Thursday, May 5 2022

stomach aches, high art, and punching a bouncer

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everybody. How's your Thursday going? Cloudy, cold, but at least it's quiet around here. As everyone sleeps, I get full reign over this delicious pot of coffee. You know the drill.

Sip. It's quiet around here. Yesterday, Rodney woke up with a stomach ache. He started crying at the breakfast table, so we let him take the day off school. Whatever it was, he easily slept it off, and he and Miles were back to riling each other up in the living room all day. Today, I'm thankful he's feeling better, but also thankful to get rid of him for the day.

We have to be nice to Miles today, seeing as it's his birthday today. Marissa strung up some balloons in the dining room. She nabbed some books and toys from Target while running errands yesterday. Marissa's going to take him to the zoo this afternoon, in lieu of a birthday party.

That's about it - some presents, balloons, and a trip to the zoo. It feels meager, but I guess we can still get away with it while he is only two. After all, Miles lives every day like it's his birthday, so maybe he won't even know the difference.

It's been tough breaking back into the real world. I know I've only been back at work for a day, but catching up on everything left me exhausted. Later in the day, I'd find Marissa slumped over at the dining room computer. I took the same posture at the dinner table over a reheated bowl of beef stroganoff. Still fresh in our memory, I think we both wished we were still living it up in Chicago.

The art show was a lot of work, but each day when the mart closed at 7 PM, we had the rest of the evening to ourselves to wander. Marissa told me that in the evenings, the mart plays artistic videos with a big projector on the side of the building. So at showing time, we made our way down and dried off a damp seat by the river and got comfortable.

Fine art can be so subtle and interpretive. I try to approach it with a certain vigilance to make sure I come away with at least one salient thought about it. However, this demonstration was not subtle. The repetitive mantra "we are sinking" reverberated off the building. Ominous messages circled blue clad dancers vibrating like water droplets coming to a boil. The short, haunting piece about climate change was so intense, it made us forget we were watching the piece in outsize in the drizzling rain on the side of a building.

Marissa and I walked along the river. Too deep in thought to speak, I think we were both struck with the same sense of wonderment. Finally Marissa cracked the silence with a quiet comment. "I hope to make something for the side of a building someday... but I don't have any ideas yet." We both laughed. The art scene is special in Chicago, and we were both feeling lucky, grateful, and challenged by what we've seen.

But it wasn't all high art in Chicago. We spent lots of time in the evenings bar hopping. Each street corner seemed to have a unique bar packed with certain types of crowds. There were bars for college kids, bars for sports fans, bars for young professionals, bars for tourists, and even bars for douche bags.

The rain started to pick up, so Marissa and I ducked into a crowded pub. There were no seats, so we stood in a narrow space between two tables, patiently sipping our beer. A group of guys near us started to get rowdy, and a squad of bouncers descended. "Ooh, something's going on," I commented quietly. "Check it out, these guys are serious. They're wearing ear pieces."

They broke up the group without resistance, but it wasn't clear what they had done. Hoping to get in on the gossip, we leaned into a small group of guys who also appeared to be commenting on the commotion.

"Hey, why'd those guys get kicked out?" I asked.

"I don't know man - but I hope I don't get kicked out next," he said hoarsley. He turned on his heels to face me and Marissa. Whiskey on his breath, words slurring together, he rushed through introductions to launch into a story.

"I punched a bouncer once. In Flordia," he said, swaying upright on his legs. "But it wasn't my fault. He wasn't wearing any ID or anything. He just took me outside, and I thought he was just some shmuck so I punched him. Or maybe I slapped him. I definitely hit him."

Marissa and I got comfortable, and we let our new tipsy friend take center stage for his story. He told us about how his lawyer got him off on bail, but he still had to spend the weekend in jail. He was terrified of prison, but he found some unexpected confidence just hearing his name said aloud in the holding cell.

"I have an awesome name," he said. "I love my name. I'm Antonio Scarfano. SCARFANO. When the guard said that aloud, everyone in jail went ohhhhhhhhh, thinking I was some kind of badass. Nobody cared that I was eighteen... in jail for slapping a bouncer... wearing chuck taylor's. Cus they were like 'oh shit, here comes Scarfano'."

Our friend, suddenly self conscious of how long he had been talking to us, wrapped up his jail story. He hugged us both and darted back into the crowd. Marissa and I laughed, and we'd repeat SCARFANO to each other throughout the night to commemorate our new friend.

That's what I got today. Thanks for stopping by today, and have a good Thursday.