The First Hot Day in Chicago

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There was no spring, apparently. I was wearing a jacket on Tuesday, and by Thursday, it was 91 degrees.

The first hot day in Chicago is uncomfortable, for sure, but it holds so much promise.

In the working districts, men forego their coats for button-down shirts and no ties. Women lose the pantsuits or tights and boots for dresses that billow in the lake breezes.

In the douchebag district, where I happened to find myself this afternoon, the tourist bros flock to the rooftop bars in starched Cubs jerseys and t-shirts with inappropriate, misogynistic sayings that make me wonder if actual shops sell them.

We have a meeting in the air-conditioned comfort of a corporate brewery, complete with mini tacos and chicken strips, and then I head out into the jungle.

Chicago is awesome. Remember that as I write these words.

Those who are newly enamored of the city parade around like fancy chickens at a state fair, complete with outfits that might actually be inappropriate in Miami, unless you were an extra on “Miami Vice,” back in the 80s when it actually filmed there.

The rest of us just try to filter through the douchebags until you wade into the tourists like going knee deep in a swamp.

Instead of moving away from the swamp into the money, I had to go back to Navy Pier to fetch my truck, which I tend to leave in the $8 parking instead of dealing with the $10-for-20-minute parking in the Loop.

I’m sweating within 3.5 seconds of leaving the air conditioning, which is normal for a guy of my particular body type.

I’m nobody that anybody checks out while walking down the street, so I plod forward looking for the damn Divvy bike stand, so I don’t have to suffer the indignity and sweat of walking the 10 blocks to the pier.

When I find a bike, I go the wrong direction, as usual, and I end up on Michigan Avenue overlooking Illinois Street at the top of 48 stairs with a bike that weighs the same as a small armored vehicle or a World War II tank.

By the time I find my way to the street below, I’ve covered way too much of douchebag land known as Streeterville, and I’m actually looking forward to the more predictable tourist swamp of Navy Pier.

Of course I’m dripping sweat even without a helmet and praying, for the first time, for a lake breeze to cool me down.

At the pier entrance, a stream of humanity exited toward the city in every direction, and they were all buff or tone in short shorts with longer tight shorts under the short shorts. And they wore t-shirts with their gym logos on them.

For a few minutes, I’m disconcerted by the uniformity of the look.

Then I realized there was a CrossFit convention on the pier, and the tide of overly buff humans I’m struggling against is polished like gems at a Montana rock shop.

Halfway down the pier, I was hot and tired, and I couldn’t remember what size of ice green tea I usually order at Starbucks was, and the man at the counter ticks off the cups one by one until he gets to something that looks about right for the ridiculous tourist prices.

Sucking tea and waltzing through the cross fitters, I made my way to the second-from-the-furthest parking area on the pier and my periwinkle truck, which my gay friends call my cute, periwinkle blue car.

Sorry Norm, I don’t have the heart to tell them it’s a truck.

I try the air conditioning for a few minutes, then I turn it off and open the window, because warm air on my face is better than a slowly chilling truck.

And I flee the city with the big air conditioner next to it and head to the hot, hot suburbs, where I camp on the leather seat and complain bitterly about the heat, even though I swore several times that I would not do this.

The cold heart of winter is already gone, and the oppressiveness of the heat has set in, and we are discontent, as humans should be.

And I wonder what the native Americans must have thought about the changes in seasons on these great plains.

I fire up the old air conditioner in our room and long for bedtime, when I can shut it all off and relax to the mechanical white noise and chill air.

Humans are a funny and amazing species, one that I watch as if from outside while fully understanding the inside.

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