One weekend earlier this month Aidan and I picked up a growler of Space IPA at Half Acre Brewery on Chicago’s north side. We decided on an experiment. With no advanced calls or texts, bring the growler unannounced to the places of friends or acquaintances and share it with the first one(s) who are home and willing. And why in God’s name wouldn’t they be? It’s a growler of Space IPA for fuck’s sake.
First stop (we had a car): Somewhere in Rogers Park where our mutual friend Ray lived. We couldn’t find parking. It was unseasonably frigid night, so walking far was out of the question. While driving around looking for a spot we spotted Ray, his girlfriend, and a few other people walking home from a nearby theater where we later learned they were in a play. Aidan was in the passenger seat, he rolled down the window, yelled out to Ray that we had the growler but there was no parking.
“I don’t know what to tell you,” Ray said.
We drove off. To Wicker Park and the three-flat where Coach House Cindy lived. Cindy was a mutual friend of us who used to live in a coach house in the same neighborhood and threw some of Chicago’s best parties in the early 2000s. She wasn’t home. We found a note near her door that someone had written, “I’m out – so get fucked.”
Next stop: Chicago reclusive author Clive Javanski’s Bucktown apartment. Clive’s door was slightly ajar so we walked in. A Jesus Lizard album was playing on Clive’s turntable but there was no Clive. “Clive is at Quencher’s,” said another mutual friend, Depressed Johnny, who was lying on Clive’s bed.
Depressed Johnny seemed to depressed to share the growler with, so we left.
Next stop: Sasha’s place in Ukrainian Village. Sasha was a sometimes bandmate of Aidan and mine’s in UK Grief. I had a short fling with her. She was home. She answered the door. She said:
“You two assholes can go but leave the beer.”
We left with the beer.
Aidan brought pot from a guy a few blocks away. He needed more pot anyway so we made our way there. When we got to his door Aidan told me the guy “has ball cancer” and was an extra in the classroom scenes in “Dead Poets Society.”
Ball cancer guy answered the door in one of those ways where he stuck only his head out and hid his apparently nude body behind the door.
“Aidan, what the fuck man, I’ve got company,” Ball Cancer guy said. “Don’t you fucking call first?”
Aidan flicked his cigarette at Ball Cancer guy’s face and we left.
Next stop: The Boys Town apartment of Johnny Goodjeans.
Also known as Gay Johnny as not to confuse him with Depressed Johnny, we knew him because he worked with Aidan and used to live in my neighborhood. We once got drunk together at the Bucktown Arts Fest. Incredibly handsome, Gay Johnny was. He also loved listening to movie scores, and that’s what was playing when he answered the door.
“Sure,” he said, when we told him about the growler. “Let’s drink.”
“Yea but we ain’t listening to some pouty shit like the Pan’s Labyrinth soundtrack” Aidan said.
Instead Johnny flipped on a record by a former Chicago band called Figdish and brought out three pint glasses. We opened the growler and poured.
“One of the first times I heard these guys it was maybe my first time in a bar and it was around Christmas,” Johnny said. “They did a version of “Little Drummer Boy” that I’ll never forget. I also lost my virginity that night.”
“Just drink the fucking beer,” Aidan said.
And we did.