Feature photo by rachelleb

Listen: I turned 30 the other day.

Yep, you heard that right readers. Your old pal and humble columnist finally hit three decades on this crazy little rock just rolling along and all of a sudden I’m supposed to be old enough to know better. Can you believe that? I didn’t even feel the impending dread of thirty years until about a week before and then it slimed its way up my back and latched on to the base of my skull like that needle from The Matrix injecting me with thoughts of marriage, mortality and obsessions concerning what I was convinced was a life lived of monotonous half plans and wrong turns. I was being pretty brutal and a little too honest with myself. Well, maybe not honest but definitely blunt.

My friends in an effort to cheer me up brought me to Ten Pin Bowling Lounge where we preceded to chuck balls at the walls and sip over-priced martinis, scotch and possibly enough shots to blind a small child. Things went well until the night got late and like all men getting on in age with real jobs and even realer girlfriends who don’t take pleasure in finding their boyfriends stark drunk at 3:00am waltzing through the door, had to bid au revoir to the evening. I on the other hand after handshakes and well wishes ordered another drink because… well…. I could.
It was about that time that the panio started and Norah Jones started singing.
I don’t know why I didn’t come

As she sang my heart began to feel heavy, and the sweet syrupy ballad began echoing between my ears. I started looking around at the much younger crowd that gathered around the bar and began to feel like the elder statesman of some dumb club that no one in their right minds would want to be a part of.

I don’t know why I didn’t come

Rossi’s 1-1-1-1

So I hit the street not really caring where I was walking to. It wasn’t home. I was sure of that, but as I hooked the corner on to State Street I ended up less than a block from where I left.
The place was called Rossi’s and the comforting glow of neon that sat behind the metal mesh over the window almost seemed like the fortune telling machine from Big. It loomed tapping at my interest in front of me. It spoke to me as if saying “You can sit here and be lonely, no one will care. Where do you think we do it?” and I was more than happy to oblige.

I didn’t pay too much attention to the patrons as I took my seat at the end of the short curvy counter top that sat just across from a few tables in the dimly lit bar. Isolation, peace, solitude along a glass of whiskey with a beer back, it was exactly what I was looking for. As I looked over my shoulder I noticed the cold cases of take out six-packs. Dear god, they actually had take out.
It was amazing

I don’t know why I didn’t come

That’s when I saw her sitting down the bar from me. She was all of 25 with red hair and soft white skin. She still had that glint of youth that sparkled in her eyes and a smile as if she had this secret about how to keep that glint forever. And by god she was smiling at me. After a few smiles I walked over and bought her a drink. Her name was Joan and after conversations of Kerouac, Dylan, and a brief seaway into her passion for Jackson Pollack and Picasso, I walked with her to the red line and meant to say good night the way a gentlemen should. Instead, she grabbed my hand and took me down to the subway where a steel bullet whisked us away to the north side because a goodnight kiss is supposed to happen on the front step. At least that’s what she said.

I know why I didn’t come home, because I spent the night in the arms of a younger woman the way all us aging men secretly wish we could.

Rossi’s 2-2-2-2

I woke as the sun began to rise her arm gently draped across my back her sweet shoulder blocking half my view. I went out on the balcony to smoke a cigarette and take the morning in. Everything seemed at peace. I remembered that being young isn’t really about the ability to know better. It’s more about knowing better and doing it anyway. But that’s just for the very young at heart isn’t it? We don’t get enough opportunities to “do it anyway”, but maybe I have a few more in me. Maybe I have a few more chances to stop by Rossi’s for a stiff drink and a chance encounter with a woman who will help me forget that with every day we all get a little older. It only makes me wonder why we were all in such a hurry to grow up in the first place



Rossi’s Liquors

412 N State St (between Hubbard St & Kinzie St)
Chicago, IL 60610

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