Tina is a buddy of mine who I met back in 1997 while attending training at Second City. I think our friendship fate was sealed on the first day of improv class as he were tangled into a continuous, hand-holding “human knot” and were tasked with unknotting ourselves while not letting go. Shortly thereafter, I found myself behind Tina, hands cupping her…<ahem>…breasts. I was horrified, and she couldn’t stop cracking jokes about it–and hasn’t to this day.

At that time Tina lives near me in Lakeview so after departing from our classmates after having a drink or two after class, Tina and I would head up north via “L” and stop for a “slushie” at Sidetrack, probably the most patronized bar in “Boystown.” Our class ended in the afternoon, we’d arrive at Sidetrack in the afternoon, yet somehow it would always be dark when we left Sidetrack. It was a strange phenomenon we’d try to tackle each time we sat down with a frosty grape-flavored, vodka-enhanced drink.

This week we decided it was time for a trip to our old watering hole in order to catch up–it had been far too long since she and I got some face time. After we met up at our tribal meeting spot, I couldn’t help but consider that it had been 15 years since our first trip there together and all the fun times that have ensued. We were a little stunned at the number considering we’re both 22 years old, but after a slushie or two that math problem always seemed to fade away.

We share the same a common language and a humor this is wrong, inappropriate and if not illegal, then at least “frowned upon” in most red states. As a result, we were dubbed “the dark hearts” by our “friends.” And though the years may have softened our every day delivery, when we get together, I’m reminded how appropriate the nickname remains to be.

As always, the tide of people ebbed and flowed around us, but we didn’t really notice. I’ve found it’s hard to see anything through eyes, gushing with tears from laughter. (They are sore this morning, from all briny tear production!) I have wondered what the people around must think–aside from the requisite jealousy–as we tell stories, gesticulate, and laugh to a point of silence because breathing isn’t possible.

If your ears were burning yesterday, now you know why.

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(Is it me, or does it look like she’s talking about me?)

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