Mel’s Adventures In Chicago; Songs In The Key Of Integrity


So. Today I’m posting the second story in my Guest Host Series. This one is by Melanie, the food writer who found the buttermilk cake recipe for me. Mel has been down in her back, down with kidney stones and she’s been getting down with some pain pills. Under normal circumstances I think it unlikely that she would write something for me to print. But I have always found that a stoned woman can be persuaded to step out of her comfort zone and into the madness. Here is Melanie’s story titled:


Adventures in Chicago


When Mooner put the call out for guest posts, I thought it would be really cool to do something. His requirement? “Write about something other than food, Mel.” Well, OK. I had to think about it. I mean, I have some stories to tell, but which one. And which one would there be no way possible I could parlay into a recipe somehow. Then it hit me.

I have long had a theory that the fall of our modern “civilization” started with the advent of the talk show. It started with Phil Donahue. The topics discussed were shocking at the time, but pretty tame now if you think about it. After Morton Downey , Jr. and Jerry Springer got in the game, it would never be the same again. There were many that came after. They all served the same purpose – to sensationalize things that are better left behind closed doors. Essentially, everything was out there and fair game. At first we were shocked, but then after a while it was just another slut or baby daddy story involving several members a trailer park from somewhere in America who were all sleeping with one another, who had to be swearing because all we heard were bleeps, and they really liked to beat the shit out of one another.

I was but a young, innocent soul in high school when all this was going on in the late 80’s and early 90’s. I still can’t decide if the talk shows or the series of events I am about to share with you were what lead to my unraveling and eventual cynical view of the world. Everything I knew changed after this long weekend trip to Chi-Town, and my life hasn’t been the same since.


That’s my school..back in the day…

I was in choir when I was in high school. It was kind of a big deal at my school – we weren’t pelted with missiles during performances and there was a huge cross section of the student body in the choirs (plural…there were so many in the program that multiple choirs were necessary). We had awesome concerts – several a year. I myself had my share of duets and solos. It was a great time and I actually learned a great deal. My junior year of high school we actually sang in Carnegie Hall over Thanksgiving weekend. Yep. That big. The choir that went to New York that year and then to Chicago the following year was the A Capella Choir. Not everyone got in – you had to prove yourself to the director of the program. The A Capella Choir was primarily juniors and seniors with the occasional sophomore – but they were only boys. There was an over abundance of girls in choir, so there was no way any of us were breaking in earlier…also, we really had to be good. If not, we were destined to spend an eternity in Girls Choir ringing bells and wearing shitty robes that were worn out. I felt pretty good about myself for making it there.


This is the choir…sorry folks, but I was absent that day. You won’t find me in the picture!

Ok, ok…I feel like Mooner, getting off on a tangent somewhere in southeast Michigan. So, senior year we went to Chicago to have a session with some big time choir director at Northwestern University. I could not tell you his name now, but he was a very nice man. We spent a couple of hours with him and the rest of the time, with the exception of the required dinners and shows we saw at night, we were pretty much left to our own devices. There were 65 high school juniors and seniors. There were 4 adult chaperones – the choir director, her daughter and two moms. If there were more adults there I do not remember them. Why? Well, what in the hell do you think we were all doing with that free time and a floor full of hotel rooms to ourselves? We got shitfaced! I think maybe 11 people didn’t drink. Maybe. I sure as hell did. I was with my friends and we were pretty tame in comparison to the other shenanigans going on all around. It was a roaming party. There were certain rooms were a few people would hang, and others would stop by to see what they had to drink. We were the beer/Southern Comfort room. I don’t know why. That is just what we got out hands on. The big party room, I never actually made it to…it was on the other side of the floor, and I could never remember the room number, and it was all the way on the other side of the floor (see, some things never change…if its too far away, I probably don’t need it. And in this case, I was soooooo right!!). Party room got its booze from a kid we will call Willy. His brother lived in Chicago and did his little brother a solid and spend a couple hundred bucks on whatever they wanted. They got enough to fill a big old aluminum garbage can with a jungle juice concoction. It lasted them most of the weekend. Willy, like the rest of us, had three other students staying in his room. So, there were those four guys, plus three girls, some of whom where dating boys from that room. They were the fixtures. One of the wanderers (who came to the room I was a fixture in) was a girl we shall call Cherie. She had kind of a “reputation” if you know what I mean. I didn’t know if it was true, but after that weekend I had an idea.

