Text message from Bret _____, 10:12 p.m. Thursday, May 15:
“So, long delayed birthday thing this Saturday? Not sure where yet, maybe _____? Open to suggestions.”
Text message to Bret _____, 10:32 a.m. Friday, May 16:
“Sounds fun. What time?”
Text message from Bret _____, 10:34 a.m. Friday, May 16:
“I’m thinking early-ish. Maybe 7, to beat the crowds.”
Text message from Bret _____, 4:29 p.m. Friday, May 16:
“We have a possible invitation from Olaf to have full VIP bottle-service treatment at his place of employment. The catch? It’s douchebag central in Lincoln Park. Anyone want to watch the animals in their natural habitat?”
And that’s how I ended up in a Lincoln Park bar on a Saturday night.
How does one explain the mystery, the majesty and the utter shitshow that is a Lincoln Park bar on a Saturday night?
Consider the word “WOOOOO!” That humble utterance. That werewolf sound that connotes happiness, recklessness and most likely a bachelorette party full of women in hiked miniskirts and “BRIDESMAID” sashes trading necklaces of dangling plastic penises.
Now take that sound, that “WOOOOO!” of entitlement that says to the world “Everything you were doing or thinking must now take a backseat to me making a sound that’s not even a word!” Take that sound and form it into a neighborhood.
Here you see the backwards collegiate baseball caps. Here you smell the Axe body spray. Here you envision the bachelorette party crowd here to watch the all-male revue upstairs and the broseph herds here to watch the bachelorettes.
“This has been the last 18 weeks of my life,” Chris the doorman says between drags of a cigarette.
But perhaps I’m too harsh. I did, after all, have a wonderful time at the bar.
My friends and I all laughed and swore and slapped each others’ backs at dirty stories. We talked about the steps forward we’re all taking in life, from Bret’s birthday to kids, property and upcoming moves. We ate burgers and drank beer and caught up on our lives.
Was I being too harsh against this place that gave my friends Olaf and Candace jobs? Has my aesthetic turned me into a snob? Was I now the asshole?
Giddy on friendship and Pipeworks Brewing, I walked out to say hi to Olaf the bouncer. I strode through the bar of backwards caps and Axe, feeling love for all I surveyed.
“Your name is Olaf?” I heard a woman’s voice say as I reached the door.
The next moment is hard to describe. It’s a flock of birds that in some language unspoken decides the same moment to take off from a field. It’s the herd of zebras that decides as one to zig left as the lions pursue.
By some signal, an entire sash-wearing, cock-necklaced, miniskirt-hiking crew of about 15 at once threw up their arms and in one mighty voice uttered a massive, radar-killing, dog-deafening “WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”
“Nope,” I said, walking back to the table where my friends traded stories. “Nope, nope, nope.”