Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Driving Miss Lindsay

I spent Monday and Tuesday out in the suburbs for a leadership conference. In order to get there, I had to drive. You should know two things...I hate driving (probably because I’m not that great at it) and I haven’t owned a car in almost a decade. I drive a car for maybe a couple of hours every six months (if that). So now I need to submit myself to Chicago rush hour traffic AND navigate a seemingly foreign territory. People request directions or driving opinions from me like “should I take the Dan Ryan or the Stevenson”. It takes a good minute before I realize these are major interstates (90/94 and 55). All of the streets I’m familiar with have street parking, so I’m at a total loss with highways or tollways. Also, I am ignorant enough not to know about anything outside of my area code. Okay that sounds bad, but if someone says they are from Gurney, Downers Grove or Rolling Meadows, it might as well be Iowa. I have no idea what all the suburbs are called or where they are located. I’ve heard of at least two dozen, so it is simpler just not to care.
So there I am, driving to Oak Brook (which Google called Lombard...or what I call west-ish from downtown). I am on interstate 290 which is a virtual parking lot (not kidding...took me 80 minutes to go 21 miles). I want to jump off and take the side streets but then I didn’t know exactly where I was going, and I was too frightened to suddenly veer out of the center lane and cut someone off. Merging alone was enough to raise my heart rate...and I was in a two door VW Bug...yes, the car was like four feet long and I STILL had anxiety issues about it fitting between traffic.
Having a car (a rental which I would be returning Tuesday afternoon) is a total luxury and I wanted to capitalize on the opportunity by running all the errands I ever wanted to do (but didn’t have the means). I’m talking about picking up paint, using coupons and gift cards for Target, getting more than two bags of groceries (that is about all I can carry without my fingers going numb). You get the idea. Plus I wanted to go to Olive Garden. I know, strange...but there are NO Olive Gardens in the city and my last meal would consist of their salad and breadsticks.
I heard rumors there was a giant shopping mall near the conference center, but I couldn’t find it on the map. I asked around and got some vague directions. I am a small part of the population who doesn’t own an I-Phone or GPS (Garmin, etc.), so I am winging it somewhat knowing Chicago is to the East. Well they suck at giving directions, because I went left at the fork (as instructed) and the mall was to the right. After about ten minutes of driving, and having the neighborhood turn from bright SUV driving burb to places with bars on the windows and an abundance of Aldi grocery stores, I turned around and started over again. I stopped at an Ulta (to use a 50% and $2 off coupons) and got better directions. I was a bit disappointed with the mall because all off the stores were the same and Express didn’t have my size in jeans (I had another coupon for $25 off $50 and the jeans were buy one get one 50% off). Honestly, there is a serious flaw in your purchasing philosophy if you are completely devoid of sizes 6 to 10 and have at least three dozen size 0 long!
Instead of backtracking 20 minutes, I decided to try out my natural guidance system and find Chicago on my own. I knew what interstate I should hit, but the directions totally threw me off. I was to merge on to hwy 20...but it was listed at 20-south or 20-north. Wait...Chicago is EAST, and I know this hwy leads to Chicago. According to the signs, I could either head towards Rockford or Indiana. What! I gave up and drove back to the conference center to orientate myself off of the printed reverse directions.
The next day, I was a little more confident in my navigation skills (after spending over an hour wandering back and forth around that area). I set out during lunch to find a gas station. Of course I failed at finding that, but did stumble across an Olive Garden. Victory!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Ferret fun

