It's a dismally gray Saturday in March. Im standing in a Lakeview-apartment kitchenette, pouring Car Bombs for 14 of the loudest people I've never met. Their chants and cheers reverberate off the cracked-paint walls and damaged cabinets. They're not cheering for me, or the drinks, or themselves. They're not cheering for anything really. It just seems like a good time to scream as loud as possible. Curds of solidified Baileys splash into a sink full of undone dishes, hastily poured from the glass of a girl who "just can't."
I walk up a flight of wooden stairs, out a door, and onto a rooftop that's been transformed into a sea of green: shirts, hats, socks, novelty glasses, neckties. An immeasurable pile of empty liquor containers occupies the center of the festivities, like an aluminum bonfire that won't catch. The celebrants are sloppy- angrily, hysterically, foolishly sloppy. And as I stare off into the distance, wondering what the hell I'm doing here, the hallowed walls of Wrigley Field loom high above the rooftops, sighing with all its years at the farce that surrounds it. A farce the walls know all too well: that tonight, we all lose.
Everyone is being herded down into the street through a cramped living room, where some unfortunate cretin has commandeered the stereo in a vain attempt to play "Rich Girl" by Hall and Oates. I'm absorbed into a small cluster of weak bladders, spilling limbs and drinks all over what passes for the hallway. We wait 10 minutes for the bathroom door to open before someone tries the knob and finds the room both disappointingly and thankfully vacant. Being the gentleman that I am, I leave the line, in gratitude of the sorority sisters present, and unceremoniously dispose of my can of Guinness in the bushes outside.
The previous destination of Murphys has been forgone for Casey Moran's, an apparently more acceptable location. I proceed down a dark stairwell, past a familiar cue of anxious women and relieve myself in a urinal designed for Dikembe Motumbo. In finishing, I pull "myself" out of the porcelain. Ignoring the possibility of venereal disease, I brush past the toiletry salesman with the look of "fuck my life" on his face, and make a B-Line for the bar. I order 3 miller lites - they're six dollars each, and bile green.
The black velvet rope is pulled back, and I'm admitted to the 2nd floor by a bouncer who looks suspiciously like the groundskeeper from Rudy. This, in my mind, is fitting, as I fully expect to witness plenty of fighting Irish at the top of the stairs. My hopes are dashed when I find what I'd waited so long for: a rooftop party. Again.
The night has claimed its first victim, as I witness an out-of-town lacrosse player quietly vomit upward and stagger into the wall behind him. The wall is covered in imitation ivy, a nod to the concrete behemoth across the street. Our friend presses his face to it, adjusts the sleep-number to his liking, and closes his eyes.
Vegas Bombs. Fireball shots. Latin-inspired techno songs. Strobe lights. Cubs fans. I head for the balcony, seeking an out from the above-mentioned atrocities and a quick nicotine fix. I'm told that smoking is prohibited by a friendly-enough couple, and that were I to attempt it, a Nazi would come over and slit my throat. This is their exact wording. I contemplate climbing the 3 foot fence behind us and splattering myself all over Clark Street. I catch the Wrigley Field marquis out of the corner of my eye, in all its dusty glory and undeserved pride. "No," I tell it, "that's what you'd want me to do."
I hit the bottom of the stairs and Fortune lifts the rope.
I'm met at the end of my smoke by the rambunctious acquaintances from earlier. Their eyes leak desperation, and it's immediately clear that a food run is imminent. I half-stalk, half-stumble, fighting the bitter wind for 5 blocks and enter the welcoming warmth of a place called Toons. I order a sandwich. The girl next to me orders a Jack and Coke. It's dawning on me that I'd rather be firing a flare gun up my own asshole than stay in this area for another minute. I pay my check and head down towards Graceland Cemetery. A quick detour to Burger King affords me a glimpse of an angry lesbian couple in a shouting match. I exchange smiles with the register girl and walk out. My car is where I left it. It has not been pissed or vomited on. The luck of the Irish.
I wind my way through Boystown, leaving Wrigley Field, the Jewel of Chicago, quivering in the night. I hit a red light and stare at it in my rear view mirror, an Alamo in its own right. The last bastion of a simpler time, engulfed in the swirling chaos of change beneath it. I almost feel sorry for it. Almost.
But I don't. The light goes green and I gun past it all, the blue hats, the W flags, wave after wave of pestilent pedestrians. Soon enough, I feel the roar of Lake Shore Drive beneath the pedal. I give Wrigleyville one last backward glance, soaking in all the false grandeur and reverence for failure. And I grin, and mutter happily: "Not tonight, you bastard. Not tonight."