2003 seems like both a long time ago and only yesterday. After being unemployed for ten months, I had started a job earlier in that year with a company that would change my life – Careerbuilder, where I stayed for over nine years. That year on a Wednesday in October, my dear friend Elizabeth and I went to the movie theater to see Kill Bill, starring Uma Thurman and other awesome actors and actresses. Directed by Quentin Tarantino, it had all sorts of blood and gore and over-the-top fight scenes and witty lines and awesome music. To this day, it’s still one of my favourite movies; seeing it on the big screen made it that much better. Back then, Lizzy and I hung out all the time. We were best friends and to this day she’s still one of my favourite people in the world. Every single memory I have of our times together was filled with love and laughter. There are not a lot of people in the world you can honestly say that about. And so many of our memories included the different bars she bartended, my favourite being the Northside Bar & Grill on Damen Avenue in Bucktown when I lived there and in Wicker Park.
On this particular afternoon, as we were driving back from the movie, I was thinking – Lizzy could easily be have been Beatrix Kiddo (Uma Thurman’s epic character, whose name we wouldn’t learn until the sequel). Dropping her off to work, I told her I’d see her later at the bar. She had no idea what was in store for when I was to come by later…
Once I was home, I pumped up the volume to the Kill Bill soundtrack, dancing as my brother’s dog and mine incredulously stared at me. Santa Esmeralda rocked The Animals “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” – “I’m just a soul whose intentions are good. Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood.” Cos that’s what you do when you get home after watching Kill Bill with one of your closest friends. You dance. And you make thwick noises with a make-believe blade cutting thru the night, channeling your inner Uma Thurman. Kalib and Foster didn’t know what to make of this madness.
“Guys! If you think this is strange, give me a minute. Wait’ll you get a load of me!”
I ran upstairs, raided my closet and found it – my yellow track pants, my fro, my yellow/black biking vest, and my yellow track shoes. (I’ve never run track.) I tried on a few different variations. It’s amazing what you can find in your closet when you’re not looking for anything in particular. I even found a boa. Donning my new outfit, channeling more Beatrix Kiddo, and I ran downstairs and danced some more. Kalib by this point had resigned himself to a corner, shaking his head wondering what had gone wrong with his uncle. Akitas are proud, regal dogs. Foster was all about it. English Staffordshires love to play. My dancing looked a lot like playing. And my new look was quite entertaining to my four-legged pal.
The next thing I knew I was strutting up Damen Avenue Tony-Romano-style, having songs from the Kill Bill soundtrack blaring in my head owning the few blocks I was walking heading north, passing Superior, Chicago, then Division when a bus pulled up next to me.
“Child, what in God’s green earth are you doing?”, the large woman behind the wheel bellowed.
“I’m Uma Thurman!”
To this day, I’m not sure why I wasn’t channeling my inner Bruce Lee, one of my heroes who inspired Uma Thurman’s outfit in Kill Bill. But I didn’t. I was Uma Thurman.
“Sure you are! It’s not even Halloween yet!” She chided sarcastically.
Undaunted, I kept walking and she slowly followed.
“Where are you going?”
“Just a few blocks up the street past North Ave to the Northside.” My fro owned my face.
“Get in!” She ordered. She looked like a larger version of the mom from Good Times.
“There is no one else in the bus?”
“I’m off duty and on my way home.”
“You don’t have to drop me off. That’s awful nice of you.”
“You’re gonna get in a whole lotta hurt if I don’t help you out! This is for me and my conscience!”
I wasn’t sure if I was to thank her or be offended.
“Baby, don’t let me be misunderstood!”
“You a crazy fool! Have a good night and don’t get hurt!”
When I walked into the bar, almost on cue, the music came to a screeching halt. From behind the far end of the bar, without even a hello, Liz yells in feigned disgust.
“OMG! What the f-ck are you doing?!?!?”
I smiled a big smile.
“Dude, I’m Uma Thurman!! I need a beer!”
And so began another amazingly wonderful evening with one of my best friends. Suffice it to say, that night was epic.
The following week was Halloween.
Go Adventure. Go Travel. Go Live.
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ALWAYS BE EPIC