Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Chi-CAH-Go, Chi-CAH-Go, (I Don't Know The Words To This Song)

Historically, Tom and I do not do well on our trips into the great city of Chicago.  With the exception of our first trip, we have always ended up arguing or having some sort of drama.

Once it was because one too many people asked us about when we'd be getting married (we'd been together four years... it's not like they were rushing us).  I broached the subject later that night and we ended up having a painful argument that almost ended the relationship.

Another time we left our hotel in a northern suburb around 6:00 A.M. local time (4:00 to us) to meet up with his family for a shopping and art museum excursion.  We returned after midnight.  In between we'd stopped at Starbucks (in the wee hours of the morning) and had dinner after a four hour long discussion about where we should go for dinner (not joking here).  Tom's brother, Chris... the one who lives IN Chicago even asked me where I thought we should go (points to me for not stating the answer I had in mind).  This was about half an hour after my son was sitting in a department store, rhythmically banging his head on a shelf of books while everyone tried to think of a place that was still open.  I took him to the cafeteria and got him a burger and fries.  It was apparently not the experience anybody else wanted.  We ended up at a little place in "Greek Town" an hour later that makes pretty much every kind of fast food.  Several in our party had burgers and fries.

Last time my whole family got hit by salmonella poisoning two days before driving home.  We're pretty sure we got it from two places (one with peanut butter, the other with spinach), and we were pretty messed up through the whole drive back to California.  The worst thing was worrying about whether we'd have to take Mad to a hospital somewhere in New Mexico.  The second worst thing was Tom's... *deep cleansing breath*... demeanor... during the drive.  I believe that I called it cruel and unusual punishment at the time.  Sixteen months have passed and I stand by my statement.

So it was with some trepidation that I approached last weekend's trip.  To give ourselves a fighting chance of not fighting, I attempted to establish some boundaries and guidelines with Tom.

1.  We all need to eat... especially Mad (I strategically threw her name in since getting meals for the rest of us wasn't something Tom managed so well in the past).  However, unlike last year's trip to Vegas with your friends, we do not need to obsess over eating and mention it 30 times until everyone else is wondering if you... or I... have a tapeworm.  We just need to have at least two meals less than 16 hours apart  (Mad will need three).  A granola bar is not a meal.  Neither is juice.

2.  Mad will need to sleep.  She loves her nip-nappy-snip-snappy and we're not going to keep her from it.  Lucky for us she's flexible if she has to be, but if a meltdown is imminent, she's outta there!  Same goes for nigh-night.

3.  It's your family, and you should be at everything.  If Mad's acting up during Chris and Carol's wedding, I'll take her to a quieter place away from the action.  If her needs (or my own) aren't jibing with the festivities, just point me in the direction of the nearest El stop and tell me which train to get on.  We'll see you when you're done or when we can come back and have fun, too.

And guess what... it worked!  It helped that Mad magically and instantly adapted to Chicago time (okay, it didn't help us that first morning when she was up and grooving at what was 4:15 to us). 

Dinner that first night was at Quartino's, which I heard was excellent.  We all walked the mile or so to dinner only to find that Mad was about ready for bed.  So she and I chugged our way back to the hotel.  She ate the rest of my lunch for dinner and conked out almost immediately.  Since we were in the same room (and I'd been up since 2:00 AM my time), I conked out, too.  Tom and Corey came in a couple hours later with a salad and steak for me.  They spent a long time talking about all the dishes they'd had.

Just before we went down and hailed a cab to get to the wedding the next day, I put on a pair of heels.  Heels that I'd worn only two weeks before.  Heels that were now more snug than I would have liked.  I figured we'd be seated most of the day, so I didn't sweat it.

During the wedding, which was on a boat*, Mad and I ended up hanging out inside with the captain.  It was too cold to forego her big coat and having the life vest on over it did not make her happy. 

Bubbles, however, did.  (No, we're not Amish.  Tom just likes to shave like he is.)

After the cruise ended, we hopped into cabs and headed for this amazing restaurant, The Publican.  Corey went with Tom's parents.  Tom mentioned that he hadn't remembered to get the monetary gift we'd been planning to put in a card for his brother and Carol, so we stopped at the first bank the cabbie saw.  Tom's card was declined.  He called the bank and was told there was no hold on our account.  Tom mentioned that we were out of town and that he was trying to make a more sizable withdrawal than we usually do, but that didn't phase the service rep.  Tom figured it must be the ATM.  He hopped back in and we headed to the restaurant.  Since the bride and groom hadn't arrived, we decided to walk to find a working ATM.

Second ATM... four or five blocks away, his card was declined.  Mine wasn't even recognized.

Third ATM... two more blocks away... is inside an enclosed lobby (thank you for small blessings... Mad could run around safely).  Both of our cards were declined.  Tom reached for his phone, but I said I'd call instead.  He laughed and says they should have just worked it out with him when they had the chance.

After being told that A) there is no hold or other problem B) I've input my pin number incorrectly and C) there is no problem on their end, I explained that A) we are 2200 miles from home B) I've had my husband verify that I did it correctly and C) I am not getting off the phone until I have cash in hand.

Somewhere along the line the guy decided to send me to the fraud department.  Lo and behold we were flagged because of being out of town and attempting to make a rather sizable withdrawal compared to the paltry sums we usually request.  He reset my card.  I made the withdrawal and then had him fix Tom's card, too.

So we had money for the gift, but no card.  We schlepped up one more block to a grocery store, bought a card and a coloring book with crayons for Mad, and hobbled back to the restaurant.  Our excursion since the boat probably took an hour, but we arrived at the same time as the bride and groom, so it worked out.

Dinner was excellent.  Some six courses before the main dish.  A few things I've only heard about through Top Chef.  Each item was presented with it's name and place of origin, from local farms to faraway lands.

Mad's meltdown began just after the main course arrived.  I packed her up and said our goodbyes.  Corey decided to come with us.  It turns out he felt he had better leave because he was eating too much.  Dude missed out on dessert, a "white chocolate cremeaux with rhubarb and candied walnuts."  Tom enjoyed it for him.

In the cab on the way back to the hotel, Mad leaned back and stared at the lights.  As soon as she walked in she wanted her "nap."  I managed to get her dress, pants and one sock off, change the diaper and get some bottoms on her.  She slept in the shirt she wore under the dress.
... until 8:30 local time the next morning.

That's probably more than enough for one post, so I continue the story next time.

*I'm sorry, but if your "boat" has four levels, three bedrooms and two living areas and holds 100 people... that's a yacht to me.  But what do I know?

1 comment:

Bossy Betty said...

Oh that picture of Madi is SO cute!!

You are a brave and wonderful woman to go on this trip. Does your Amish husband understand this??

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