“Do you want to go see Radiohead?” my friend and fellow coworker, CC, asked me last Friday evening. “I have an extra ticket, and it’ll only cost you $57.00.”
“Yup,” I responded without hesitation. “Will you accept American currency in exchange for said ticket?”
And that was that.
Two days later found two ladies and me driving down to Tinley Park, IL in Sparkle Pitcher’s–the third member of our trio–Acura, with bellies full of glorious Burger King breakfast to help soak up the mistakes of our respective previous evenings.
There was, of course, a heap of assorted liquor in the trunk, which consisted of PBR, Tyranena’s Scurvy, a huge bottle of Svedka, a bottle of four dollar champagne to make sure the next day’s hangover would be extra-super excruciating, and a variety of mixers.
“The hotel we’re staying at should be pretty cool,” mentioned Sparkle Pitcher at one point during the car ride. “There’s a 24-hour pool and a shuttle to the show.”
“I’m awesome at drunk swimming,” I admitted. “God, that pool’s gonna be a slopfest after the show.”
“Can I DJ for a while?” added CC, bored with my music selections.
The rest of the ride down passed without incident.
“This definitely bodes well for the future of our evening,” I observed.
“Sliders before swimming!” offered Sparkle Pitcher.
I reminded her that she should wait at least a half hour after her meal of mini burgers before she would be able to swim or she’d run the risk of cramps.
“You’re an idiot,” said Sparkle Pitcher. “And by the way, this hotel got horrible reviews on Yelp. Just so you guys know.”
I responded by saying, “I don’t care as long as we get to swim after the show.”
Upon checking into our room, we quickly learned that there was not, in fact, a pool on the premises. Nor was there a shuttle to the concert. Nor, apparently, was there anything resembling customer service.
“Who the fuck did you talk to on the phone?” I asked Sparkle Pitcher. “And was he on drugs?”
“I don’t know, man. He said there was a pool.”
“I’d like to kick him in the scrotum. 24-hour pool my arse. Asshole.”
Our room was everything you’d expect a poorly-rated Super 8 to be, which goes without saying was a big dump. Nevertheless, we settled in once CC had removed the comforters from the beds (“They never wash these things. I saw it on TV.”) and began fixing the classiest bloody marys known to man in our complementary Super 8 paper cups.
On the plus side, I detected no trace of cockroaches. Small furry vermin-pests are one thing, but gargantuan prehistoric fucking insects are another thing altogether.
Due to the lack of a shuttle, the three of us called a cab when it was time to run over to the venue. A very friendly Middle-Eastern gentleman picked us up and told us that, when the show was over, we could find a cab back to our hotel on the other side of the parking lot from where he dropped us off.
“Groovy,” I said, pulling our cooler of booze from the back seat of the vehicle.
“Have a good time,” said the driver as he put his car in drive.
Hot chocolate*, I thought as he drove away.
I and the two girls proceeded to spend the next couple of hours sucking down PBRs next to a pond outside of the New World Music Theatre (now referred to by its new and improved, extra douchey-sounding name: First Midwest Bank Amphitheater. Fucking corporate sponsors. Gross. But I digress.)
“What should we do with our cooler?” asked Sparkle Pitcher once we’d decided to head inside the theater.
“We paid $5.00 for it. And it’s styrofoam. Leave it here. Let nature take its course.”
“Nice attempt at irony.”
I do not remember who opened for Radiohead. Whoever they were, they were unremarkable.
Radiohead, however, was a different story. The last time I’d seen them live, I was in high school. And that was a long time ago. During the second encore, I think my mind was literally blown to smithereens. If you are a fan, check out this setlist. You’ll appreciate the magnitude. Holy balls.
At some point during the show, our friend Hurricane showed up out of the blue with her boyfriend, having randomly seen us whilst passing by.
“Are you having fun?” she yelled to me once I had realized that she’d materialized out of nowhere by my side.
“This band has turned my brain into mush!”
Suddenly, I found the show to be finished. The trance I had found myself in was broken, and it was back to the chaos of humanity. This meant that the time had come to file out of the amphitheater by the thousands like a bunch of belching, drunken sheep.
