Saturday, February 09, 2008

The Dim Adventures of Steph and Mandy

Since our 30th birthdays, my BFF Mandy and I have tried to observe a traditional birthday visit to the birthday girl in question. As we all know, in years past I was prone to work-related traveling, so my visit to her on her birthday has been sporadic or at best, on her husband's birthday instead. (I still maintain that it's the thought that counts!) However, Mandy has kept her end of the bargain and despite the grueling traveling conditions, my getting lost on the way to the airport (Hey- blizzard! Enough said.) and she being the only person to voluntarily leave greater Phoenix on Superbowl weekend, Mandy made it out for another attempt at my 29th.

Our plan was this: Friday was to be Ferris Bueller's Day Off Day. A favorite movie of our highly impressionable teen years, we set out to conquer Chicago, Ferris Bueller style. Unfortunately, our mid-winter day was not quite up to the John Hughes-summer day set and so we had no Cubs to watch, no Sears Tower to peer from (it was socked in by clouds), no Chez Quis for lunch (OK, so it didn't really exist anyway), and no Chicago Board of Trade gallery to make rude gestures from- 2008 tours don't start until later this month... So really all that was left was the Art Institute.

We found Cameron's painting "Sunday in the Park" by Seurat, we found that sculpture with the guy with his arms crossed, we made lots of lewd comments about naked sculptures... we didn't find any kids on field trips, but all in all, a successful trip to the Art Institute. Maybe we'll give that Day Off idea another try when the sun is actually out.

Saturday night we had plans to go to dinner and see Wicked with the girls. Dinner was, uh, not exactly planned out (Hey again- I am a very busy person!) so the only place we could find a table was the Walnut Room, on the 7th floor of Macy's on State Street. It was completely empty, but we had a good time and it was right across from the theatre, so it worked out really well.

The show was great. I haven't read the book, and I had heard from a trusted source that there was a lot of politics in it, so I was braced for some underlying themes. Politics had made it into the show, but not nearly as much as in the book (from what I understand) and so the story we saw was more a great story of friendship- with excellent special effects. I'd definitely recommend it, and definitely recommend seeing it at the Oriental Theatre here in Chicago. It's a beautiful, ornate Asian-themed masterpiece. And they don't allow photos. Rude.

Afterward, the group of us went in search of a cocktail, but the loop is not exactly known for its nightlife. So we crossed the river and headed to House of Blues, where we balked at the cover of $43 to see Queensryche. Queensryche! Playing at the bar! It was weird and I really felt old when one of our group hadn't even heard of the heavy-metal rockers of the 80's. Instead we headed next door and found a bowling alley on the second floor (who would be under a bowling alley?!), which had a bar mixing some mean cocktails and had a never ending loop of good music and people watching.

Sunday we headed up to the northern suburbs to go watch the Superbowl at Mandy's husband's cousin's house. (Got that? I'll wait... OK?) Doug and Laurie had a small group of us over for a party where we dined on experimental food and learned some highly random Velveeta trivia (since they both work for Kraft) between plays, and since none of us were really tied to either team, we were all super excited to see the Giants take it at the end.

After the game, the weather came in again. We struggled to drive in heavy snowfall back to my house and even though the snow gradually let up, the fog rolled in on Monday, canceling all flights out and stranding Mandy until Tuesday morning. With our bonus time, we went to go see the newest chick flick out right now, 27 Dresses, which was uh, really chick-flicky. Mission accomplished.

The drive from the movie theatre was yet another adventure in weather navigation, and at one point, we had the horror-movie epiphany that happens when the heroines feel all alone on a foggy dark road in the middle of nowhere. We locked our doors, proclaimed not to pick up hitchhikers or light any cigarettes (since neither of us smoke or pick up strangers, this was easy), and considered ourselves protected from the horror-movie gods until we made our way to a more populated section of road. Really, it was only the matter of a block, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

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