Two words that don't mean much to some of you (like my amigo in Madrid who reads this blog, hola dude!) but to a few others. . . you just know where I'm going with this post.
La Salle-Peru is a pair of twin cities about 100 miles west of Chicago. I grew up in La Salle, and like many, I have a conflicted relationship with my hometown. Though I bitch, and bitch I wouldn't trade my early years there for a stint in some fancy suburb. No sir. A few years at a fancy English boarding school? Well maybe.
Anyway, I was there over the weekend for a belated Mother's Day celebration slated for Sunday, so on Saturday I decided to forget my troubles and got sucked into a hazy vortex called Elle's, my favorite local watering hole that was celebrating 25 years of existence. It was fun. It was funny. It was at times, ugly. It was Elle's.
When I was a wide-eyed young Democrat interning in DC, I lived in this all-girls dormitory. One night I was sitting in the family room with the house mates and everyone was talking about where they grew up. I remained quiet a bit until a girl from Texas asked me where I was from.
"Uh Illinois, from a small town west of Chicago."
"Where?" she asked, interested.
"You wouldn't know it. It's like a hundred miles away."
She sat up in her chair. "Seriously, where?"
"I KNOW THAT PLACE! MY MOM GREW UP THERE! EVERYONE REALLY LIKES TO DRINK THERE, RIGHT?"
Everyone likes to drink there. Yep, she knew the place all right. She jumped up to call her grandma by the way. Of course the old lady didn't know my last name (my mom and her family were carpet baggers in the 60s) but I was able to prove to her that I was indeed the geniune article:
A LaSalle-Peru girl, an LP girl if you will.
Perhaps the grandma was a little nervous because indeed, I turned out to be the intern that semester who quickly grew tired of the other girls who wanted to sit around, nurse a drink and chat about New Gingrich and the Contract With America, while nervously casting glances around the bar. I would leave them, go to the bar, slam beers, bum cigarettes and try to make the Irish bartender fall in love with me. I was also the intern who got a 19 year old intern so drunk, she came home and threw up while I used her phone to call my LP girlfriends. . who were at . . . you guessed it, Elles.
It's in our DNA, I'm telling ya.
A girl who grew up in LP likes beer, and will never be the lady who sips a fruity mixer and acts all silly after one cocktail. An LP girl most likely has had a run in with the police well before her 21st birthday. An LP girl has made out with a boy(s) in the woods, in the dead of winter, and may or may not have come home that night with her bra in her jacket pocket. An LP girl has to be careful on dates to not out-drink the guy sitting across from her. While an LP girl has a high tolerance for alcohol, she has a very low tolerance for self important, overly stylish places where drinks cost more than a week on the 60.
Well anyway, I know I have fewer and fewer of those nights left in me. And I'm ok with that, as I am closing in fast on middle age.
*As I was writing this post, a blues song called "A Beer Drinking Woman" by Memphis Slim came on WXRT. Here are the lyrics: The story's true ladies and gentlemen. All the names have been changed to protect the innocent. The year 19 hundred and forty. The city, Chicago. The place, Rubin's Tavern. The story goes something like this:I walked into a beer tavern to give a girl a nice time. I had forty-five dollars when I enter, When I left I had one dime. Wasn't she a beer drinkin' woman? Don't ya know, man don't ya know? She was a beer-drinkin' woman. And I don't want to see her no more. Now, when I spend down to my last dime. She said, 'Darlin' I know you're not through'I said, 'Yes, baby doll. And the trophy belongs to you. Wasn't she a beer drinkin' woman?Don't you know, man don't you know? She was a beer-drinkin' woman. And I don't wanna see her no more. Now she'd often say, 'Excuse me a minute. I've got to step around here'. And ev'ry time she came back. She had room for another quart of beer. Wasn't that a beer drinkin' woman? Don't ya know, man, don't ya know? She was a beer drinkin' woman. And I don't want to see her no mo'.