Someday, I’ll make it a point of visiting Chicago for no other reason but to be a tourist. But so far, anytime I’ve been there, it’s either been a layover at O’Hare, driving through on the way to somewhere else, or to attend Riot Fest. Riot Fest starts at noon all three days and by the time we get up, eat breakfast, and take a Lyft to Douglas Park (which is on the outskirts of Chicago), there just isn’t any time to like, go stare at our reflections in the Bean or whatever.
This year though, Riot Fest announced that they had scored a lot for festival goers, and Henry said it “seemed like it was in an OK area.” But Henry was like, “I REFUSE TO KEEP PAYING ALL THIS MONEY TO UBER OR LYFT!” so for the second day, we left the “hotel” ridiculously early (like before 9:30) and prayed that we would get a spot.
We were the second car there.
But the upside to this was that we had a ton of free time to explore for once. Maybe it wasn’t the actual city, but it was still a neighborhood of Chicago and I was excited to gawk and ogle the locals. I’m really good at looking like a tourist.
Even here in Pittsburgh.
I have that wide-eyed, lost, looking-for-the-Alamo’s-basement look going on strong.
Henry had us walking for quite some time through a Mexican neighborhood, and I was dying because I love Mexican things but none of the shops were open yet. We passed several men loading up vans with POPSICLE CARTS and I wanted one in the worst way because the flavors were exotic, like guava and tres leches. But they weren’t selling them yet. :(
At first we were just blindly looking for a place to eat breakfast, but then Henry consulted my enemy Yelp and found a place but he was being all weird about it and just kept saying things like “It’s a place with food” and “Just shut your fat face and walk.”
All I knew was that we were walking to “Little Village,” whatever the fuck that is. We just kept walking and walking…
And then we came upon this place, which made me scream, “LET’S GO THERE! UNISEX!”
“The barber shop?” Henry asked in a confused voice.
“How do you know it’s a barber shop?” I cried, my visions of a purple velvet swingers den abruptly dashed.
“Well…because it has pictures of scissors and razors on it…?” Henry answered in that tone he adopts when he thinks my questions are stupid. Sorry, but all of my coddling teachers throughout the years taught me that there are no stupid questions so there. Let’s go get Purped at Unisex.
But then I found a mural and forgot about Purpura Unisex in my delightful and aggressive staging of another Henry photo op.
A MEXICAN PLANT STORE. Ughhhhhh, I wanted to go in so badly but what’s the point—we weren’t going back to the car afterward and I don’t think A Beautiful Mess has posted a DIY for a succulent wig or cacti fannypack yet so how would I carry plants around with me all day?
Besides, as soon as Henry saw all the religious shit in the window, he quickly steered me across the street.
Luckily, we had arrived at the place with food! And it was legit. None of that Americanized Mexican food bullshit. The waitress had to keep stopping herself from speaking to us in Spanish, that’s how real it was. I love real Mexican culture.
That Jesus aesthetic makes my heart do flip flops.
“I don’t know if it’s because we’ve been around so many Mexicans lately, but I had intense dreams about Christina last night,” I casually told Henry in between sips of the best Mexican coffee in the world.
“Well, she’s not really Mexican, so….” Henry mumbled.
I had rancheros and it was so wonderful. Henry had some type of breakfast staple. I didn’t ask. It probably consisted of eggs and some type of meat.
It was such a fantastic start to Riot Fest:Day 2. And by the time we got back to Douglas Park, the gates were open so we walked right in without having to wait in a dumb line, and we still had 30 minutes to spare before any bands started.
I think Saturday might have been my favorite day.
However! I just realized that I lied when I told Twitter that Henry and I made it all the way to Sunday night before finally fighting, because we fought after we got back to the car Saturday night when I had the audacity to suggest that we go get ice cream. Usually, we get a ride back to the “hotel” (you guys, this place was a dump), and by that time, it’s so late that we don’t feel like doing anything else. But now we had our car and I wanted to go out and get some fancy Chicago ice cream!
Henry’s initial response was to snap at me because he probably wanted to go back to the room and air out his jock, who knows what that weirdo does. So then I snapped back and said something like, “I WAS HAVING SUCH A BEAUTIFUL DAY AND NOW I’M GOING TO CRY. YOU’RE MAKING ME CRYYYYYY” and he yelled, “FIND A FUCKING ICE CREAM PLACE, ASSHOLE!” and I was all, “JUST FORGET IT!” and waited until he was already on some highway thing before saying, “Ooh, let’s go to this Black Dog place for gelato!” and of course Henry had to turn around in some unsavory area and go almost all the way back to Douglas Park.
“It would have been awesome if you told me to go here while we were still in the PARKING LOT,” he muttered.
“I would have if you hadn’t MADE ME CRY!” I yelled.
And then he had to drive around the equivalent of our Shadyside* for approximately 20 minutes until he finally found a place to park.
We passed this art gallery on the way to Black Dog and I asked, “What is this?” to which Henry mumbled, “Stupid.”
You’re right Henry, that was a stupid question because I clearly knew it was an art gallery so STFU.
Anyway, this goddamn place was so worth it. I had a scoop of cassata and brown butter praline and right now, I’m closing my eyes and begging my taste buds to excrete a memory of its flavor.
OK I didn’t actually close my eyes. I have a hard enough time typing correctly with my eyes OPEN, for fuck’s sake.
Henry had something with goat cheese…and salted cashew caramel? I can’t remember. It wasn’t as good as mine.
“This was totally worth it, right Henry?” I cooed, in the throes of that temporary, short-lived ice cream euphoria.
“It was OK,” he mumbled, trying to get the feeling back in his weener after eating dainty gelato with a pink spoon.
Overall, it was a nice change of pace from the go-go-go environment of Riot Fest, which I can’t wait to recap here for no one but I feel so exhausted every time I try to collect my thoughts. Because I have a lot of those things*.
*(Thoughts, I mean. I have lots of other things too. Like…issues. Neuroses. Pounds.)