My people are your people

Yesterday I spent the afternoon and evening piddling around town with Jenn, my girly-tomboy-attorney-fashion plate friend. Jenn’s probably my closest friend in Chicago, and since we work in the same building and generally talk everyday, we’re always up-to-the-minute on whereabouts, boyabouts, and what we’re wearing-abouts.

Jenn and me

No matter what the category, Jenn has a “guy” or “girl” for nearly every need in her life. She has her shoe guy at Nieman’s, her clothes girls at Krista K, her wax girl at Sinead, her dentist Joe, her plumber Roy and of course a cut/color girl at her salon. Not only do they reciprocally know each other’s names, but also their birthdays, current love interests, type of cereal they eat in the morning, and she even joins them for social occasions. And these people love her in return, not just for what she buys from them, but for who she is and the joy they get out of interacting with her–in business and in leisure.

Jenn had been contemplating buying a painting, which she had spotted this week at her favorite gallery: Slaymaker. She’d bought several pieces of art from Greg, her “guy” at the gallery (aka gallery manager), over the past year–and this week she had her eye on a watercolor for her bedroom. Friday morning, when the two of us made a Starbucks run in our office building, she invited me to stop by the gallery with her that evening on the way home so she could get my opinion. I already had plans, so that wasn’t going to work.

So she called yesterday around noon to see if I wanted to run errands with her, including making a trip to the gallery. Sounded great to me–I love galleries, especially now that I’ve seen a fair amount of art and can make heads or tails of stuff.

Jenn generously came by to pick me up (given that I don’t have a car and it was a typical Chicago deceptively sunny yet icy-blasting day), and first on our list was lunch at Southport Grocery. As with any popular brunch spot, you can expect a wait, even at 1:30 p.m. So while we waited the 35 minutes for a table, we popped into Anthropologie and then Krista K, where Jenn’s two “girls” were on duty. She introduced me. They chatted about the new spring line coming in, they gave her the status of shipments, they agreed it was a good idea to hold off on using her birthday gift certificate until more stuff came in. Jenn plopped her puffy coat and purse down on the couch and then took off into the nooks and crannies of the store to find the perfect nugget. Unfortunately the only thing she really liked was a white lace shirt–which she had already bought.

We were starving by that time–to the point we couldn’t speak from lack of blood sugar–and we inhaled our yummy lunches of breakfast hash (Jenn) and a steak sandwich (me). (And we couldn’t resist each getting one of those #1-in-Chicago white cupcakes to go.)

Next stop was Slaymaker, but in route we spotted the intriguing store adult store “Tulip”, so we parked to split the distance and scurried out of the cold and into the gallery.

Greg met us at the door with a warm welcome, and took us to the back room, where his lightly tattooed short-haired one-gloved framing gal already had the watercolor amidst a plethora of frame choices, scoping out the options. Indeed, it was a beautiful piece. It managed to pull off a soft floral motif in a modern way. I said YES! Get it NOW! Then Greg pulled out few sister pieces to a piece Jenn already has. Two of them were female full frontal (but not super offensive). Jenn begain to contemplate getting the one showing a woman from the back.

As they spent the next fifteen minutes discussing frame choices for the watercolor, I perused the three floors of the loft-space gallery. The top floor was my favorite–a huge yet warm space with wood floors and interesting pieces on the walls. But the best was the “library”–a smaller room at one end of the building, with various art on the walls, tons of art books, random things like painted bedframes, and best of all, a 1920’s Steinway grand piano. (Of course I couldn’t resist playing.) Jenn tracked me down, we spent another thirty minutes chatting with Greg, and then we headed for Tulip to kill time while Greg wrapped up the “backside” sister piece for Jenn to take home to “try out”.

Tulip looks like a cute girls-day-on-the-town place, decorated in bright red, with points of interest called out on blackboards with cute chalk writing. Interesting that it’s a store filled with sex toys galore, including whips, chains and other unmentionables. I came away empty-handed (for your sake, mom). It was completely entertaining to see the sweet shop girl explain spreader bars to us in a completely matter-of-fact manner. She even demonstrated bondage tape as if it were as normal as putting toothpaste on a toothbrush.

We shivered our way back to the gallery, picked-up the package, and then headed over to see Janet at Sinead for Jenn’s 5:15 wax appointment. En route from the car to the door, we stopped across the street at Pinky Nail Studio, where Jenn’s “guy” greeted us at the door and said “Of course! We can get you in at 5:30, 6:00–whatever you want.” Over at Sinead, I lounged in a comfy chair with tea in one hand and Star magazine in the other while Jenn managed through her eight pulls. Yeow!

Then it was on to Pinky, where our mani/pedi adveture ended with her “guy” wrapping up our feet in plastic, putting our socks and shoes on for us, and even insisting on zipping my coat. Now that’s service!

After a quick stop at Jenn’s house to check out how the art would look and to snarf the cupcake from lunch, we ventured to our last two stops: Bed, Bath, Beyond and Home Depot. Long story short, we both ended up with new pillows and other weird home paraphernalia, and I ended up with a bunch of light blubs. And though I didn’t get the deadbolt I really needed, I now have a plan for how to get one and match the key to my other door.

And best of all, Jenn offered up her best “guy”–her dad–to help me put it on.

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