Thursday, March 4, 2010

Presbyterians can party.

2503 North Clark St.
Chicago, IL 60614-1711
773 - 549-2700

3359 N. Halsted St.
Chicago, IL 60657

When I think of Christians, I often conjure two different and stark images.  One is the overly pious type who really enjoy wearing Dockers and attempt to convert everyone at the checkout counter.  The other type of Christian is the granola-eating, homebody whose mantra is “Jesus was the OG hippie.”  There is no middle ground.  There are only two types of Christians.  I think this is why my recent adventures at Lakeview Presbyterian has been so shocking to many of my family and friends.  I don’t wear Dockers; I think pleats make me look like a communist.  And I am definitely not a hippie, my thesis in finance was about Philip Morris and the glories of its average cost of capital.  If Christians only fall into two schema, the Evangelist and the one who practices “Civil Disobedience,” why would I join Lakeview?  Well Dear Reader, you have never partied with Lakeview Presbyterians, I almost died doing so.

NOTE:  There are several types of Presbyterians.  The two main lines are Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA) and Presbyterian Church America (PCA).   I am a member of the more progressive PCUSA and I am not referencing PCA, which probably thinks I should be held as property.

It was Saturday, and I received a text message from Tara inviting me to Julius Meinl for dinner.  I hung out with Tara once, we did brunch at Finley Mahoney’s.  I was sandwiched between her and Ashley, I felt welcomed; nay, even more, I was the cool kid hanging out with hot girls in church.  I was part of the A Group!  Within five minutes of Tara’s text, I received an email from Ashley inviting me to the same event.  Looking at the addressees I noticed that I was the only male invited.  OMG, in just three months of Bible Study I have cemented myself as the “Girls’ Best Accessory,” I was essentially the “Gay Clutch.” 

Ashley and Tara were at Julius Meinl before me.  Even though 9 people were invited, it was just the three of us that night.  We talked about clothes and boys; nothing religious.  I ordered an amazing grilled cheese sandwich, and sexually harassed the hot waiter.  Tara noticed that he was wearing a wedding band, “It is the first thing I look for,” she instructed.  "Technicalities" I thought.  We were done with dinner, and I thought I was done for the night.  I was behind on my book project, but then out of the blue Ashley inquired as to where we were going afterwards.

“Afterwards,” I asked?

“Yea. We have to go drinking.  WE ARE DRINKING.”

OMG, she looked demented.  “Ok” I acquiesced.  I thought she was going to decapitate me.  We started to walk south along Southport, but we really didn’t find anything promising.  Ashley suggested DOC Winebar.  Dear Reader, if this sounds familiar it is the winebar adjacent from Dunlay’s on Clark (see “If These Chips Could Talk.”) but I really had no fear though, I liked these two femme fatales.

When we got to DOC Winebar, a really hot guy approached us – so hot I fell in love.  Yes, Cupid stuck me at the corner of Clark and Wrightwood.  Eric’s Husband (bitch holding his arm be damned) told us that DOC Winebar was closed for a private event.  Tara and Ashley gasped in horror.  I gasped for other reasons.  He then walked south with the Whore of Babylon.  Ashley was suggesting places in the area.  Tara wanted to avoid any place where college students would be at.  I was suggesting we stalk Eric’s Husband and was looking in my pockets for chloroform.  I then suggested “Basil Leaf,”  which is an Italian restaurant that actually serves an excellent Riesling.    

As we were walking to Basil Leaf, I was looking under every alcove for the super hot guy.  Instead of finding him, we spied a rather divey looking bar called Frank’s.  Now the bar is not a dive in the sense that I would get crabs from looking at the sign, rather it is a dive compared to its surroundings.  Now the inhabitants of Lincoln Park often think to much of themselves.  The bitches do not live in Orange County or Beverly Hills, but they often think they do.  The DePaul students make themselves seem like that they are going to Harvard, when in fact they are going to … DePaul.  Needless to say, Lincoln Park is a community of inflated egos.  Hence, a dive is not really a dive in Lincoln Park, it is merely an ordinary bar.  Since Ashley really wanted to drink, Tara didn’t really seem to want to walk, and I prefer dives over nice bars anyway, Frank’s it was. 

