"I do not approve of your methods!
Yeah, well…you're not from Chicago."
Late breakfast at a place which will forever be remembered as the restaurant-whose-owner-ran-after-us-to-claim-a-gratuity-which-he-said-we-never-left-although-Michelle-said-otherwise-and-was-about-to-smack-him-down-for-his-troubles. A weird situation. It made our visit to the Shedd Aquarium even more urgent. We needed to see belugas.
I don't know what our Saturday schedule was precisely, but I'm pretty sure it didn't involve spending ALL DAY at the aquarium. And yet we did.
Anyway. The Shedd was built in 1930; its interior is a divine mixture of art deco and maritime. A zodiac of sea creatures swam above me:
There were plaster turtles…
and marble whales:
…all decorative enough to stay safe within their media, but realistic enough to threaten to break through their aesthetic dimensions.
We all wandered where we pleased. AmyH and I saw beluga whales
and dolphins. We were watching the tank, waiting for whales – I'm sure many of you have been in the same position – and were about to leave when we saw them. They had such a calming effect – we were so comforted by the belugas' white grace. A microphone picked up their clicks and singing, sounds that might have come from dead mariners, tapping out messages from their buried grottoes.
I got the story on Nickel the Snapping Turtle from AmyH (which didn't surprise me, as no on can resist talking to an outgoing strawberry blonde). Hit by a car (the turtle, not AmyH), she was rescued and given a home at the aquarium. X-rays revealed that she had swallowed a nickel, which must have added to her problems. But it also gave her a name.
A small, lush aquarium. There were penguins, which I said were like banjoes: one you couldn't be sad while listening to it, the others you couldn't be sad looking at them.
And there were many other characters, besides:
Eventually we returned to our Palatial Suite to meet up with the others and decide on dinner. It was a vexing topic: some for pizza, some not. I'm not fond of Chicago-style pizza, so I went with Brown Amazon and Valerae to Spring – a former Russian bathhouse from the early 1920's.
Spring retained the old outer facade, and inside still had the tile that once housed sweating Russians. The food was excellent; I forgot the cocktail that the others had, but it was strawberry-based and looked crisp and refreshing. I had a sazerac – because it is an old classic, and because it had absinthe. BrownA tried some rather toxic white wine ("This is horrible – try it!") as well.
Back home. Time for presents! Arbed made post-its and refrigerator magnets for everyone to commerate our weekend. She also brought some goodies to be given to whomever asked first. The suited rabbit suited me, and the pancake pin I thought Boyfriend would appreciate. The mini-whiskey came courtesy of Mariser, Milord and Kentucky:
For the tacky gift exclange, I claimed for myself a pair of Philadelphia socks from the Cap'n. They hide my large feet admirably:
I brought a trio of gifts, the most successful being a bottle opener in the shape of a bikini-clad woman. Milord asked for her immediately. But first, she was passed around for everyone to observe (the destiny of many an unfortunate woman) and when she came back to me, all warm with everyone's fondling, she was finally given to the lucky Lord K.
By this time people were sinking fast. Thick, humid weather, tons of walking, Vox excitement – it takes a lot out of a person. And yet, Valerae and I stayed up talking until past 1AM.
(end of Part Two)