One would think that after ten years of marriage and an additional ten years of dating before that I would be struggling to narrow down the list of funny stories about The General and me to only one. Strangely the exact opposite is true. I've been searching the dusty archives in my brain trying to think of a funny story to share with you as requested by Arizona, but I haven't come up with a single one. I asked The General last night if he could shed some light on a funny story, and even he came up empty handed.
Now this isn't to say that our life isn't filled with laughter because, believe me, it is. No one makes me laugh like The General, and anyone who knows him knows he's always good for producing amusing stories that will likely be told for generations. Although he clearly carries the role of "the funny one" in our partnership, I've been known to make a few people giggle now and then as well. After almost a week of trying to come up with one story to share, I've come to the conclusion that those who share our life experiences are probably better equip to share a funny moment about the two of us. But, in the name of the challenge, I'm going to do my best to try to entertain you with a story that The General finally provided memory of as we were drifting off to sleep last night.
The year was sometime mid- to late 90s. Back then our double date partners of choice were my cousin, Tina, and her boyfriend, Kurt. Movie dates, bowling, late night desserts at the nearby fancy truck stop, high school dances . . . we had some seriously fun times together back in the day. There was one double date, though, that will go down in the history books as one of the most hilarious and potentially dangerous nights of my life.
|Sweetheart Dance circa 1996.|
Blame the heavy traffic or the likelihood that my chattiness with Tina led to inattention to route markers or the boys distractedness by a favorite Beastie Boys song. Whatever the case, the four of us missed our turn that would have taken us immediately home. "No big deal", thought the naive kids from the country, "we'll just get off at the next exit". No big deal, except the next exit immediately deposited us in the slums of Chicago sometime around the time the 10 o'clock news would likely be doing a live broadcast from a nearby corner telling the tales of the latest drive-by shooting. In the near distance we could see the sign of a local hospital. We figured heading in that direction would be our safest option, but getting there proved to be more difficult than anticipated. Remember when I said we were armed with a box of Marlboro Lights? Three of the four people in the vehicle may or may not have had a little cigarette buzz going leading to significant decline in sound decision making abilities.
After several minutes of driving around lost out of nowhere a mysterious Blazer with tinted windows appeared in front of us. Suddenly the driver's window rolled down and a lone arm extended from inside the vehicle with arm motions beckoning us to follow them. Follow them where? We couldn't be certain, but the innocence of four teenagers from the farm convinced us they were leading us to safety. The General steered his trusty vehicle in the arm's direction and we all hoped we wouldn't soon become the breaking news story of the night.
Side note to my daughters: If you ever follow a strange car's invitation to follow them to an unknown location in a dark neighborhood in Chicago at 10:30 pm on a Saturday, I will kill you if they don't first.
To this day I don't know where it was exactly that they were trying to get us to, but it at least got us out of that sketchy neighborhood. Did they lead us to an interstate exchange that set us on our way home? Of course not. The next thing we knew, the airspace around us was filled with paper lanterns and glancing to my right I read the vanity plates "WONG 92". Immediately in front of us the famed arch welcoming visitors to Chicago's Chinatown materialized. Somehow we found our way out of that neighborhood quickly and were on what we thought was Lake Shore Drive relatively quickly. But the story wasn't over yet.
We drove and drove and drove. Were we concerned? Not really. There was a huge REM concert in Grant Park that same evening, and the fact that a local radio station was playing "It's the end of the world as we know it" on repeat was a freaking hysterical coincidence as a soundtrack to this adventure as far as we were concerned. We finally decided that maybe it was time to use the "it costs five dollars a minute, you only use this phone in emergencies" cell phone. I got on the phone and called my dad and causally admitted that were were more than a little bit lost, can you tell us how to get home? My dad's immediate question was "Can you see the lake?" to which I'm pretty sure I answered in a classic teenager tone of disgust and annoyance, "Of course not, it's dark outside!". He advised us to try to keep the lake on our left (meaning that indicated we were at least heading south) then gave the directive to pull over at the nearest gas station (a solid suggestion since we were out of Marlboro Lights by this time), send the boys in together, lock the car doors to keep Tina and I safe, and keep the guys in our line of vision the entire time they were inside. We did as instructed; The General and Kurt quickly exited with both directions and a classic story of a pimp and his prostitute working out a trick next to the slushee machine. I mean, these are not experiences you get drinking warm beer in the secluded timber north of town. We were really LIVING!
The directions were legit, and we were soon on a familiar path home. Sometime well after our curfew my parents woke up to the sound of Tina and I barreling through the front door singing the chorus of "One Little Candle" and finally rested soundly knowing we were safe. A little stupid maybe, but safe. The following morning I opened up the Arts & Entertainment section of The Pantagraph to see those same arches of Chinatown we passed under the night before staring up at me as that week's featured destination suggestion. Classic.