Puppies over Pride.

I spent the afternoon of this year’s Pride Parade with a good friend, perched on beach towels laid on a grassy hill overlooking Lake Michigan and the Montrose Dog Beach.

I watched Welsh corgis waddle through the sand, curly-haired poodles reduced to drowned rats until the sun dried them back to puffs, golden retrievers playing fetch in water up to their ears. There was a black-and-white French bulldog that looked like a tiny cow. We sat in our swimsuits on the hill, the sun on our backs, eating paletas from the Hispanic man who rolled his cart past us at just the right time. Mine was tamarind, sweet and sour with chunks of real fruit.

We sat on the hill away from the body paint and glitter, the pink drinks and rainbow flags. And the hot pants. Oh, and the mesh. I’m sure there was a lot of mesh happening.

We knew what we were missing, and we were okay with it. Up until the day before, I’d had every intention of making my way over to Halsted Street and drinking myself into oblivion with the rest of the equal-opportunity revelers.

Then I just…didn’t.

I didn’t want to deal with the crowds; I didn’t want to get smashed.
And I didn’t want to go without Doug.

We hardly knew each other in 2008. We didn’t spend much time together beyond our daily commute: those seemingly eternal eastward bus rides down Irving Park, longer during Cubs season.
But we somehow wound up going to Pride together. We met up and headed to his friend Andy’s apartment, just off the main parade route, where there were snacks, pink wine, leather sofas and Rock Band.

We alternated between the party and the parade, and after enough glasses of pink wine and something in a tall, glittery plastic cup from out on the street, I ran inside and grabbed the microphone and screamed along with the lyrics to JET’s “Are You Gonna Be My Girl?” Which, you know, is funny now that I think about it.

 

Halfway through the parade, the rain started.  Torrential.
And we didn’t care. We didn’t go back inside. No one did.

We just stood there; my white strapless dress was soaked to my skin, my hair slicked back, and I just kept waving my little rainbow flag as the floats rolled by. So many strands of beads around my neck, and one of the best men I’ll ever know standing next to me.

 

I don’t remember much from that day, really. We had a lot to drink.
But after the parade, we stumbled down Roscoe in the pouring rain to a 7-Eleven on Broadway, where we finally managed to hail a taxi.
A bike taxi.
In the pouring rain.

Doug rode all the way back to Lincoln Square with me and then back to his place over by the lake. We yelled at cars as they passed us, honking. We were drenched and still waving our flags.

I passed out as soon as I got home.

 

This year, half of the floats in the parade had their tires slashed the night before, but the show went on, fabulously.

One of my best friends, Lisa, who I met through Doug when we were all still enduring the hellacious daily commute into the suburbs, went to the parade with friends and said she’d proposed a toast (with her pink drink) to him.

I know if I’d gone, he’d have been with me in spirit.
But he was at the dog beach in spirit, too. In that little French bulldog, I’m sure.

He’s still just everywhere.

This is your brain on Doug.

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9 Responses to “Puppies over Pride.”

  1. Tim Dreyer Says:

    I keep meaning to tell you this story that may or may not have any relevance to you. You’ll make that determination.

    When I was getting my M.A. in creative writing I had a professor/writer, Michael Martone who was just fantastic. Great writer, great teacher. He was a big influence on me. I think he is at the U of Alabama now. 

    He told me a story of when he was in high school he was in this on again, off again relationship with a very pretty girl. She would dump him during the football and basketball seasons to date the school’s star athlete, the BMOC. She liked the popularity of their pairing. When the basketball season came to a close, because Michael made her laugh, she would return to him.

    During the off periods, fueled by sadness and neglect, he began to write detailed short stories of the BMOC getting into horrific accidents that did not kill him but would end all future athletic endeavors. In his stories, because the athete’s demise no longer held any appeal to her, his girl would return to him for the long term. It was cathartic but initially served no other purpose. Into his senior year, he realized that he got more joy from the writing that he did from the relationship and he turned down her final request to reunite.

    This doesn’t compare squarely with you and your relationship but I thought I’d share it. Perhaps for a silver lining sort of reason. The events, while not the same, but similar, feed the writing. And if your writing has developed, flourished as a result of your heartbreak, then in the end, I think you’ll be more than OK. But again, you’ll make that determination. 🙂

    • paigeworthy Says:

      Thanks, Tim.
      This comment would have been better suited for another entry that was
      actually about the demise of a romantic relationship — instead of my dear
      friend who died last year — but I get your meaning. Everything that’s
      happened to me, for better or worse, has been part of my story and will
      become part of the story I write someday.

  2. Tim Dreyer Says:

    Ugh, sorry. I got them confused. Yes, you are right, that was my point….more suited to the other relationship.

  3. Tim Dreyer Says:

    No, I didn’t mean it that way. Just awkwardly trying to share a story.

  4. Holly Says:

    I think of him too. And he thinks you’re great whatever you did that day.

  5. LaLaLauren Says:

    This is the first year I went to the parade with a large group of [new] friends. It was such a happy time for me. Until it was over, and we walked home. Among the piles of trash strewn across the street. It made my heart hurt to see all those cans and bottles and boxes that could be recycled. It also made Ricky and I want to be proactive and try to start some sort of parade clean up crew. We think that every few floats there should be a line of people rolling blue bins so watchers can just throw their empties inside. It might help a tiny bit.

  6. Hixx Says:

    Ah. I love that pic.

  7. Storm. Katrina Storm. Says:

    I can’t say much that I haven’t said before, you know I think that this entry is really wonderful… That last picture of you is positively gorgeous.

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