#915: Wind and the Lovely

April 16th, 2018

The beautiful were out in the cold.

Rooftop bar along Michigan Avenue. Friends from out of town justified the expense of small-plate food that was actually filling and craft cocktails that needed a bank loan to pay off. Reservations at 9, seat by a window looking out over parks and museums and a lapping lake that extends so far it weaves into the starless night sky.

Or would have, if we could see a damn thing.

The meteorological terms are boring: high in the low 40s, 9 to 28 mph winds, up to 97 percent relative humidity but I’d be lying if I said I ever understood what “relative humidity” actually means or does. The reality was a cold, lashing night with a fierce hawk off the lake and rain that ranged from wind-whipped smatters to wind-whipped volleys.

But the friends come rarely. The reservations were made. The bar night at a place sold on view was never not going to happen. And we even got a couch by the balcony.

The balcony would be lovely in warmer days. A few fire pits to cut light chills, a few external bars that were lashed down with tarp and bungee on Saturday night, until a slap of wind flung the bungees and crumpled the tarp. It would be a place to stand in black tie and tux with a flute of champagne on a summer night to watch the scampering Grant Parkers below and say, “Yes, yes. Pleasing.”

Instead with wind and whip, smatter and volley, it was a ram of cold that battered our couch whenever someone decided to go outside.

And the beautiful were going outside.

At first, annoyance. We sat by a door and got a blast of wind every time someone decided to stand outside to confirm, yep, it’s wet, then blast the door back open to scurry back to their table.

As the night moved on and the conversation laughed and lingered, I kept watching the outdoor venturers. There were the typical self-lionizers: a clearly drunk young gorgeous man with a future wealthier than some nations made repeated trips for the purpose of luring his young lovely out for privacy, looking badass and maybe first base; a few older couples who went and stood for a moment to shiver and say, well, that was fun. And there were the partiers, or those clearly running out for two seconds of Instagram-fodder.

I started to like the beautiful in the wind.

Those older couples smiled sheepishly as they blasted us on reentry. A poor busboy made a few failed runs to re-tarp the bar. A 20-something woman in a microscopic red dress ran out with her friends, laughing all the way. She posed for shot after shot as the hawk curled what little dress there was around her thighs. Their girls night outs had been planned longer than the weather, so why shouldn’t they have their fun?

Finally, two of my party looked at each other. He had a grin. She had a phone. They ran out to the balcony to get posed shots of smiling, rain and a wind that for some reason kept lifting up the guy’s shirt into a stylish gay crop top. They ran back in cold, ridiculous and wet.

“I said I wasn’t going to go out there, but I always was,” he later confessed.

The beautiful in the wind were frivolous, stupid and pointless. And on a lashing night where sprinkles become a cannonade at 97 percent relative humidity, I wished I had run out to join them.

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You are currently reading #915: Wind and the Lovely by Paul Dailing at 1,001 Chicago Afternoons.

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