Seven years ago, I swore I would never, EVER drive in Chicago again.
Last Saturday, we drove to Chicago. Again.
It was for the same reason as last time, to see The Cure in concert. The Cure’s music is … well … it’s been called post-punk, gothic rock, new wave, and alternative. Robert Smith has fronted the band since the late 70s, so I assume it wasn’t all that at the same time. Oddly, while I don’t care for those types of music, I actually like The Cure. Not the way Emily does. Not “we have to go to Chicago to see them play”. No, sir. But I love my wife, and proved yet again that I’m willing to put my life on the line for her.
The venue was different from last time, giving me the hope it wouldn’t be as far into the city.
It wasn’t as close. It was closer. We actually drove between the skyscrapers at one point. We experienced our version of “The Suicide Squad”.
The place is called The United Center. As I understand it, some sports-ball team plays in it when concert season is over. The Bills, or the Bulls, or the Boobs, something like that.
We got the nosebleed seats, but I didn’t realize how literal that was. Our seats were in the very last row of a stadium that seats 23,500 people (sold out), and to get there we had to buy rock climbing equipment and hire a sherpa. It never occured to me that anyone would put in sections so steep that your toes are at the level of the next fan’s head, which I’m sure has caused a fight or two. The place had to have been built in the 50s–no way would authorities allow such a fall risk these days. If I’d slipped on the top step, I’d have kept tumbling until I bowled over the drummer.
(I checked: It opened in 1994. They probably had some celebratory hang gliders launch from our position that day.)
And the band? Well, the band was great, but I wish I’d brought my telescope. They looked like little Polly Pockets, if you remember those. Kind of micro-dolls. There were two big TV monitors beside the stage, but we could barely see those either, especially once the questionable smoke started to rise from the audience.
As you can see from the above photo, we actually had a seat right in the center. Cool, right? The crowd is shining their cell phones to bring the band back for an encore. I don’t know what encores are in other places, but this was more like the halftime show.
The Cure started a little late, and after that “encore” we walked out to the parking lot, got in the car, and … sat there. Driving to the venue had been a lot like the asteroid field in “Star Wars V: Crazy Drivers Strike Back”. So we decided to let things clear a little, and the more we thought about it, the more we let things clear.
We were, in fact, the last car through the exit gate. On purpose.
Surely, by well after midnight, both the concert crowd and regular traffic would have regained some measure of sanity, right? RIGHT?
Chicago driver are insane.
Not “bad”. In fact, many of them are quite good in a NASCAR kind of a way. Sure, they may arrive with their cars covered in dents and scratches and pedestrians, at a speed that nets them a good 9 mpg gas mileage, but they’ll get there fast.
|Base, drums, amplifiers … much calmer.|
I had to drive 15 mph over the speed limit just to keep from being rear-ended. Even then, every few minutes something would streak around us like an F-15 doing a flyover. Then it would veer across three lanes, pass someone else, and dive back across the same three lanes without ever touching the brakes.
In heavy traffic. Well, it probably didn’t seem heavy to them.
I’d like to speak specifically to everyone in the Chicago area who drives a Dodge Challenger. We saw the rear-end of several, because despite my instincts, I had to keep my eyes open. You people, you’re crazy. Nuts. Looney-tunes. The fact that any of you survive is proof of guardian angels.
|Typical Chicago Driver Enjoying the Mayhem.|
As for us, there were only a few times when I had to stand on the brakes and swerve into another lane. Emily may have screamed, I don’t know. I did. The rest of the time my death grip stayed on the steering wheel, my head on a swivel, and my stomach in my mouth.
We got home around 4 a.m., and after we stopped shaking slept most of the day. Then we woke up with a concert hangover. That’s a real thing.
Then, the next day, Monday, my muscles remembered they’d spent six hours so tense you could bounce a quarter off them. Not to mention the three hours in the stadium seats, which were actually comfortable for the first hour. (Yeah, my ears popped on the way up, but nobody dropped a car on me.) Ironically, after all that sitting over the weekend, on Monday I couldn’t get off the couch.
I’m glad Emily got to see her favorite band, and I’ll take her again–if they ever come to my town.