Mystery Fudge

Catherine and I lead very exciting lives.  (Pause for sarcasm to sink in.)

Okay, I’m not going to play that game, where I complain about how boring our lives are.  We’re neither emo nor affected, so that wouldn’t be appropriate or any less than obnoxious.  Because it’s not really a complaint. 

Don’t get me wrong: no one loves finding a cool new bar or restaurant more than we do.  Really, maybe no one.  But other than that, we’re content to keep things pretty simple: we get excited about cooking new meals, watch a lot of movies and bad cable, read obsessively, write, and most recently, blog.  J  But we’re happy with a relatively low-key lifestyle away from noise and static.

Which might leave you wondering: why did we move to Naperville, the Overfed King Of The Bloated Suburbs? 

See, we used to live in Berwyn, Illinois.  Charming vintage apartment, cute neighborhood.  Cute until our downstairs neighbors had their door battered off its aged frame by home invaders at one in the afternoon.  Apparently, for all the cute vintage charm, there was also a hidden contingent of brazen meth kids or something.  We didn’t hang around long enough to find out.  Also, we accumulated so much stuff for our wedding that it was like living in the storage unit from Silence of the Lambs.  (A pickled head in a jar was almost all we were missing, though I can’t imagine how we missed it while frenziedly registering for ten houses’ worth of shit at Macy’s and Crate & Barrel.)  All due to Berwyn – it’s a nice city and they’re trying like hell to revitalize it.  I wish them luck.  But we stood back and thought: where will we deal with no possibility of crime?

And once again, don’t get me wrong.  We enjoy Naperville.  The way you enjoy looking through the Sky Mall catalogs in airplanes.  Tons of stuff.  More stuff than you can imagine having at your fingertips.  Right at your fingertips.  And you sit there and think, yeah, but…I don’t really need all of this at my fingertips, do I?  And then, much as you may love it all, you realize that you don’t. 

Naperville suffers from the ultimate suburban curse: in a desperate attempt to satisfy both sides by bringing in businesses and simulating a small town environment, they’ve crammed it so full that there’s no room to breathe.  Part of me loves that we have immediate access to 5847584673487 restaurants.  But we can’t take a walk to a coffee shop without dodging traffic on Route 59, cars and SUVs and every sort of vehicle barreling toward you over six lanes like you’re the hapless amphibian in Frogger.  That’s not relaxing.  And here’s the problem: we got used to walking (and relaxing) in Macomb.

Yes, Macomb.  Home of Western Illinois University, Wine Sellers, Sullivan Taylor Coffeehouse (the site of our first date, so I expect it to be anointed by the Illinois Historical Society like yesterday-SAP), and Simpkins Hall (the English building – equally important).  We met in Macomb, moved to Chicago, moved back to Macomb, and back to Chicago.  This was over the course of two years.  But we’ve recently had that itch to move back yet again.  It’s so damn charming.  Seriously.  People who live there often complain about a lack of things to do, but we have a laundry list of things we used to do that we miss, all of which are so simple, ironically, that we can’t do them here, even with at least one storefront of every single major shopping outlet in North America two blocks away.  We love small towns and everything about them; we also love the convenience and excitement of the city and surrounding burbs.  But the longer we’re away from the simple life (honey, it’s good, so speaketh The Dandy Warhols and you dare not argue), the more we want it back.  Soon.

Because we’ve realized something: the thing we end up doing for entertainment here?  The same thing we did in Macomb.  Let me illustrate.

One summer day in Macomb, we sat in our living room, and, muting the Cubs game we’d been watching, listened in titillated awe as our trashy neighbors came closer to full-on, front-yard, bring-it-bitch domestic violence than either of us have ever been privy to experiencing.  For over two hours.  Two women, arguing over a man who had clearly been attempting his own rural harem complete with toddlers, faced off not fifty feet from our front door and just about came to shootin’.  It was…well, it was horrible, obviously, but it was also as compelling as anything we could have hoped for on that particularly lazy Sunday.  There we were – English majors, would-be scholars of literature and the fine arts, pressed against screens in different rooms, holding our collective breath lest we miss a hell-naw, pausing only to run into the kitchen, exchange notes, and run back to our stations.  Without shame, without hesitation: we couldn’t have asked for a more exciting turn of events.

Fast forward to our current situation: a beautiful two-bedroom apartment, loft bedroom, fireplace, balcony, shared with our two cats, Lolo (Heehaw) and Agatha (Migs).  (These are their nonsense names, as most cat owners will understand, and therefore, what they’re called most often).   We’ve moved on up to the east side, though more often than we marvel at our current residence, we miss the old house, pictured pre-siding under my blog title.  It looked like a neighborhood botanical garden by the time Catherine was done working her miracles with mulch and spade.   Here we are – and what are most entertained by, sitting here surrounded by every single distraction available in metro Chicagoland?

A secret fudge shop.

My in-laws bought me a top-of-the-line GPS for Christmas.  I’m obsessed with electronic toys, so needless to say, I use it to find my way to the Jewel not thirty seconds from our door.  One day a couple of weeks ago on our way home from work, I set it to look up restaurants as we drove.  The little menu updated itself every few seconds, adding and subtracting dinner possibilities from the list, when suddenly, what should appear but the name of a fudge shop – across the street from our apartment.

We live in an apartment complex devoid of businesses.  So naturally, this piqued our curiosity. 

That’s a mistake, Catherine said, setting the controls to GO!  Sure enough – it guided us to our very doorstep.  Someone – maybe even a group of someones – is running a clandestine candy operation from a private residence.  Right here. 

Life in Naperville suddenly seemed so mysterious with this unexplained glimpse into the unknown presented for our amusement.  What else are they making?  Brittles?  Barks?  Thumbprints?  How deep does this thing go?  Where does this crazy fudge train go off the rails?!?

We don’t know.  So instead of actually finding out, we have a new game.  We spy on passersby, pausing to reflect on what they might be doing there – getting home from work, or vying for a fix?

Oh, that guy, Catherine will remark upon seeing a stranger strolling down the sidewalk across the way, he needs it.  Look – he’s licking his lips.  He got the chocolate shakes.

Jesus, here they are again, I’ll sigh as a carload of college kids stops in front of our building to drop off a friend, all ripped out of their fucking minds on maple walnut.  This used to be a nice place. 

And then, when residents appear from their cars late at night, briskly walking toward front doors with their keys ready, we think: is it you?  Are you the secret fudge man?  Then we’ll disintegrate into fits of laughter and play Streets of Rage on Wii.

So really, see, nothing’s changed.  We’re really just spying on our neighbors for entertainment no matter where we are.  We just have to drive a lot more here. 

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~ by thismarriedguy on January 14, 2009.

One Response to “Mystery Fudge”

  1. I spend more time than necessary in our bathroom listening to the upstairs neighbors argue through the air vent. The bathroom gets the best reception.

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