bother?