Friday, July 08, 2011

Wings and Things

On the way home from my trip East, after a long and tiring flight (although one where the crew decided to show up on time) it was determined that I needed food. The Electrician was playing chauffeur, and it only took a few minutes for me to figure out how to give accurate enough coordinates to get picked up from O’Hare. Fortunately, he knew the airport better than I did.

Unfortunately, my phone chose that exact moment to die, so I found myself scrambling in O’Hare looking for an outlet so I could jump-charge my phone enough to get a message out about my potential coordinates. The tiredness, lack of sleep, fear of missed connections, fear of heading the wrong way, and fear of forgetting general things all contributed to my unease. By the time my chariot arrived I was a tad more strung out that usual.

With patience the Electrician got us on the highway and toward home, the monsters, and the Boy.

“Food.”

“You know, funny you should say that cause I didn’t get my dinner.”

“What now?”

“Well, I was having dinner at the usual on my way over here, but somehow my order got shuffled off to someone else at the party and by the time it was figured out I needed to leave to pick you up.”

“That sucks.”

“Yes.”

“Buffalo wings.”

“What?”

“I want Buffalo wings.” Buffalo wings were my favorite default comfort food after anything that put me on edge, and I figured I was in the proper country for them. Granted what I REALLY wanted was Kocheon chicken wings, but I was definitely in the wrong country for that, so an American Buffalo wing would have to suffice.

“Sounds doable, but I don’t know where to go.”

I consulted with the magic box of knowledge as we drove down the highway in the dark. The night sky was as clear as glass and stars twinkled overhead in the temperate cool Chicago evening. Downtown glittered as we passed through it, and the nighttime road opened smoothly before us, ushering toward Buffalo wings and home.

As we drove the dark highway we passed the line from city to city outskirts, where the strips clubs and off-track betting establishments held more real estate than houses or Buffalo-wing establishments.

“There be naked women in there.” said the Electrician.

“Indeed. You ever been in a strip club?”

“No.”

“Heh.”

“Have you?”

“I spent a weekend working in a strip club once long ago. Also I paid my rent in strip clubs for a good six months once upon a time.”

“What now?”

“Let's find Buffalo wings and I will tell you a story.”

It turned out that Buffalo wings were across the border and served up at a place that was essentially a chain and did mostly nothing but Buffalo wings.

“Is this okay?” I asked.

“Sure; I like Bdubs.” More nicknames for restaurants. I obviously did not spend enough time living in this country.

We walked into the mostly empty place, which was not surprising seeing as how I was making my run home at something like 10 p.m. We found a table and I asked the Electrician to get things he liked, since I had no idea and I knew that would not have Kocheon chicken wings.

With food ordered it seemed most appropriate to tell the strip-club story. To fill the time.

“So, I was destitute.” There really was no other way to start that story. After two years of volunteer service (which I do not regret in the slightest) I was basically destitute. I have not had money overflowing in my bank account in many years, but that was a particularly lean period.

During that time, looking for work, taking any odd job I could get, I was also becoming good friends with my landlord. I cooked dinner one night and he was duly impressed. He offered to take me out for dinner and a few weeks later there invited me along on a group outing to dinner and a movie. A good time was had by all.

My landlord was looking for conversation and found that the two college-educated people who had landed in his housing were much more entertaining than most of this residents. So we started to hang out a bit more often, enjoying movies, discussing life, the universe, and everything. I think once we even had him over to sit on the floor with us and watch a movie in the TV closet. (Literally. It was a long closet under a flight of stairs and we had put the TV in it to keep it from taking up room anywhere else. We’d sit on the floor to watch TV on the few occasions when we did.)

Norm, my landlord, was a pretty normal guy, and I liked him. During the lean months before I ran off to Korea he asked me if I might like to go out to dinner with him by my lonesome, and I said sure. He seemed harmless enough. We had dinner at a Greek restaurant in Chicago and afterward, since we were both riding hi on great food and a small amount of wine, he asked me if I wouldn’t like to go out and meet some of his friends.

I said sure, again. I’m adventurous.

We hopped back into Norm's car, drove around a bit and then into a parking lot for a bar. The bar was named Wiggles.

It was a strip club.

I did a mental check to make sure I wasn’t leading anyone on, and followed him into the club. We sat at a table and he asked me what I wanted to drink. At the time I was on a gin kick so I ordered a gin and tonic. As we drank and talked I looked around and took in a bit of the stage show, then turned back to Norm and asked “So, when do your friends get here?”

“They are here. They work here.”

“Ah.”

“If you want to talk to anyone, just let me know.”

In a strip cluband I know this from working in onein order to talk to girls you buy girls drinks. The girls more often than not have a standard drink that is either juice or cola based. More often than not the drink has no booze in it. The girls only have four or five real drinks a night; the rest are just plain juice or soda. If the girls actually drank the amount that was being bought for them the conversations and the dancing would suffer.

We enjoyed our drinks and continued to talk and finally a few of the girls (and Norm's favorite girl) came over to join us.

Girl 2 asked me if I’d like to buy her a drink.

“I’m with Norm.” I answered. We looked at each other and she knew, as I did, that I was doing roughly the same thing she was. I may not have been taking off my clothes, but I was earning my keep through conversation and entertainment. She asked Norm who confirmed with me and then he got her a drink. Then he gave me a stack of singles so I could tip the girls later when we moved to sit closer to the dance floor.

By the end of the evening (if dinner and drinks were included in the tally) Norm had spent more than double my rent on the night out. It was the first night of many that would take place over the next several months. I became friends with several of the girls. On several occasions I brought my sketch pads and paints in and did portraits of the girls for Norm. He paid commission for the drawings as well.

It was an amusing time.

The Electrician cracked a wide smile and giggled.

“What?”

“You’re life is really more interesting than mine.”

“Not really. I just never pass up an opportunity to be amused.”

“Indeed.”

The wings were all right, but in the end we had to reject one batch and get something different. All around it was tasty, and the conversation more than agreeable.

I paid for the dinner.

1 comment:

Maladaahn said...

Love it!