Fourth of July weekend coming up, and I don’t know what I’m doing. I could either a) go up to our summer house on Lake Michigan with some of my brothers and sisters to rock out on the beach for three days, b) go up to Wisconsin to hang out with my cousin Jake, play golf, drink beer and play Polish horseshoes, or c) stay here in Chicago, go see the free Old 97’s show downtown and then head to my cousin Joe’s kegger at his apartment in Lincoln Park. Decisions fucking decisions.
Meanwhile, I love summer, I fucking love it. Some people complain about the heat; I don’t really have a problem with it. I actually don’t really mind sitting around and sweating. It’s a little uncomfortable, sure, but I never had a problem with “oh, ew, it’s gross, it’s getting on my clothes, it’s soaking up my armpits, everyone can see it.” Yeah? So everyone can see it. What? I’m sweating.
There’s always the debate whether the heat of summer or the cold of winter is worse – always at that critical moment: getting in your car. In the summer, it’s an oven; the heat smacks you in the face when you open the door, the steering wheel burns your fingers. In the winter, your ass is an iceblock for the first five miles of driving. I’ll take the heat any day. The freezing feet, the ice-chapped face, cheeks, nose, ears, fingers… yeah fuck that.
So I’m a fan of summer, big fan. And coming up to the Fourth as we are reminds me of the Fourth of July Weekend I had a couple years ago, I guess in 2006, my Wisconsin cousin Jake was living in town working at the University of Chicago, and we drank beer together a lot with my other cousin Jake who lives in Chicago and is the same age.
July 3rd, I think it was a Monday, was when all the haps were on, since no one wanted to be out all night on a work night. So after spending all afternoon drinking at the Taste of Lombard out in the suburbs where you bought beer with little paper tickets and then swinging by a party at the house of another cousin, we headed into the city around 10:30 to make bad things happen.
Quick side note: check out the Taste of Lombard sometime, it’s actually really fun. Decent bands as long as you don’t listen too closely, cheaper food than the real Taste even though it’s still way too expensive, and $3 beers or something like that, so you can get ten or so and not go totally broke.
Anyway, we headed in on 290 and then up into somewhere near the Wrigleyville area to meet with Wisconsin Jake’s ex-girlfriend and a bunch of her hot friends from the University of Miami and U Florida.
You’ll pardon me while I go on a tangent about Jake’s relationship with this girl, we’ll call her “Allie.” It’s hilarious. It was the weirdest relationship you’ve ever heard of, and a genuine testament to two things: first, you can really change a lot in four years, and second, ohmygosh you are literally fucking crazy.
Jake and “Allie” became an item sometime in their sophomore year in high school after a process of courtship that began, when, in Jake’s words, “I thought it would be fun to just pick out the hottest girl in the whole class and try to make her like me.”
It’s ok for Jake to say things like that because he has a new girlfriend now, and so he obviously doesn’t care about the old one.
And also, I can understand that impulse he’s talking about – it’s definitely something I’ve done before, and definitely the most fun part about a relationship: trying to get the girl to really, really like you. You don’t even need to like the girl, but it helps if she’s cute and it’s really intense if she’s considered ‘hard to get.’ You start slow, with a tiny bit of extra eye contact, knowing glances during drinking games, and pretending to like her favorite movie. And you want to know the secret killer move? It’s so easy, but I swear, so effective. Just use her name. Every time you’re talking to her, just say her name more often than you would in normal conversation. I don’t know why, but girls love this. Seriously, it’s dynamite.
After a while, if you’ve played your cards right, the girl is really going to want you – and not in a physical, lusting way (although probably that too) – she’s really going to want to be with you. It’s possible, and in some cases likely, that she’s already thought of marriage, already imagined your initials embroidered on a new set of his and hers bathrobes. She’ll talk about you to her friends, her mom, wonder if you’ve been hurt in the past and that’s what’s slowing you down, and wait for you to ask her out, which she thinks is inevitable.
Girls, you think this is classifying you as foolish, impetuous and petty. That’s not what I’m saying. Well, some of you. But the girls this game has been run on have not been foolish. They’ve just been overmatched. Some guys can do it, they really can.
When her friendships and her performance at work or school start to suffer because of how much attention she’s giving you, you’ve reached the point of no return. At that stage, there’s usually nowhere to go. Inevitably, she will end up disillusioned, crying at least once, possibly in need of therapy, and you may be missing a lamp or some other household fixture that she threw across the room, plus she probably slapped you and you might feel guilty.
