There are eight million stories in the naked city, and many more than that among the people with their clothes on. Take, for instance, last night.
The plan was simple: go to Heather’s for the first hour of her birthday party, leave for O’Hare, where I would pick Joi up and walk him to the hotel (where he’d leave his bag), roll into town where we’d connect with Jeff, have dinner at the Bad Dog, from which I’d scoot out a little early to return home to pick Pippa up. Easy as pie, right?
Well, there’s some backstory. Joi needed a battery for his Powerbook (and I couldn’t let a brother technophile face a plane flight to Japan without a battery!), so I made some weird phone calls to Apple venues around Chicago trying to track down a battery for him. The first place I called got confused and tried to tell me that batteries are now classified as “service items” and they’d couldn’t sell me one without looking at the machine, running diagnostics, and perhaps sending the Powerbook in for service. As you may guess, I was utterly incredulous; even Apple isn’t usually that bizarre. But I called around several other venues, the first of which was willing to sell me a battery but didn’t have any on hand, and the second of which had batteries and was willing to sell, but was inconveniently remote. I decided to call back to the first place and see whether I dould reason with them. It turns out that I got through to a different call-answerer this time, and he was delighted to sell me a battery. Cool. (I brought my iBook with me, since I needed a replacement for one of those little gray rubber feet on the bottom, and the same guy who helpfully sold be Joi’s battery took me to the Genius Bar and insisted to the Genius that I needed a Powerbook thingy. “No,” I said, “I need an iBook thingy.” “No, a Powerbook — you just bought a Powerbook battery.” So I took my iBook out of its carrier and showed the Genius and sales guy the missing foot, after which they finally believed me.)
So Pippa and I drifted down to Heather’s, where we gave her her birthday ice-cream supplies (a bowl, some fudge sauce, and a water bottle — Pippa chose them). I excused myself and headed out for O’Hare, where I picked Joi up right on time. Everything was going like clockwork.
It was, until Joi pointed out that his hotel reservation was at the O’Hare Westin, not the O’Hare Hilton. I knew where the Hilton was (right dead center at the airport), but I had no idea where the Westin was, and the helpful security guy who offered us directions sent us out to Terminal Five (why? I don’t know). We sat in the breakdown lane for a while as Joi connected to the Net via Bluetooth, to get a map to the Westin. Eventually we called the Westin and got directions, and drove directly to the hotel, only a little behind schedule.
Joi registered and dropped his bag in his room, and showed me a couple of video clips on his Powerbook (he wants me to join his tribe, or guild, or something in World of Warcraft). We descended to the car, and headed off to dinner with Jeff.
We had a lovely, far-reaching conversation. We covered Warcraft, family systems theory, theological education, current events at the Creative Commons, music, Joi’s Chicago period, and various other topics. Our conversation was so vivid that I had to point out a couple of times that I was keeping an eye out for Lincoln Avenue (our destination), and I’m sure Joi was looking out, too.
Unfortunately, we missed Lincoln, and had to stop for directions at a gas station. Chicagoans being as helpful as they are, we got a whole boatload of directions — none of which agreed with the others. It was all I could do to get back into the car and suggest to Joi that he call Jeff directly, and get directions from him.
It didn’t take that long for us to get to the Bad Dog — or more precisely, the Bad Dog’s neighborhood. We ended up circling the tavern several times, peering intently out the windows, trying desperately to spot our restaurant destination.
By now — due to traffic, confusion, lostness, engaging dialogue, Warcraft video clips, et cetera — the time had come for me to pick Pippa up from Heather’s. Only one catch — I was no where near Heather’s. The logical thing would have been for me to call Heather up and explain, but (sad to say) I didn’t have her phone number. No problem — call information! But Information claimed not to know anything about Heather Voss, H Voss, the Rev. H Voss, the Rev Heather Voss, or Canterbury Northwestern. Phooey. OK, call Beth — she was at the party. But Beth diidn’t answer her phone. Call Josiah — no answer. Call Frank — he doesn’t have any of the phone numbers (he lost his directory when he moved). Call Jane — she has Heather’s and Hope’s numbers. Whew. Called Heather — no answer.
Called Hope (last — that was unintentional, but richly evocative) — she answered, brava! We straightened things out (by now I had dropped Joi off; it was great visiting with him, wish I could have joined him and Jeff for a fascinating dinnertime, and although I brought my camera along to take the canonical dinner-with-Joi picture and maybe stealth disco him, I didn’t have an occasion to take any pcitures) and was talking with Pippa on Hope’s phone. The exchange went this way:
AKMA: I’m sorry, princess, but we got lost; I’m not wasting time, hanging around on a street corner somewhere, gambling.
Pippa: Of course you aren’t gambling!
AKMA: Thanks, sweetie.
Pippa: You’re a priest!
AKMA: (flustered, thinking of several priests for whom that would not constitute prevention against profligate behavior): Well, thank you, Pip — I appreciate your confidence in me.
Pippa: And a responsible teacher!
At this point, I was quite speechless.
Anyway, I got back to Heather’s before the Big Domino Game was over, and Pippa triumphed over all her older competitors, so no one was put out at me. I was ravenous, wolfed down some carrots and hummus, edamame (thanks again for the tip, Kevin), chips and salsa,washed down with an Iron City (which Whole Foods now sells, for reasons I can’t quite fathom, but I buy out of cheapness and historic loyalty).
And so to bed.