It was Friday afternoon, and I had left the office early to get ready for the weekend. Sandwiches and a bottle of wine were packed away. Despite the predictions for rain, we were going to Ravinia to see Dave Brubeck.
I was driving east on Chicago Avenue. As I drove past a fire station, I noticed that all of the firemen were pointing up at the sky. The view from the rear view mirror seemed ominous, but it wasn’t raining at all. I turned right onto Milwaukee Avenue and suddenly felt a terrible wind jerk the car to the right. The car in front of me was struggling to stay in its lane. All of the trash and debris from the city street was suddenly 30 feet in the air. Trash cans and newspaper stands were dancing around. A very large sign for the Chicago Dramatists theatre company was ripped off a building and whipped behind my car and then around the front of it, cracking as the wind tossed it around. Something unidentifiable shattered the window of The Matchbox, a bar across the street.
I didn’t think tornado. Strangely, I thought of how horrible my face would look when something smashed a window in the car. Vain, maybe.
At the same time, Dave was working away at his office, waiting for me to pick him up. The sky grew green. And then it grew dark green. He could hear hail hitting the windows, and then pounding, and then booming, almost like glass breaking. The building emergency system screeched an announcement to move to the center of the building.
I reached Dave on the phone. He recommended a few places under bridges to pull over, but as I drove by they were already full of cars. I kept driving as the rain started and the wind died down a bit. When I reached Dave’s building we switched drivers in the POURING rain. I was tired of driving.
Tornadoes are exceptionally rare in the city. They can’t properly touchdown because of the buildings. There were no tornadoes associated with this storm, but this was a storm that blew out windows of the Willis Tower (Sears Tower) as well as Dave’s office building. This storm was not messing around.
And thanks to my (more accurately, my guardian angel’s) expert driving skills, nothing bad happened. The car was perfectly fine.
Despite the excitement, Dave Brubeck was to be heard. The jazz legend is getting old. We had to go. We started driving north in hopes of nicer weather.
Luckily, we had a tarp to cover the ground for our lawn seats. And miraculously, it cleared up perfectly for the concert.
Yes, Pinot Noir tastes lovely from a plastic wine glass. And it cures stressful situations quite nicely.
Dave Brubeck was cool.
There were four sets of musicians for the evening concert, with Dave Brubeck being the second. After the third set a very meek Ravinia attendant announced on the microphone in her best NPR voice, “We are tracking a line of thunderstorms that will be at Ravinia at 9:45. Thank you.”
The whole lawn audience collectively glanced at their watches and noted the current time to be 9:38. The next artist started to sing, “It’s a marvelous night for a moon dance”, while hundreds of people frantically packed up blankets and candelabras. We made it to the car just before the sky opened up again.
Weird date night.