My favorite thing about traveling alone is the ability to meet new people. Delta has these two-seaters, and you better like the person you're next to or you're in for a long flight, even if Minneapolis to Chicago is a hop and a skip. I sat next to a young woman named Annie. She was a large black woman who was nervous about flying, and she signed my journal at the end of the flight, telling God to be with me forever and ever.
My hotel was very swanky. I stayed at the Wit, right in downtown Chicago on State Street. It was next door to the theater. While the hotel was by far the nicest one I had ever been to, I could not help but feel lonely when I first arrived. And not in the "Oh, it's Valentine's day, I need to get laid" way, but that I wished my best friend Erin was with me to pore over the hotel bar with, or Diva with me to discuss Chicago nightlife. Nevertheless, I was here because of my love affair with Mariah Carey, and nothing was going to be more important than that.
That night I decided to venture to Boystown. I wasn't planning on playing board games but my hotel room had condoms and K-Y just in case, which I had purchased earlier that day at Walgreens, and I had done that thing where you buy nine other things because it's just AKWARD, y'all. I got lost and ended up under a bridge where homeless people were sleeping. I like to tell myself that I'm indestructible -- like bitch, I lived in Brooklyn for a year and when I fucked that up and had to get a job in Minneapolis, I chose one in the GHETTO, y'all -- but I was still unnerved as I had no mace or reasonable self-defense skills. It felt like a real life haunted house.
I made it to a club called Spin. This was very confusing because in Minneapolis, Spin is where the young straight folks go, and a few years ago they paid Brody Jenner a bunch of money to show up, and I had to read Facebook status after Facebook status of dumb girls going "OMG I WAS 3 FEET AWAY FROM BRODY JENNER" and I'm like It's Brody fucking Jenner. What has he done for our society? Is he even entertaining? That said, when his stepsister Kim Kardashian showed up at Aqua and my brother was there, I will admit to jealousy. I love me those Kardashians, and if Kourtney does not dump that d-bag Scott, there is no hope for civilization as we know it.
Where was I? Oh, yes, Spin. The drag queen bouncer told me I was adorable. She was the only one at that place who gave me the time of day, mind you. But I still enjoyed myself, if only because the muscular bartenders were all dressed like Cupid. I finally got the liquid courage to dance on the whorebox next to this twink who had far better dance moves. It was like we were the Saturday Night Live Chippendales sketch, and he was Patrick Swayze and I was Chris Farley.
Speaking of which, guess who the musical guest was that episode?
Why, it was MARIAH CAREY! She performed two songs off her eponymous 1990 album. You're welcome.
I got back to my hotel and felt fat and depressed, then ordered grilled cheese at 3 in the morning. I love that hotel and I am going to find a bag of money so I can live there forever.
Saturday I actually exercised! I spent 30 minutes on the elliptical and wore a bright orange Illinois tee so I would fit in. It didn't dawn on me that I was hours away from seeing my idol perform, but I set the TV to play R&B hits and three songs in they played the Mariah Carey "H.A.T.E.U." Remix, and I will not lie, kids. I QUEENED OUT. Jumping up and down, squealing, trying to sing like I had a whistle register. Thank goodness there were no cameras.
I cleaned up good, putting on a light blue Express button-down and a tie with matching hearts to go with it. On my way out the door, the concierge fixed my collar for me. Such service!
At the merchandise stand, I only purchased a poster and a program. I refused to buy a T-shirt for several reasons, chief among them their erroneous listing of the February 16th Minneapolis concert that did not happen.
Someone earlier on this board mentioned that you never go to these things by yourself, and I found that to be true. I was in the seventh row next to a young woman named Alison. Like me, she had traveled from far away lands (she flew in from Missouri) and was by herself as no one else in her life would spend so much money to see Mariah Carey in concert. We shared our stories of fandom. Alison became a fan as a girl when her mother bought a "Vision of Love" cassette at a yard sale. I was a late bloomer, becoming obsessed in 2005. It was my freshman year of college, when her #1 hits "We Belong Together" and "Don't Forget About Us" had mirrored my life at that point as I would blare The Emancipation of Mimi in my dorm room, gratified at the sounds of disgusted doors slamming in unison. Not one to be a fairweather fan, I quickly immersed myself in her entire back catalogue and yes, I can name all of her 18 #1 hits in consecutive order and it is a big hit at parties.
