I don’t think I’ve ever been happier to see hipsters again as I was then. Hipsters and gays and fashionistas and rich bitches with faces so full of poison they’re already half embalmed. My people. Bless them.
It was incredibly relaxing to be in the hustle and bustle of the busy downtown where there was immense safety in numbers and police officers charmingly sitting atop horses on every street corner. There was an abundance of flowers and you could very nearly smell the money.
I have been delighted by the knowledge that a Topman was in Chicago for a while now. I love Topman. I have bought quite a lot of items from their online shop. My crocodile socks are legendary amongst the children I work with. I adore the bag I bought from there. And, I have never gone on a trip without my fancy dress shoes that I bought at a Topman in London. In fact, I was wearing them that day, too! Those shoes have been everywhere with me — they’re better travelled than most people.
Topman, sadly, was a massive letdown. Their products are outstanding and worth shopping for, but the ambiance of that shop is just unpleasant. You feel very unwelcome. I browsed a bit, but found nothing that called for me to put on my body. There was a sweater on the clearance rack that I liked, but it was too big and besides, I have more sweaters than most people have hair follicles.
I was feeling quite peckish at that point, so I stopped inside a fancy hotel to look at the menu. Too much seafood. I removed myself and was delighted to see the Ralph Lauren restaurant. I had read about it before I came, but had decided against it as a review said that it was more of an experience restaurant than a place you go for good food. Well, I was in the mood for an experience so I went on in. I was quickly ushered to a table and fell in love with the place immediately.
The dining room looks like it was ripped straight out of an elegant English manor’s library and I was enamored of the shelves filled with fashion books. The atmosphere was perfect and I soon placed my order for both a cocktail: a negroni! and my entree: a caramelized onion tart. The drink came out quickly and I luxuriated in sipping it. The negroni is easily one of my favorite cocktails, but sidecars obviously come first. I love me a good sidecar.
The food was so good. I was beyond impressed with how much I enjoyed myself! The tart was perfection with a crisp crust that yielded easily and melded perfectly with the goat cheese and onions. Those onions were spectacular, too. I was having so much fun eating the tart that I forgot about the salad and foodgasmed when I had a forkful of it. I’m not entirely sure what the dressing was but there were beets and you know how I feel about beets, right? They’re basically the best salad vegetable ever. Oh lord, I want a beet salad right now. Somebody drive me to Whole Food so that I can make a monstrous salad. That sounds so amazingly good right now.
Oh, and look at those crackers in the top left. Delicious. I ate about six of them. (They brought me more.) They were covered in parmesan and sesame seeds. I’m passionate about sesame seeds. If they had been made with poppy seeds, I probably would have passed out with complete contentment.
This meal is exactly what I needed after feeling dejected and afraid. This is my kind of living. I really enjoy the comfort of wealth. I didn’t want the meal to end, so I had myself an espresso!
This sorbet trio was dessert and I was passionate about gorging myself on it. Lemon, blood orange, and vanilla sorbets served with perfectly ripe fruit and a sugar decoration. Delightful. Absolutely perfect. I’ve never had better lemon sorbet in all my life.
I loved every minute I spent at the Ralph Lauren restaurant and heartily recommend you go. I’m currently trying to figure out how to get there again soon! Everything about this place is perfect — even the elevators were perfect!
Sadly, it was time to leave and get some shopping done!
The next stop on my trip was H&M, which I adore. You can get anything there for so little! The quality might not always be top notch, but you’ll look good and not destroy your wallet. I bought a few shirts for the warmer weather. I didn’t want to go overboard, though, so I restrained myself. There was an add for shorts for about ten dollars, but I never came across them. I hope Des Moines gets an H&M soon. It’s one of the last stores we don’t have. We’ve really come a long way in the past few years. Another great thing about H&M is that my dear queen and spiritual savior, Beyoncé is everywhere.
I did. Whatever. #yolo
After H&M, I found myself in this massive mall that was rather deserted. A six level mall with fourteen people inside is rather creepy. I went to L’Occitane first and had a delightful time being complimented by what I believe was Kim Kardashian. She loved my blazer and said I had great style and spritzed me with all sorts of cologne. I bought some body wash that was made with vetiver. J’adore vetiver. Do you even know what that is, peasants? Sorry about that. I’ve been following an Ina Garten parody on Twitter and it brings such joy to my life.
Kim Kardashian told me to have a good day and I went around to the other shops. I went to a Swiss chocolate shop that was excellent. I went to J. Crew and got Ma something for Mother’s Day. It was a chartreuse passport holder. I’m jealous of it. I need it for myself. Look at it:
Done with the deserted mall, I kept strolling along the street until I neared the lake. I could find no easy way to cross the very busy roads to stroll along the beach, so I just admired the water from afar. Off in the distance, you could see rain falling and boats tossing on the choppy water. Not a great day for the beach. The whole day was a bit too damn cold.
As I walked back to the main road, I was struck by an idea. I wanted to see the Drake hotel, one of the best in the city. And peasants, I mean dear readers, a suit will get you into anywhere. Nothing is more seductive than the illusion of wealth.
First though, I thought I’d go into a massive Chanel store and stock up on cologne. I’m all out of Chanel Pour Monsieur, and that’s a tragedy. I still haven’t found my new signature fragrance. What is a man without a signature fragrance? Can you guess? A peasant!
Tragically Chanel was closed and these mannequins mocked me by elegantly waving goodbye. And then, to compound my sufferings, the Lavazza cafe inside the Drake was closed, too. Why this constant torture?
