One of the big reasons for the trip back to Chicago each year is so that I can spend time with mock26, Melissa, and Richard. We all go to gencon together, true, but it's often hard to find time to just hang out or talk. We don't always run in the same events and there have been past cons where we've all been ships in the night. When I was still in Chicago, we all played in a D&D group together, one that they've continued on in my absence. Add them to the people I knew from sissyfight and a few people at school and that pretty much constituted my social circle when I was there.
Last year when I visited, mock26, Melissa, and I had gone to a place called Hot Dougs. I recently saw an article on CNN listing the best places to get a hotdog in chicago and they made the list. In truth, hotdogs aren't really their thing though they serve them along with corndogs and other gobbilygook. The main draw is their ever-changing menu of premium sausages made from every type of creature that has ever ran, swam, cralwed, or oozed itself across God's green earth. For instance, while I was there, one of the things I ordered was a "Chardonnay-Infused Rattlesnake Sausage with Cassis Crème Fraîche and St. Pete's Blue Cheese". Try finding that at a ballgame.
Anyway, the real purpose of this year's trip was to try their duck fat fries, which mock26 told me were to die for. It's basically just french fries, but they use rendered duck fat to fry them instead of that pussyass vegetable oil. The renown of the duck fries along with their other menu options makes the place incredibly popular. I went to pick up mock26, Melissa, and Melissa's friend who was visiting her. For some reason, I can't remember his frakking name at the moment. Damnit. That's going to drive me nuts. Anyway, when we got to Hot Doug's the line was out the door, which I'm told is pretty par for the course.
Since we were in line with nothing better to do, I pulled out little georgie and decided to get a few pictures snapped. Here you see mock26 with him. Over the course of the trip, mock26 caught the fever of getting pictures of george. A good chunk of the photos from the renn faire were at his urging.
Melissa, however, was not nearly as enamored with either the doll or the idea.
I'm not sure exactly how long we spent waiting in line but it seemed like forever. When we first got there, I would guesstimate that there were maybe 15-20 people ahead of us at the most. The problem is the line dosen't move all that fast. It takes some amount of time to fry up the orders and space is very limited in the resturant. At one point, we were talking about the Onion because Melissa's friend had never heard of it before and had just made it inside the door to where there were a stack of them. mock26 grabbed one and opened it up, pointing out something I just had to get a picture of.
Right before the trip, I had posted a Satanic Cat Watch entry about that cat that 'predicted' death. The story was spun that the cat was some sort of miracle worker but IMO, it's far more likely it was just killing people. It's probably not a big step to the point where people are applauding their cats as being heroic for inaction.
On the wall inside they have a Jackalope which seemed to just be begging for a picture with little george.
What the hell. In for a penny, in for a pound. Ride 'em, cowboy!
mock26 and Melissa have been going to Hot Doug's for a while now and they know the owner pretty well. At least, well enough to always exchange knickknacks and gifts with him. Melissa had just been to France a few weeks ago for vacation and brought back a variety of hot sauces for Doug. They all chatted a bit and then we ordered. In addition to the rattlesnake sausage, I snagged the Bacon Sausage with Wine-Infused Grainy Dijon Mustard, Herb-Garlic Eurocrème and Lettuce. In addition to all the sausage, we picked up two giant boats of duck fries.
Sometimes I wonder why people end up eating exotic meats if it all ends up 'tasting like chicken'. I wouldn't have been able to tell the rattlesnake apart from other sausages, though I've never suggested I have a very good palate. For me, it was the garnish that really colored the food and that's what I recall more than the flavor of the sausage itself. As for the fries, they were fantastic. I inhaled a good amount of it and I wish that there was a place like Hot Doug's close by here.
As we were leaving, I snapped a picture of the shirts that the employees were wearing. Everyone loves getting their meat encased, right?
(Going to take a pause here. I'll finish this up later.)
(MARK! His fucking name was Mark! Umm, It was, wasn't it?)
(Yes, it was. I'm sure of it. Mark.)
So, the other thing on the schedule as far as that friday was Melissa's birthday. She had picked a nice Italian resturant she liked and the reservations weren't until that evening so we had some time to kill. We all went back to Melissa's place and lounged about chatting.
After Melissa got changed for the party, she proceeded to prance around, dancing to teenybopper songs. It was my first run-in with Avril Lavigne's "Girlfriend".
It's a catchy earworm waiting to happen and I fully agreed with Melissa that it reminded me a lot of "Hey Mickey" by Toni Basil.
So we got to watch Melissa shake her groove thang for a while until Richard finally got there. He was to meet us at her place and we would go to the resturant together. If we had simply asked Richard to meet us there, chances are good we'd just never hear from him. He tends to have FUBARs quite regularly whenever there's a planned event.
Against the odds, Richard finally got there and it was decided that we would all cram into my PT cruiser for the trip to the resturant. This ended up being easier said than done. Richard had a hell of a time jamming himself into the car and I thought for sure we were going to need a vat of crisco and a crowbar to get him back out of it.
At the resturant we met up with Butchie and his new wife. Butchie used to be part of the old D&D group when I was still in chicago and had only gotten married a couple months back. Gene (That was his name, right?) was also there, an old D&D member who had come back to the fold at some point in my absence. Tack on a few friends of Melissa I had never met before and that rounded out the party.
Dinner was nice, but nothing really special from my recollection. The best part ended up being the calamari. We had it prepared two different ways and I much preferred the traditional breaded and fried method.
Here's Melissa with her slice of birthday cake. As you can see, we didn't have any candles so we grabbed one of the little votive candles and it served double duty.
Wooo, boobies! Oh, and she blew out the candles too.
And that was pretty much dinner. I was starting to feel a bit crappy at the time as I recall. it had been a long day and the drugs were starting to fail. We went and crammed everyone back into the car with some effort and I dropped everyone off where they were supposed to go. After that, I headed back to Josh and Jasmine's place and turned in for the night.