I bravely journeyed up to the Magnificent Mile. For you non-Chicagoans, that is a stretch of Michigan Avenue where the shopping is intense and the foot traffic is incalculable.
I began at the Hershey Store. It is an emporium devoted entirely and exclusively to all things Hershey. They sell every Hershey product you’ve ever heard of and many that you haven’t. I didn’t go there looking to buy anything (although I did); I went there to see if Dan M. was working there. He’s a former member of the Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding cast and he’s a very talented performer and writer. At the Hershey Store, Dan works the counter and is the Singing Chocolatier. I’d never caught his act there before and I recommend it to you should you have the chance.
Dan stands behind the counter, talking on a wireless microphone that broadcasts his voice throughout the store. He selects a child volunteer (the store is always filled with children so you’ve been warned!) and decorates a cupcake according to the child’s specifications, all the while singing a sprightly ode to Hershey’s chocolate. Sure it’s corny, but Dan does it with such style and good humor that one finds oneself smiling anyway.
I then swam upstream against waves of humanity for a couple blocks to Water Tower Place, an upscale mall named for the nearby 19th century water tower (pictured here) that famously survived the Great Chicago Fire. A couple of moments stand out in my mind from yesterday’s visit:
I saw in the mall directory that they had a Discovery Channel Store. I thought that might be pretty cool, though I was a little disappointed to learn that it was not only kind of small, but was tailored almost entirely toward children. Nothing against children, mind you, but I was hoping for more adult toys (hmm… that sounded kinkier than I meant it to). Nevertheless, I spent a little while there looking through their stock, though I didn’t buy anything. The thing that really struck me was the music being piped into the store. All Bob Marley, all the time! Curious choice. Hey kids, there’s a lot to discover at the Discovery Channel Store!
The other memorable moment was an overheard conversation. Two women were in front of me on a packed, slow-moving escalator heading down to level 5 of the mall. One of them answered her ringing cell phone. I will report her words to the best of my recollection:
“Hello? Where are you?! [Pause] We’re at Water Tower Place. [Pause] It’s on Michigan Avenue. [Pause] You are? [To girlfriend:] He’s here too! [Back to him:] What level are you on? [To girlfriend:] He’s on 4! [Back to him:] Stay where you are. We’ll be right there! [Hangs up] Let’s do some more shopping; I don’t want to seem too eager.”
It was like a scene from a movie!