“I’m looking for something different. I’m looking for a “dare to be great” situation”
Meanwhile, back at Chez Bulstrode, a different hungover soul awoke all jacked up on booze and romance. Fred wandered into the family room where Rosie and their mother were watching, what else? Oprah.
“I think,” he said, falling heavily into an easy chair. “I got hit by a train last night.”
“You got hit by about six shot of Cuervo,” said Rosie, grinning. “You were in rare form, brother. Do you like one of those girls?”
“A girl?” asked Susan, maternal interest fully engaged. “Is there a new prospect on the horizon?”
“Nah,” said Fred. “Too much drama in that situation.”
“Tell me about it,” said Rosie. “It’s like this, Mom: there’s the blonde sister, Celia, who likes Gio, who’s a doorman at The March. Only he likes the brunette sister, Brooke, who’s weird and intense and totally into this fifty-year-old guy who comes into the bar mostly, I think, to tip bad and spill beer on his shirt."
“Brooke is cute, though,” said Fred. “Even if she is kind of intense.”
“Whatever,” said Rosie. “It was just kind of fun watching all of you guys fall in love with the Cuervo last night.”
“I loved the Cuervo madly last night,” said Fred. “I wonder why it hates me so much today.”
“Wages of sin, my darling,” said Susan, turning back to Oprah. “Wages of sin.”
The three Bulstrode’s lounged in varying degrees of pajama-ed comfort in the family room when they heard the front door open. The sound of Bulstrode’s voice barreled down the hall in full assault mode.
“OK, Tré,” they heard him say. “I just need to get some paperwork from the office. You might as well come on in and meet the family while you’re here.”
Rosie and Fred exchanged “oh shit” looks and prepared for their father to be smugly embarrassed by them.
Bulstrode entered the family room with his companion and, finding his two children stubbornly not taking their futures seriously, obliged their expectation.
“Tré Little,” said Bulstrode. “Meet my family. This is my wife, Susan, and my children, Fred and Rosie. Rosie works at one of my bars. Fred doesn’t.”
Rosie looked up, prepared to roll her eyes at whatever junior captain of industry Daddy had brought home. Instead, she found herself wishing that her dishabille were a bit more artful. Tré Little was no nerdy suck up in a button down and Chinos. This was a super hot black guy in Girbaud’s and motorcycle boots. He was a shade over six feet tall, with a sexy smile and tight braids all over his head. God, he looked like Seal! He wore a tight tee shirt over a nice chest tucked into baggy jeans that broke perfectly at his badass boots. Rosie checked him out from head to toe as Tré shook hands with her mother and brother and decided on the spot that this was a guy she was going to get to know better.
When Tré got around to shaking Rosie’s hand, he paused, pleasantly surprised. Without her makeup on, blonde hair tousled and in nothing more than an oversized tee shirt, she looked sexily après. Her dishabille was just right. Tré smiled a sexy smile right at her.
“Why don’t you hang out here with my industrious family,” said Bulstrode, sarcastically. “While I go grab the papers.”
With both eyes on Rosie, and both of hers on him, Tré said, “You bet, Mr. Bulstrode.”
Bulstrode strode off to his office completely unaware of the chemistry brewing in the family room. Susan was less oblivious, and found it all a little awkward. Susan hated awkward.
“Fred, honey,” she said. “Can you help me in the kitchen? I can’t reach…” She trailed off as she wandered out of the room.
Fred said, “Sure, Mom.” And as he left, he turned and said to Tré. “Nice to meet you. And, uh, good luck.”
