March 2, 2012
Business and Pleasure in Chicago
I flew to Chicago both for business and to meet my baby niece, Dylan. As I cradled baby Dylan in my arms for the first time, she let out a harmless little fart. I knew she took after her uncle.
Dylan is a beautiful little angel. It’s hard to say who she looks like. I think she looks a bit like my sister, Ariel and more like my brother in law, Brian, and a little bit like the milk man.
Initially I didn’t see much of Dylan because she was sleeping and I had to wake up early for work. I had to suppress Uncle Elliot and become Elliot, the businessman. I dressed the part and asked my sister how I presented myself.
“Change your socks! They don’t match.”
I became Elliot the businessman who wears his brother in law’s socks. Dressing like a businessman is one thing, acting like a businessman is another.
A great way of doing business is bribing your partners with Dunkin Donuts. Riding around Chicago in a rented Chevy Impala with my boss I felt like we were a donut delivery service. We’d show up with donuts, smile, talk about our partnership, let them know all the great things we could do for them, and then shake hands and drive to the next meeting.
Because I work in the business of live entertainment, we received tours of numerous theatres in Chicago. I made up a game called, “Guess the capacity of the theatre,” not to be confused with my favorite made up game, “Guess Your Co-Worker’s Parents’ Names” and “Guess the name of the Driver in the next lane.” I was only off by 400 seats at the Goodman.
Standing on stage at the legendary Chicago Theatre I was awestruck and a bit nervous standing in front of 3,500 empty seats as I’m used to standing in front of only 50 empties. The Chicago Theatre is like a suped-up version of Rodef Shalom in Pittsburgh, but less Jewish. We walked backstage where we saw hundreds of signatures that covered the walls, everyone from Frank Sinatra to Jerry Seinfeld. There wasn’t quite space for “Elliot was here in 2012.”
Driving through downtown Chicago is like playing a video game. Cabs cut you off, buses stop in the middle of the street, and you have to swerve to avoid all the J walkers stepping right in front of your car. Midwesterners are at least nice about J walking. “I’m just going to walk right in front of your moving vehicle, if ya don’t mind.”
“Oh, sure. Please do.”
After all the driving all I wanted to do was grab a cold one at nearby J Patrick’s, but instead I’d walk through the door, throw off my winter jacket, and announce, “Uncle Elliot’s in the house!”
Elliot and Dylan time took full effect, until she’d poo in which Elliot and Dylan time turned into Ariel and Dylan time. Freshly diapered Dylan was back in my arms with me serenading her with “I Believe that Children are our Future,” and the made up tune, “You are my niece…You are my niece…You are my niece.”
On our last day of meetings we transitioned from donuts to cupcakes. Partners were even more excited to receive mini cupcakes than you would expect, and they also seemed to really like working with us. For our last meeting we showed up an hour early. The secretary came back and said, “You can wait here or come back because Judy isn’t here.”
“Who the hell is Judy?” I wondered.
Because we had an hour to kill, my boss headed back to her hotel and gave me the cupcakes to carry.
“I have to go to the bathroom,” I shared.
“It’s okay. Just take them with you.”
An hour later, we gave Judy bathroom cupcakes ending an eventful few days worth of business.
Uncle Elliot is now enjoying the final few days chillin’ with Dylan. As an Uncle, it’s kind of a great vantage point in that I get to show my face, play a little, and then come back in a few months. It’s a lot more rewarding than giving a partner donuts and cupcakes, even though Dylan literally has no idea who I am. She will soon enough.