Here’s the Facebook status around which this whole story rotates:
“You wake up, and panic hits you like a cold bucket of water. “Where am I? What happened last night? Who are all these f***ing people? Is Dad alright? Geez he took a tumble and landed on his face as I got him a taxi last night… Shit!” You think, “he must be in a fit since it’s 10 in the morning and we’re meant to be moving to another city in a foreign land today.” So you find the chops you clearly lost the night before, haul your arse out of a three-bedroom ghetto house with bodies everywhere and responsibly find yourself a taxi. TDriver consoles you as much as possible, saying the big fella’s not gunna be leaving without you or punching you in the face. He’ll be happy just to know you’re alive. You get back to the abode you’re staying in. Your Dad is as f***ed as you and still passed out… Should’ve slept in…”
Chicago will bust these tidy little nights out on you. The warm people of that amazing city are all those sinister kind of mother-fu**ers that will have your drunken arse over the barrel of inebriation for an experience that goes against the medical or moral advice of just about any expert in every country in the world (barring Russia and Hutt River Province, but who is going to trust a bloke who is going to forego complete egotism and call himself Prince Leonard anyway?).
What started this particular little expedition of mine was a celebration in graduating law back in the motherland, Australia. What got us to Chicago was that my Dad wanted to get into my America trip, and while I wanted to be dashing into Latin America much quicker to be with my then girlfriend, the chance to do this once-in-a-lifetime cross-country trip with The Big Fella could not be passed up. I was 25 and my old man was 57. A lot of people ask, “How’d you go with your old man going out on the town?” Simple: It was fu**ing outrageous. My old man could line up some of the most strung-out tricksters and bee-bopping freakazoids and go toe-toe with each in any beer-swilling contest. He attracted some very unusual companions with his rough-about country-Aussie attitude, and all the Yanks gobbled it up, leading to some pretty wild nights by anyone’s standard.
In Chicago we stayed with some friends – a bloke I had known for at least a decade from home (he shall be referred to as “boy” to keep things simple and to protect the innocent) and his incredibly lovely American girlfriend at the time (“girl”). We stayed only three nights. The first two nights would have been enough to put the local authorities on notice in any other state, but not in Illinois. But the last night was the most scandalous.
This seemingly easy Sunday night started off innocently enough with the four of us – boy, girl, my old man and myself. We shared a feast of lobster by Lake Michigan’s shore before visiting a renowned blues bar, the Kingston Mines. The sweet, sweet sounds of the urban blues washed over us, helping the hangovers from the previous two nights that had caused me to sit-down in the shower with uncontrollable shakes.
So there we were, calmly shouting buckets of beers to our two friends, looking to maybe “hit the ol’ dusty” (ie. go to bed in Aussie slang) when girl announces: “Aw wait, a couple of friends are going to meet up with us”.
The arrival of these friends spelt the absolute end of sensible.
The friends were part of the armed forces and were to prepare for deployment that coming week. They were there to get rowdy like it was a race to finish their life’s work. No messing around like Moses in the desert, this was Jesus-driving-the-money-changers-out-of-temple-style destruction, and my only excuse to go biblical was to pronounce the enormity of the occasion.
Any friendly word with these lads was met with two shots of tequila and a personal bucket of beers. They loved Aussies, they loved that we were a father-son combo, and they loved the stacked table of tourists adjacent to us, which quickly merged with us to become OUR stacked tables of ridiculous.
We danced with beers between our fingers and shot glasses in our mouths, as the room got darker, and the music got louder, and the dancing got more reckless.
Boy and girl bid adieu. They had jobs to front up to on Monday morning. I announced mightily on behalf of father and myself that we would be sticking around for the long haul. Remembering Dad’s face at the news that boy and girl had gone home civilly just before midnight, I now know I should have only spoken for myself. The tequila, while favoured by our American-amigos for much of our trip, had always been my Herculean-Dad’s Achilles heel. His face had dropped about three inches from the norm, and he was two breaths short of being absolutely tuckered out. He made a decent effort, but he said his goodbyes also, and went hunting for a taxi.