The plight of the single girl is “where have all the good ones gone”. If you are single at my age, then there is probably a reason for it. You know, something that you think is totally normal that most of the public just doesn’t get. This is also true for the guys. Case in point, my recent date. While we were enjoying a micro brew on a rooftop beer garden, he suddenly whispered to me “I think that is a ferret toy”. What! He pointed to a stuffed animal a girl pulled out of a shopping bag at the next table. Before I could respond with the pertinent questions like “how the hell do you know what a ferret toy looks like”, he butted into the other couple’s conversation to discuss ferrets. The girl was all excited because she just bought a ferret and can’t wait to spoil it. My date has two of his own. She then pulled out a few costumes for the ferret (yep, they exist) and my date was “OMG did you get that at ferrets.com”. Her date and I just shook our heads in a sad sad way.
A beer later, we had officially joined that couple. I learned that her ferret’s name was Paddington and I asked if she intended to have it mocked at school recess. This was all encouragement her date needed to join in the teasing. My date’s ferret’s names were Mr. Wiggins and Samson, and this lead to some discussion about their sexual preferences (they do dress up in flamboyant costumes..I’m just saying). They mused about starting up a facebook group for ferret lovers. Her date then said, “if you make that group, then I’m going to start one of my own that says ‘my dog can eat your ferret’”. Okay wrong, but funny.
Once the evening was over, I knew I would never go on a second date with the ferret lover. He called the next day and left a voice mail message because I wasn’t prepared to talk to him (and deny any date request). Well the voice mail message was hilarious in a sick way. He sounded very down and said he had a great time and would like to go out again…but when he returned home, one of his ferrets was dead and he needed to take some time to grieve. Sorry I know it isn’t a funny subject, but I found it pretty hilarious. Poor guy.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Vegas Vacation - Part 2

Day two, we started off at the breakfast buffet. Like Jim Gaffigan says, I was tempted to just eat from the pile of bacon. I palmed an apple on my way out to enjoy as a snack later. Of course I was teased for eating an apple in Vegas…I guess people just don’t do that. The boys want to sleep some more (Bill got in at 6am from gambling). I headed out for a jog along the strip in part to get some sight-seeing in…and some more teasing (I guess healthy habits are a big faux pas in Vegas).
After everyone got out of bed, we headed down to one end of the strip to see the newest casino…Trump. Well after walking in to the opulent lobby, we realized there were no signs indicating the casino location. Turns out, there is NO casino at Trump…it is at the Wynn. We ran out into the shopping mall across the street before they had a chance to escort us out. The indoor shopping mall was a real godsend because the weather took a turn for the worse and unleashed a torrent of rain. I introduced the boys to Johnny Rocket’s for late lunch where we ate good fast food and shamelessly judged people passing our table.
We peeked inside the Wynn which was gorgeous and like out of Tim Burton movie (more Charlie and the Chocolate factory and less Edward Scissor hands). Turns out they don’t comp the drinks at the video poker bar…Boo!
I made the boys stop by Treasure Island to see the pirate show. Okay, I admit, I was a real dork looking forward to a pirate show. The 5pm show was canceled due to high winds (okay it must be a cool show if they have to be concerned about the winds) so we killed an hour in the sport book. I was giddy like a kid jockeying for position in the audience. Well the “pirate” show was more like “hookers on the water”. I expected to see two dueling pirate clans but instead one crew consisted of slutty girl strippers (not kidding). The burly shirtless men pirates shot their cannons at the whores (okay, that totally took a sexual undertone) and the girls fought back by stripping off their coats, swinging around the mast poles and singing…SINGING! WTF! Their singing sunk the boys’ boat! Yeah, I don’t get it either. Then pirate male models joined the silicone singers and they celebrated by dirty dancing style grind dancing and some mild bondage. There were tons of kids in the audience and trust me, they got one hell of an education. The boys and I were severely disappointed by the show and we later found out they had recently revised the “show” and even the locals were ashamed at to what has resulted in.
Dinner at O’shays (hell we are suckers for the beer pong). It was packed with more 311 fans (the whole town was flooded with them). Considering it would probably be another late night, we made the smart decision to just hit up the bars at our hotel. Boy was that the right decision. The DJ was blasting 311 music and EVERYONE was going nuts on the dancefloor. I was on the edge of the crowd when I spotted a familiar face shaking it in the center. It was my friend Farrell from New York. It was a greeting full of drunken shouts and slaps on the back. We fell into old times and started to critique the horrid dancing. One hot girl in a yellow shirt was prime entertainment because clothing was the only thing holding her dance partner back from having sex on the dancefloor. She was all bent over, or leg hooking, thrust dancing that would make holy water combust. Okay, Sin City…I get it. So dirty.
Speaking of dirty...our hotel rooms were equipped with a "love box" that contained condoms, lube, some oils, etc. I only know this because of Farrell. Apparently he met a girl the previous night (not sober) and decided to rip into it. He also noted the $18 it cost him (for the box...not the girl...maybe though...) was the most shameful money he ever spent in Vegas. ah ha ha ha!

