She and Him and Her and Me

millennium park bandshell
Photo Credit

Summer things are happening in Chicago. If you’re not out trying to guess where the Stanley Cup is going to be next, then you’re probably at one of the many neighborhood fests going on, hitting up a baseball game, or playing on your social softball or beach volleyball team. Unfortunately I have weak wrists so I can’t participate — bummer. While I realize that my phenomenal digging, spiking, and bumping skills are inhibited and wasted by my silly jointal problem, I can’t help but think that it’s because I’m meant to do something else. I’m really not sure what that something is, but I’ve been certainly giving that grand philosophical question my best solving efforts, which has resulted in zero answers. I’m going to try to stay positive even though I just saw a girl my age who was pregnant with a huge rock on at the Starbucks I’m writing at and I got super sad even though I typically couldn’t care less. Lady chemical levels try to make me care about things I don’t want to care about and they are winning. Lately I’ve even started to get really emotional and warm-hearted when I see babies. I don’t even know myself anymore. When I get the urge to cut out pictures from bridal magazines and start my first wedding file I’ll be really concerned. Until then, I’m just kind of rolling ahead. (Side note: I just got really excited when I looked out Starbuck’s window because I thought Goldie Hawn was in my neighborhood, but it was just a woman with blonde hair and a lot of botox and face alterations.)

Last week I organized an after-work picnic with some pals for the free She & Him concert at Millennium Park. Let me tell you, the situation did not disappoint. This was the ultimate people watching experience. The entire lawn in front of the Pritzker Pavilion was packed and made up of what I would break down into four categories: burbs adults, burbs brats, hipsters, and then somewhat normal people. Those are just my categories, and let me explain them to you from my perspective before you start trying to guess what they are or complain that they don’t make any sense.

Burbs adults are the retired couples who probably have a different outdoor concert planned every week of the summer. They are your standard Ravinia-goer. These guys know how to picnic and they picnic hard. They’ve got their foldout chairs and mini-tables packed in their Mary Poppins picnic bag, complete with a spread from Whole Foods and maybe even a canteen of white wine sangria — well probably more like a thermos, but I really like the thought of a canteen of alcohol.

Burbs brats took the Metra in from the Northern or Western suburbs with a group of five or more people because that’s when they can typically be the most annoying and feel the coolest with their picnics of beer. Thanks mom and dad. Most of these kids work the concert circle all summer not really caring if they know the band playing (ie. Blues Fest) because if they are drunk, what else could matter? To be fair though, I bet a lot of these guys loved 500 days of summer. This means marketing and star power still work.

The hipsters… oh, the hipsters. There were a lot of hipster him and hers at She & Him. My friend George commented, “If everyone is at this concert, then who is managing all the coffee shops in Wicker Park?” A very good question indeed. This equaled many bikes which were locked up to everything and everything and a lot of ironic things like mustaches and DJ headphones for accessories. The bikes were fine by me —  it made the L a lot less crowded coming home, and I’m sure it saved the earth a little too.

Then we have the normal people… well, semi normal people. I guess this is where I might fall. I don’t know. Again, I guess I’m struggling with all this self identity stuff. I’m really not that normal, but this category is just people out to enjoy the music they like with a picnic and less ironic apparel and facial hair then the hipsters. This is a poor category.

The concert was set to begin at 6:30 with the Chicago ladies band The Hollows opening for She & Him. They were great, but their set kind of all blended together into one surfer rock/Asian song from Kill Bill. While this was happening, everyone was trying to get reception and tell their friends where they were sitting. I was lucky that I was actually given some direction. However everyone else was playing the ever entertaining game of “Do you see me?” This is how you play: Your friend texts or calls you. Then you answer their text with a call because you can’t really type out the directions or you answer and begin yelling “Hey are you here? Ok good. Do you see me?” And BOOM! the game begins with the goal, of course, being that you get your friend to your picnic blanket in the middle of the crowd by telling them approximately where you are, what you’re wearing, or what your surroundings look like. Problem is that based on my four categories, a lot of people can describe themselves the same way to their friend. This becomes very confusing to the person trying to find you and also hilarious.

“Do you see me? Do you see me? I’m the one with the ironic mustache, with that hat on, and those shoes — oh yeah they are Converse. Have you heard of them? Oh your mom used to wear th- oh she STILL wears them? ok. Well yeah that’s where I am.”

“Do you see me? Do you see me? I’m singing because I know all the words and I have tattoo sleeves, red lipstick, and a fake flower in my shockingly bleached blonde hair.”

“Do you see me? Do you see me? I’m the one wearing Ray Bans. Actually yeah they are from Target – wait – how could you tell they weren’t real from where you are? Do you see me?”

“Do you see me? Do you see me? I’m the girl with my beautiful indie boyfriend. We’re holding hands and smoking cigarettes together because our love is represented in a way we could never express by these lyrics.”

“Do you see me? Do you see me? I’m the only one who knew about this concert because I read the Red Eye and also Zooey was the girl in 500 Days of Summer and Elf, but you probably didn’t know because she used to have blonde hair. I know weird, right?”

“Do you see me? Do you see me? I’m the guy with my wife who thought this concert would be like a closer version of Ravinia, but then I realized it wasn’t when someone’s detached bike seat fell on our sun-dried tomato and kalamata olive tapenade.”

“Do you see me? Do you see me? I’m the guy who has a crush on – well first let me say I know she isn’t hot and she’s a little different, but I’m just a normal guy and I think she’s just- Oh you like Zooey too? Alright that’s great.”

None of these “Do you see me?” tactics worked. So then people had to tip toe through the picnics and physically go get their friend and bring them back to their spot. I’m looking forward to more of these free music Mondays. They’re the mostest. I also regret that I couldn’t get out of work last Friday to watch the Black Hawks parade because I’m certain that was just a bevy of people watching. Alright, I think that’s what I’ve got for now. I’ll be people watching all over the place this summer and I already like the things I’m seeing — I like them A LOT. Oh and one last thing to that girl at She & Him dancing like a grandma and middle school cheerleader all at the same time- Thanks girl! You’re really something.

Ok….In the Arms of the Angels just started to play in Starbucks and that is my exit cue…


About Caitlin Fitzgibbons

Caitlin is an contributor with a bi-weekly column on people-watching in the city.

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