This is a friend whom I had met once upon his hungover time in the McDonald's in Seocho's Express Bus Terminal. He took an interest in me--so much so that he even insisted on introducing me to his sister and his girlfriend--and we had met a few more times before he re-embarked on a second educational journey to and in America. I was appreciative of the fact that this had happened, especially since he was a Korean man who not only intuited (so he says, and without subsequent denial) my attraction to men but also was comfortable and unfettered enough to have had no problems with said attraction. Albeit he had previously been sufficiently exposed to this taboo-at-best (if not outright denied) mutant-type in America, the two of us had met in Korea--so I was appreciative of this.
He and I were to meet later in the day--namely, in the evening--so there was some meandering downtown prior to this reunion. Having been quite conscious of my imploding budget line, nothing was purchased save the Chipotle lunch that reestablished good relations between the chain and me, and the prepaid cellphone from AT&T, which was the pre-iPhone purchase (the iPhone will be purchased immediately before returning overseas). Mere meandering and an iota of curiosity brought about a landing in ex-part-time fling Abercrombie & Fitch and its newer brother Hollister across from it. While the former hardly had anything worth viewing twice homo sapiens- or attire-wise, the latter verily had a few tempting tops in it (no, not those tops; there was an 8:1 female:male ratio, anyway). The Apple store was also paid a visit for its gratis internet service and answers about the iPhone.
This mini-journey downtown did not go without pictures. Behold.
You have upon you the Trump Tower Chicago...in grayscale...making the adjacent buildings appear askew.
There was some street corner entertainment, which I didn't get to appreciate due to the statute of stature limitations. Well, there appears to have been space to the left, but not only were some of the people to the left not captured in this free-click aerial photo but seeing the stunt was not worth painstaking trying to see.
On the way to meet my friend, the big white "Tokyo" caught these eyes. Although this photograph of Asian Expression on Ohio St. would have presented just as well in grayscale, still turned out pretty well. The Ginza (銀座) Restaurant to the left will be mentioned later in this post.
Lagniappe! That's part of my author name on here! ^ ^
One may have a glimpse at Trump Tower Chicago nearly camouflaging in the background.
The Macro setting without the programmed flash would have been nice. :/
Sans flash. Quality forgone. These flowers on Clark St. were seen on the way to the rendezvous anyway.
After this point, I met up with my friend, who had brought along a friend of his. Like my friend, he is a student in America. A cute, rather sweet (alarms a-bewailing) one, too.
The plan was to go to Vision (a downtown club), but the club was not to open until 10 p.m. In the three-and-a-half hours to squander, I take my touring friend and newly-made acquaintance to Millennium Park. Picture time (!):
He would be the friend, who is standing beside Fat-Looking, Geriatric-Looking Me. = =
I detest that orange bag provided by AT&T and/or I wish I had been wearing white whilst in possession of it. Anyway, this is a picture of us under the concave underbelly of The Bean (properly called Cloud Gate).
No, this pose actually was not my idea.
With time still left until the anticipated opening of the club, we decided to have dinner at the Ginza Restaurant, of which I had made mention earlier. It was rather undeservedly demanding of our wallets not only because of the quantity but also the quality of the food. If you're going to try to Tokyo in Chicago by being expensive, then you ought to Tokyo by offering the same quality of a good/service.
After the slightly-but-still-noticeably pocket-slimming dinner, I found out that my best friend from college is going to be joining the three of us. Nearly an hour's worth of time remained until the club was to open, and pre-gaming seemed to be a good idea because of the anticipated inflation in alcohol prices of a downtown club. There was a liquor store just a few paces down from Ginza Restaurant and Tokyo Hotel, a very smart strategic move on the shopowner's part. They bought soju and beer to make a rather deadly, somewhat ubiquitous concoction from Korea: maekju. Passing by reflex (thanks to aversion conditioning to clear alcohols--thanks to soju and the collateral damage it caused--in Korea), I looked for a rather small bottle of wine because I didn't want to be pixilated before clubbing. None of the bottles were too small or just right, nor did any of them have a price tag that was too good to refuse. Consciousness of that (still) gradually imploding budget line had worked to my financial favor. ^^/= = I could have bought something else, but I preferred to wait until the arrival of my other friend.
(Spoiler: My friend ended up wanting nothing from the liquor store. What was saved from not having bought anything from that store was just spent at the club.)
After the liquor store, there was a problem: Where were they to consume this alcohol?
Answer: Rock 'N Roll McDonald's. Had this been Korea, refuge wouldn't need to be taken in McDonald's. Anyway, they had to clandestinely consume (using two McDonald's cups attained from the counter downstairs) inside the Rock 'N Roll McDonald's (this Rock 'N Roll McDonalds has two floors), so it wasn't necessarily a safe haven. Our purpose was accomplished though, and there was even a picture or two:
This will be the only one shared on here for now.
