Chicago skyline at dusk by arts007
When I was in college, I worked at several bars. It was hard work, late into the night. But the money was awesome and I met some great people. (Truth be told, I had a lot of fun, too. Just don’t tell my mom.)
One of the bouncers at Hababa’s (an old beer dive on Grace Street near VCU which has probably been gone since the 80’s) was a big, seriously-mean-looking guy named Dennis. He was a pussy cat if you got to know him, but he was tough as nails with those drunk guys – particularly those drunk guys that bothered the girls who worked there. But anyway.
Dennis. He had a nickname for everyone. (Come to think of it, no one had a nickname for him!)
Dennis called me Chicago.
He’d never tell me why.
I fancied myself a bit more… ahem….sophisticated than the regular crowd and employees. (Fine. Call me a snob.) Dennis was super nice to me. Always. Maybe because I was dating the DJ, but maybe just because I was always nice to him and asked him questions and treated him like a regular guy and not like a townie in a college-laced area.
I liked the nickname. Chicago, that is. I’d never had a nickname I’d liked before.
In fact, I’d never had much of one at all. My dad called me Wen-Wen. Now that’s a name you can’t grow old with. Right? My friend Laurie called me Wendall. Though I love Laurie, I never loved the name. (Sorry, Laurie.)
There was one guy who called me, Wendy Sue Fay Rae Constantinople, and even though he said it in a very sweet sing-songy way, I never quite got the reference. He was awfully cute so I let it slide.
But Chicago. That had a ring to it.
My boys – Reed and Andrew – left for Chicago today. They’re headed to the Midwest Clinic. Reed’s middle school band has the honor of performing there. The trip is action-packed. The kids are really excited. The parents? Well…
TWELVE hours on the bus. Each way. Rules. Lots of rules. Guess you gotta do that to keep 60+ kids safe, right? When Andrew volunteered to chaperone, I thought, wow, that’s great. Not something I was looking to do, frankly. So….
They’ll be gone for 3 days. It’ll be weird around here.
I have the food thing figured out. I’m sure we’ll be okay. Don’t worry. I can make pasta. And eggs. Seriously. Don’t worry. (Did I say that already?)
Secretly, I’m looking forward to the bed to myself for 3 nights.
(Andrew, if you’re reading this? I’m just saying that for my readers. I wish you were here. I miss you something awful.)
And the nickname? Chicago?
As I graduated, Dennis finally told me why he’d called me that all those years.
Chicago is the WINDY city.
Admittedly, it was kind of a let down. I thought it was something exotic or cool. But it was just a bad play on words.