Saturday, May 29, 2010

It was pretty impressive. Although later there was an ick factor. - Willow

338 Days to go: 322 Things to Do: Day 22 in Chicago

44. BYOB at Butterfly Sushi
45. Beer Garden and board games at Happy Village

I love birthdays. Those people who don't celebrate their birthday? I don't get those people. And I always get a little confused when the birthday girl or boy apologetically explains that the birthday dinner/party/drinks they just invited me to isn't happening ON the actual day, but is the day before/after/on Friday. I celebrate my birthday all week long. The entire month if I can get away with it. Although now I have a lot of good friends that also have January birthdays so I must share.

I think my devotion to celebrating birthdays was cemented in college. Being a January birthday in college means no classes and friends spread all over the country because of winter break. Typically, friends return to college in waves, not all at once, and wave by wave friends would realize I had turned a year older and decide we needed to commemorate the occasion (this was particularly true when I turned 21). Just because I'm not in college now....

In one of my more brilliant moments I once pulled off a spectacularly fake birthday for a friend of mine. She'd just broken up with a boy and needed cheering up, so we had a girls night. At stop number two I blatantly lie to the wait staff and tell them it's her birthday. Even strangers enjoy celebrating birthdays. It's happy. People sing to you. You get free stuff. There is cheering.

I believe this to be true: Everyone likes to be cheered.

Anyway - birthdays are great. But you know when getting sung to and getting free stuff and being cheered is even better? When you're SAD and DON'T WANT TO BE. One of the funnest nights ever. ;)

All of this explains why I was so excited today to join my friend Emily as she attempted to make up for years of neglect and do her birthday RIGHT. Way to kick off Memorial Day Weekend. In style.

Our first couple stops are old favorites - dinner at Butterfly Sushi 1421 W Chicago (the restaurant is BYOB so almost all of us stop at Noble Grape across the street and bring a bottle of wine. they also bring us some yummy desserts in celebration of the birthday girl. see? free stuff!) then down the block and across the street for a martini and manicure at the Beauty Shop. Sadly there was another group ahead of us getting manis and as we had a packed agenda, we didn't want to wait. But they did give Emily a $10 chip for a free drink (more free stuff)

Then we head to one of Emily's favorite places; Happy Village 1059 N Wolcott. This place is pretty great. Very happy. It's nestled in a residential neighborhood and has a huge back yard turned beer garden. They've set up a couple of tents in the back with patio chairs and picnic tables and let you bring in your own food (no kitchen). Typically there are any number of board or card games being played and the whole atmosphere is very chill. Oh, and they only serve beer - in bottles and cans, nothing on tap. We play yahtzee and catch phrase. Emily is not the only birthday in the house (under the tents?) so there is lots of singing. And when they move everyone inside around midnight (so as to be a good neighbor) there are ping pong tables to cushion the blow.

Eventually we move on to the Small Bar. Just a quick stop here to have a beer. I, of course, put money on the jukebox. I even convince a couple of guys to give me money to put in the jukebox for watching their drinks when they went out for a smoke. But, we hear rumors of dancing next door so we head over to Innjoy 2051 W Division.

Initially the music isn't that great, but soon the DJ figures out what we like. We're not subtle. And the cheesy 80's tunes keep flowing. Fun was definitely had. There was a group of guys there dressed like the A Team. One of them was particularly excited because I knew he was B.A. Baracus (not Mr. T) but I'm anxiously awaiting the movie so was in the right frame of mind. Towards the end of the night we also managed to recruit several of the Innjoy patrons to join us as we pretend to double dutch (we didn't have jump ropes). The bouncer was amused.

At the end of the night Mary Grace and I (and our new friend Patrick) relocate to evilOlive for more dancing. I manage to get home around 4am. Happy Birthday, Emily!

So all in all, it WAS pretty impressive. The ick factor arrived the next day when I was incapable of motivating off the couch and arrived at the barbecue four hours behind everyone else.

337 Days to go: 320 Things to Do: 22 Days in Chicago = 27 new experiences

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