20th May 2013
Day 7: Chicago
Where I am right now: Curled up in bed, waiting for room service —
Wait. I hear them knocking on the room next door. Hold on.
ME: Hi. I think that’s mine.
ROOM SERVICE LADY: No, it’s for 1104.
ME: And they also ordered oatmeal without milk, fruit salad, and peppermint tea?
LADY: (Stares at me. Then knocks on 1104 again. No one answers.)
ME: We’re going to be here a while.
Saturday was a travel day to Chicago, and Sunday was a fairy light day, with only one public event at Anderson’s, widely known as the best bookstore in the country. It’s located in suburban Naperville, which is so idyllic and Pollyanna that I’m astonished people actually live here. It looks like one of those dioramas you’d see in Tomorrowland at the Magic Kingdom.
At Anderson’s, THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD & EVIL currently has its own shelf, which almost brought me to tears, because it’s such an iconic institution. It’s like seeing your album with its own shelf at Amoeba’s in LA. Even more touching, an 8 year-old girl came to the book reading with a poster she’d stayed up past her bedtime making. “I love Sophie,” she said, in her pink dress, glittery tiara, and sparkly earrings. Not sure if her parents know what she’s in for.
I’m staying at the most chic hotel you can possibly imagine, located on a ‘campus’ in a remote part of Naperville. There is a television in the _bathroom mirror_. There is a two-headed shower in addition to a separate bathtub, also with a television set. The in-room dining menu features “Hawaiian Dayboat ono with soy-yuzu vinaigrette” and “shortribs with soy-caramel sauce”. And to get anywhere from the hotel, you have to take a private shuttle, since the hotel is surrounded only by giant fields of grass and dandelions. On my day off, I found myself going stir crazy, so after walking around these fields about 10 times, I asked the shuttle to take me to the nearest pool, which happened to be at Lifetime Fitness. Here was my conversation with the driver:
ME: This hotel is fancier than ones in New York.
DRIVER: Yes, we have a lot of celebrities who stay here.
ME: Um. In Naperville??
DRIVER: Yes. We have one staying with us right now.
DRIVER: I do not know their name, but I am advised that we have a celebrity in the building.
Let’s talk about Lifetime Fitness. I know everything in the Midwest is bigger than it is in New York, but this was terrifying. They didn’t just have a pool — they had a lap pool, an adults leisure pool, a kids leisure pool, a water slide pool, 6 whirlpools, and a steam bath. Same went for the gym equipment, basketball courts, squash courts, and treadmills — everything came in quadruples, stretching up three floors in this temple to fitness. Like the Walmart of gyms.
Later that night, my college roommate picked me up in the lobby. I hadn’t seen him in ten years, but he barely said a word and just floored his car out of the hotel driveway, jaw set.
“I’m getting you the heck out of Naperville.”
Week 2 of the tour begins today.
Best question of the day:
ME: The hotel said I could just walk in.
LIFETIME FITNESS GUY: That hotel is a pain in my behind. You can’t just walk into our gym.
ME: The ‘private shuttle’ left me stranded here for an hour. I just want to swim.
LIFETIME FITNESS GUY: The question is whether I want to ruin your day.
Best meal of the day: Smoked salmon egg white scramble with arugula-blueberry salad for room-service breakfast (told you.)
Weird incident of the day: A woman with four kids came to the reading — and all four of the kids came up to get ‘Ever’ and ‘Never’ buttons independently. Without seeing what their siblings took, all four kids took Evil buttons.
Awkward moment of the day: Riding up with a Famke-Janssen-look-alike hotel manager in the elevator…
ME: I hear you have a celebrity staying in the hotel.
MANAGER: Who told you that?
ME: Um. No one.
MANAGER: In a hotel like this, privacy is important, of course.
MANAGER: But yes, we have a luminary staying with us.
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