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Tuesday, 27 October
Chicago Loop

I stopped by a neighborhood bar on my way home from work today. An old burnout guy was sitting there a few stools down--I think his name is Tom--and he's of the horrible sort who likes to talk to strangers (like me) by way of chuckling to himself and trying to invite conversation. Today, he managed to engage the indefatigable Josh, the bartender, thusly: "I mean, don't you think the moon landing was a scam? They wanted to embarrass the Russians, after all." I glared fixedly into my newspaper; Josh was all like, "Yeah, uh . . . that shit was crazy."

Tom chuckled some more after Josh scampered away; he was trying to get me to ask him what was so funny. I declined his chuckly advances. Meanwhile, the hellish radio station that Josh had on blared away with songs like "I'm Too Sexy," "I Am Your Venus," "The Heat Is On" and "Your Love." The latter song, by the Outfield, by the way, has been shown, upon prolonged exposure, to drive spiders absolutely insane, causing them to spin webs that look like line drawings of Marlonn Wayans' face. Nobody knows why, but that's the God's truth. White Chicks 2 will, I'm sure, explain this bit of Wayans ephemera.

This is all, of course, meaningless, except to sort of outline how shitty my lousy afternoon was, what with the Wayans-related-arachnoid-chuckling-burnout case and all that, other than to alert me to the fact that this afternoon was in every way superior to last week.

See, last week, I had to fly to Chicago for work for our semiannual conference. It's a combo buffet of a training seminar along with dreary meetings where everyone gets together to discuss the various ways in which we have been utterly unsuccessful in finding ways to cure cancer. "So here's how you fill out these web forms. Now, in a few minutes, we'll talk about the relative uselessness of bisphosphonates."

Tuesday--all day--was a travel day for me, so no heavy lifting there. Just the usual rectal invasion by the TSA. ("You have a muppet up your asshole." "Oh, that's where Grover likes to nap.") I checked into my hotel room without incident and was improbably ensconced in a weird suite at the Hyatt on the 34th floor, where I immediately bounced on the king-sized bed for sixteen minutes and marveled that I had two different phones. Then I came to the dispiriting realization that every time I wanted a cigarette, I'd have to travel down 34 floors. I let my bed-bouncing gloomily subside, and decided to get a beer and a bite.

In a not-rare moment of terrible judgment, I opted for an in-house hotel bar of a weak--very weak--Irish theme called, ominously, "Daddy-Os." I ask you. "Daddy-Os?" That's like going to an allegedly Scottish place called "Paul Haggis" or a lesbian joint titled "Furburgers." I'm a moron.

Anyway, I got this pulled pork sandwich (oh, shut up). It was fire-engine red and tasted like a fire engine. I got about four bites in before my dead-tired brain finally realized, "Hey! This tastes like death." I pushed the thing away from me to the perplexed bartender, who asked if everything was all right. "I'm in the most inexplicably named Irish bar ever," I explained. The Daddy-Os bartender shrugged and dumped my sandwich into the garbage, and I raised a tired mental cheer over its demise.

My duties the next morning were easy: I was to preside over the "drop-in" desk, where I registered people to our conference who where too distracted or simple to register online via a rather simple set of checkboxes. It's a lot like, I would imagine, screening contestants for "The Price is Right." There were four of them who registered; I resisted the urge to ask them how much a can of Del Monte green beans retailed for, but only barely. I also grabbed a cheap latte.

By 11:00, my stomach was in turmoil, and not just because of crippling ennui. I went out with a co-worker for a smoke, and began shaking uncontrollably (though not so uncontrollably that I couldn't raise my cigarette to my mouth).

"You're getting that from one cup of coffee?" exclaimed my friend. "Wow"

"Fucking hell," I replied. Then I dropped my cigarette.

"Whoa!" cried a bum passing by. Then he apologetically cadged a cigarette, which I gave him after a complicated bit of negotiation with my coat pocket.. "I just got out of prison," he explained.

"He looks better than you do," said my co-worker. "You're fucking swell," I chattered.

I was sent to bed for the afternoon.

And the next.

In other words, I went to Chicago for three days, and I spent one of them in a horrible hotel bar eating chromium pork sandwich and the next two shivering and puking in my hotel room. The kicker is, the last time I had to travel for work, I got food poisoning. The lesson is clear: I should never leave home.

I went through a few thoughts about this ordeal. At first I thought it was (yet again) food poisoning. Then I got to fretting about H1N1 and moved swiftly on to dark ideas about a pneumonia reoccurence. But when I got home to my wife--who has the immune system of a Borg drone--she offhandedly mentioned that a 24-hour stomach flu bug had been roaring through her preschool popluation, and I moaned out load.

Tomorrow night, we celebrate her birthday. I love her, so I will resist the urge to fart into her eggs or whatever. I'm not sure I'll be able to resist playing the Outfield, though.


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Comments

Dude. The lesson is, You should Never Eat when you leave home. Myself, I stick to drinking when I'm away from home. The alcohol kills the nasty germs in the away-from-home food, I don't bring any stupid diseases home, and She has nothing to complain of.

Keep the eating to a minimum and the drinking to a maximum, and you'll be OK...

Comment number: 020311   Posted by: Karl on October 29, 2009 05:32 PM from IP: 173.75.31.171

That and smoking. A mickey and a pack of Belmonts, it's like packing a lunch.

Comment number: 020313   Posted by: Dani on November 8, 2009 09:17 PM from IP: 207.81.116.34

You're a delicate, fragile flower. Here's hoping Amsterdam does you right.

Comment number: 020314   Posted by: Suzanne on November 9, 2009 11:59 PM from IP: 24.35.13.30

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