This is Blahsmopolitan, a weekly column about one freshman’s misfortune as he navigates his New Adult Life in Chicago, and the songs that soundtracked it. New stories are posted every Thursday, alongside a curated Blahsmo playlist available on Spotify and Apple Music to complement your reading and get you through the week with some new music. This week, our columnist vomits in front of a Sears Tower tour group, looks at pottery porn, and cries on a CTA bus in hopes that you can learn from his mistakes.
Stream this week’s playlist on Apple Music or Spotify. Blahsmopolitan and its playlists contain mature themes.
All’s fair in love and Snapchat.
There really is no better way to expose the inconsistencies in the lifestyles of your friends and frenemies like rubbing the sleep off your eyes on a groggy Saturday morning, scrolling, and examining the social lives of the people who would love to make you believe they have the wildest one.
That girl from your lab section is gluten free and “on a fitness journey” but blacks out every single weekend.
Your ex has one super close-up photo of him with his friends and captions it “Friday is for the boys,” but in the tiny sliver of background in the top left corner you see the familiar red glow of the Netflix home screen.
Even your mom is cozied up with a bottle of Pinot, a bowl of those thin pretzel chips that you still haven’t decided if you like or not, a candle lit, and a pair of fuzzy socks. “Me time!” she says. All the little things we’d like one another to believe, all the posing and the exaggerated slurring, all the thick smoke blown into the front camera over a trap beat.
And then there’s you, rapidly zooming in and out on the limp body of a dead rat in the street, blasting Perfect Illusion. There’s you, picking yourself up off the sidewalk and brushing a layer of gravel off your mouth. Last night you wore a ratty neon purple wig from the dollar store while you played Grown-Up Jenga. You smoked cigarillos and didn’t even take the tobacco out. You’re the one person in the world who has ever not done that. You sweat through your outfit three times over and made the DJ play a song called “I Ain’t Got No Panties On.” There’s you creating the hangover felt ‘round the world.
And then it’s 8 AM. My alarm is “Anaconda.” “Blinds” are not a good word for the things dangling from the top of my window- more like “legally blinds,” as fifty thin slats of light are jabbing into the dark of my dorm, all somehow directly into my eyes. I sometimes wonder if it’s worth it to even have them at all. “My anaconda don’t,” says Sir Mix-a-Lot. “My anaconda don’t.” I slam my phone into the wall and feel my stomach do a barrel roll.
Luckily, I am a professional. I stumble to my mini-fridge and throw open the door, grabbing and then absolutely destroying two bottles full of ice cold water. For those readers seeking pro tips, this sort of preparation is one that usually works, but on this particular morning, the entire active and reserve teams of the Jesse White Tumblers were doing doing backflips inside of me, using the lining of my decrepit stomach as a springboard.
The night before, I decided, was a really good night to laugh and scream and play music so loud that I couldn’t hear my body protesting. I decided this on the eve of a field trip to the Field Museum, a place where, in my understanding of Chicago, was right down the street from UIC just like everything else is. This was not the case, and additionally, I had never been on a bus.
Another pro-tip if you’re planning on going out and forgetting who you are on a completely inappropriate night, is to lay an outfit out the night before. Sober me had lofty ambitions for city-bound cuteness- a full pastel pink ensemble, consisting of a pink lab coat of sorts, tan jeans, grey boots, and a silicon pink watch with a half-eaten donut on the face. It takes everything in hungover me to not put on XXXL sweatpants with a community college logo emblazoned on the ass.
I jump on the 12 bus and ride it until my phone runs out of data and I’m forced to play a guessing game. We idle in front of the Sears Tower (don’t correct me on that) and that seems like a good a point as any to throw in the towel and call an Uber. Plus, McDonald’s was like right there, and I had a personal training session that week. I deserved a damn biscuit sandwich.
The bus kneels, I step into the sunshine, take a deep breath in, and promptly keel over and vomit onto the sidewalk.
“Aww…” a Sears Tower tour group sighs. “Welcome to Chicago, folks!” says Becca Anne, the recognizably lesbian tour guide with the ballerina-tight bun.
My Uber driver Shawn, a very quiet Indian man who can’t be much older than twenty-five, is listening to Spanish talk radio when I get in the car, and seems to be fully engaged in it. He drives a Prius and has two little solo cups full of M&Ms for his passengers to snack on, but he is the sort of Uber driver where you basically shoot Uber an email and get cracking, so I wonder if this is legal. I eat the M&Ms anyway.
I get to the museum five minutes late. Sprinting down the street, I feel like fat gay Carrie Bradshaw in my hot pink polyester jacket. Museum security is shockingly loose- I waltz in the tour entry despite the tour itself having already left without me, although if there was anybody I would cut a break as a security guard, it would be the guy with vomit and M&Ms on his breath at 10 AM.
I somehow find my tour group in the middle of a talk about Moche pottery- little tribal humanoids, half locust, half man, in the midst of varying activities, shaped into bowls and jugs.
“You might get a chuckle out of an archaeologist if you tell him you’ve been studying Moche pottery,” says the tour guide of that thing that I totally do all the time, “because they’re known for their graphic portrayal of literally every sex act imaginable.” He doesn’t name any of the acts themselves, but my eyes are already racking the exhibit.
He is not joking. There is a full kama sutra and then some, between same-sex, opposite-sex, even bestial couples. I am absolutely and totally shocked. We can’t even show nipples on TV and these people were eating out of annilingus-themed bowls. What a difference a few thousand years makes.
Thinking about the contradictions between a culture that shames sex yet places so much value on it is a weird thing when you’re a few feet away from a six year old girl taking pictures in front of a dinosaur.
“Ready? Deny your vagina!” her mother says. She probably says “smile,” but that’s what I heard.
I cannot get out of the stale museum air fast enough. I get back on the bus, crossing my fingers that it’s the right one. “It’s You” by BØRNS comes on, and suddenly I’m crying. Not like, subtle is-he-or-isn’t-he crying, but like, full-on sobbing. Maybe it was my stomach, maybe it was the porn, but the tears keep coming.
I don’t know why, but I’m thinking about the Orlando shootings. It happens to me a lot, when I think about what they might’ve liked to do, what they might’ve thought was interesting. They definitely would’ve been interested in gay pottery porn. That is funny as hell.
I make it back home safe after swallowing a second wave of my own vomit after passing by a greek restaurant, grab water bottle number three, and slam it while I open Snapchat. Winking and throwing up a peace sign, the front camera opens.
“Dope day in the city, all pink everything baby.”