Sunday, October 7, 2012

The House of Blues and Coming Home

The House of Blues was more like the House of Bluefish. Apparently, every other year at these things, the meeting is intentionally located in a Midwestern city so that on the final night’s extravaganza, throngs of home office folks can be bussed in for the big night. Therefore, a facility that can comfortably accommodate 500 revelers was packed sardine-like with 700. The buffet line took 30 minutes, and by the time I reached the food, the large dinner plates were gone replaced with cocktail plates the size of a 1966 Volkswagon Beetle hubcap. Demonstrating Olympian fine motor skills, I managed to balance three such hubcaps on my left forearm, making my way up to the Horizon suite overlooking the huge dance floor. From there it was a great view if one wanted to merely observe the proceedings. But tonight I was feeling especially claustrophobic. I decided to wander the building all night.

This place was an anthropologist’s dream. An open bar, combined with 700 people hundreds of miles away from home on the last night of a 4 day getaway is must see TV. Many of the home office folks helpfully wore yellow golf shirts and bright cheerful name tags. This came in handy at the end since these marks of identification made it much easier for the authorities to heard them all up. I exaggerate slightly of course, but suffice it to say they were not in Iowa anymore. The most hilariously uninhibited dancers?…the yellow shirts. The loudest screamers when the band exhorted the crowd to sing along to “ You Make Me Wanna Shout!”?…yellow shirts. The most appreciative of the open bar?…well, you get the picture.

The band was awesome. They were a party band called “Big Fun” and they lived up to their name. Four black vocalists and a rocking tight band, sort of like a cross between the Temptations, the Supremes, and Earth Wind and Fire. I had fun, but must admit to an odd ambivalence I always feel at such events when I am without my wife. I am of the opinion that there are places in this world where one should not be without one’s spouse. It was no sin to be there without her, but it felt like it was in the neighborhood. It’s probably just me.

So, this morning, I sit in the Marriott hotel cafĂ© eating my $11 dollar bagel and killing time before my flight home. Nobody from Cambridge informed any of us that the Chicago marathon was being run today, with all 48,000 runners streaming down Michigan Avenue until 11 o’clock, blocking our exit from the hotel. On the street in front of me almost every runner I see is white, but as I glance up at the TV monitor at the live coverage, the camera is focused on a breakaway pack of 8 Kenyans. Where is Jesse Jackson lecturing us about the need for affirmative action when you need him? Oh, did I mention that it’s 39 degrees out?

All in all my four days in Chicago were nice. But, I am ready to be home, ready to see Pam, ready to sleep in my own bed. Actually, I was ready two days ago.