I remember fearing breaking the news to my new trigger-happy mates that my Dad had left. They had fallen in man-love with the big boy, but also they could mark the occasion by kicking it up yet another notch altogether. But before I could even get to them, the biggest bouncer I had ever seen tapped me on the shoulder. I knew he was big before I even turned around. His hands had the density of a black hole and I was being lifted-up by the gravitation generated by his gargantuan shoulders. I couldn’t hear a word he was saying, but I knew it had something to do with my bloodied Dad who was being dragged back into the club by some unknown stranger.
“What the F*** happened to you??” I said. Through laughter and blood-spittle, Dad was able to describe how he was trying to chase down a cab before tripping on his own two feet and face-planting on some of Chicago’s finest asphalt.
“You tit”, I retorted. So I walked him out under guarantee I was getting back in by the mammoth bouncer. I managed to get my dad into a taxi, prepped with boy’s address.
I trooped my way back into the club with the vigour of Riverdance and continued to boogie til’ ludicrous hour. Who allows these clubs to go until such ungodly hours?? If I had not had such a memorable, wicked night I might be concerned.
Someone suggested we leave the club for some big times at one of the military fellas’ abodes. We head back there in four taxis, me the only Aussie, a bunch of new Irish friends and the American war-heroes, to a house right out of an episode of 7th Heaven. There was scotch, more dancing, sneaky backroom shenanigans, and I was firmly in a kitchen discussion with anyone who would listen about the divinity of travel and usefulness of elastic. Classic drunken banter.
Then the music was suddenly cut and we were bundled into taxis. So off I went into the growing sunshine and passing dog-walkers. En route to this house, of which direction I had no idea. I may have gone to sleep on the shoulder of an exceptionally tall Irish lass.
“ARISE!!” she said. However, that was the last thing I remember, other than further music, another drink, and then someone laying down a towel in a lounge-room as my makeshift sleeping quarters.
When I woke up, there were literally f***ing bodies everywhere… And I say “f***ing bodies” with sincerity. When I found my apartment keys, shirt and belt, I had a good look around at the chaos of the ghetto house. My faithfulness to my then GF was to remain untarnished (OF COURSE!). My jeans were still on and buttoned, but as I awoke I had direct eye contact with at least five female nipples, a pant-less man, and at least 15-17 whole bodies that seemed to make the same profile as a good ol’ fashioned Roman orgy.
I made way for the exit of this random squatter’s house amongst bodily fluids, naked bodies and a destructed house. According to the smell of one of the rooms, it obviously didn’t have an operating plumbing system.
I was genuinely concerned that my Dad and our hosts would be mightily concerned themselves. It was 9am.
I got into a taxi with hope that my credit card hadn’t maxed out. I truly thought my old man would be digging a trench of concern, to-ing and fro-ing. But when I let myself in, I was greeted with a still passed out, blood-caked-to-his-face father.
Dad’s story went something like this… He had safely arrived at our friends’ apartment. The taxi driver had managed to skim a pretty sum off him – his wallet was unusually empty. He had bundled his way through the back door, and into the little room of which we were sharing. However, at about 4am, he woke up, screaming bloody murder realising my absence. Dad was screaming for me in the middle of a self-created night terror. My mate burst into the room to find my Dad in a bloodied, drunken and confused pile. After a little clarification, my Dad laid his head down again. Boy went off to do some personal training and poor girl had to try to forget the howls of an almost 60-year-old Australian man and try to get some sleep before going off to work.
After an hour of sleep and a hungover- ridden sit-down shower, Dad greeted me with a scabby and weary face and a, “Let’s get the f#$k out of here grunt… By that afternoon, we had packed up and left for Detroit, with complete disregard for speed limits, roadside friendships or anything else. We needed to leave Chicago before any more fun happened.
But this is exactly why I will be going back again.