Sunday, September 28, 2003

Uncle Jake and the 40,000 cheering fans

My sister and her family got here Friday afternoon for our fabulous weekend together, and we hopped right on the train—my four-year-old nephew about shit himself sideways from all the excitement—and headed downtown to my office so I could show him off to my adoring co-workers. Then we went to what I always considered to be a tourist trap of a restaurant at the base of the mighty John Hancock Center—and it was fabulous! The menu puts delicious twists on standard restaurant fare, and the décor has this Goudí-inspired organic vocabulary that creates a fascinating, otherworldly ambience. Our tummies happily engorged, we waddled over to the evil consumerist mother ship down the block for some incredulous gawking before we headed home to chat and pull out the couch so Gunnar could have a sleeping adventure.

Saturday ranks as one of the great mountaintop experiences of my singing career: I sang the National Anthem with with the Chicago Gay Men's Chorus in front of 40,000 rabid Cubs fans right before the Cubs clinched their division victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates in a frenzied double-header.

I couldn't decide what I was more afraid of as we marched onto the field (through a gate fittingly labeled Q): getting booed (or worse) when we were introduced or becoming disoriented by the sound delay sure to ricochet around the stadium when we sang. But neither nightmare happened. Everyone cheered when we were announced, and the sound system made our 90+ voices resonate with a stirring power that sent shivers up and down my spine and tears rolling down my cheeks. People continued waving and cheering as we left the stadium—and when they passed out the chorus' comp tickets for the game, there were miraculously four left over ... so my whole family suddenly got to go to the double-header together. My brother-in-law, the quintessential sports-loving straight man, was like a kid in a candy store all throughout what was a historic (and pretty exciting) first game. Gunnar had enough patience, though, to last only nine innings, so he and my sister and I bought Cubs hats and went shoe shopping while Steve stayed behind to watch the second game with all my gay friends. And when it was all over, the four of us capped off the day with dinner at an Evanston restaurant built in an old firehouse—which all but sent my little firefighter-obsessed nephew over the edge.

This morning, after a breakfast of Mickey Mouse waffles and Ralph Vaughan Williams, we headed to the Chicago Children's Museum for more Gunnar overstimulation and quite a few exhibits that were probably more interesting for us than for him. (And while fascinating and surprisingly clean, this museum appears to be a terrible place for picking up men.)

Now everyone's gone and I'm left with a quiet house to put back together and some pretty amazing memories to keep me company.

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