An Unromantic Romance

This was a story I wrote for a class called, “Stunt Writing.”

lou mitchell's

lou mitchell’s (Photo credit: wolfsavard)

I had recently moved to Chicago for a job following college graduation.  I went down to the laundry room of my apartment building in my bathrobe looking like a mess, and I was greeted by the cutest guy sitting shirtless on the dryer reading a magazine.  In February, he was only wearing shorts, ostensibly because his clothes were all in the dryer. He came from out-of-state to visit his brother, a doctor in a local hospital residency program who lived one floor below me.  We started talking, and he shyly asked if perhaps I wanted to go out, or was I too tired? (giving me a graceful out.)  It was around 10 pm, and he was locked out of the apartment because his brother had a girl there, as he usually did, and it was rarely the same girl.  So, by the time I went back to my apartment to change my clothes, his were ready and he changed right there in the laundry room.

We didn’t have plans, so we took a taxi a couple miles to an area where there were lots of jazz clubs.  They were really crowded, but we stopped at a few.  Neither of us had ever been to Second City, and we both had always wanted to do that.  We discovered that Second City had an after the show program where up and coming improv comedians train and can perform, and unlike the regular shows which are quite expensive and hard to get tickets to, these were inexpensive and easy to access.  We had so much fun.  I never talked with someone so much or laughed so often.  We seemed to get each other.  After the show we were hungry, and it was perhaps 3 am.  So, we walked to an all-night diner for breakfast.  I don’t recall anything about our conversation or what we ordered, but I can’t forget that a guy at the booth facing in front of me (my date was facing the other way) must have had too much to drink like many late night breakfast customers, and vomited all over his table and the nearby floor.  Our waiter came by, very apologetic, and offered to move us to a more acceptable spot in the restaurant, but we declined and my date requested the check.  We decided we would walk back to our Lincoln Park home from downtown, which is about three miles, and if we got tired along the way, we would hail a taxi.  As we walked, the sun rose.  It was beautiful and so romantic.  Well, not the drunk guy vomiting, but you can’t have everything.

Surprisingly, we kept walking and neither of us felt the need to take a taxi.  My date was still locked out when we arrived home, so he came in and slept on the couch.  We got married six months later.  You see, we  had to get married.  Now, this is not what you think.  My husband-to-be had been accepted into a graduate program in California, a place where we both hoped to end up some day.  Local housing there was very expensive, twice what we were paying in already expensive Chicago.  In order to live in married student housing, you had to be – well – married.  We had planned to have our wedding once we moved to California, but we decided to go to a justice of the peace in Chicago just to have the paperwork to apply for the coveted subsidized apartment.

They say crazy people have an inborn homing mechanism that makes them go West, and once they reach the Pacific, they can’t go any farther.  It is hard to believe that we have lived in SoCal for more than 25 years; we would probably qualify as genuine Californicators despite our East Coast upbringing and sojourns in various places.  When our kids were infants, people would say, “Time flies; they grow up fast.”  I didn’t think so at the time, but now I see how that meme was true.  Time has gone by quickly.  What will the future bring?

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