Chicago Pranking

I found myself in Chi-town for one night only. No, I didn’t wake up in an ice bath, drugged-up and missing a kidney and one testicle, with a note pinned to my chest instructing me to call 9-1-1. I just needed to be there for that one day.

I had one night to eat at one restaurant. If you can only have sex with one Baldwin, you are by God gonna pick Alec. Don't use your "Baldwin" up on Billy.

I chose restaurant Moto -- mother kitchen of Future Food. Moto is in a hip, slightly sketchy, warehouse neighborhood on Fulton Street. It’s the kind of transitional area where you wouldn’t be surprised to see a body being dragged to the river or an intricate Chihuly piece dangling from a lamppost.

On the two-mile drive from my hotel to the restaurant, the driver pointed out some of the sights of this toddling town. I didn’t let on that I had been there a few times before, including one fateful trip with The Raisin, my ex that owned a raisin company in Fresno.

That year, the Sony Discman had just come out of the technology closet. They were still obviously pricier than my morals. I hadn’t bought one yet. We walked out of Neiman’s on Michigan Avenue and this guy shuffled by a little too closely, whispering what sounded like “Discman fifty bucks.”

I asked The Raisin to hold still and we loitered in the doorway for a few moments. When that guy hurried past again, I knew I heard, “Discman fifty bucks.” I was excited. He passed one more time, and I stopped him with my gloved hand.

“I’ll take one, ” I said, a little too loudly.

He lowered his head, opened his ratty coat, revealing that while he forgot his belt he was concealing a shiny Sony Discman.

 “Give me the money now, and then meet me under that overpass right over there in 15 minutes. There are cops watching up here,” he said, hushedly.

This was the deal of a lifetime, and my hand shook as I slipped him a fifty and he scooted away.

The Raisin and I waited under that bridge for the fifteen minutes. We didn't talk. The air was brisk and I stomped my feet. I kept peering down the deserted street for the white van that held my friend the Discman-pusher, my dreams and my fifty. 

After a while, The Raisin asked me, “Did you think he was actually coming?”  

Well, of course I did!

"Wait, " I said, realizing right then and there exactly what I was doing wrong at that exact moment in my life. “Did you know he wasn’t coming – that this was a set up and I was duped out of your hard-earned cash?”

He had known indeed; but felt I needed a lesson. I learned right then never to trust a married man.

In another couple years I would end that relationship for good. One can only take so much.

Back in the present, once safely inside Moto, the diminutive hostess led me into a flatteringly lit room. She led me to a stark table, as flowerless as a prison cell in a non-election year. I knew instantly that the food was the featured star.  

It was about now that I realized I didn’t know the price of this meal. I know they say if you have to ask then you can’t afford it, but what if this meal cost thousands of dollars? Would I have to wash dishes or father children to pay my check? Perhaps they actually take your limbs as payment  -- Chicago is tough town.

I relaxed  Whatever it cost, it’s fine. The Facebook IPO was occurring the next day so everyone was going to be billionaires. 

The service was the best I have had outside of Commander’s Palace in New Orleans or Le Cirque in New York -- precision at it’s best.

A camaraderie had formed among the diners. A man next to me was so elated that they were accommodating his kosher practice that he was texting his mother, They had me at Shalom.” A young man got so caught up in the whole experience that he hopped up and crossed to his lover, a beautiful girl in a sexy red blouse cut so low it seemed endless. She remained seated as he bent down and passionately kissed her over and over and over.  If he wasn’t going to propose, I was.

Eventually, a large bowl filled with smoke was placed on my table. "An element of your next course," mumbled the waiter I came to know as “Lurch". As the flavored smoke drifted from a hole in the bowl, a black leather glove was revealed inside. My neighbor whispered to me that he had seen that online, it was known as Smell the Glove. Just scented vapor, the dessert had an air of a little Emperor's New Clothes-ish.

After I paid, the waiter leaned in and asked in a low, quiet voice if I would like a tour of the kitchen. I thought I might fall victim to another Chicago prank. Something was about to be pulled over that some sort of code for illicit sex, or illegal drugs.

Of course I popped up like toast and followed him. Where we actually toured the kitchen.

Thanks to Moto, I redeemed myself in Chicago. The only wool this town can pull over my eyes is in a sweater. 

1 comment:

  1. Hi Greg! I laughed through this! What an experience!

    (from the dentist office)


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