I went to Annunciata Fest on the East Side of Chicago. It’s one of those church festivals with a beer garden, bands, music, dancing and kids’ rides and games.

I went there looking for Lilliana.

Lilliana is an ex-girlfriend of mine. She attended Annunciata during grade school. I didn’t. But last year I came to this fest and ran into her.  I happened to be in the area anyway, I thought I’d drop by this year for a few beers, some tacos and music. And to see if Lilliana would be there. She would be hard to find. It was crowded, and Lilly has shoulder-length straight black hair. And being this is a largely a Hispanic neighborhood, most of the gals in attendance had that look. Blondes really stood out at this thing. I saw younger and older versions of her, but not Lilliana herself. I stood alone, with my beer, near where you purchase the beer and where most people would walk by. You have to be careful here. You don’t want to be tagged as “the weird guy.” The other danger about being alone at these things is being found by “the weird guy.” You know, where he comes and talks to you. I watched one of the volunteers empty garbage cans. He seemed happy. He was singing to the music and smiling a lot. At least I thought he was singing. He had a strange tic or something to where every few seconds he had to open his mouth wide like he was saying something, and he looked real happy doing it. I dubbed him “Smiley Guy.”

There were some gals in softball uniforms, drinking beers. Local softball league girls, 21 and over league. They wore knee-length orange socks and black shorts and shirts. The kind of gals who drank Miller Lite beers between innings. I decided to take my phone out, jot down some notes, look busy. Yea, I’ve got someone I’m texting. I’m not the weird guy. Besides, the way I dress…you can’t ever put me in that category. Most of the time the weird guy has unusual fashion sense.

Weird guy found me. He was alone, walking “sideways” and wearing some sort of sleeveless T-shirt. He had an unlit cigarette in his mouth. He said something to me. I couldn’t understand a fucking word he said. I asked if he wanted a light, which was strange, because I had none to offer. But that unlit cigarette dangling from his mouth disturbed me. I believe he said something about he doesn’t smoke, that he just likes the cigarette in his mouth.

Later I got myself a steak taco and thought of Lilliana. I taught her how to drive stick shift. She would wear these sexy work boots on her tiny feet and it was quite a site seeing her work the pedals. When she got buzzed after drinking, her left eye would do this cute droopy thing. She had a unique walk, and I used to imitate it. I would have done it that night but she wasn’t there. I never found her. Maybe next time.