So, Miss Cherie, the wanderer, was trying her bestest to whore it up while away from home – the family was a bunch of Bible thumpers. I am pretty sure she spent no time sober the entire time we were gone. She was drinking and smoking and hitting on everything with a dick. Since she was known for being kinda skanky, everyone was saying no. She finally stumbled her way to the Party Room, and started grinding on Willy (whatever, total hearsay…I know…but, since the details from everyone I heard it there were the same I kinda gotta believe them), and he was one raging hormone ready to go. He, from what I understand, did refuse her at first as he was busy playing poker (the card game…he wasn’t poking any other her…) and she started crawling on the floor (which she did when she stopped by the room I was hanging in) moaning, “Somebody fuck me!” Well, Willy’s willy heard this and he did. She was on the floor on the far side of the room under the window and he was bouncing all over her, doing as she asked. From what I understand, the other guys were cheering him on, because oh yeah, there were 7 or 8 other people in the room (important later). News of these developments spread through the entire hotel within about five seconds. I hear some old booze hound was looking for her after Willy finished.


Well, booze hound was in for a disappointment. Cherie, was escorted back to her room and proceeded to pass right out. And I take back what I said about her being drunk the whole time. She must have had a wicked hangover Sunday morning as we boarded the bus to come home. Her hangover was made worse as she claimed to “not remember anything” about the night before. Convenient. No worries. Leave it to some teenagers to help her “remember”. The whole six hour ride home, Cherie was asked over and over again, “Who’s in me?” By Monday morning the rest of the school knew. By Tuesday morning she couldn’t take it anymore. She went to one of the guidance counselors and relayed what had been going on, but that she didn’t remember anything happening like what everyone was saying. Sorry, but it wasn’t Vegas, baby. What happens in Chicago, doesn’t stay in Chicago. It follows you back to high school.

The counselor did not keep things confidential. She went to the principal. At that time a list of all the students on the trip were made. The list of kids they didn’t think did anything were called to see “Mr. Right” and the kids they thought were wasted the whole time, “Mr. Wrong”. We had a concert that Friday night and of the 65 of us, there were 23 performing. Willy was not among them. He was expelled. Cherie too was absent. She never came back to school (Willy was quite popular and she was getting threats or something like that.) and she was allowed the “graduate” in January. Bitch. I made it to the performance. Monday morning while sitting in AP English, my teacher (who HATED the choir director) looked at me with a smug grin and said, “Mel, you’re up.” I was called to speak with Mr. Right. Now since I had already told my parents what happened, and the one week suspension wasn’t counting against anyone, I wasn’t going to lie to him. I took my suspension like a champ. Side note, my AP English teacher seemed to have a new found respect for me upon my return to school. In total, all but about 20 kids were suspended. Remember I said only 11 weren’t drinking. Yep, there were some liars. We made the fucking paper. It was a long article too. I was surprised they didn’t publish the names of all of us that were suspended.

So, like I said, many things changed right then. My father, who is the biggest alcoholic I have ever met, decided to be a total hypocrite and ground me. This, after years of hearing stories of all the trouble he got into when my age, made me sick. My mom was proud of me for telling the truth. I am sure she was kind of pissed too, but at least I didn’t lie about it. My choir director and many other teachers also appreciated the honesty on the parts of the students that were suspended but had never been in trouble before (like me…and there were several of us). And then there were the members of the choir who were very judgmental. Many relationships were never the same.

So did that cloud my view on the world after? Perhaps. Within a few months my parents separated and we moved away from my father. That is one relationship not even worth saving. But that is another story for another day. I finished high school and here I am today. I guess I have just been walking down memory lane recently because my twenty year reunion is coming up. Not sure if I’ll make it or not. I will just have to see where life has me at that point.

Hope you got a laugh or two out of this! [Finis]


Thanks, Mel. I love stories about doing the right thing. It’s a pretty day here, so I’m taking the animals out to the fishing dock for some cold beer and left-over BBQ from last night.

Manana, y’all.

Print Friendly

14 Responses to “Mel’s Adventures In Chicago; Songs In The Key Of Integrity”

  1. mel says:

    I still think it sucks…and what happened to the pictures?

  2. mel says:

    By the way…if anyone would like to learn the recipe for Jungle Juice, stop over.

  3. Mel. My obvious lack of technological integrity has struck once more. I’ll try to get them to post.

  4. mel says:

    Just checking…since you asked for them nicely!

  5. chrisinphx says:

    Mel that was good stuff, Reminds me of the “one time in band camp” line.

  6. I did Mel, good stuff and as my late Dad said “the truth will blame you but never shame you”……

  7. squatlo says:

    Mel, don’t look to Don for techno help with the images you sent… he’ll eventually have to have moi or BJ fix ’em for him, and by then you’ll be “over” the whole guest postie thing.

