Thursday, July 27, 2006

How to have a fabulous Wednesday

Start with a picnic
Our company picnics in the past have been elaborate affairs involving citywide scavenger hunts and teamed athletic competitions, which can be a lot of added work when you’re already booked to the gills in deadlines. Yesterday afternoon we just had a simple picnic with pick-up games of volleyball and softball and even bean-bag tosses (which I’m pretty skilled pathetic at). Which was perfect.

Stuff your pie hole
We also had a pie-eating contest, which is easily one of the most disturbing things I’ve ever watched. We found nine volunteers who were straitjacketed in black garbage bags and then tried to consume three pies hands-free in fifteen minutes in the hot sun. I think the 15 minutes is what made it disturbing. Everyone cheered for the first three or four minutes. Then it got kind of boring and our enthusiasm waned—so the pie eaters soldiered on in glum, quasi-gluttonous silence. Then they started to look ashen. Then a few of them made tentative hurling motions toward nearby garbage cans. And there were still about seven awkward minutes to go. And they were covered in pie, which is actually more gross than comical. (Everyone survived, though, with no hurling.)

And when it was over, the un-chewed pies were up for grabs, so some of us tried them. While the crusts were flaky and delicious, the cherry filling was the gooey, overtart stuff you’d find in a can, and the apple filling was just a smidge more edible.

Enjoy a concert in the park
I met a charming fella at a brunch on Saturday, and we’ve already had two dates. And about 100 text messages, most of which have been random Sondheim lyrics. Because we’re gay that way.

Last night after the picnic, I met him at his office and we started our evening with no plans other than to hang out. We walked randomly south down Michigan Avenue, and when we got to Millennium Park we discovered a free concert was about to start. We ran across the street to Walgreens to stock up on snacks and we got back and plopped down on the lawn just moments before the downbeat of Bruckner’s 7th Symphony, which isn’t my favorite piece of music—Bruckner was a Romantic (which is good!) with an ahead-of-his-time fascination with the atonal (which is not my cup of tea)—but the piece has some mighty moments in the last two movements. (Alliteration runs rampant!) And the weather was perfect and the company was delightful and I just can’t think of a better way to spend a summer evening that doesn’t involve ice cream.

Keep enjoying the park
After the concert, we took the Romantic Bench Tour of Millennium Park, where we alternately walked and sat and took in views of gardens, the skyline, the sunset, the fireworks over Navy Pier, Lake Shore Drive and other people enjoying their own Romantic Bench Tours until the park closed at 11. It was a fantastically enjoyable evening. With hand-holding. And Millennium Park is so awesome it makes me glad I pay my taxes. Seriously.

Endure the rants of the unhinged
We had to run the Panhandler Gauntlet on our way back to the train. I thought I’d heard every possible marketing tactic from this crowd, but last night took everyone to a new low. One amiable fellow had walked up to us at a stoplight, forced his hand into ours and acted like we were old friends. When the light changed and we politely started on our way without giving him a dollar, he suddenly crumbled decades of social progress with a shrill “I get it! You don’t like black people!”

I had a million appalled retorts I could have shouted back at him, but 1) it so wasn’t worth it, 2) Bruckner had been discordant enough for the evening, and I didn’t want to end our date on an even harsher note and 3) I had already picked the title for this post.

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