Chicago by Day

Posted on
Dec 17, 2009

Last week, since Rand was busy with his conference (or “conference” as I used to put it before we were married, and I liked to kid that he had a secret family in some other city), I was able to wander up and down Magnificent Mile on my own. Determined not to sit in my warm, cozy, ridiculous large hotel room at the Hilton Chicago (at one time in its history called the “Conrad Hilton”), I walked four frozen blocks down to the Art Institute, only to find that it wouldn’t open for another half hour. In that time, I took a few pictures.

Note the man in this photo. He would creep me out later.

Note the man in this photo. He would creep me out later.

Then I stood outside the doors for a while, waiting for the museum to open. A large group of senior citizens was also waiting, and I began to wonder what kind of a demographic I fell into – who are the people who stand in the snow waiting for museums to open? Apparently, I am one, and a gentleman from France named Alain was another.

I love meeting new people, and I’m getting to the point in my travels where I have an easy time talking to strangers. This was doubly true in Chicago, where locals serve a heaping scoop of mid-west hospitality to travelers (we encountered only one rude person during our trip – some girl on the bus who I was ready to drop-kick back to Jersey where I assume she came from*). Still, there are times when I am clearly out of my element. For example, when men of my father’s generation begin to talk to me with any degree of interest, I start to get rather nervous, especially if my husband is not around. I’m sure these men are benign and probably aren’t trying to pick me up (right?). I just never know what to say to them.

So I stumble on my words, and I giggle nervously.

In other words, it seems like I am flirting.

I am sure you don’t need any help imaging how problematic this sort of thing is. And so when Alain, who, again, I’m sure was a friendly and harmless gentleman, started talking to me, I got very uncomfortable. And started giggling like a moron. Sigh. His introduced me to his wife, who was somewhat friendly and looked at me warily – at that point my mortification tripled, because I was fairly sure she thought I was trying to pick up her husband.

How, exactly, I get into these situations I do not know.

Alain told me I needed to email him immediately, because he wanted me to come visit him (them?) in the south of France. And while I’ve never been to France (except for that time we drove through it when I five), I had absolutely no intention of emailing this man or visiting him. Still, I politely took his card, talked to him for a little while longer, tried to keep my giggling under check, and tried not to take off like a horse out of the starting gate when the Art Institute’s doors opened.

While the exterior is substantially less impressive by day, the institute itself is pretty terrific. They’ve just added a new modern wing, which is beautiful:

I usually dont like taking photos in museums. More on that later.

I usually don't like taking photos in museums. More on that later.

I really enjoyed some of the special exhibits. Plus, I managed to evade Alain and his wife.

The next day, despite absolute crap weather, I headed to the Museum of Contemporary Photography, to which admission is free. You know how I feel about free admission (I will deal with anything if it’s free). The MoCP had a pretty interesting  exhibit featuring contemporary Chinese photography. And it was nice and warm inside.

Outside, not so much.

Outside, not so much.

I spent the rest of the day walking around and shopping and exploring the city, which was being pelted with snow from above.

It was soooo cold … How cold was it, you ask? This cold:

Mmm ... pigeon popsicle.

Mmm ... pigeon popsicle.

So, naturally, we were relieved to head back to Seattle where, I kid you not, the temperature was exactly one degree colder than it had been in Chicago. Oh, heavenly father, you are such a prankster. All in all, a cold, but lovely, couple of days.

*I figured the rude girl was from Jersey because of her accent. Not because I think everyone who’s rude belongs in Jersey. Even though that’s kind of true.

Leave a Comment

  • Gorgeous pictures of the snow! I love the one by the river.

  • Hey! I’m from Jersey, and no one talks about my home state… ah nevermind. Love it or hate it, we’ve got an identity, and that’s more than many can say.

  • HEY. I’m also from Jersey and I’m (wait a second, I have to go to the mall for some hair spray)…. (later) Anyway, what was I saying? Oh yeah, I’m mad! ;0

  • Holy crap, I have the SAME problem with old men. Although I’ve never had a man hit on me when his wife was present. You rock.

  • Geraldine

    Bwah ha ha – not so sure I actually rock, Candice, so much as am too nervous to give them a (possibly well-deserved) cold shoulder. 🙂

  • Geraldine I totally get why you feel the way you do when older gentlemen speak to you, and it’s a lengthy explanation that only people who appreciate Freud would want to hear, BUT I will tell you how I handle it, because I have the SAME problem.

    The first thing I usually say (or at least very early in the conversation) is something along the lines of “Oh you remind me so much of my father – he’s about your age!”….then I just pretend that it IS my dad that I’m speaking to, which makes me a little more comfortable, because it’s pretty much the same way that I speak to children. Then I generally work in the phrase “my husband” as in “my husband and I are really enjoying our visit to Chicago”….

    If the gentleman in question DID have any interest in picking you up, those two phrases will generally put him off his game, if not chase him away entirely. But at least you’ll have made your own intentions clearer, which should leave you feeling less nervous, and a bit more in control.

    Oh and I agree with Candice – having a guy flirt with you in front of his wife is a real coup!

  • I have been reading all your old blogs and I have to say…the posts of this Chicago trip are fantastic! I love your pictures! Honestly, you have inspired me to start up photography again! Thanks again for your fantastic stories. If only I could write half as well as you 🙂

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