The "opener" was a R&B trio of young guys who took their shirts off a lot. Actually, only two of them did because the third one is a little stockier. They are so gonna replace him with someone with a washboard stomach. It will be like the guy version of Dreamgirls. The R&B guys only did three songs. They were on stage at 7:15 and were done by 7:30.
Then we waited while Michael Jackson songs played. I peed twice and bought a drink, telling myself that if I missed Mariah's entrance because of my pea-sized bladder, I would go back to my hotel room and promptly jump out the window.
After every Michael Jackson song that played, Alison and I would hold hands in anticipation of our idol, then groan when a new one started. I told Alison that MC would probably start at 9, then explained that Prince had been known to make his audiences wait for hours upon hours. Then I informed Alison that track #12 of the Butterfly album, "The Beautiful Ones", featuring Dru Hill, is a cover of a song that Prince did in Purple Rain.
At 8:45, halfway through "Black or White", everything went dark. We all screamed. M - A- R- I - A- H appeared in purple letters. A curtain opened, then another. Alison and I held hands tightly as MARIAH CAREY descended from a swing in the rafters.
I won't recap the whole show as I feel that would interest you guys as much as linoleum. I will say that she was a diva the whole show, and at one point even made the make-up people re-touch her face, and I didn't think she would do "Always Be My Baby", BUT THEN SHE DID. Truth be told, I spent most of the show obsessing over the fact that I didn't have any deodorant and I could feel myself starting to get pitstains, which is just disgusting. You could barely see them, but I knew they were there and I started to freak out a little bit.
Nevertheless, MC sounded amazing, had four costume changes, broke a glass after her second song, her back-up dancers were fine as hell, during "Angels Cry" Alison was convinced Ne-Yo was going to come out but it was just a random black stagehand, and I surprisingly did not tear up during "We Belong Together", but I did feel my mind drift to strange places brought upon by it being Valentine's Day and everything, and I was back in 2005 again ...
They don't love me, he would say. They just love the IDEA of me.
But I love you, I would think, but I was always too much of a chicken shit to say it out loud, so I would start talking about the weather instead. But maybe after all these years I can admit that there is a possibility I only loved the idea of him, as in my head he will always be that 19-year-old overachieving perfect Texas Longhorn, as Mariah is singing the HELL out of this song, incidentally named the #1 song of the decade by Billboard ...
WHO'M I GONNA LEAN ON WHEN TIMES GET ROUGH
WHO'S GON' TALK TO ME 'TIL THE SUN COMES UP
WHO'S GONNA TAKE YOUR PLACE THERE AIN'T NOBODY BETTER
OH BABY BABY
WE BELONG TOGETHERRRRRRRRRRRR
Mariah does not do an encore, as I am pretty sure she is in a mad dash to boink her husband Nick Cannon. Alison, another gay superfan and myself walk out together, where the superfan informs us that at the previous night's show she did "Emotions". Alison and the superfan stand outside of the theater, waiting to get a glimpse of Mariah. I opt not to do this. For one thing, I really need to buy deodorant, but secondly, Mariah gave me a concert. She doesn't owe me an autograph or a wave, and would she even come out this entrance? I walk back to my hotel room and enjoy the minibar, then call Erin to give her a full recap of the show.
Convinced that I look adorable, I decide to give Boystown another whirl. I tell the cabbie that I want to go to Hydrate but he informs me that I gave him the address of Berlin. I am torn as to where I should go, but I decide on Hydrate because, as lame as Spin was, the odds of a club being slutty instantly improve if its name is a verb. On the way, the cabbie stops at a 7-Eleven so I can buy some deodorant and a 5-hour energy shot.
I make my way into Hydrate, unsure how I am going to sneakily put on deodorant. The coat check isn't even open. Luckily, there's a private bathroom for the drag queens and I sneak into it to apply my Speed Stick, feeling fresher than ever. Now it's time to do what I do best: Awkwardly flirt with bartenders 'til closing time.