Annoyed, I entered the Drake and was immediately gobsmacked by the eleganza going on in the lobby. This is how to live. I quickly made up some nonsensical story about my mother coming to town for an anniversary and wanting me to find her a place to stay. So, I went and chatted to the concierge, Roger, and he agreed to show me a few suites. Good God! Even the basic rooms that aren’t suites are absolutely stunning. Of course, I kept my snobbish, yet pleasant face on. I was pretending to be rich, remember. Doing a damn good job, too. Roger showed me around the hotel and it was just amazing. I can see why Queen Elizabeth stayed here in the 1950s and took tea in the Palm Court. Stunning. I need to go do that tea still. They were completely booked.
Back in the lobby, Roger and I chatted about farming for awhile. It was a good time.
I had nothing now but time to kill. My early dinner had ruined my appetite for a late dinner and my experience on the train made me wary about leaving downtown to go to the Polish diner I had found in my research. There’s always next time. So, I just wandered around.
In front of a Scientology church, I was assaulted by another bum. Not assaulted, approached would be the better word. The lunatic on the train had made me feel bad, for reasons that don’t make any sense and for reasons I don’t understand. He made me feel as if I were a bad person and if there is one thing I am, it’s not bad. Arrogant, yes. Gorgeous, okay sure. But bad? No. So, I listened to Michael. He wanted money, of course. I gave him the rest of my cash. It was only six dollars. He blessed me and blessed me, but it didn’t make me feel any better.
I found another mall and wandered around, drinking espresso at a little cafe that was part of Nordstroms. I had planned to go to a cocktail lounge at 9 o’clock, so I still had another hour to while away so I loitered as long as I could before slowly making my way to the John Hancock Center, where the lounge was located.
I did a bit more browsing. I looked into getting one of those deep dish Chicago pizzas, but there were so many different shops selling the same thing that I didn’t know what to do and gave up the entire endeavor. Then, finally, the sun began to set, so I made my way to my next destination.
To get into the Signature Lounge on the ninety-sixth floor of the building, you have to wait in this massive line downstairs, which moves faster than it looks. Eventually, you get to the elevators. The interiors are drab compared to the elegant surroundings, but they work. In fact, they are the fastest elevators in the western Hemisphere, shooting upwards at twenty-three miles per hour and taking you upstairs in only forty-two seconds. Very impressive!
Once upstairs, you are put into yet another line where you wait for a seat to open up in the lounge area. This is poorly explained and a lot of us were confused about the procedure. It also took ages and I had a bus to worry about catching. Two, actually, since I was taking a bus back to Union Station. But the sky was clear and the view was stunning and you couldn’t worry too much as you stared out into the never-ending maze of light.
As the time slowly passed, I became acquainted with the two guys in front of me, who were not dressed in the dress code, but that didn’t seem to matter to the staff. Their website says that short sleeves aren’t permitted, but they were all over. I didn’t come to a fancy place to see peasants, you know, but they were interesting. I joined them and we had a strange conversation that went from magnetic energy, bananas, marijuana, windmills, buying belts, pizza toppings, grapefruit, where to find hookers in Des Moines, racial tension, and what our favorite things are about America. Rather stimulating, you know, to learn about new people. I also discovered that I’m much more chatty around strangers I’m never going to meet again than people I know or work with. What they think of you matters. These strangers, on the other hand, it doesn’t matter at all. Quite fun, actually.
The time passed quickly and we were soon heading back to the ground at a breakneck speed. I believe we annoyed the elevator operator by doing his whole spiel for him followed by me lecturing my fellow passengers on the merits of wearing the color oxblood. Perhaps that was a stronger sidecar than I previously thought?
The bus took forever to arrive, but if did finally, and I really had nothing to worry about since the Megabus was a half hour late again. I suppose that could almost be assumed.
While I waited for the bus, I met a very friendly guy who was on his way to Iowa City and it was nice to bitch about the weather. Another vagabond approached us who was trying to, he claims, start up a printing company. And I’m trying to go to the moon. But still, I listened. I didn’t want to give him any money as I had none left, so instead I gave the next best thing — words of encouragement. Again, I think the drink might have been a bit strong, but I basically became the reincarnated Oprah at that moment telling him that he needed to believe in himself. “When you believe in your dreams and your hopes, you can make anything come true,” I said passionately as a drug deal was going down next to me. “If you have talent and you have patience, good things will come!” My speech ended, he began blessing me — I do believe he really appreciated my lecture. It was a good one. I felt better about that than giving the other hobo some cash. Cash will get you some brandy, but it won’t motivate you.
The bus was still taking forever and I was approached by yet another homeless person. I gave this one my day pass for the public transit and told her to go someplace warm. She blessed me. In fact, I’ve never been more blessed in all my damn life. I was serving Mother Theresa realness.
Finally, the bus came and we were herded like cattle onboard. It couldn’t be helped, people turn into lunatics when they’re traveling. I got myself a nice seat on the second level, glared at people to keep them away, and promptly fell asleep.
Though it felt as if an eternity passed, we made it to Des Moines in the early morning, forty-five minutes late, though.
Jose was there to pick me up and after stopping at Walmart to buy something for breakfast, I happily crashed into my bed to catch up on sleep.
All in all, a very successful day trip! Chicago is not my favorite city. I wanted to fall in love with it, but I found myself unable to do so. I didn’t feel like it was trying to lure me in the way other cities have. I could live in Paris or London and though Chicago is also a massive metropolis, I don’t fit in and will have to keep looking for a place to call home.
Also, sadly, I don’t know if the University of Chicago is the right place for me to pursue my Egyptological desires. I think I know where that is, though: the University College of London.