- Scent of the ham and cheese sandwich and fries Mica got to go from Earwax Cafe. She ate them out of a styrofoam container on North Avenue just north of the North/Damen/Milwaukee intersection, sandwich in one hand while she hailed a cab with the other. I could tell the fries had seasoned salt on them, and wanted food even though I wasn’t hungry. Food memories are embarrassingly vivid.
- Worn, soft polyester-cotton blend maroon shirt I wore enough that the armpits were starting to get threadbare and the hem was stretched out. I kept wearing it anyway. It had a picture of an anime girl across the chest and I thought it was sooooo cool. I was stuck in 1999 fashion-wise, and to be fair 1999 was less than five years ago. Still.
- The hard inside of the cab thumping against my arm as we jolted along North to California to Fullerton, not that I knew any of those street names. I was really lost. I asked if the area we were going was okay, and Mica made a so-so hand motion. “It kind of varies block to block.” I nodded. Months later, I would blurt out something about Damen being really far west, to snorts and laughs. Geography is relative.
- The girl working the door, who was chubby with black curly hair, bangs, and a kid’s blue t-shirt with a rainbow and a star on it.
- World/Inferno Friendship Society, who was all ska-punk-soul crashing and horns. They were pretty great. I haven’t seen them since. At one point during the show, the lead singer danced with a girl in a red slip dress while the band played on.
- I can’t remember who else was with us. Her younger friend Mark? Our friend Sarah, who later moved to San Francisco? That’s not a sensory detail, but this is: the cigarette smoke that converged outside, about a foot away from the building, and the faint hint of smoke on the inside.
- The bathroom. Foul. The sensory details of this part of the night are best left unexplored. I peed quickly.
- Mica’s voice, high and slightly fast, talking about how some guy who ran some venue was a dick. He sounded like a dick. Mica was my college roommate for one year. She got me into a lot of shows.
- The scent of cheap beer I really wanted to drink. I was always too cowardly for a fake ID.
- Cool late summer night air as we walked along Fullerton. I feel like we walked all the way back to the Red Line but I can’t be sure.
Top 10 Sensory Details from My First Night in Chicago