Cigars, Synthesizers and The Long Way Around Town

Cigars, Synthesizers and The Long Way Around Town �

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Just in from an evening out with a very hot date � Natalie. Tall, blonde, bright, buxom flight attendant (there are, in this world, oxymorons and there are givens and, in the aviation industry, they are easily confused).

Couple of new places I�d not yet graced with my presence. The first place we went to was called Pasha. Natalie is going on and on about how very great it is and then finally looks down on the floor at my quivering form and says, �Why are you laughing? You are laughing, aren�t you?�

I hiccup an answer intended to sound like, �Well, Pasha means �Prince� in Armenian. My former mother-in-law continues to cradle the vision when she thinks of her eldest son.� While, oddly, this word makes me laugh! In a she-might-need-shock-treatment-sorta-way.

A misguided cab ride later (the only way to get around this town, by the way, �cos none of them really know where the hell they are going, but you get to see lots of cool stuff and the Middle Eastern radio stations are so very melodic), we locate our elusive destination � subtly defined with a marquee bigger and brighter than Wrigley Field. The place was dead. Empty. Void of life. Natalie assails the familiar bartender as if he is solely responsible for controlling and collecting a crowd for her pure enjoyment or vindication for suggesting the place. Turns out � and get this � there is a �fast date� social going on upstairs. Some new, non-internet, up-close-and-personal dating ritual wherein you have 15 or so minutes to scope out the entries/entrees, note your choice(s), approach same and on some referee�s clock (in my head, this very official official is wearing nothing more than heart-patterned boxer shorts), you have three minutes with which to have any conversation of any kind with a room full of pheromones so thick you find yourself attracted to a barstool. Why would I pay the entry fee for this horse-trading spectacle when all I need do is sit quietly at the bar (with the tall, buxom, blonde man-magnet), and wait for the mating ritual to end? I wouldn�t. I didn�t.

Natalie not so discretely conceals the only rock she has in her life and flashes just her fabulous smile at the masses descending the stares following the conclusion of this month�s meat auction. I, meanwhile and as you might imagine, am laughing my ass off. And when �Harvey� approached me and offered to pay $3 for a single cigarette, I knew I�d found my new niche in what was apparently and sadly an outline for reality, not fiction � my new Chicago life. At the very least, a means with which to augment my income. These Gents now gathering at the CGT (Consolation Gin Trough) would certainly be the better for a lesson or two from their countrified counterparts in the Great Commonwealth of Virginia. When Harvey (that is, sadly, the name penned in child-like script on the blue and white sticker still pulsating on his polyester costume selected for this infrequent voyage out of Mom�s house), asked me � with a most sincere look, �Wanna hear a funny story?� and my response was an oh-so-very-unquestionably-Wendy � �NO!� and yet he continued � I knew what we had here was a continued failure to communicate between the only species on the planet that does not understand the opposite sex, but refuses to admit it. Don�t even need to ask yourself, �What did she do next?� C�mon! You know I had to have some fun! Poor bastard, that polyester Harvey. He will be scratching his head � among other things � for a good long while

Natalie and I quickly determined that no amount of time allotted conversation would impact the end result, so we moved on to �The Redhead Piano Bar.� It was cool (if for no reason other than the name), but too smoky for even me�cigars clenched in the pouting, desperate mouths of ugly, fat Americans that rightfully entice the French to pour their own wine in the gutter � and reduced me to the usual barroom tale that said I was married � to Natalie. Gotta love being single. Really challenges one�s imagination. New book chapters continue to float in my smoke-hazy head. You can�t make this stuff up � and living it is no doubt building my character, something I�m terribly short of these days. Like the Piano bar needed more smoke; I need more character.

Although the evening left a scent on my clothing I desperately want to eliminate, the memories will not so easily be rinsed and fluffed. Meeting Guito was the jewel in my Havana tiara. Every inch the Guito one might expect to meet in a dark, smoky basement Chi-town drinking establishment. We first exchanged physical once-overs when he and his thigh-rubbing, imitation Armani clad impressive form led us to our table, which was, of course, an ash flick from our starting point, but a full-circle around the large room via his tour. Guito visited us frequently during our brief stay, almost always whilst we were attempting to scream quiet conversation over the pianist who believes a synthesizers-can-make-you-sound-like-Billy Joel approach to music will camouflage his failings at piano virtuoso.

Guito�s last visit was to advise my companion (and later my spouse) and me that an unidentified Gent at the bar had solicited Guito�s messenger services and wanted to buy us a drink. The related conversation began, �A friend of mine wants to buy you a drink. Are you two babes married?� Thus begins the nuptials of Natalie and Wendy. Telling Guito, or anyone who looks like Guito, that I was single just wasn�t going to leave my lips. I�d rather be � anything, but most certainly something completely different than that thirsty.

Just another night on the town in the Windy City. And �ya gotta love being single.