Yes, I had Swine Flu. I’d say that 99 times out of 100 when I mock a hyped up super-flu that’s going around, I’ll get away with tempting fate. However, every so often I suppose I’ll have to put my foot in my mouth and I guess this is one of those times. This story begins the weekend before last on my girlfriend’s birthday bar crawl. It’s worth going into detail about the places visited and alcohol imbibed as it provides a nice counterpoint to the following week’s worth of fluids, rest and Battlestar Gallactica.
Our buddy from France, Fabrice, crashed over from the previous night so we kicked off the day with Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, followed by a healthy dose of Bill Hick’s Sane Man. Around 7:00 we made for Hama Matsu in Andersonville to load up on sushi for some bizarre reason.
Afterwards, we headed out to Hopleaf to kickstart the evening with some strong belgium beer. Hopleaf is your one-stop shop for primo beer in Chicago. Look at the beer menu and prepare to be intimidated. Fortunately your bartender should be more than knowledgeable, and prepared to be your Sherpa through the wide variety of belgiums and microbrews they have available. We started rallying the troops over there in the upstairs room and getting a serious buzz going on. Around 9:30 we decided to hop on out to Delilah’s.
Delilah’s is a hidden away little psychobilly bar on Lincoln. I’m relatively new to it but it’s quickly becoming one of my go-to bars in the area. It’s got a good mix of cheap beers and quality beers, and a seriously impressive selection of different bourbons. The atmosphere is gritty and slightly retro. Punk rock meets Elvis (Elvis, happens to have a bust in the bar, BTW). Anyhow, we chilled there for a while, and ordered a shot of Malort for a few souls who prior to that fateful night had been untainted by its terrible influence. (By the way, if you’ve never tried Malort before, give it a try. Preferably in front of an audience of some kind who can keep the memory alive.) The beauty of Malort is its lingering presence. Long after you’ve put that shot away it will haunt your tastebuds with its foul taste of nail polish and horse piss. Here’s a little quote from the makers of Malort:
“Most first-time drinkers of Jeppson Malort reject our liquor. Its strong, sharp taste is not for everyone. Our liquor is rugged and unrelenting (even brutal) to the palate. During almost 60 years of American distribution, we found only 1 out of 49 men will drink Jeppson Malort. During the lifetime of our founder, Carl Jeppson was apt to say, ‘My Malort is produced for that unique group of drinkers who disdain light flavor or neutral spirits.’
It is not possible to forget our two-fisted liquor. The taste just lingers and lasts – seemingly forever. The first shot is hard to swallow! PERSERVERE [sic]. Make it past two ‘shock-glasses’ and with the third you could be ours…forever
Anyhow, a few beers later we lose half our caravan. Our next stop is Uberstein, which proves to be a controversial choice for our crowd. Uberstein is a perfect example of how Americans see Germany. They go through the motions, beer benches, giant beer steins, German beer (Hofbrau), German food, however still manage to create an commercial Americanized copy of a German bar, complete with a million big screen TVs to keep it competitive in Wrigleyville with the million other sports bars there. Hofbrau is so-so German beer, but at least isn’t the swill served at half the other bars around the area, so its a fine choice by me. The fact that I get to drink it in a gigantic beer stein helps. We stay there for a while and begin drinking seriously.
Now my sense of time and duty as the leader of the caravan begins to fall by the wayside. At some point though our group decides to move on to The Exit our final destination for the evening. The Exit is an old school punk bar in Chicago, probably THE punk/fetish bar of Chicago. Immediately after entering the door there’s a motorcycle inside. Gas masks line the wall behind the bar downstairs. The upstairs used to have a caged dance floor. Yes, its cool. After going upstairs and drinking more than I should have we left around 4:00 AM and grabbed some breakfast, then headed home.
Enter swine flu. Around 8:30 in the morning I started shivering uncontrollably and get a 102 degree temp. Then the rest of the flu symptoms follow. Nasal congestion, chest congestion, cough, headache, body aches, etc. I try to ride it out, but same song the next night, so I go to the doctor the next day. He tells me his guess is pneumonia or flu. Turns out its flu and I’m under quarantine for a week. Good news is I got meds to kick my symptoms fast, and avoided hospital time. Bad news is I had tell people I had swine flu, and go through the party list to let people know. To those of you who don’t know that particular pleasure, it’s about as awkward as an STD call.