It was late April 2005. I was 23, living in Chicago with my roommate and friend, Rebecca, and working at my office job. My weekends consisted of playing around the city and whining and moaning about the end of my last (completely waste of time/energy/space) relationship. Isn't it funny how hindsight is always 20/20? ALWAYS. I knew that guy wasn't going to be the loveofmylifeomg, but for some reason I was irrationally worked up over the demise of that relationship. So worked up that I had begun calling my high-school/college ex-boyfriend because he always made me feel better about myself. In retrospect, that was not the nicest way to keep in contact with him, always calling when I was lonely and between boyfriends...he was, and I imagine, still is, a very nice guy. Which must be why he put up with me and my behavior. I wouldn't have that's for damn sure.
Anyhow, he was coming in town that upcoming Memorial Day weekend and we had plans to meet up. Why, you ask? Because I liked the attention. I admit it. You find me a girl who doesn't love being adored and I will call you a damn liar. But now it is Friday, April 22nd, and my hometown friend, Debbie, was in town from NYC where she was working and living post-college and she wanted to Go! Out! And! Party! Yeah! This was when martini bars were where it was at and since she was a high-class New Yorker, I wanted to show her a fun time in Chicago. However, come Friday night I was completely uninterested in going out. You know how it is: nothing to wear, feeling fat, looooooog week, SO TIRED, ad nauseum. (Or is it "ad infinitum"...according to Wikipedia, my best source of information by way of Capt'n Google, both could work here.) But Debbie wouldn't hear of it. She whipped out the bottom lip and pouted her way into me agreeing to go out. I've always been a sucker, nothing new there. So, I put on my "uniform" of black top (I believe this was a one shoulder number and admitting that reminds me that I had terrible taste in clothing), jeans, and heels and off we went to the closest martini bar, the Tiny Lounge.
The Tiny Lounge was very aptly named as it seated less than 40 and held less than 60 standing up. It was tucked under the Addison Brown Line El stop and you could hear the trains rumbling overhead. I walked by it everyday, making my way to and from work downtown. The Tiny Lounge had a martini-heavy menu...the type of place that drew an older, more mature crowd and not so much the frat-boy, pink polo popped collar crowd that I was regularly running around with. This older crowd was probably why I thought Debbie would like it--much more like her usual NYC haunts. Our game plan that night consisted of a martini there most likely followed by frantic calls to friends to find the next fabulous stop. So, it was meant to be a quick warm-up to our evening...she had somehow convinced me to make a night of it.
We walked to the Tiny Lounge quickly; April in Chicago is still cold and I think I was still young (read: stupid) enough to think I didn't need a coat. Me and my one shouldered top shaking and quivering my way down the street, around the corner, and into the Tiny Lounge. We got there around 8-ish, I thought early enough to definitely get a seat somewhere or at least we would have a choice of places to sit. Au contraire. Upon walking in, and shaking off the cold, we saw that there were two seats open at the bar and looking around, those were the last two seats available. And next to those two seats sat two men. And no no no, I did not want to deal with those two men. "Why, Sara", you say, "that is very presumptuous of you that you thought those two men would automatically want to talk to you and Debbie." And to that I say that, yes, possibly presumptuous, but also RIGHT. In my eyes, two assumedly single women walk into a bar and the nearest men would want to chat them up. So, I turned on my heel, grabbed Debbie who was behind me and told her we were going somewhere else. She shook off my grip and made her way to the empty bar stool and told me to knock it off and sit my ass down.
So I did. And whined, and complained, and whined some more about not wanting to make small talk with strange men. Within moments of sitting, I turned my back to the guy closest to me and ordered my drink. Not minutes later, he and his buddy tried to strike up a conversation with us. I ignored them, obviously. Call me rude, but I am also a stick to your guns type of girl, and I was NOT INTERESTED IN SMALL TALK. But, and this is WILD and TOTALLY CRAZY and COMPLETELY UNCHARACTERISTIC of her (insert major sarcasm), but Debbie was interested in chatting with these random guys. Her words to me, verbatim: Sara, be nice. It won't kill you to be nice for once. She had no idea what was about to happen...
...To be continued (I know, the anticipation is KILLING YOU)