Sex was very friendly back then. Kind of like sharing a joint with someone you know, but only vaguely. You may get to know your partner in the process, maybe not. (Btw, I was never a big fan of reefer, sex, on the other hand…well, ya… )
My first job out of college was in the Wrigley building, (named for the gum) and located on Michigan Ave. Across the street from the lower level, stood a bar/restaurant which was a favorite of print and broadcast journalists and the “Mad Men” of Michigan Ave.
It was called Ricardo’s, (aka Ric’s) and could easily be the subject of a captivating book if someone were to take the time to write it. (Although the best most wouldn’t want it publicized.) I was at there a couple times a week. But I was always there every Friday nights. It was like a meeting of “the club”. I fondly referred to my firends as “The Sun-Times Boys”. They were a collection of illustrators, graphic artists, writers and an occasional PR or ad man. Most of whom were at least 10 years older than me.
I shared a drink there one Friday night after work with Mike Royko, who was a bitter old drunk, telling me a “You’re just some rich bitch from the suburbs who is clueless about life.”
Really Mike? I was 21 for Chrissakes! Who has it totally together at 21? Give me break you mean old jerk! His mood swings were legendary. Most of us wondered what the appeal was for his very attractive, younger wife who was a lovely lady and seemed to be always apologizing for his behavior.
Ric’s had a two strolling musicians in their 60’s. The accordion player (Joe) was a short, round hunched over much older fellow whose hair was still black, in spite of his many years. His compatriot was a tall guy with white hair who played the Spanish guitar. The contrast between the two was like something might see in an old buddy flick.
Sometimes as the night wore on, someone would ask me to sing. I was asked to sing while chatting with Clarence Page about the Republicans in Dupage County. We broke into rousing rendition of “Summertime” together. (If he hadn’t made it as a political analyst, he probably could have been a singer.) It was great fun.
One night I made the acquaintance of an African American ABC news anchor. For me, a great sense of humor trumps physical appearance every time. While Jack is not particularly witty, he makes up for it with charm and finesse. I like him. He is also nice looking. We meet there on a few other occasions and finally, one night I go home with him.
We have sex… of course. Followed by another round this morning. I lie in bed while he showers. He has to race off to the station. He tells me to help myself to coffee in the kitchen, kisses me goodbye and he’s out the door…
I pull myself together, grab a few sips of very strong coffee and I’m out the door as well. I could get used to this. Life is good.
I don’t know where I am. As I walk out the front door of his well appointed two flat, I discover that I’m on Armitage Avenue. I’m a slightly hung over. It’s a beautiful spring morning in late May. The sun is shining brightly and I’m glowing as I meander up the avenue.
I don’t recall this street being so charming and old school… Suddenly I feel like I’m at the turn of the century, which only adds to my sense of romance.
The world is so lovely at the moment… I just want to savor this feeling. Regardless of what happens with Jack, I should visit this quaint avenue more often…
I spot a charming little fruit stand a few doors up the street. I decide to pick up a healthy snack before finding a cab home. The fruit is perfectly stacked. Some beautifully blushed peaches catch my eye. They’re huge! No bruises, perfectly ripe.
How much are they? I look up to see the price drawn on a large chalk board… 5 cents!? Wow that’s cheap! Then I notice a bakery next door. That may have to be my next stop. What a perfect morning…
Where’s the vendor? I find some small paper bags on the side and pop a peach and a pear into each one. As I continue looking for a vendor, suddenly I feel a tap on my shoulder.
“Excuse me.” I’m a little startled, but too mellow to react strongly. Standing before me is a woman in her 30’s. This seems random. Where did she come from?
“Good Morning!” I turn around smiling.
“Will you please put that back?”
“Oh no.” I say reassuringly. “I’m not browsing. I want to buy it.” She’s probably worried that I’m going to squeeze all her lovely fruit.
“They’re beautiful.” I say admiringly.
“Please put it back!” her tone is oddly firm.
“Why? I want to buy it.” Is she nutty? She won’t stay in business long this way…
“Why not?” I inquire. I’m feeling a bit possessive over my beautiful “finds” and I’m getting mildly annoyed.
“It’s not for sale!” She says emphatically.
“This is a movie set! You have to leave now!”
“What??” I was so embarrassed! I quickly set the fruit down and split.
In my hung over, post coital reverie, I hadn’t noticed the stark contrast between this section of the street and the rest of the block. NO WONDER I felt like I it felt like I was at the turn of the century! I didn’t learn the name of the film until later. It was “Somewhere in Time” with Christopher Reeves and Jane Seymour.
Rather apropos if you ask me…
NOTE: While I was not there for the final farewell in September 1995, (My son was in ICU at Children’s Memorial that night) here is a story about the final farewell written by Rick Kogan of the Chicago Tribune, in the event you’re curious. Before my time Ric’s was a favorite haunt of Tennessee Williams.