In 1995 I was slated to begin classes at Lamar University in about a week. My parents were cautious about this step. They should have been, since I was only 15 years old. In an effort to give me the option to back out, they had me attend classes at my high school for that first week.
I showed up that first day, looked around at my surroundings, and then retreated to the bathroom for some breathing-into-a-bag time.
The superficiality of it all grabbed my shoulders and shook me. This was not where I needed to be.
The next week I found myself at my live-in nerd school. Sure, there was still high school bullshit. But it was the appropriate level of high school bullshit for my 15-year-old self.
Last week I was reminded of my first pilgrimage to Chicago. I was recently single, not quite particularly tied to Austin, and visiting a dear friend before she packed it up and moved back to Texas.
As 23-year-old dingdongs, that friend and I were hoping to try out what’s heralded as Chicago’s biggest party night of the year.
We started the night off at a typical Rush and Division bar, and then ended the night at a late night dance club on that same block. We woke up hungover the next day, enjoyed Thanksgiving with her sister, and then had a repeat of the night before — only with fewer people, since everyone else was off Thanksgiving themselves with their extended families.
The next year I partook with my friend Melinda. Instead of going too crazy from the beginning, we instead parked ourselves on barstools at another bar in that neighborhood. We again ended up at the late night dance club.
I can’t remember the subsequent years, but I do know that I’ve toned down my weekend celebrations considerably since then. Nights like the Thanksgiving Eve from six years ago went from occurring once a month to once every few months. Nowadays, they come about once or twice a year.
Most Friday evenings are now spent at a restaurant with friends, ending with us retreating home at a completely respectable hour. We all still drink too damn much (half-priced wine nights where everyone orders her own bottle), but it’s contained nicely.
There’s no bartop dancing.
There are no all-you-can-drinks where the only options are Bud or Miller.
Shots aren’t taken. Period.
Overall, the ridiculousness that used to accompany the weekends is long gone. And good riddance! It’s not to say that I don’t enjoy a rockin’ good drunk. I do. Sometimes I really do. But much like the 15-year-old Jo who outgrew her high school days, I find myself rolling my eyes at the tradition I’ve since learned is named Black Wednesday.
As in Black (Out) Wednesday.
Let’s face it: I’m now to an age where I’m just as likely to attend Black Wednesday as I am to wake up at 4 a.m. for any Black Friday event. It’s not going to happen.
Instead, a friend and I ate decadent pasta, claimed our half-priced bottles of wine, and then went home to enjoy a cozy drunken sleep.
All in all, I think this is another sign that my need for Chicago is done. Only a couple more weeks, and I’m off. May no more of my Wednesdays ever be deemed Black.