I live within spittin’ distance of Chicago’s legendary downtown Hilton hotel. The Beaux-Arts-style building takes up a whole city block; there are over 1,500 rooms! It has some neat history, too: every U.S. president since 1927 has stayed there, and someone recently told me that when the riots broke out during the 1968 Democratic National Convention, so much tear gas was used by police on the protestors in Grant Park that the gas made its way inside the Hilton, where Hubert Humphrey was taking a shower. Sorry, dude.
The sky-high lobbies inside are gorgeous, especially this time of year; the whole place is festooned with pine bunting and poinsettias and twinkly lights aglow. There’s a towering Christmas tree inside the main entrance, too. Yesterday, I saw a kid nearly fall over backward while he looked up at it.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve been working over there during the day. I’ve found an even better spot: downstairs, in front of the lounge fireplace. I go over each day and the first thing I do, the very first thing, is go to the hotel event screen. This is the big screen near the bank of elevators that tells what conventions are being held that day at the Hilton. (Though there are two hotels in the city with more rooms, nobody has more meeting or event space than my Hilton.) Nothing but nothing entertains me more than looking at a list of what people congregate to talk about. Here’s who’s meeting at the Hilton this week:
E & J Gallo Winery
Customer Supply Chain Connection, University of Chicago
The Mid-American Competing Band Directors Association (MACBDA)
Thompson Holiday Event
I love it! I love to think about a band director literally bumping into a wine salesperson in the long line at the interior Starbucks. She spills her latte on him, he’s nice about it, they laugh about holiday craziness and bam! They fall in love. Years later, at a party, they recount the tale to their friend Julie. And now, a short play.
The Hilton Made Me Love You
A play by Mary Fons (c) 2013
SUE: Darling, why don’t you tell it?
CHARLES: Tell what?
SUE: How we met. Julie wants to know.
JULIE: Tell, tell!
CHARLES: (beaming at SUE.) Well… We were in Chicago.
JULIE: I love Chicago!
CHARLES: We do too, don’t we darling?
SUE: Oh, Charles!
CHARLES: I was there for Gallo. Sue was there for MACBDA, if you can believe it.
SUE: Back when I was still a band director! Isn’t it incredible?
JULIE: I’m so glad you moved into aeronautics.
SUE: Me too. Go on, sweetheart.
CHARLES: We were in line at the Starbucks and Sue bumped into me. She spilled her entire latte all over my shoes. It was an absolute disaster.
SUE: (swatting him.) It wasn’t the whole latte!
CHARLES: It was an entire latte.
SUE: Oh, you!
CHARLES: We got to talking. Sue actually got on her knees to wipe the milk off my shoes and we started laughing… Honey, that was the first day of the rest of my life.
SUE: (with a wink.) Room 1423?
JULIE: (gasps.) You didn’t!
CHARLES: Thirty years later, you’re still the girl of my dreams.
SUE: Charles, you’re my hero.
(CHARLES and SUE embrace, kiss. End of play.)
You crack me up! I just love reading your blog; you’re such a good writer! And you’re a pretty good quilter, too. 😉
Jenny, you are lovely — and attractive! With such a kind heart and a tidy home! (Seriously, thanks.) xo, Mar
In the summer of 2000 I went on vacation. It had been a hell of a year. My mom had died, my marriage, which had been faltering for a while, also had died. Some friends of mine convinced me to go to a science fiction convention held at the Hyatt Regency on Peachtree St in downtown Atlanta, a far cry from the Chicago suburbs where we lived. I went and enjoyed, bemused and slightly bewildered at all the fun things going on around me. I attended panels and listened to drum circles and hung over the eleventh floor balcony while a bagpiper serenaded us from the lobby. That alone was worth the trip. The convention had a room set up to feed the attendees and late one evening I went in. It was between serving times so it was slow and felt emptier than the room I was sharing with my group of friends, and my mind needed the space to process. A young man wearing distressed fatigues as a costume walked by carrying an industrial sized jar of maraschino cherries, doling them out two at a time. I pursued him, asking for seconds. Thirds were delivered to my table, as were fourths and fifths, although he didn’t leave between servings. He was Army, stationed nearby, so his costume came by it’s distressed look honestly, and he had volunteered to work the convention in exchange for a discounted ticket. I left that night with his email. A day later as the convention was being disassembled and we were preparing to go back to the mundane he tracked me down and pressed a paper with all of his contact into my hand. He turned to leave, then turned again, tipped me back and kissed me a sound goodbye. After my friends finished pumping me for what little information I had on my mystery man they told me half of the lobby was applauding during our kiss. I didn’t hear it over my pulse pounding in my ears. As I type this he’s on his way home from the night shift and our children, 19, 11 and 10, are going through their morning routines before school and work, and his kisses still make my heart sing. He’s home! Our daughter is outside talking to him as he puts his motorcycle away for the day. I can’t hear most of what they say, but I love you Daddy! and I love you too Monster Girl float to me through the window. If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go get MY good morning kiss.
YES. Oh yes, yes, yes. Love it. Thanks, Enjay.
Mary, I never comment but I just wanted to tell you that I’m here! I’m listening, and enjoying. Sometimes weeping and sometimes laughing. At least there is balance in the mix – like life!