As we walked in, we immediately sat down at one of the two booths facing the street.  Along the perimeter of Frank’s are high-tops for two, then there is the usual bar arrangement.  I studied the clientele, it wasn’t particularly pretentious, just a normal bar.  As I yammered continuously about the Eric’s Husband, Ashley pointed to “Sparkling Wine (bottle).”  Tara and I were intrigued by the $3 drinks.  The server came by and I was aghast, she was an ogress wearing a tube top.  How the hell did this "Shebeast" get a job in Lincoln Park?  Tara inquired to the $3 drinks and Shebeast immediately dismissed it as swill.  I actually respect it when a server tells me not to order something on a menu.  It shows honesty, a certain amount of care that is no longer found in service.  Ashley followed up with “What is the Sparkling Wine.”  Shebeast had no idea, and she said she would need to ask the manager because nobody has ever ordered it.  On principle alone, I really wanted it. 
Shebeast returned, “We have a bottle chilled.  It is Cooks.  But I have never seen anyone order it, and I have been here for two years.”

Tara looked in horror.  Ashley looked at me.  I consented, “Dear barkeep please bring us a bottle and three glasses.” 

In less then five minutes it came out in a bucket.  “Fancy huh,” as Shebeast served us, I was aghast, Cooks, oh my god, they serve this at prison functions.  We continued our talk about boys, and Tara said something profound, “Bad Sparkling wine is at least drinkable, bad wine is not.”  I was puzzled by that comment, until the sixth sip hit me, my god, this was as bad as I remembered.  I had two glasses and I was sick.  Like watching a Wayon Brothers' movie sick.  I had to eat something or throw up.  I was calling it a night until I heard Ashley’s objections.

“We need to go somewhere else.”

“What? I am tired.”

“It is only 10:30 continued.  You can pick the place.  It needs hot guys.”

“We saw a hot guy, there is a hole in my heart, I will never love again.”

“Well we need to go to a bar to find you a hot guy.”

She was very persuasive.  Tara just kept on drinking and asked for the check.

“Well, we could go to Cocktail, it has strippers.”

I thought I was an extra in some Star Trek episode, we were transported to Cocktail in less than ten minutes after my suggestion.  I don’t even remember paying.  As we walked in, Ashley asked the bouncer “Are there strippers?” 

The bouncer who was three times Ashley’s size actually took three steps back, I think he was afraid of the ravenous look in her eyes, “Yes ma’am.”           

“Good,” she made a beeline to the bar.

Tara went to scope out some real estate for us to stand, and I felt like throwing up.  BOOOM BOOOM BOOOOM.  The music blared, and with each soundwave my intestines were assaulted.  It dawned on me, I just can’t drink cheap alcohol.  As I stood hunched over to the side, Ashley came back with some humungous goblet of alcohol.  I  thought it was the coveted Sangre Real. 

“I opened a tab.  They required a minimum of $20 for a tab.”

“Is that supersize?”

As we were talking about this, Tara also came back with a rather large alcoholic drink.  I was trying to get my mind off my lack of equilibrium and focused on how she could carry 20 lbs of alcohol. 


And then I heard screaming, strippers. Lots and lots of strippers.  The first brought little attention, so Ashley decided to make friends.  Within 5 minutes she developed a coterie of homosexuals and were talking about jackets, underwear, and jobs.  Tara was focused on the stripper. I was frantically looking for a bathroom. 

Ashley was trying to introduce me to her gays, but I was not in the mood.  I am … in lovve…. BOOM BOOOOOM BOOOOOOOM, oh god I have to throw up ….. BOOOM BOOOM BOOOM ….  what if I never see my lov…. BOOOOOM.

Ok we need to leave.  What the fuck, Ashley was starting a second crate’s worth of alcohol. 

“Do you want something to drink hon?”

“Umm can I get some water?”

“Sure, hold this.”

I almost dropped her stein, it felt like it weighed ten pounds. 

I heard Tara meekly, “Oh my god.”

The crowd erupted in noise, the second stripper was up.  BOOOM BOOOOOM.  If Stephanie Meyer were to describe him, she would use the words “Godlike,” or “Apolloesque” or “Sculpted out of marble.”  Everyone but me went ecstatic, my love is hard to earn.   

Ashley returned with my bottle water.  I thought it was going to squirt out of her hands.  “Eric, I am coming here tomorrow.”

When the stripper was done, he made his way around the bar to talk with the customers.  As he was making his way to us, one of Ashley’s new gays took her arm and placed it on his chest.

He smiled the way only a straight guy could smile, “You want to touch my abs?”

BOOOOOM BBBBOOOOOM BOOOM.  Presbyterians can party.


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