The Bears were doing well and the bar was humming along at a manageable pace. There wasn’t much of a need for me to be there anymore, and the bartender had just accidentally opened a bottle of Old Style, so clocking out was the only reasonable thing to do. I saddled up on the other side of the bar to knock back way too many shots and beers with the regulars and randos I had come to know so well (or at least was very friendly toward with all the shots and beers on board). One of my coworkers got her purse stuck in a bike lock, and I was able to pry it out, which affirmed my functionality and gave me the bravado I needed to start sending out “Hey. What are you up to?” texts.
The first and only person that I really wanted to see was a good friend who lived less than a block from my bar. She was a regular, and we were fast friends as we shared a lot in common. It didn’t hurt that she was (is) incredibly attractive and charismatic, I suppose. She was in Boystown (if you think that sounds like a gay neighborhood, you are correct) drinking with her friend, so I Ubered my way over.
Her friend was nice enough from what I remember, but she and I were both particularly drunk, so as we are wont to do, we started making out and hanging on each other. At some point her friend started hitting on another gentleman and probably got fed up with our overt display of affection, so he excused himself to the stairwell to continue his conversation out of our line of sight. Fingers crossed he got some action – it’d only be fair after what we put him through.
After making the vast majority of the gay folks around us uncomfortable with our hetero tongue exchange, some loud and enthusiastic conversations with the bartender, a brief stint in the stall of the women’s restroom (there was a gender neutral bathroom, but the stall didn’t lock, so…), and repeatedly pulling my friend off the bar after she hopped up there, we decided it was time to move on. No, not just move on, it was time to fucking dance!
“Hey!” we slurred at the bouncer. “We know we’re drunk and we need to leave. Where’s the best spot to dance?!”
We made our way to a cavernous spot nearby that had a large, pulsating dance floor at the back, where “Slave 4 Britney [Spears] Sundays” was in full swing. She led me by the hand directly to the front, and we hopped straight up on stage. The bouncer responsible for the stage said we were cool, so we ground and gyrated our drunk selves through the next hour and a half. There were trips to the bar to get drinks, but most of them ended up disappearing after we set them down to keep dancing. At some point I was so sweaty that I took my shirt off, but like most nights like this, my memory of it is limited to snapshots of the fun and frolicking like a montage under a strobe light. For the sake of mentioning a couple, we danced with probably five or six other people and at some point I picked my friend up for some dancing with an acrobatic tilt. I also remember us drunkenly yelling, “I love you!” at one another, but with lights and music and hormones blaring, it’s hard not to get caught up in the moment.
Anyway, she had work the next day and was conscious of the time, so we eventually hopped off the stage, I put back on my shirt, and we headed back out to the street. After some convincing, I dragged her to one more dance spot with a Latin vibe. We didn’t finish a couple more beers, then I got us an Uber to her apartment. I kissed her goodnight, said an awkward goodbye (my doing, not hers), then walked the half block back to my still-open bar where I regaled the patrons and my coworkers with stories of my exploits.
After sharing a cigarette or two with some guy, we made enough of a connection that he was intrigued by the prospect of an after-hours joint I’m a member of. We made a stop at his apartment to drink some whiskey that was too high quality for how drunk we both were, then I lead him into the dark, dingy world of Chicago’s late-late night crowd. To his credit, he hung in there for a bit, but eventually his head started to nod and he got my approval to excuse himself (not that he needed it, but he asked for it).
Left to my own devices, I flirted with a lovely trans woman for a while, made some random friends, had them buy me my final beers and shots, then walked through the 9am sunlight to the bus stop. A bus and a train later, I was back in my apartment ordering takeout food I didn’t really need. As with most nights like this, it ended with the sun high in the sky, empty to-go containers, and the strong notion that I probably didn’t need to do it again for a while. Though… It has been a while…