My friend arrived and I introduced her to the other two friends of mine. After just a few minutes of small talk, however, some of us were more ready to be on our way to the club...which was only a block away from Rock 'N Roll.
The $20 cover charge gained us entry into a three-floor club barren of the vivacious (well, as vivacious as Chicago has potential to be) Saturday nightlife. Rather disillusioned, simply leaving was an option, but then we were allowed into the more exclusive (curtained off) part of the club...in the basement..for an extra $10, which pays for the negligible amount of space that one's cock occupies in this exclusive space. My, what a liability having a phallus has become!
My friend had told me that this was to be an all-Asian event, and he was quite accurate. Interestingly more lively than its upstairs counterpart, I was the only non-Asian amongst all the clubbers in the basement...other than another group of four. Although Asian-Americans and Asians in America differ greatly from de-/un-Americanized Asians, the fact that I have had experience living in Asia made me even more comfortable being the only Other in the matrix...other than that...group of four, none of whose members I knew anyway.
The night didn't turn out how any of us had been expecting.
So, an attempt by my Korean friend to have the four of us split a $150 bottle, gin-n-tonics and Jägerbombs, taking the party to the dancefloor, some hybridization of the crowd, misunderstandings of whereabouts which led to misunderstandings of extents of friendships, my best friend from college returning home, awkwardly trail-stalking my visiting friend (and neutralizing him against a potential rival) to ensure his staying in one piece, and an allowance of the previously consumed alcohol to have its soporific effects on me-- later,
...refuge was once again taken at the Rock 'N Roll McDonald's. Deciding to make this a frugal visit by planning to spend the night a-dancing and a-drinking, they hadn't reserved a hotel room. My visiting friend's stomach was very much rejecting the alcohol he had so quickly consumed, and I was still under the soporific influence (well, I had also been awake since nine o'clock or so). My newly-made acquaintance, however, seemed to be just fine. Being unable to focus my attention or keep my eyes open, I apologized for being unable to keep him company during his wait for the first train bound to Wisconsin (where he is studying). I know that I was failing in his eyes, even if he did say that it was ok; he was left sitting in front of me with his iPod with fifty billion after-partiers around him in a city with which he was not familiar. = =
Approximately forty five minutes later, he woke me from me from my alcohol sleep-off because it was time for him and my visiting friend to go to Union Station to catch the Wisconsin-bound train. It was a simple ending, really: After my new acquaintance shaking hands with me, he had to tell the still disequilibrated friend of mine to say goodbye to me. He. Had. To. Tell. Him. Either he was that far gone from partying--Koreans know how to party hardy--or the turn of the good day affected our friendship that much. I didn't really analyze this for a very long time, though, because it was noticeably cooler outside at 6:00 a.m.
Briskly pacing to the Metra Station in said cold weather, I tried to capture "6:15 a.m. Chicago". There was no exposure at which this scene would have presented perfectly in the photograph (but different exposures were attempted). = =
The Christian Science building would of course be the better picture. Great quality; too bad it's compressed here.
The 6:30 train was caught...and with it, massive bloating &c. An attempt to read the Onion, followed by falling asleep on the train (as I am wont to do), successfully delayed any urges. Thank goodness I was to be back in a short time at that place at which I'm staying, right?
The new cell phone had been used to call and apprise of my returning back to the area. Neither of the times that I had called was there a response. Passing my destination in hopes that one of the stations further along the line would have a bathroom that wasn't constantly locked...only resulted in the gained knowledge that such stations offer nothing more than my destination.
Returning to the station that was my destination, I called again to no avail (and the number to a local taxi service wasn't available at the time). Since being on my feet was much better, I started exercising. I started walking. There was quite a long walk ahead...
...which actually turned out being refreshing. On Sunday morning at 8:00 a.m., the only people on the road are churchgoers and the city-bound (which are few in number on a Sunday morning). It took a long while, and the 62 degrees made it comfortable to be walking with a black camera bag while garbed in black clothing...and I was able to stop at a Speedway to micturate some of the alcohol away (or what seemed to be the 1 pL of it that had remained)!
Some time later (just exactly how much time will remain undisclosed ^ ^), your little intron Barbie was nearing the Target that is near the Place of Temporary Stay. It was open, and the cleanliness of their "facilities" was nearly comparable to that of the ones at Singapore Changi Airport! Near-emergencies (and at a specific point during my Sunday morning Target shopping, it was an emergency) make one utilize public facilities even if they are generally avoided. It was aah-mazing.
A purchase of more sunscreen and canned cherries for a to-be-made cobbler later, I walked the rest of the way to my destination. It was a solid exercise...unintentional, but solid. Much of the day was spent napping, and that's really where this story ends. How symbolic, given that this place is also where my life (temporarily) ends.