It’s actually pretty easy to ride the storm out. All you have to do is… nothing. Ever. She’ll really really like you, you do nothing. She’ll ask you how you feel, you give some vague response. She might even ask you out, but you’re busy. Not that you don’t love hanging out with her, you’re just busy that night…. No, you’re busy that night too. But you’ll see her at the party this weekend, right? Awesome. Soon she’s not too sure of her feelings. This is when you either stop answering her calls, or if you’re a real dick, kiss her when she’s drunk. That’ll really fuck her mind up. But even so, after a few months (yes, unfortunately it does usually take that long), she’ll be over you. At least she’ll say so. She’ll probably need therapy to actually get over you.
But Jake lacked the discipline to pull the trigger before things got too serious. Plus, he started actually liking “Allie.” Before you knew it, he had a three-year relationship on his hands.
They shipped off to different colleges after graduation with vague plans (they weren’t together-together, but they still talked on the phone every night). I know, Jake’s such a pussy, right?
But those nightly phone calls dwindled to weekly, and when she came to visit second semester, things were just a shade different. Plus, I think that weekend, they got in a big fight and “Allie” went off and smoked a bunch of cheeba with people-that-weren’t-Jake.
Over the next however-long, the relationship tapered off. But they still considered themselves “friends,” as long as you include the quotation marks, and so when she happened to be in town for the Fourth of July 2006, it was of course a good idea to get good and liquored up and then meet at a bar downtown amidst a covey of friends to “catch up.” Good lord, I’m laughing right now remembering that night.
I wasn’t 21, which means you can’t drink legally in this country, but thankfully the first bar we went to didn’t card, so we snagged a table in the back and the two Jakes took turns going to buy pitchers while we waited for the girls. I remember being super nervous about being caught drinking underage, so to calm myself down, I was sucking down beer at an extra-quick pace. We all got drunk.
Soon the girls got there. They were about five of them, maybe? I don’t really remember. But there were some good-looking Florida-tan honeys among the bunch, including a tall redhead who was just my style.
In case you’re wondering, there’s not going to be any drama or fighting in this story, except Jake fighting to drive in a straight line and me fighting not to throw up out his window later.
The second bar we go to checks my ID and the fake is rejected. Shit. So we wander a block or so, and then the three guys, who have to go to the bathroom, gleefully do it in a crevice between apartment buildings directly across the street from Wrigley Field. Yes, I have pissed right across from the right-field ivy.
Thankfully, the second bar, a 5 am bar, takes my ID, and we’re in. Immediately, I head to the bar while the guys negotiate the girls to some open space in the back because the place is packed well past the point of fire hazard full. For the next two hours or so, Jake and Jake and I take turns heading to the bar to pick up six Bud longnecks, two apiece. At some point, Jake thinks shots of Jaegermeister are a good idea, and somehow in the bump and scuffle, I end up next to the cute tall redhead, cheersing and happy-fourthing.
Her name was Megan, she went to the University of Florida and she was an agnostic – that’s all I remember from that conversation. And then, after about a hundred “do it already’s” from Jake and Jake, I got her number and typed it into my phone, which had a broken screen.
I can just picture it now, and it’s an embarrassing thought: leaning up against the wall typing carefully and squinting hopelessly into a blank black screen. For all I know, the fucking phone was off the whole time. But then she called it and it vibrated and everything was ok. I think one of the Jakes gave me a high-five.
Next thing I know, the bar is closed and we are outside, where Wisconsin Jake is, I shit you not, trying to convince a crazy homeless woman to believe in God. This went on for about twenty minutes. Every time he thought he was making progress, she would just start laughing insanely, throwing her head back and cackling.
Eventually we dragged him away and started off down the sidewalk.
Jake and “Allie” were having a conversation and lagged behind the rest of the group, and Jake was up ahead, flirting and cavorting with the girls. I was in the middle, falling behind the main group. At first I thought it was because I wanted a view of Megan’s butt (which was terrific by the way – a little short on bosom, but perfect pear-shaped badonkadonk), but soon I realized it was because I didn’t know where the fuck we were going. “Where the fuck are we going?” I asked reasonably.
One of the girls shouted back that she knew or had a place right down the street where we could have a beer and then crash, but we’d have to be up and out early because her parents were coming to help her move at eight in the morning. I looked at my watch. It was 6:15.
After Chicago Jake and I discussed this fact (“an hour of sleep? Yeah fuck that.”), we slowed down enough for Jake and “Allie” to catch us and then waited until she decided to go talk to the girls. Then, without saying anything, we just started walking slower and slower, a collective thought of “this is retarded” gathering strength in our minds.
So we turned around, found Jake’s car, and swerved home under the rising sun. Yeah, about twelve miles.
But not before we stopped at McDonald’s for breakfast sandwiches, where Jake tried to convince the cashier that his McMuffin had come without cheese and I laughed so hard that I literally fell off my chair.
I used to be such a badass.
Now I can’t even decide what to do this weekend.