A quick aside:
Chicago is called The Windy City. And it’s pretty windy. During one of its fierce winters, you might find yourself walking amongst the skyscrapers and enjoying the protection of the tall, elegantly substantial buildings that guard you from the bitter, biting wind. You hug close to them, leeward. But one building will give way to the next and as you cross the corridor between them, a wind tunnel strikes, blowing your hat awry, knocking you off your stride. If you are a Chicagoan, as you brave that wind tunnel with one be-mittened hand clamped down over your flyaway hat and the other clutching your scarf against your streaming nose, you might chuckle and think, “Only in Chicago.” And then you grin, satisfied with the knowledge that you, a real Chicagoan, have been rendered hearty by the weather; you are proud to be tough enough for this magnificent city. You plan to call your wimpy siblings in more temperate climes when you get home.
It’s that grin, that satisfaction, more than the weather itself, that gives Chicago its moniker. The “windy” refers to the distinctly Chicago habit of borderline obnoxious civic pride; the wind is produced by the rabid boosterism gusting out of every local’s mouth. To wit: even the truly terribly Chicago winter serves as a point of pride for a Chicagoan.
Only denizens of the wider Philadelphia area and the French are more vociferously proud of being where they’re from. And whence this spirit of noisy boosterism? Is it the amazing architecture and theater, the sports teams, the brusque affability of its people, the sparkling lakefront? Or, could it be a bit of whistling in the dark to cover up a feeling of inferiority when it compares itself to its East Coast (New York) and West Coast (LA) siblings? What we called in those distant days a Jan Syndrome?
It’s both. It’s either. Genuine pride? Inferiority complex? Both sides of the coin are currently represented in the Bulstrode family room.
Rosie will brook no sass about her home city from either New Yorkers or suburbanites. She’ll tell anyone not from Chicago how awesome Chicago is. But Rosie believed she suffered under no delusions regarding the city of her birth. Chicago wasn’t really the second city. It was a distant third. First New York, then LA. Then, maybe, Chicago. Chicago was a good rehearsal space, a place to hone her style and spark before migrating to the cities where it’s really happening and where the fabulous people live.
Once she was lighting up the scene in one of those cities, then she’d know she’d made it. A year or two more in Chicago, moving away from Daddy’s bars and into clubs and she’d be ready for the big time. New York. L.A.
Tré, on the other hand, meant to stay in Chicago. Chicago was where it was happening. Thanks to Billy Corgan and Michael Jordan and Ferris Bueller and, hell, Oprah Freaking Winfrey, soon everyone would know what was what in the city by the lake. He knew that for young people across America, an alternately gritty and sophisticated Chicago was an icon of urban release from suburban banality. New York and LA were on their way out. Chicago was the place to be.
He was confident in his cool and his savvy and was prepared to be at the forefront of Chicago’s great renaissance as the City of the 21st Century. A year or two with Lightweight, getting his name out there, turning Bulstrode’s played out little neighborhood joints into destination bars, establishing himself on the scene, making a little money. But the time he was 30, Tré planned on being the coolest entrepreneur in the coolest city.
Tré loved Chicago.
Rosie thought it was all right.
At the point of this great, unknown divergence, two incredibly attractive people met for the first time and grinned at each other.
“So,” said Rosie, with a fully tested, practically patented Rosie smile. “You’re planning on putting Lightweight Group on the map, huh? Aren’t you just something?”
Tré smiled and moved a little closer. “I am,” he said. “I plan to take this business someplace.”
“It already is someplace,” said Rosie. “The question is where. Maybe I could show you around some of Daddy’s places. I could give you a, uh, younger look into the bars.”
“I might like a, uh, younger look,” said Tré. “You let me know when.”
Bulstrode poked his head in the door. “All right, Tré,” he said. “Let’s head to the office and go through the org chart and business lists. I want to get started on the rebranding now.”
Bulstrode nodded distractedly at Rosie. Tré winked at her and gave her one more grin. But his attention was returning to his boss. Tré knew he was lucky to have landed this plum position. No matter how gorgeous the girl, Tré wasn’t going to be distracted from the task at hand.
Rosie turned back to the TV, pleased with Tré’s clear appreciation. If she could catch the eye of a guy like that while she was still in her PJ’s, she might be ready for New York in a few months.
Chicago remained oblivious to the relationship.