White Knights | Misadventures in the Dark

Friday, August 8, 2008

White Knights

Posted By on Fri, Aug 8, 2008 at 12:06 PM

Back in June, circa 1998, I flew to Chicago for the first time with my aunt Liz. While there, I fell in love...with the city. I was also quite intrigued by my concierge, Alister. I was 17 and he was twelve years my senior. While waiting for my taxi to shuttle us to the airport, I had the opportunity (and misfortune) to talk with Ali. As the time passed, I learned of the vast similarities we shared despite our age difference. Twenty minutes of conversation inspired what later became a decade of friendship. Ali came to visit Little Rock once. I was dating someone seriously at the time. I mention this to prove Ali and I shared a purely platonic relationship.

Through the ten year course of our friendship, he encouraged me to visit multiple times. Perhaps it was my fear of flight, the timing,  or intuition that forced excuses and left me Arkansas bound. Ali worked at the hotel part-time enabling him to finish medical school. He often mentioned working long hours which made it difficult for him to visit more.

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August 2007. Ali and I spent several months preparing for my return to Chicago. He encouraged me to bring a friend (thank God) and my good friend Kate agreed to join me. August 9th, the night prior to my leaving, I got this uneasy feeling. I called my mom and explained how something felt wrong. I puzzle-pieced together a few of his comments which led me to discover a plethora of lies. My tolerance for lairs is narrow. I called the hospital where he “worked” but they had never heard of him. Red flag. I called him in hopes of receiving clarification and explanation but instead he offered this "if you're not comfortable coming just stay home." Wrong answer. Note he also made mention of being unable to pick us up from the airport, further suggesting we take a taxi, store our luggage at a hotel, and he'd pick us up later. Bad form. Again, this had been planned for months based on his availability. This was the last time I ever spoke to Alister. Ten years and a fictitious friendship. Ouch and good riddance.

My mother assisted in finding us a room but everything was booked. Everything. She later contacted me to tell us there was one room at the Sax Hotel, which is affiliated with The House of Blues. Bonus.


Despite the tumultuous beginning, Kate and I went on to experience what we both now describe as the best vacation of our lives. We were upgraded to an incredible suite, they were filming "The Dark Knight" at our hotel, I sang with an authentic blues band in downtown Chicago, we ate/drank/shopped beyond too much, and it was fabulous. 70 degrees in August fabulous.

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The last day we were there, we found ourselves at the far end of Michigan Avenue as Kate was in search of a specific art gallery. My feet hurt, I was cranky, starving, and tired so I encouraged (or forced) her to stop at an outside eatery. Enter Jeremy, our server. He was charming, funny, and attractive.

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Kate opted to return to a shop in efforts to avoid their closing and I stayed behind at the restaurant. I called Wes and said "it's my last night Chicago and my waiter is stupid good-looking. What would you do if you were me?" He actually didn't make fun of me, but instead suggested I leave my number on the receipt. I had a better idea. I asked Jeremy of a good place to go out. Somewhere low key, off the beaten path. He suggested The Elbo Room, while taking a seat beside me. Twenty minutes later, he is still beside me. He writes down directions along with his number and a note that read "it's a Detroit number 'cause I'm gangsta." I write down my number along with "it's an Arkansas number 'cause I'm gansta." Yes, I forgot the second freaking "g." And I claim to be the grammar/spelling queen...

Jeremy later called and offered to meet us at the hotel while agreeing to join us on the el. We’re pissed we didn't learn of this form of transportation sooner as it is LOTS cheaper than taxi's. We arrive at the Elbo Room after a considerable journey and it was worth it. We shut the bar down. While walking back to the el, I learn Jeremy has been waiting tables a few months (he is a teacher) during the summer. He has just returned from Namibia. Turns out the hot waiter was also in the Peace Corp, is a mean writer, and an interesting conversationalist.


During this walk, I also gracefully bust my ass. My knee kissed the curb and I was feeling like that girl.






Speaking of kisses, in a separate entry, I said I love incredible kisses. Jeremy set the bar higher. He made my already bloody knees weaker.


I told him of my fear of planes and he said (and I LOVE THIS) "Airports. Cathedrals of emotion. So much happiness and sadness under one roof." So very true. Jeremy and I continue to keep in touch. He is a reminder that sure, you have to kiss a lot of toads (though Ali and I never so much as kissed) but there are still a few princes out there. Jeremy became my white knight and Ali? Ali who?


PS: The following picture represents my least favorite part of the trip.



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Kate was the ideal travel buddy. I feel lucky to know her. Yes, she made the trip perfect. Kate's been married many years and she still called (and called and called) her husband several times to tell him she loved and missed him. Additional proof of the existence of good men, white knights.


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