24 Hours in The Windy City (USA Day 32)
Today was built around the attendance of two Chicago institutions: a Cubs game and some iO Theatre improv. Honestly, both blew us away.
By the time we’d set off to hike the ninety-minute, straight-line slog to Wrigley Field, we already thought we’d be late, but by some serious stomping and a clever bit of phoning ahead, we arrived in our seats sweaty but punctual, with a freshly-baked deep pan pizza on my lap. The stadium is old, very pretty and rather unique, with a wall of thick ivy around some areas that sometimes eats the ball, leading to a particular “I can’t actually reach it” shrug rule forcing the runner to stop at second base, now an official ammendment imposed upon MLB games played in this stadium. If that feels crickety, the rest will too. Baseball is all about stats. Every screen is covered in decimals which, when deciphered, provide fascinating insights about all sorts of useless stuff. All around us, serious men in the crowd kept score on special cards while others got steadily more drunk on ten dollar cups of Bud Light. Actually, Baseball is all about snacks. The official baseball song, which is performed in the middle of the seventh innings in every MLB game across the country, speaks fondly of peanuts and crackerjacks. By the end of the game, the floor around us crunched with peanut husks. Throughout the afternoon, sellers hawked all sorts of treats to hungry sports fans. We saved our money and simply enjoyed diving deep into our pizza.
Cubs won dramatically, rampaging from 6-1 down to 7-9 up, which led to a special song and much merriment. Our joy was magnified by the fact that by the ninth inning we weren’t asking each other, “So why’s he allowed to run now?” or “Why’s everyone booing?” We actually get baseball!
After the final pitch we headed back south, running away from an ominous black cloud and tumbling into the iO Theatre just as the thunderstorm began. Smugly, we ordered some food and beer, watching the wet and wounded of Chicago limp in for towels/comedy. Our chosen show was a performance by a few different teams practising ‘Harold’, the long-form signature style of the Chicago Improv scene, where they take an audience suggestion and instantly improvise a sketch show that’s bound together thematically and narratively, knitting itself together at the end most satisfyingly. It came across both vulnerable and impermeable, ready to fall apart at any moment while having a momentum and unity that we couldn’t isolate, and we loved it.
Another day in Chicago tomorrow, because we haven’t even seen a bean yet.