“Baa,” I think I said aloud at some point. My comment was not met with a response. By anyone. Probably for the best.
“I’m not sure we’re gonna find a cab,” Sparkle Pitcher said when we’d made it to the alleged pick-up location and found two hundred people waiting around for approximately zero cabs.
“Let’s give it a minute,” I suggested, consulting my iPhone. “And if it comes down to it, we could walk. It’s, like, 4.5 miles to our hotel from here. And it’s in virtually a straight line. Who knows, it might be fun; I bet we could find a bar along the way and have a beer while we waited for a cab to pick us up.”
“Maybe Hurricane’s boyfriend would drive us to our hotel,” offered CC. “He wasn’t even drinking.”
“Good idea,” complemented Sparkle Pitcher, dialing her phone. And then after a moment: “Hurricane, can you do us a huge favor and drive us back to our hotel?”
Hurricane said that she could not because our hotel was in the opposite direction as her hotel.
Thanks for nothing, Hurricane.
So we started walking.
We walked through cornfields and along highways, and there was not a bar to be found. And there were a lot of other stranded folks stumbling towards their temporary hotel homes, frequently stopping to pee on assorted inappropriate things, living or not. I was beginning to feel like the Joads on their lonely way to California amidst this stumbling mess of confused strangers.
At about forty minutes into our walk, we encountered a TGIFridays. Things were becoming desperate.
“Can we still get a beer?” CC asked a dishwasher who was smoking in the back of the restaurant, near the dumpsters.
“We closed,” he told us.
“That figures,” I said, feeling my buzz diminishing with each passing second.
We noticed a trio of people sitting on the curb nearby. They asked if we were going to the Holiday Inn. We told them that we were not.
“Best of luck,” said their leader, a male human of a portly structure and soft features, upon our parting of ways.
“And to you,” said I. And then turning to my companions: “Let’s carry on, girls.”
“Shall we listen to Girl Talk on my phone while we walk?” asked Sparkle Pitcher.
“That sounds like good walkin’ music.”
“It’s a little of everything.”
“A potpourri, if you will.”
No bars were encountered on the rest of our walk. As a matter of fact, nothing was encountered on the rest of our walk. Literally nothing. Aside from an assortment of corporate/industrial parks that specialized mostly in renting out moving vans and/or vacuum equipment.
And there were cornfields. There were a lot of cornfields. Many, many cornfields. An expansive, crushing amount of cornfields. For what felt like miles and miles. And miles.
I’d been proven wrong.
At a certain point we came across a Mobile gas station.
“Humanity!” cried CC.
“I’m going to try and call a cab to pick us up here,” I said, dialing my phone.
“Hello?” asked a Middle Eastern-sounding man on the other end of the phone after about sixteen rings. He was eating something. Loudly.
I said, “I’d like a cab to pick us up at [our current coordinates], please.”
“I’m sorry, buddy,” the cab driver told me with a mouth full of what sounded like sandwich, “but I’m busy. Really busy.”
Tinley Park/Mokena, IL was quickly becoming the most disappointing, depressing place on the planet. And my cheap, Kohl’s brand deck shoes were not meant for walking such distances; there was a blister brewing on the heel of my right foot that was threatening to sprout into a mixture of puss and atrocities I feared I would not be able to contain.
“Oh, thank god,” we all said in unison after cresting a fair-sized hill, following almost an hour and a half of walking, “I can see our hotel!”
“I’m gonna put White Castle in my face so hard!” I exclaimed in jubilation.
The three of us agreed to split a Big Crave #9 meal. A Big Crave #9 meal consists of twenty sliders and four orders of fries.
Between the three of us back in our hotel room, we ate roughly nine of the twenty mini burgers and zero of the orders of French fries while we one by one passed out to Aqua Teen Hunger Force reruns. Which I remember thinking were rather hilarious, although I could not tell you specifically why.
Two bags of untouched food were still on the floor of our room, festering, when we woke up the following morning. I thought briefly about eating another burger or several to break my fast. Perhaps some tepid fries?
I chose to refrain.
I am proud of my choice.
* The hot chocolate thing is a big time inside joke.