When I got on the El at 6:30, I happened to notice a slight hunger pang. Half an hour later, when I stepped out at Adams and Wabash, I was ravenous. I thought, if I don’t get to that takeout sushi place I’m gonna pass out. Do I have enough time? 7:03. Damnit. And wait, the sushi place is near the Auditorium, not Symphony Center. Damnit. Why in hell did I stop to do a search for summer boots? Did I really think I’d be able to find the natural-fiber crochet-style boots that had appeared in a vision while I was showering, much less order them in time for next day delivery? Actually, yes. The Internet has spoiled me. I’d googled “women’s summer boots” and waded through most of Zappos’s 742 results (rain boots, hiking boots, and platform sandals–how did those get in there?) before I gave up.
If only I’d known then what those twenty minutes would cost now: an Unagi roll and a seaweed salad. Even two blocks out of the way, I would have had just enough time. Instead, I walked halfway down and looked over the railing. East was Rhapsody and Russian Tea Time. Not enough time. West was 7-Eleven and Dunkin’ Donuts. Cream cheese on a toasted sesame seed bagel? Too bready for a warm night. What I craved was soy sauce and sticky rice and wasabi. Not gonna happen. 7:09 now. So I walked toward 7-Eleven to check out the scary sandwiches. Then I noticed a CVS further west. That would be cheaper, and I could restock my favorite pens. I headed back across Adams.
Inside CVS, I grabbed a pack of Rollerballs, a Medium bag of pretzel M&Ms (Medium being the size of my forearm), a bottle of Evian, and a pack of Eclipse. I was almost to the counter when I realized I might be cutting in front of a backpacker guy who seemed to have just decided he was in line. I circled wide behind him so he wouldn’t think I thought I was in line, and it was then I noticed the display of Keebler Snack Time Jalapeno Cheddar Sandwich Crackers. I wondered, do those look delicious or disgusting? Then I realized, it’s 7:18, don’t over-think it. I can always stash them in my purse, just as a backup. If the M&Ms don’t do the trick, or Dave’s hungry after his concert, or I’m out somewhere tomorrow and feeling desperate, they’ll be there.
As soon as I got outside I bit the corner off the crimped wrapper and popped the first sandwich cracker in my mouth. A symphony of salty and cheddary and spicy and buttery crackery. It was so astonishing that for a minute I couldn’t smell the diesel and urine of of the street. I barely heard the four guys yelling insults or badly worded compliments to two women walking ahead of me. “We got money, how much to see your tits? You want drinks, we can pay. Come on, what’s your fucking problem? We got money!” The women turned in at a parking garage, tossing a withering look over their shoulders.
As I walked, I continued to pop sandwich crackers into my mouth. I tossed the wrapper into a trash can just outside Symphony Center and stood outside a moment to savor the last crunch, heat, and cheesiness of the very last sandwich cracker. 7:24 now. The lights of Michigan Avenue were beginning to sparkle. Around me people entered the concert hall, decked out in suits and sequins and jewelry. I dressed myself up in a chiffon scarf I’d pulled out of my purse to make room for the M&Ms, and joined them.