    But in the meantime, GREAT STORY! Our high school band didn’t play at Carnegie Hall or anything, but we were invited to DC twice for the Cherry Blossom festival parades, my frosh and senior years in school. Freshman year I stuck to the “good boy” model of things, stayed out of trouble. Senior year we left more brain cells in DC than a lobbyist with roofies.
    The motel our fearless leaders found for us just outside of the DC loop was old, delapidated, and in need of bulldozers. BUT it had one feature that came in very handy for high school kids who wanted to play while the adults were watching our room doors for people breaking curfew: there were manhole cover type trap doors in all of the bathrooms, and you could pry them up (most were stuck solid from years of being waxed over and ignored) and climb down metal ladders to an underground series of tunnels that went under every room in the motel. Seriously. We were running around, drunk, under the chaperones’ rooms, smoking dope, popping up in girls’ bathrooms all over the place… The secret was knowing where the adults were staying, and avoiding those rooms… so we’d count ladders…”That’s Mr. Ross’s room… that’s Mr. Stevens’ room… and THIS must be where Sandra/Brenda/Carrie/Cathy are!” So we’d climb up, blast the lid up on the trap door thing, and voila! Party time with four new tourists from the band!
    Everything went well until one of the fellow drunks “popped” up in the wrong bathroom, and you’d have thought the Germans had just caught the Allied prisoners in the middle of The Great Escape. Adults went down the ladder, mega busts all around.

    Good times!

  8. Mel. OK, I quit. I done everything I know how to do and a dozen things wherein I have no fucking idea what I’m doing, and still I can’t get your pics to post. I’m sure there is some simple procedure, but I’m too simple to grasp it.

    Chris. You need to do a guest host. Please.

    Squat. That sounds a lot like Whack-A-Mole except with trumpet players. Only a high school kid with hormones raging would even lift a cover on a ratty motel bathroom floor.

  9. chrisinphx says:

    Let me think on that Mooner, gotta come up with something entertaining to write about

  10. squatlo says:

    Mooner, you just described me to a T in high school, even down to the trumpet. How’d you guess the correct brass instrument out of a band full of dozens? Sumbitch, that was impressive.

    And worrying about bacteria was the LAST on anyone’s mind THAT night, I can tell you. We were on the road, had alcohol, had pot, had women who were only one or two ladders away, and with any luck at all they’d be latherin’ one another up in the motel shower when we made our prairrie dog arrival. Only none of them were ‘neckid’ and don’t believe anyone got laid on that trip that wasn’t in a chapperone’s room to begin with… Girls were stingier with it in those days. Or at least, in my case. Dammit.

    Would it have been too much to ask for one kind hearted girl to give a lonely boy ten seconds of happy? I think not.

  11. Shockgrubz says:

    That story makes me realize why my parents wouldn’t let me participate in any extracurricular activity that went out of state. Great read!

  12. Awesome story, Mel! It’s nice to see you “outside” of the food network persona!!! tee hee hee

    And you know what? I have a similar “told the truth” story in HS – and my dad did the exact same thing – grounded me (under a huge cloud of hypocrisy) and it was one of those defining moments where you ask yourself, “Why the fuck did I bother?? Oh, because I’m a decent human being, that’s why.” You, my dear, are definitely one of those decent human beings.

  13. mel says:

    Thanks for the positive feedback! It was a little scary stepping out from behind the recipe card. I am glad I did. Mooner…don’t worry about the pics. I don’t think the really added to the story…I included them because you asked is all. A little post script. I talked to my mom, and though we never discussed it, I was totally right about how she felt. She knew the day would come where I had a drink and was glad I was safe and honest.about it – she had everything to do with that. Not the drunken sperm donor hypocrite who called himself a father. Anyhow….I just might consider this again, if anyone would have me.

  14. admin says:

    Lurker. Thanks for visiting Loonyland. I love your insights at places like Squat’s, so maybe you’d like to guest host here?

    Chris. Don’t go getting all modest and shit. I’ll make room as soon as you’re ready.

    Squat. My insight into your psyche–a remarkable skill I attribute to my Gram’s potions–is filled with many interesting and some terrifying images.

    Shock. I welcome you as well, and please come back. Just know that things are not usually as sweet and tender as Mel’s guest hosting event.

    Reck, my sweet babaloo. I hope you’re having a nice vacation and I look foreward to the promised pics.

    Mel. You are welcome here anytime. As for the pics, maybe if you sent one with some T&A I could find the inspiration to grab it from the steel grip of technology and get it posted. Or I could bug Squat or BJ and have it up in an instant. I’d have bother Squat with these but I can already hear the pissiness in his voice, “A photo of a 1050’s-era school building? You wasted my talents on this?”

Leave a Reply