Serendipity: Chicago 2

Posted May 19th, 2013
Cubs and Mets and Wrigley Field

Cubs and Mets and Wrigley Field

The only available time slot for the trip fell after exams, papers and final grades and before my Young English Friend’s presumed departure on Monday. The Cubbies were in town hosting the Mets and there were games on Friday and Saturday afternoon. The best flights on Southwest (nonstop and cheap fares) offered few options and the Travelodge on Harrison seemed to be the only affordable room in the preferred vicinity.

It was settled then: depart BWI Wednesday morning, depart Midway even earlier Saturday morning and be home in plenty of time to watch the Preakness.

All went smoothly, well relatively smoothly. It took longer to work my way through security than it did to drive the forty-one miles from Aberdeen to Baltimore-Washington International Airport. As I worked my way through the terminal at Midway to the baggage claim, I passed what appeared to be an endless line of travelers waiting to be searched, scanned and otherwise inspected. Your tax dollars at work paying elected do-nothings to destroy the economy and hold up travel. Note to self: leave in plenty of time on the return journey. I rolled my suitcase down the lengthy passageway that brought me to the Orange Line, bought a 3-day CTA pass and found a seat on the subway. Easy-peasy.

YEFfie's toes and trainers

YEFfie’s toes and trainers

From there it felt like some divinity had taken a personal interest in our doings. Who would be the patron saint of girls’ night out? Saint Giggles, says my Dear One. Santa Risitina, she therefore must be.

Everything was touched by magic. My YEF is there to see if she can cobble together an income from her skills in art, art conservation, ayurvedic health care, and whatnot. Friends of friends have provided a few introductions. An organized assault on every gallery and cultural organization that could offer even a few hours a week is underway. YEFfie’s effervescent smile and utter fascination with all people whoever they may be makes every encounter a networking opportunity.

For instance: in  the Art Institute of Chicago where I was determined to spend at least a little time, we saw a flyer advertising a presentation that evening at six, something about sneak previews of a theatrical version of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book. Did we want to go? Of course we did, but we had tickets for the architectural cruise at 4:00. No problem. That left 30 minutes to jog from the North Pier back to the museum. Besides, weren’t we planning on eating Indian food that night? A happy coincidence.

We entered just as a curator was introducing Indian art works in the permanent collection and soon she introduced Steven Scott, an associate producer at the Goodman Theater. Scott launched into a talk about Kipling, about The Jungle Book, about Disney’s animated version released in 1967 and musical that will premiere on June 21. One of the actors read passages from the book and the program closed with a video of the new arrangement of “Bare Necessities” which combines Dixieland jazz from the original Sherman score with sitars, tamburas and various traditional drums.

YEFfie, of course, dashed up afterwards to express her delight in the project—she had, after all, done a massive thesis on Julie Taymor and The Lion King and apprenticed with theatrical designer and puppeteer Michael Curry. She also put did a stint as a mask-maker in Venice. She introduced herself to Scott, expressing her hope that there was some way she could become involved in the Goodman Theater. An exchange of personal information ensued. As we were about to take our leave, we asked if he could recommend a good Indian restaurant. Why yes he could, the Chicago Curry House on South Plymouth, and darned if that was no more than four blocks from my hotel. (The food and ambiance were more than satisfactory, as well.)

Our final dinner was at Frontera Grill, the place much touted by celebrity chef and owner, Rick Bayless. Inasmuch as reservations seem all but impossible to get, we opted for a clean-up and change at the hotel after the Cubs’ game and an early arrival and drinks at the bar. The early arrival was a good idea because we snagged the only two open seats at the bar. Opting to eat at the bar rather than hold out for a table was also a good idea. A charming fellow on YEFfie’s right turned out to be someone well-placed in the Shake Shack organization. It was only a few weeks ago that President Daniels said at the Johns Hopkins Alumnae Reunion that there was an all-but-unanimous desire on the part of the Hopkins student body for a Shake Shack in the new residential and small-business development planned at the edge of the Homewood campus. He enjoyed my story—he is opening up new restaurants in Covent Garden in London among other places—and I have an anecdote to pass back to JHU.

The weather was lovely for the boat excursion and cool and comfortable for the ball game. Every conversation seemed to establish a new connection on YEFfie’s network—and I liked meeting those people too. Santa Risitina’s intervention was heavenly—or maybe it was just serendipity.

serendipity defined

serendipity defined

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