"Hail to the Orange, Hail to the Blue. Hail Alma Mater, Ever so true! We love no other, So let our motto be, Victory! Illinois Varsity!"
A couple of months ago, a former college roommate asked if I (guy me, of course) asked me if I wanted to go to a Thursday night football game at our Alma mater, the University of Illinois. The offer was sweetened by being in a skybox, which meant free food and a great view (or not so free food, as the box was sponsored by the school of business and I made my annual substantial donation that night). Either way, it was an offer too good to pass up.
Then about a month later, I realized the “Tri the Illini” triathlon was the Sunday after the Thursday football game. Little wheels starting turning in my head. Plan A was I could drive (about three hours) to the game Thursday, drive home, then drive back Saturday to do the Sunday morning triathlon.
Plan B quickly evolved. I could drive up Thursday for the football game, spend Thursday night at a Champaign hotel, take the train from Champaign to Chicago Friday, spend Friday night in Chicago, return to Champaign Saturday afternoon, spend the night again in Champaign, do the triathlon Sunday morning, and drive home.
Did I mention that Plan B included doing the trip to and from Chicago as Dee?
A bit of history. In April 2017 my first trip as Dee was “training pretty” from St. Louis to Chicago for a four day/three night stay in the Windy City (including a first for me, going to Hamilton dressed). As such, another train trip to Chicago had a lot of appeal, even if only for one night. The train tickets were less than the overnight parking in Chicago, so the train was cheaper than driving. I booked the same hotel as five years prior in downtown Chicago, about a mile–easily walked, even with a suitcase–from the train station.
The other bit of history was the day before the trip in 2017 I went to Beauty Brands (in guy mode) to get my nails done. Six months before I had my nails done at Beauty Brands and had a great experience with Cailee, the nail tech. I wanted to make another appointment with Cailee, but she wasn’t working. I just took pot luck, and the assigned nail tech was this southern gal from Arkansas named Michelle–and if you have read any of my prior posts you know who she is–and if not, read on.
As this trip was a bit of nostalgia, I went on to Michelle’s website (she owns a salon, and I trade accounting spreadsheets for salon services) and booked a pedicure for the morning of the game. My toenails, from all the abuse they get, are usually pretty disgusting. Even my wife tells me to get a pedicure, so why should I disagree?
I (over) packed four days of girl stuff into a suitcase, with more than I needed (because I couldn’t decide what I was going to wear), plus my triathlon stuff (trisuit, running and bike shoes, etc) and some token boy clothes to wear to the game. My wife left for tennis, so I got dressed, stuffed everything into my SUV (including my bike, which takes a lot of room) and barely made it to Michelle’s salon on time.
I decided to wear an orangish top Michelle had given me that actually was her mom’s. As the top was see-through, I wore a brown camisole underneath that was also a Hand-Dee-Down from Michelle, along with a favorite black skirt. Our school colors are orange and blue, so I thought it would be appropriate to wear on campus that afternoon. I also figured–correctly as it turned out–that Michelle would enjoy seeing me wearing it.
So did Michelle’s mom, Kaykay. Michelle texted her mom and copied me in the texts. Here was our text exchanges. I was texting with her mom (we have never met in person) because Michelle was busy with my pedicure.
Michelle: Look who is here!!!! (with a selfie of Michelle and I).
Kaykay: Hey I know that person and blouse! It looks good on her. How are you doing today my daughter?
Dee: She say’s she’s here and doing ok and she is currently busy giving me a pedicure.
Kaykay: Lol you look very pretty today. I’m jealous I wish I was in the next chair waiting for mine lol.
Dee: We trade. I do spreadsheets for her and she does pedicures for me and I get the better end of the deal.
Kaykay: Yes I’m so glad. Tell my beautiful daughter I love her. Enjoy your time with her. You are both very lucky. Sounds like a great trade.
Dee: I picked out this top to make her (and you) happy.
Kaykay: Aww so sweet. Give her a hug for me please and you two enjoy each other.
Dee: I will do so.
Kaykay: Love your hair very beautiful. It looks perfect.
Dee: Michelle bought it with me. I love it too.
Kaykay: Y’all did good
(Texted the picture of Michelle waxing my nose hairs).
Dee: She was torturing me!
Kaykay: Oh no not the nose hairs.
Dee: She gets a lot of pleasure at ripping them out.
My toes ended up with a gold polish, and as we had a bit of time before Michelle’s next appointment, she waxed my ear and nose hairs, which she has done before. Michelle does get a devilish pleasure doing the waxing and ripping out the hairs (especially the nose hairs), and then showing me what she just ripped out. Yes, it stings a bit, but it does look better after.
Her next client arrived, so we hugged and said goodbye and I headed out for the three hour drive to Champaign, with a stop at the Dairy Queen drive through for lunch and a pit stop at a rest area for a personal comfort break.
I’ve been on campus lots of times, as a student (and parent of two graduates), for sporting events, a couple of triathlons, but never dressed. I parked near the Quadrangle, and walked the center of campus to the Student Union. I took the obligatory selfie with the Alma Mater statue, relaxed inside the Union for a bit (roughly 40 years older than most of the others lounging around), took a couple more selfies, enjoying memories of days past as I strolled through the campus.
After about an hour, I returned to my car to drive to my motel to check in, get cleaned up and change into my guy orange and blue, and return to campus for the 7:30 game time. That went well too. Talked with my former roomie and others in the box, ate far too much food, and enjoyed a 31-0 win over a lower division school (an expected win, but my school doesn’t have the best history as a college football power, so it’s often hard to be truly confident).
After the game, back to the hotel, to get organized for my next two days of Dee time. Next Sun-Dee you’ll get to read about my Friday, so stay tuned until then.