March 3, 2014: Restroom Monologues
|The Three Musketeers...Cindy, Sandy, Kathy|
As we planned this trip back in February, the boys pushed for the March 1st game. I paid little attention as they grew excited talking about the NHL Stadium Series. The hockey game against the Penguins was to be played at Soldier Field. And, yes, that is an outside venue.
Their enthusiasm was contagious as I jumped on the Lane boys' bandwagon of wanting to score these coveted tickets. I reasoned that the weather should be fine. It was March, so what were the chances of bad weather? I assumed low. I was gravely wrong.
It was cold. Bone-chilling cold. We sat front and center in the middle of a Midwestern snow storm. Without movement on our ice-cold seats, we slowly froze. The Zamboni couldn't keep up with the accumulation. The man next to me couldn't drink his beer fast enough before frost set in.
Adding to Kathy's misery was the fact that I failed to prepare her for an outside game. This somehow slipped my mind during our planning discussions.
As Ben, Kathy and I sat in our hotel room hours before opening face off, Kathy expressed to us that she would wear a sweater to the game that night. After a pause and a glance between Ben and me, I probed further. As suspected, I hadn't shared with my fair-weathered aunt our plight against the elements. Fortunately she had packed more than the sweater.
The game was even colder than expected with wind chills dipping down to -8. The NHL considered postponing the game altogether. They didn't and neither did we. The boys wouldn't hear of any other option. They stuck to their contention that we were lucky ticket-holders with an exciting game in our horizon.
The start was twenty minutes late. By the time the national anthem was sung, I could feel the frostbite setting in. At least that was my diagnosis. With no warming stations or enclosures spotted, I made the hard call. I exited for the warmth of a nearby restroom. My two partners in crime soon followed.
Although disappointed by the absence of warm hand blowers, the heat was welcomed in this sheltered reprieve. My cold, wet body soon became less frigid. There wasn't a chance I was leaving the heated restroom until the final period. I could hear the game blare through the inside speakers as I recovered feeling in my fingers.
With a text to check on the boys, they answered that they "were fine". Cindy, Kathy and I; not so much. We stuck together.
Soon we found ourselves following the game with our restroom contingent. While Cindy and Kathy purchased refreshments for our escape, I listened to a young girl call a friend to retrieve the drunken girl from the stall they were occupying together. Someone didn't make good choices.
With beers in hand and shared lukewarm fries to boot, the restroom monologues began. Starting with the sober friend's pleadings, the next in line was an abandoned cell phone in a neighboring stall.
"I'm not going anywhere," I communicated to the finder of the phone. I thought the owner would eventually retrace her tracks and end up back at her lonely stall of texting. The pup on her cover photo was cute. I felt compelled to reunite technology with owner.
The next monologue came from Jessica. The 22 year-old looked like a starlet; a cross between Julia Roberts and Geena Davis. Kathy eyeballed the statuesque frame of a girl shivering under the pull down diaper changing station. She was there the whole time we were. Kathy asked her name.
Soon we found out that tearful Jessica was newly engaged the previous weekend. The afternoon of the hockey game, she lost her beautiful ring while pulling off a glove during a port-o-potty visit. Jessica was devastated. She shared pictures on her phone of the lost ring while Kathy and Cindy comforted her like their own daughter.
After taking a chug from a small bottle in her bag, Jessica finally left our shelter to join her fiance in the cold stands. Our restroom therapy was just the trick for her to put one foot back in front of the other.
Within minutes more ladies were joining our tight circle...Paige, Emily, Erin, Aubrie, Gina. Each with a different story. Monologue of sorts. Paige was from Chicago, but wore Penguin gear for her boyfriend. She had helped us in comforting Jessica.
The owner of the phone soon arrived. She was in tears at discovery of what she thought was a miraculous recovery. Ten minutes later she came back; bringing her sister to the restroom with her to meet us. The sisters thanked us profusely while talking about their dogs and sharing pictures from their iPhones.
Stories were told of previous coldest days experienced. We noodled over better vendor sales to include fleece blankets, handwarmers, and hot alcoholic drinks. Emily told us at length how she wished she was watching the game at her home with no pants on. We didn't ask her to expand on her comment, but instead took it as a given that she merely wanted to wear shorts by a warm fire.
As the Blackhawks scored their third goal over the blare of the restroom speaker system, I received a text from the under-dressed boys' spokesman, Zach.
"We're in the bathroom warming up. Ready to go when you are."
Music to our ears. After bidding ado to our remaining new friends, we took one more peak at the snowy view onto the field and went home. A warm bed never felt so good.
And the beer tasted just the same in the restroom. It's all about the company.