In the beginning
It started as far as I can recall, outside of a convention center in Chicago, Illinois, where we were breezily strolling wondering where to eat in this mecca of food. Suddenly we’re approached by a woman whom the Pan Handler knows somehow; presumably they’ve been in the same room with each other sometime in the past, possibly several times I don’t know. However, in hushed tones the Pan Handler reassures me that I too, have met this woman before, her name is Dr. Lady.
While we exchanged pleasantries of the collegial sort, we were waylaid by an Italian looking, middle aged man. Dressed appropriately in a suit of the variety and thread count known as, far nicer than mine, he promptly asked my apparently, not so newly acquired acquaintance out to dinner with him.
As it turns out, old Italian dude, is Dr. Lady’s boss, which of course puts her in the difficult position of not being in the position to say no. Though, her panicked eyes informed us both, that she would like to… she then did the prudent thing and pleaded with us to go with them. Mostly with her eyes, and body, but a little bit with her mouth too. How do ya’ say no? So we said yes.
Now we’re, accompanied by Dr. Lady, sort of known by the Pan Handler, and an old Italian looking dude in a nice suit whom we didn’t know. But, in short order we were joined by another old Italian dude in a nice suit and an obvious doctor dressed in business casual, both of whom we didn’t know, trying to find a cab, to an unknown destination.
I was appreciating the absurdity of this situation when I realized, apparently, time is different for rich people. We had been anticipating a cab for all of three minutes when the old Italian dude #1 got fed up with all our ostentatious waiting. At that very moment a limo pulls up and old Italian dude, quickly hired it, making me wonder if that particular limo just follows old Italian dude around and pulls up whenever he looks like he might hail a cab.
So now we’re in a limo with four other people all unknown to me. Old Italian dude #1 takes charge of the situation and hands watery lite beers out to everyone and begins to entertainingly tell old Italian dude stories. You know the type; the punchline is often spoken in Italian and ends in uproarious old Italian dude laughter.
About a half hour later I’m 1 beer down and again old Italian dude is fed up with all of our vain waiting and says “Where is this guy taking us?” “How long is this going to take?” Right then the driver pulls over as if he had been driving in random circles around the block of our destination waiting for old Italian dude #1 to lose patience and quickly pull over as soon as he sees signs of irritation. It would seem we’ve arrived at the restaurant.
Our destination’s name until this point had been kept a secret, but the buzzing neon sign outside told us where we were, Carmine’s of the Rosebud restaurant group, who’ve been operating successful Italian eateries in Chicago since 1973. Carmine’s opened in 1994 and is known for Italian food, live music and patio seating, so that should you tire of your company, it offers you the opportunity to watch pedestrians, like a boring exhibit in a strange Midwestern people zoo. That balcony is where we sat on this fateful evening.
It would seem, when you’re with rich, old, Italian dudes who arrive in a limo, you’re treated like a freakin’ rock star in a restaurant. The friendly servers dutifully cater to our every whim, thus wine and beer flow freely. I’m 2 beers in before I order and that doesn’t include the wine. The one thing I’ve managed to ingest thus far, besides alcohol, is that old, Italian dude #1’s name is ironically Notold… Dr. Notold. His actual first name might’ve been thrown away, possibly, when he graduated from med school, as the name Doctor was far more expensive to acquire than the name he received at birth.
The Food & or Drink
We all ordered food/beer/wine and at this point I’m 3 beers in, and I’ve had some wine as I’m trying to appear as if I’m at least a little bit cultured. The Minestrone soup finally got to the table I hope it will suck up some of the alcohol, so I cleverly order another beer, just in case the soup succeeds.
Dr. Notold is now talking about the Irish mafia, Whitey Bulger and just about every other form of ilk that ever came out of the Northeast. Guffawing often with boisterous laughter, old Italian dude #2, and Dr. Business Casual, revere us with stories and keep us properly distracted from noticing that our wine glasses are being refilled, often. We carry on like Italians for quite some time and by this, I don’t mean wearing spaghetti stained wife beaters and gold chains, while milling about in cologne soaked crowds outside of a club. What I meant was, we ate a lot, slowly, while drinking a lot, not quite so slowly and filled the air with animated laughter while old Italian dudes told exaggerated stories with exaggerated gestures.
Soon we’re taking photos of each other, as if we’re not near strangers who will likely, rarely, if ever, see one another again. We also consume a dinner worth consuming, which included the delicious and aforementioned Minestrone soup and Carmine’s answer to a brick chicken and simultaneous nod to Chicago cuisine, the delectable chicken Vesuvio. Lastly, for the sake of Italian stereotyping, we also made sure to get some risotto and of course meatballs… when in Rome.
Of course we washed this down with a bottle of Red and a bottle of White, because decisions are hard. Soon enough our plates were empty and we astonishingly declined the offer of more drinks, choosing instead to cut out the middle man we went to the restaurant bar.
After several thirsty minutes with no alcohol, we quickly acquired more from the intrepid bartenders. We also met the Salesman… again. He had been flitting about the restaurant all, night like an overweight social butterfly. Coming in at a solid six foot forty, with plastic hair likely manufactured in China, for local news anchors, he had appeared at our table several times and it seemed he’s the unlikely colleague of both Dr. Notold and Dr. Business Casual. Soon enough the plastic haired salesman passed the requisite threshold of drunkenness and became another unlikely member of our motley crew.
The Beginning of the end
Once the staff was tired of us, we settled the tab and stepped out into the cool Chicago evening. Once outside we milled about for a moment until, Dr. Notold quipped, “I like jazz, do you like jazz?” He continued “Hey, you guys want to go to Buddy Guy’s club?” “Let’s go to Buddy Guy’s club, next and check out some jazz.” I waited for the limo to appear, but one never did. We split into two groups, Dr. Lady, Dr. Notold and Salesman got into the first cab and drove away into the night. Leaving Dr. Business Casual to come with us in the next cab, so we too drive off into the night… The night was young and I’ve lost count as to how many beers/glasses of wine we’ve had, total inebriation now assures me I can dance well. Let’s go to the club.
Coming soon the Pot and Pan Handler go to Buddy Guy’s club and the action continues… And the never popular Taco Tuesday Take Down continues… It’s the finals, bitches, We’ll see ya’ there. – The Pot and Pan Handler