The boys being "pirates"

Pairs...in Nevada

Somehow Marie and her funny looking face creeped me out late at night. Hate me if you must.

Proof the casinos are targeting lonely older women, little girls, and rednecks.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Vegas Vacation - part 1

I returned to Vegas for the first time as an adult. My only other trip, I was 12, so it doesn’t really count. Last time, we stayed at Circus Circus which was awesome…if you were twelve. Arriving at the airport, I spotted an advertisement for a gun range where you can shoot an automatic weapon. Now I’ve heard anything goes in Vegas…now I am convinced.
Bill, Big Mike, and myself were in town for the 311 show being held on March 11th (get it 311). Apparently the band holds a giant concert every year on that date. It is known as “311 day”.
I had no idea the following the band had. Our hotel, Mandalay Bay was the site of the concert and EVERYONE was in full 311 mode.
Although it was March in Vegas, it felt more like Canada. The temperatures peaked in the mid 40’s during our entire trip. I brought along mostly light clothing and thankfully held on to my wool coat that I wore at the Chicago airport. Actually the temperatures in Chicago during our trip were warm than Vegas. Ugh. This ruled out my wish to lay by one of the many pools while the boys gambled.
Our first stop was lunch at Hooters. I know. I’ve been in a Hooters only twice before, and both times it was not for dinner. Okay that sounded funny, but I was in high school (okay that sounds worse) and I made the dance squad new initiates bunny hop in the place. God I miss hazing. We convinced Bill to eat 20 of their hottest wings. It was quite an endeavor, and by the end he was profusely sweating and nearly in tears. Later that night we ran into a couple decked out in 311 shirts who also ate at Hooters earlier. The girl (who is smaller than me) exclaimed she too attempted the wing challenge and managed to eat 75 wings. We all turned to Bill and laughed. She said after the first 25 or so wings, she just went numb and then went for speed before she got too full.
We stopped by the Hard Rock to show me the memorabilia. I left with a greater conviction of what a whore Britney Spears is. The boys played blackjack. Being wary of losing money (I am a big fan of keeping it in my pocket instead of someone else’s), I watched them gamble. I couldn’t score free drinks or a seat without putting some money down, so I picked a seat at the bar. I slipped in $2 and selected nickel video poker. Only when the bartender would come around, I would play in order to get my free drink. When they were finished, I cashed out with a whole $2.30 voucher. I may be the only person in Vegas who cashed out with a 30 cent profit.

The first night, we spent at O’Shays which could be classified as the “dive bar” of the strip. The main attraction is beer pong. Yep, beer pong in Vegas. They were having a big tournament on Thursday, but we were going to miss it because of the concert. It was every frat house’s dream. There were at least a dozen tables with a mix of guys in t-shirt who had been drinking all day to guys in dress up clothes who needed to get wrecked prior to going out. I watched the guys play a few games but then got distracted watching some uber drunk douche bag who’s friends kept taking his shirt off. The joke was on him, because he was hitting on a prostitute.
The boys finally convinced me to attempt blackjack. I wouldn’t call it playing, more like losing my money faster than you can say blackjack. I put down $40, and even following the boy’s advice, I lost all of it in four quick hands. Granted people lose a whole lot more than that sum, but to a cheapskate like me it was like two electricity bills.
Although it was two days before the concert, O’Shays was filled with 311 fans. They loaded up the jukebox with non-stop 311 songs which possibly alienated all the other customers. One guy passionately sang along to EVERY song no matter how unknown. Now that was a fan.
We found an abandoned T-shirt at the bar. It had Kayne West glasses that lit up in sync with any music playing. “T-shirt” as we dubbed it, soon became the mascot of our trip. Shall we get some more drinks…T-shirt says yes.
After leaving the bar, we ran over to the Bellagio fountain and light show. The song was Por Ti Volare (aka the Step Brothers fucking Catalina wine mixer song) sung by some guy and Celine Dion. It was spectacular! I mean on the verge of tears beautiful (even Bill was getting watery eyes). Granted, it could be the booze.