Wednesday, March 3, 2010

All Aboard the Failboat

The last time D and I went on a road trip was about 8 or 9 years ago when we went to an amusement park for labor day and accidentally walked into the men's room.

Our fortunes have not improved much.

Trip to Chicago, to take the aptitude test for the government fellowship I've applied to. Why not make this into a sister-roadtrip? It's only a few hours to Chicago! What could go wrong?

First, we delayed in setting out by....oh, about 4 hours. No bigs. We drive about a half an hour until we need gas and I need to fix my contact. Which I have somehow turned inside out.

D pays for the gas while I tend to my eye. I come out and the following exchange takes place:

D: Shit. I forgot my ID at home.

Lola: You want to go back for it? We're only 20 minutes away.

D: No, I'll just pre-drink and not drink at the bars.

Lola: You won't be able to get into the bars.

D: Shit. Oh well.

Lola: We ready?

D: Yeah, we're ready.

We drive another 15 minutes when D looks at the gas gauge and says "Oh, you didn't fill the tank?" Um. THAT's what I meant when I asked "are we ready?"

30 minutes into our trip and the fail count is already at 3.

Mama Lo was nice enough to drive D's license to the gas station. And they gave us the gas we paid for. And we were on our way.

Our trip was full of delights. We learned that Indiana is "The Cross-Roads of America." This amused me and offended D. "You can't just call yourself 'The Cross-Roads of America!' You need something to back it up!" (Sidebar: There is a reason for the snappy state nickname. It makes sense, but it's not terribly exciting.) We also discovered Chicago's own 100.3 (Nickname: We couldn't decide on a format) which played damn near everything. We heard: The Human League, Whitesnake, Gwen Stefani, Elton John (get the picture?) But not, as I demanded, 99 Red Balloons.

Things went well (a supply problem at the restroom of the local Chili's notwithstanding) until we got off the highway. GoogleMaps took us under our hotel, not to it, which led to the scenic tour of Chicago. We asked the desk staff at several hotels (including the one from "Sin in the Second City") and finally arrived. An hour after getting off the highway. Fail count stands at 4. We missed dinner with Amie. Fail count=5.

I'd like to tell you that the test (you know, the reason I went on this little jaunt) went off without a hitch. But, that would mean no one's been paying attention. I hailed a cab to ensure that I wouldn't be cutting it close and wandering aimlessly from the EL stop to campus. This way, I'd get dropped at the student center, early, and not breathless and sweaty.

About that.

It's a good thing we got there early. Because cab driver dropped me off smack dab in the middle of Loyola's campus. With no idea of where I was going, I decided to walk purposefully towards a building. It was not the correct building. So, I figure "Loyola students are smart. I'll ask directions." Bad plan. They all gave me vague directions to walk "that way." Toward the lake. Presumably, I'll know I've gone far enough when I fall in. Finally, I see a sign that says "Sullivan Center."

I walk in, and approach two studious-looking women. "Is this the Sullivan Center?" I ask.

"Yeah!" One of the two replies. "Great!" I say and head towards the elevator, because the test is on the second floor.

"Oh, wait!" She calls back, "This isn't the Sullivan Center!"

Seriously? You don't know what building you're fucking SITTING in? I'm starting to seriously doubt the admissions requirements for Loyola.

Bottom line: I end up sprinting along the lake shore to the Sullivan Center and arriving, out of breath with my sweater plastered to my back. Great. (It's all good, though, as of the time of this posting, it appears that I still had my shit together enough to take the test, I'm currently a finalist for said fellowship).

D calls me on my way back. Begging me to stop at a store and buy some vodka so she can pregame. Sure, D. You sat in a hotel room all day while I took the scenic tour of a college campus and sat a test for three hours. She "can't find" a liquor store. I find one. ACROSS THE STREET from our hotel. Fail, D. I refuse to buy the paint-thinner she drinks and opt for my favorite mid-grade. We finally had dinner with Amie. D played taxi-cab confessional with both of our cab drivers. One of them understood the concept. The other, decidedly did not.

The next morning, room service wheeled our parfaits, coffee, and pitcher of ice-water on a little table that sat in between our beds. This was amazing. We didn't even have to get out of bed. Maybe the best thing that's ever happened to me. Way better than finding out that the Sheraton charged us fifty bucks a night to park the car.

But the crowning glory is what happened on our way home. Apparently fed up with paying the tolls for the Skyway, the SUV in the lane next to us completely blows through the gate. And shatters it. And never stops. It takes off into the great unknown. D wonders if he's on the run from the law. I point out that if he wasn't before, he is now. I bet the City of Chicago does not take kindly to people both foregoing the customary toll and busting public property.

Sir, whoever you are, I respect and admire you.