It has occurred to me (while thinking about writing here) that this is an autobiography. That my story should be labelled as the story of a band that died years ago is a troubling concept. I am not the thing I did. And these stories I want to tell are ghosts.
I don't want to be a ghost.
And yet, in a way, I am. I'm not saying anything new in song. For almost 5 years I've had a lot of anxiety that makes returning phone calls pretty stressful and leaving the house out of the question at times.
So I sit in these rooms with other ghosts and I render the people I used to know as ghosts, too. I neuter them. I remain in control of an uncontrollable mess of a life.
This is not to say my life is a mess. It's actually fairly tame. This is to say that life is a mess.
Once upon a time I loved a mess. Joe and I created them for giggles:
One morning - it must have been a Saturday - we started drinking early. Early is a subjective thing, but before noon was typically pretty young in the day to get started for us. Chad was with us. We started at the Brown Pub in Hinckley - which is unfortunate because I kinda hate the Brown Pub. That's not this story, though.
I guess we met for an early lunch and shot the shit and drank whatever the local drink was (Miller Lite) and maybe caught a pretty decent buzz. I don't think we were planning on making a day of it. I had plans that night with my friend Carrie. We had a Saturday off and I wasn't gonna waste it.
I know what they say about plans and how making them is making God laugh, but I'm here to say: Not making a plan might be twice as dangerous.
We had no plans and a few beers in our bellies. So there we are - Chad and Joe and Me and we're heading back to Sandwich and probably some other bar. Along Granart Rd. there was a farm and Joe decided he wanted to take some pictures of a guy who was out on the road with a burn pile.
Chad would have none of this fuckery. He stayed in the car. Chad had long been the wisest of us.
But Joe and I headed out and told the man at the burn pile that we were photographers for Life Magazine and were taking some pictures of Midwestern life and how we were struck by the whole Americana of him and his burn pile. In our defense, it was some pretty striking Americana.
The guy completely agrees and we take this shitty camera Joe has and is passing as a professional camera and wander around taking some pictures. Some posed. Some trying to look more natural. Some sort of arty, from the ground, the sun rendering everything silhouette. We all felt a little beautiful.
And maybe a little drunk. So this guy says that the real story was up at the farm house. He wants to show us his chicken coop and his miniature horses.
The hell with Chad, he can wait.
We headed up to the house with him. We went to the chicken coop. He told us which one was his favorite. They all looked pretty much the same to us.
Then we saw the miniature horses. He told us about the one with one eye. Apparently the other eye just "fell out" when he was born. Crazy.
I wish I was kidding, but I swear to you this is not just the Miller Lite saying this: At some point a vintage (convertible!) Eldorado Cadillac with (I swear) steer horns where the hood ornament used to live pulled in the dirt drive and some cowboy and his dog climbed out. I remind you - this is Northern Illinois. I wish I could remember his name and I bet Joe would.
Nameless man was friendly as all hell after our fictional profession and employer were relayed. I believe he asked if we wanted to get a few shots of his dog who was a trained killer. "What? You don't believe it? Watch this . . . Sit, boy . . . now stay . . ." And then he screamed "JUMP 'EM UP!!! JUMP 'EM UP!!"
And the dog growled and attacked . . . the owner.
We sure didn't know what was what, but we agreed that of course Life Magazine would want pictures of that and I spotted for lighting or whatever it was I was saying my job was and Joe snagged a few more pictures. At some point and it must have been an hour or better we remembered Chad and excused ourselves back to Joe's Jeep.
The Jeep is a whole other story.
We got back in and had to tell Chad the whole story. Chad musta been sick of sitting and so we headed back for a little wine at the Winckler's.
I recall I had made plans with my friend Carrie that evening. We were supposed to go to her friend Lisa's housewarming or something at a lovely upper apartment on the North Side of Chicago. I don't think Carrie had invited Joe and Chad, but I felt fairly empowered so I did. After wine we had to pick up Carrie.
Back to Aurora.
We get to Carrie's house and her parents were having some sort of dinner party. Seems like it was casual, just like another couple over for dinner. Her dad offered drinks and it would have been ungrateful - if not rude - to decline.
So whiskey was had.
And we loaded up the Jeep to make the hour and a half into the city and then up to Logan's Square. This was a crucial hour or so. I don't know that it would have sobered us up much, but it did kinda reset the pacing of the evening. We most likely needed some reset.
The drive was a gas. Laughing and shit. Everything you'd hope out of a drunken car ride in to a major metropolitan center. If it makes you feel better we can say Carrie drove. She may have. I can’t remember.
We arrived in the Big City and aimed ourselves at the newly gentrified North Side Neighborhood. We found Lisa’s place and found a party in process. It was lovely, fine folks and progressive beer. We could have partaken in fine and erudite conversation had we been so inclined, such was the nature of the party. Artists and up-and coming artists and social justice workers and everything I might just appreciate would I to arrive today. What a swell party it was.
We didn’t partake in such lofty discourse. Joe and I decried the nature of living in a city and extolled the benefits of living “smack dab in a cornfield.” We offended, and entertained and were generally the belles of the ball. Folks listened to us and laughed. We made friends and gently insulted them, but somehow charmed them. Chad looked a little green. I was on my way.
At some point, Joe and I decided that we were just not fancy enough to continue to get loaded on whatever brown ale was provided in this place. We asked if there was a liquor store in the neighborhood. No one seemed to know, but Joe and I believed that human nature demanded a liquor store to be prominently placed in any locale from small town to big city, so we set out in search of cheap, watery, light beer.
And we did find their delicacy. We had to wander through some frightening parts of the bario in order to find it, but we did. We were generous folk, too. We bought three cases. And we made new friends back at the party. Seems there were some other connoisseurs of watery beer and we shared.
And a good time was had, though at this point things get fuzzy for me. I’m not sure what time of the evening this would have been, but we had to have been over ten hours into some committed drinking at this point. I recall Chad sitting next to Carrie on a couch and I asked a question. He answered by hurrying out onto the second floor porch and getting rid of some of his beer. I recall needing a nap and taking the hostess’ bed. I recall her joining me at some point. I assure you I was in no condition to threaten a boyfriend, but I do recall said boyfriend finding us spooning and I lightly recall a row surrounding that.
I recall waking up at some point in the morning and finding Joe sitting on the keg and passing the tapper back and forth to some latecomer. They were the only two standing and Joe had just hit stride. They split the last of the keg, the Miller Lite a memory.
I am certain Carrie drove home because Joe lapsed in to a coma. The kicker? Joe's camera didn't have any film in it all day.