I was the first to arrive. The line to get into Big Star was about three parties deep. I got lucky when a large group of people decided to get off the line and go up the street for food. I sent Elisa a text to let her know I had arrived and was on line. I got up to the front of the line and met Lonno. He wore glasses and a leather jacket.
“Hello. How are you doing? I’m waiting for three more, so we’ll be four.” Elisa had told me the minimum for a table was four. All others had to hope for a spot at the bar to get food and drink.
“Are they almost here? On their way?” Lonno looked concerned. “I’m Lonno, by the way. Just call ’em, tell them to ask for me and then they should tell me they’re with you.”
“Great, I’m Jasmine.”
“Nice to meet you.” He let me past, and I was able to walk toward the restaurant where I could wait inside.
I hadn’t been there since it was the Pontiac, and even then it had been a few years until they’d closed. I missed the hostess so a trio of girls who were behind me on line got their names on the table list before I did. The hostess didn’t seem to know how long the wait could be, but there were five parties ahead of me. I wondered if my friends would show up in time for the table to be ready? Oh I was so optimistic about the wait time then.
I hung back, watching various hipsters and scenesters, yuppies and hippies, drinkers and eaters, engage in a fair amount of drinking, eating, talking, flirting, yelling, screaming, paying, and playing. What they were not doing, though, was leaving. There were men wearing every manner of casual, not trying too hard casual wear while the ladies were all over the place. I saw quite a few more short skirt/high heel/high hair ensembles than I’d expected. I keep forgetting that Wicker Park is quite different from the Wicker Park I first got to know in the late nineties.
Jesus, I’m old.
I got a text from Elisa saying that they were outside on line. I ran out to bring them in. Lonno wasn’t there, but the other doorman was. I asked him if Elisa, Kelly, and Kelly’s roommate Julie could join me inside. They could not. They’d have to take it up with Lonno. So I hung outside, talking to the girls on the inside, on the right side of the planters that marked the boundary between the outdoor space that in warmer weather served as Big Star’s patio and the outside world. When Lonno finally appeared, he couldn’t help me with the line situation with the girls. And then he sent me inside to wait. I texted more with Elisa.
Me: SEÑOR FROG’S FOR HIPSTERS!!! Seriously – not sure why I’m back in here. Why is Lonno being so mean?
Elisa: What did he say to you?
Me: He said something about how you just tried to walk in past the other dude.
Elisa: I stopped to ask him if he was Lonno? I said excuse me when I got up there?
Me: Dude I’m so sorry.
Elisa: Whatever. No big deal.
Me: also they might actually be at capacity. consider yourself lucky – there are some foolish people up here tonight.
Elisa: Well we’ll eventually be there. I guess. Lots of people outside w friends inside.
Me: maybe you can all stage a revolt. NO TACOS! NO HIPSTERS! NO PEACE!
Me: ¡Sí se puede!
Elisa: Well if you get tired of waiting, any other resto?
Me: I will not tire. I’ll see this motherfucker through if you will. How are the other ladies holding up?
Elisa: Are you making friends?
Me: No – I don’t want to be disloyal.
It was about another 20 minutes or so by the time the girls got inside. I had already had a margarita by the time we found three stools at the bar. We decided not to order food until we got our table. The hostess had told Elisa our names were next. About thirty minutes later, we just gave up and ordered food and beers and shakes from our cute-ass bartender. By the time my phone rang, indicating that a table was ready, I was shoving my second taco al pastor in my mouth, wiping the grease off my hand with a brown paper napkin.
The food arrived really quickly once we actually ordered. Also it was cheap. I know some of you probably would have just gotten food from the walk-up window and headed home by this point, like any sensible person would have, but no. I was determined to be out with people and, most importantly, the tacos so I stuck my ground and shoved as much food in my face as I could.
Also, always fun to hang with Elisa and Kelly and scan the crowd for cute guys. Wonder why there were so many dudes wearing suit jackets in strange and interesting fabrics. Julie quite fancied this barback with curly hair. Our bartender told us his name was Matt, it was only his third shift, and quite possibly he was single. We tried to get Julie to walk over and introduce herself. She was too shy. Also she didn’t seem to like the idea of one of us walking over there and seeing if we could arrange an introduction. Which seemed quite a shame, as Julie had gorgeous curly hair and wouldn’t that be something they had in common, I mean apart from being adorable and living in Chicago and being at Big Star and all. Wasn’t that good enough for a start?
I kept grousing to Kelly that I didn’t think the tacos were all that good, but I think that was just my grumpiness after the wait. They were pretty delicious. Though I think I might reconsider whether or not I’d want to hit Big Star on a Saturday night again. Two hours to tacos is two hours too long.