The bartenders, by the way, are worth flirting with. One of them is blonde with big biceps and a LaCoste polo, and the other is an older type. I ask for a greyhound and Lacoste tells me it's his first day and spends five minutes trying to figure out which one is the grapefruit. Then he tells me the next one is on him because the grapefruit is really sour.
However, the next few drinks I order are waters and Diet Cokes, because I drank a lot at my hotel room and don't want the night to end in vomiting or an emergency room visit. Instead of charging me $4 for a bottled water every time, the bartenders give me tap water and Diet Cokes FOR FREE, and later buy me some shots, too. I love Chicago.
Lacoste starts to lift up his shirt and I act like I'm not watching, but I totally was. A gross older man buys me a vodka cranberry but he does not smell very good. I decide to brave the dance floor, which initially proves to be a mistake when some queen is flailing his arms and hits me right in the face. It was like my Marcia Brady moment, only instead of a football it was gay Elaine Benes leading to my doom. I walk back to the bartenders and tell them that I don't want to be a drama queen, but is my face swelling? They assure me it isn't.
Then Lacoste mutters something about this is really weird, but he wishes he had deodorant.
I have deodorant in my jacket!! I discreetly hand him it under my wallet and he sneaks in the back to put it on. When he hands it back to me I convince myself that I am going to do weird African voodoo with it. The bartenders make me drinks called "Red Kool-Aid", but they assured me there was booze in it.
I finally find people to dance with! There is a cute boy and his fag hag. Boy has darker features, like maybe he's Italian or Latino. He's about 5'9" but built solid, and I notice this because I hit his upper body. A lot. I never find out his name, and I don't need to. I know he is from Chicago and weighs 179 pounds. I thought that was a weird answer. Wouldn't you just round it up to 180? I know boys don't usually care about their weight, but I thought that was strange ...
...But what gets stranger is when, while he is freak-dancing me, he tells me that his boyfriend (!) lives in Duluth. And that his boyfriend (!!) is 41 (!!) and a lawyer (!!). What the fuck?? Chicago gays are even weirder than Orlando gays, and I didn't think that was possible.
While slapping this guy's pecs about 12 more times (this poor guy, he probably looked like he came out of a Ric Flair match when he got home), I started thinking: What are the rules and boundaries? Just because one has a boyfriend or girlfriend doesn't mean someone can't go dancing at clubs, but even after this revelation he was getting aggressive with his booty dancing, to the point where he was behind me with his hands on mine, and I kept having to pivot or he was going to know I had a boner. I imagine such a situation is how middle school dances were like for all you heterosexuals.
I mean, it's not like he was being a tease; he told me point blank, "I'm not gonna make out with you, but we can still dance", but it made one wonder. Maybe in every relationship you make your own rules. I've never been in a relationship, and that's totally fine ...
I can't sleep at night
When you are on my mind
Bobby Womack's on the radio
Singing to me "If you think you're lonely now"
Wait a minute this is too deep (too deep)
I gotta change the station
So I turn the dial, trying to catch a break
And then I hear Babyface
I only think of you, and it's breaking my heart
I'm trying to keep it together but I'm falling apart
I'm feeling all out of my element, throwing things, crying, trying to figure out where the hell I went wrong
The pain reflected in this song ain't even half of what I'm feeling inside
I need ya need ya back in my life, baby....
Maybe he's married now. Got his ex-girlfriend pregnant, they shotgunned it. Maybe he's with an older sugar daddy. "I want a little gay boy," he would say, so maybe he's banging some dude who looks like Kurt from Glee. Maybe he died in a construction accident.
On the way out of the club, Lacoste is talking to some dudes. His hoodie is unzipped. Oh, Lacoste. Were I a Chicagoan you would have so been my Frank.
On my flight back to Minneapolis, I sit next to Annie again! And I learn that for as much emphasis I put on being alone, wah wah wah, being reunited with her (and meeting Alison at the concert), is a reminder that people come into our lives for reasons. For a combined three hours, she made me laugh and feel a little less alone, and she also helped me figure out my dining tray because I have the fine motor skills of a toddler. She was happy that I had a good time at the concert.
The next day I realized I had strep throat, and I'm sure screaming at the concert didn't help. Even so, it was the best Valentine's Day ever.