Monday, March 17, 2008

it's just not St. Patrick's Day without a little blarney

St. Patrick's day is a major celebration in Chicago, with everything from parades to drink specials that last anywhere from the actual day to several weeks around it. They even dye the river green every year. It's cool because you don't have to be Irish to partake, and I love seeing green everywhere. The Mardi Gras beads and boingy shamrock headbands I could do without, but who am I to judge? 

This year St. Paddy's falls on a Monday (today), so festivities have been in high gear all weekend. I was in the city at Ri and C's house because our Italian-who-works-in-U.K. friend, Valerio, was on this side of the ocean for a rare visit. I hadn't seen him in several years and was also looking forward to seeing his wife, but she's hanging out in Paris while Valerio is here. These people are international jet-setters and I'm hoping that my limited exposure to them will give my cool points a boost until I can get back on a plane again. Plus Valerio is absolutely hilarious, with his frank and jolly way of telling stories; his words carry an adorable Italian accent, peppered with the American slang he picked up during college in the States.

Ri and C live in a high-rise that overlooks Lake Michigan—parking is tough, to put it nicely. Many of the guest of honor's friends from around town stopped by to say hello, calling from the lobby to have the doorman buzz them in. Two of his roommates from college arrived, and were on their way up as Valerio regaled us with stories about how they had hosted some wild parties. Something about drunken shenanigans that led to them having to throw the couch off the balcony and keep their remote control in a plastic baggie after one legendary incident.

As the stories got crazier and crazier, we began to wonder what had happened to his friends. They had been buzzed up nearly 45 minutes earlier; surely it doesn't take that long to get into an elevator and press number 42.  And just as the speculating really began, there was a knock at the door.

Jim* and Joe ambled in, holding beers. There were two tipsy girls in their early twenties sheepishly bobbing around behind them in the hall (I couldn't see them from where I sat, but one was described as a 6-foot-5 "giantess").  The boys had been partying at the St. Patrick's Day parade all day and feeling amiable, so when the girls bumped into them in the lobby and asked them up for a drink, they said What the hell, and went.

Apparently giantess and company had been living it up all day, too, and after about half an hour, Jim and Joe became aware of how tipsy the ladies were and began looking for an exit. The girls came along to our party upstairs and Ri even invited them in to join us, but they awkwardly retreated and went back to their own condo.

About 30 minutes later, Valerio was describing the time some sorority girls dressed him as a woman for Halloween. He had not committed to the costume enough to shave anything other than his face, so long, dark hair showed through the "leg stockings" and peeked out from the opening of his shirt. "Man, I was HUGLY!" he said, with a twinkle in his eye.

We were laughing so uproariously that we didn't even notice the door open. All heads swung around to face the giant girl who had come back upstairs, this time with a giant yellow Labrador tucked under her arm, and invited herself in.

"Um, Joe?"

"Hey there! Do you want something to drink?"

"Uh no, not exactly. My friend, well, you see it's her birthday today, so she guilt-tripped me into coming up here and telling, I mean asking, you that um...Wow, I didn't think everyone would be listening..." [rapt silence and continued listening]

"Go on."

"Well, um, so it's her birthday, so uh, well...Um, she wanted me to tell you that...We're in 3308... All night."

"Uh, thanks."

"Okay, bye." [she leaves, and Joe's ears have turned the color of an unrequited Sweetest Day carnation]

We're all staring at each other incredulously. Why would she just open the door without knocking? Why didn't she at least take him out into the hall to make that kind of proposition? And most of all, just how drunk were those chickadees? Joe said there wasn't some great connection or anything; how many invites were they giving out that night anyway?

Prankster that he is, Valerio thought it would be funny to tell their other roommate John (who was on his way from another party) that we were in unit 3308 as a joke. You know, just to see what would happen. Poor John went there and discovered the giantess crew, who was even more plastered by then. He quickly realized he'd been duped and found his way up to our party.

We spent the rest of the evening swapping stories about crazy times in the past. Valerio told us about singing Karaoke in Tokyo at his wedding reception. An Italian uncle gave a speech in Japanese and a Japanese uncle gave a speech in Italian, and Jim admitted that they had made him cry. John said he's still paying for bottles of champagne they enjoyed at the six-star hotel where festivities were held.  And we shared some of our own stories from Italy. Everyone resolved to meet up sometime in an exotic locale—other than Chicago, of course. A good time was had by all.

I can't help but think about how fun it was to relive those old memories. Something about telling it as history makes our experiences so much more impressive than they had been when we were going through them. Whatever it was, I'm looking forward to hearing Valerio tell the story of the indecent proposal on St. Patrick's Day weekend in Chicago in the years to come. But I'm pretty sure Joe won't be coming to any more parties in that building.

What I failed to mention is that Joe** made a big deal about how embarrassed he was, going on and on about how he's going to be known as "That Guy" from now on and how this was incredibly humiliating (which is why I put as my first postscript that he really didn't have anything to be embarrassed about). We couldn't figure out why he was being so dramatic about it; even when he left early and we all were like Oh we know where YOU'RE going and he put on such a front: "You guys can follow me downstairs if you want! I SWEAR I'm not going to 3308! You can watch me leave the building even!" Geez, dude, relax.

It turns out that he DID go down there. After we had left, Valerio, Jim and John told Ri and C that this guy is only a cousin of a friend and tags along with them. The guys wanted us to know that they are not like him and they aren't cool with that kind of stuff—mostly because Joe is married. I'm not going to make soapbox judgements about how people live their lives, but suddenly this story just isn't that funny anymore.

*Some names have been changed to protect the Embarrassed, even though there really wasn't anything to be embarrassed about.
**Joe's real name is Brian. He was *embarrassed* enough to make a big show for us, so I feel okay about sharing his name now.


Alexandra said...

um HELLO!!!! It was ME and chicks from my floor that dressed him up in Lady outfit. Him and his Monohead Dario!!! Dario the skinny thing borrowed clothes from me and Valerio (not so skinny) probably did borrow clothes from some sorrority slutskies with fat asses. but it was definitely me that DRESSED him :)

mono head ened up throwing up like a serrority girl after the drinking binge, i think it's when my crush for him was over.

too bad i missed him. did his Uncle hitch? did his EAD URT?

Lia said...

You have friends who live on 42? That's incredibly wise and cool!

SupaCoo said...

Ok, so if you get cool points for hanging out with the jetsetters, can I get some cool points for reading your blog about hanging out with jetsetters? Because they all sound totally cool!

Jon said...

yeah, I read this pre and post update. Definitely not as funny after the update.