This past weekend I played host to my cousin and five of her friends from school, who were on their sprin break trip and wanted to come to the big city and play tourist for the weekend. Yes, that meant that my two-bedroom, one bath, 1100 square foot condo would be full of seven people, 6 of them girls between 18 and 19.
You heard me...one bathroom.
Surprisingly, the weekend went pretty well. The six of them were really fun, polite, and well mannered. We compressed 4 days of touristy stuff into about two days, including shopping on Michigan Ave, seeing the Saint Patrick's Day festivities downtown (including the green river), ice cream at Margie's Candies, pizza at the real Pizzeria Uno, more shopping, the Hancock Observatory (at night during a thunderstorm no less - lightning is way cool from up there), breakfast of cousin Grrrbear's famous chocolate-chip pancakes, 2 hours at the Art Institute, circle tours of the loop on the "el", lunch at Rainforest Cafe, souvenir shopping, Milennium Park, a free orchestra concert at the Cultural Center, introducing them to both "Animal House" and "The Jerk"*, and a spirited game of Dirty Minds. Man, I'm exhausted.
Here's what I learned from my weekend:
1) You can never underestimate how much toilet paper you'll need when hosting six girls
2) The Rainforest Cafe is *outrageously* expensive. Every entree was about $20.
3) The best tour of downtown is riding the Brown Line around the loop.
4) Even with digital cameras that share photos easily, everyone still wants their own picture on their own camera.
5) There is hope for the future of art – all the girls wanted more time at the Art Institute.
6) Unless they have a guy with them, any group of girls will get hit on by drunk college boys during St. Patricks Day. Just one token male, however, will keep them at bay.
7) When giving directions to people leaving my house, always draw them a map. Or go with them, at least to the freeway. Never assume it’s as easy as I think it is.
8) No matter how often you tell them to hold onto the grab bars, at least one girl will lose her balance when the el starts moving.
Still, in a weird way, I really enjoyed myself. They gave me a nice "Thank You" card (addressed to both me and the GF who was kind enough to come out with us on Saturday and proceed to be way cooler than I was). But I think part of my fun was in showing the girls the lesser-known parts of the city that I really like - such as Margies, Arturo's, and the Cultural Center. I remember my big spring break trip down to New Orleans when I was in college and how nice M-CBo's mom was and how she stuffed us full of home-cooked deliciousness. I'll admit I was working really hard to give them the same sort of good memories for their spring break as I had for mine. And of course I wanted to given them all hope that eventually the meathead, self-centered, shallow, Grand Theft Auto-addicted man-boys they go to school with will mature into something you could actually take out to a nice dinner somewhere where he'd hold the door for you.
Of course, it would have been nice to spend my Sunday afternoon doing something other than laundry and cleaning up, but that’s the price a good host pays, right?
* None of them had seen the first, and only one had seen the second – the fact that today’s youth are seeing Paris Hilton in “House of Wax” and not seeing these movies is a root cause of America’s Great Cultural Backslide.