Decisions Are Made Every Day

The day before was warm, sweat warm. Overnight everything changed. It was now 60 degrees and threatening to rain. A friend recently referred to Chicago as a “cold rat box”. I am learning to understand that.

Inside of a cab. One of the kind that I like. No talking. No radio. Silence. Get out of the cab and step into the night. Cold, loud, and unnaturally bright. A few crosswalks, storefronts, and left turns and I will arrive at a birthday party. The final left turn dropped me on a quiet residential street. The stillness was a welcome change. I have the address in my pocket. One more block. Dog walkers, joggers, and drinkers still crowd the sidewalks at 12:30am. I smoke and watch the numbers approach the number written down inside my pocket. I come upon it. Oh, christ. It’s a loft apartment. Growing up in a small town and watching movies that took place in large cities, I remember the characters living in loft-style apartments. I always thought that it would be nice to live in a place like that. That is until I moved to a city years ago and met the people that actually live in places like that. The building begins as an abandoned factory and then the artists move in and spend a lot of time and money improving the building and, subsequently, the entire neighborhood. These are the nice people to meet. These are the ones that come up with creative solutions for otherwise unlivable conditions. These are the intelligent people. Unfortunately, with a dropping crime rate and affordable housing, the other half comes in and buys every corner up. Old buildings, sturdy brick 20th century homes, are torn down to make monstrosities like the building to the left. And they stay.

An intercom greets you. I’m still a sucker for the old doorbell, but those are going the way of the buffalo. I dial the number and wait. It rings. “Hello?”

“Hi.”

“Are you downstairs?”

Two things run through my mind: I don’t know the voice on the other end of the line, therefore she doesn’t know me. I could be anyone; and the absurdity of the question. Of course I’m downstairs. “Yes.”

I don’t hear a buzzer but all of a sudden the door is unlocked. I take the elevator to the third floor and locate the apartment. Maybe I should’ve knocked, but they did buzz me in after all. I walk in. Two small dogs, one wiener and the other a mystery, come up and look at me. I bend down to pet them and they allow it. I take a step inside and they go ape shit. Barking, snapping. An unknown, attractive female hollers, “You have to take your hat off.”

“Oh, sorry.” Sure enough. The dogs retreat. These little fuckers are trained to point out bad manners. I look around and don’t recognize a soul. My entrance causes little stir. Actually none whatsoever. I find the person that invited me and enter myself into a near-dead conversation. She says, “This is my friend. He’s really into metal.” Is this how people think of me? That guy who likes metal?

“So you’re into Rudolf Schenker?” The guy asking this seems to be shaking. Almost vibrating. Is he nervous? Is he drunk? On coke?

“I don’t know who that is.” And with that my friend walks away and leaves me with Mr. Earthquake. She had been waiting for an out and I walked up. I can’t blame her. I found myself in the same situation seconds after she walked away.

“Guitarist for the Scorpions.”

“No.”

“People think that because I play punk music, I only listen to punk music. But that’s not true. I listen to other things. A lot of other things.” One of the 657 things that furrow my brow is people who make a statement as if you’ve just asked them a question. This guy is so impatient to talk about himself that he doesn’t even wait for an inquiry. Skipping an integral social step can damn a conversation from the get go. I say nothing and look for booze hoping that he will stop talking and walk away. It doesn’t happen. He continues.

I concoct an escape plan. I reach into my jacket pocket and pull out a cigarette. I then pull out the lighter. I know it’s taboo to light up in another’s apartment but it was the only way out. I am quickly directed to the balcony. Luckily a few friends are outside. A few strangers, too. One of them is a female who is very attractive until she spouts out slurred, stupid observations.

She talked more than anyone but managed not to say a goddamned thing.

I suck down two vodka tonics and make my escape. I share a cab with friends to a corner nine blocks from home. I needed to walk. To clear my head. It’s cool and quiet. A few sprinkles graduated to raindrops. I enjoyed my hat and my destination.

The next scheduled event is two days away. I will remain home until it is absolutely necessary to leave. Amen.

Images courtesy of http://www.carlstumpf.com.

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