Monday, January 5, 2009

New Years in the Windy City

One ticket on Amtrak: $23.00
New Years Eve ticket at Hotel Sax: $140.00
Limo ride split 15 ways: $20.00

Spending New Years with your college fraternity brothers: Priceless.

Back in the fall, my college fraternity brother Bobby McDonald learned I was back in St. Louis and suggested I come up to Chicago for New Years. Bobby always was a real player and womanizer, and what was even worse was that he knew it. I always felt a little socially awkward around him- knowing I had zero chance with any girls that might have been around us at the time. I also wasn't sure if a classy New Years Eve party at an upscale downtown Chicago hotel was really my scene either. But Bobby has a way with pursuasion and convinced me to buy a ticket to the Hotel Sax party.

Bobby lives with two more of my SNU brothers Shane Wilson and Doug Davis in Chicago's Wrigleyville neighborhood just blocks away from the famed home of the Chicago Cubs- Wrigley Field. Right away I thought driving my truck up there wasn't the greatest idea. My sister took the Amtrak train to visit her college friend in Chicago a few years ago and highly recommend I do the same. Being on a tight budget, I bought the cheapest ticket possible, which had me leaving St. Louis at 6:35am on Dec. 30, 2008.

The nice thing about taking the train is that you can kick back and relax. As soon as the train left the station, I was sound asleep. I woke up a few hours later. The sun had come up and the early morning grogginess had faded away from most of the passengers. A group of super annoying girls sat directly behind me and would not shut up for anything. However, two very cute girls did sit just ahead of me in the next aisle over. The blonde one was very cute. I knew I had to somehow drum up conversation. They were already talking to a couple from Arkansas and apparent their son was sitting next to me. I acted like I was half interested in the conversation. I still don't know exactly we started talking but we did. These two young ladies and myself both were heading to Wrigleyville. We decided to split a cab once we arrived in Chicago.

We got to their friend's apartment and since I wanted to conserve money I asked the cab driver how far it was to my friends' apartment. He said it was only a few blocks so I decided to walk it. Luckily the temperature was fairly warm for Chicago in December. I walked the five blocks to where Shane was waiting for me. Once Bobby and Doug got home and SNU buddy Pat Goodwin showed up, we headed out for a few beers in Wrigleyville. We met up with some Alpha Chi's who would attend the party with us tomorrow night. We turned in early. Everyone wanted to be rested for New Years Eve.

Anticipation can be a deadly thing. And when all you do all day is sit around waiting in for something- it can consume you and drive you crazy. With TV remote in hand, I tried to kill the hours away until it was time to leave for the big party. Thankfully Bobby and Doung got off work early. Once they got back, the time flew by.
Our party tickets were all-inclusive, so we debated having a few cocktails before the limo would pick us up. We decided having one or two would be alright.

Soon enough it was 7pm and our limo was waiting outside. What better way to show up to a killer New Years Eve party at a downtown Chicago hotel than by a limo? We picked up the girls and had a few sips of champagne on the ride. We arrived to the party a little early, which I think is better than waiting in long lines, etc. A lot of people from IU were at this party. I ran into several familar faces and talked with many old acquaintances. I bumped into a girl from my freshman dorm floor and another from the IU women's soccer team when I covered them for the newspaper. Very strange. The live band started playing and it was time to dance- by now we had some liquid confidence. My buddies are good at bumpin' & grindin', pullin' hoes, etc. but they can't dance with sophistication the way I can. So when the band played the song from the movie Dirty Dancing, I grabbed the first girl I could and took her on a ride. We stepped, twirled and dipped. I could feel the eyes of the party-goers watching. I heard one girl say to Bobby: "Where did this guy come from?" And he said: "He's in our pledge class." After the song, Bobby said to me: "Fisch, that's why we bring you along." I replied: "Yeah, thanks for letting me tag along tonight." We both laughed.

By now, the party was in full swing. We would dance a few songs, get a drink, make a lap, and come back. A sushi bar was in the back. Bobby and Shane had a few samples, I loaded up three full plates. I paid for it- I wanted my money's worth. We were dancing and having fun when suddenly they killed the music and said: "10...9...8...7..." It was about to be Midnight. There had been no build up or warnings or anything. Most of us didn't even have drinks or champagne, so we had no choice but to give a Happy New Year high-five.

People often say they love the New Year because it's a fresh start. I had never really thought of it that way until this year. For the first time ever in my life, I truly needed a chance to start all over again. Getting fired was devastating to me. Never had I worked so hard and failed at something ever. Even though I didn't entirely enjoy my job, at least I felt I was going in the right direction. These days I feel lost.

The party went on for about another hour and a half. Drunkeness had taken its full course to most party-goers. The hotel lobby was total anarchy. Young women showed their dark side at the coat check while fights broke out over cab rides. Not to mention the temperature was in the teens. My buddy Pat said: "Fischer, I have to piss but I don't want to go back in there!" We found a bus hut to pee behind. We took turns looking out for cops. Traffic was a nightmare which killed our after-party plans as one by one the members of our entourage passed out. Surprisingly, no one brought anyone home with them.

Bobby and I were the first ones up on New Years day. We watched the first period of the Winter Classic hockey game which was played at Wrigley Field. We realized we were missing out on one hell of a party, so we got cleaned up and headed to the Wrigleyville bar scene. Blackhawks and Red Wings fans were every where. It just like a game-day atmosphere for a Cubs game. Bobby had a friend bartending at the Rebel Bar & Grill so we went there. Bobby and I could help but notice two very good-looking blondes who didn't seem to be with anyone. So we started talking to them. Doug and Shane hadn't shown up yet, so I made sure Bobby and I got our picture taken with these girls in case we needed photographic evidence of their existence. After a while the girls from the train ride met up with us, so I now had proof of their existence as well because my friends didn't quite believe my story. After a long, gradual beer-session, we headed home and called it a night around 11pm New Years day.

Friday, I had a Chicago-style deep dish pizza lunch with a friend to kill a couple hours before hitching a cab to Union Station to catch the train home. On the train, I drank a Budwesier and slept the whole way home.

Happy New Year everyone! Here's to a great 2009.

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