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Best of the Blackout Diaries: Kick up your (high) heels

Father-daughter bonding hits a sartorial snag at Redhead Piano Bar.


By Kelley, higher-education administrator

Back when I was a superbroke bartender paid mostly in free drinks, my parents came to visit. They whisked me away to the Trump Tower, and, man, was it a contrast with my regular Chicago life. On a typical Saturday I would've been surrounded by a bunch of silly friends passing around a dusty bottle of Early Times. This evening was different.

Following a top-notch dinner at Shaw's Crab House and way too many shots of Jäger for dessert, my parents and I headed back to the Trump for a nightcap. After a nice glass of white wine, my mother decided to turn in for the evening. She had an early plane to catch.

"You're not going out, are you?" she said to Dad and me. She could see a twinkle of mischief in our bleary eyes. "Let me guess—the Redhead?" The Gold Coast piano bar is my dad's favorite hangout in the city. He's been a veritable VIP there since before I was born. With pianists equipped to play anything a suburban dad desires, it's a delightful place to get hammered with my father.

As we approached the steps that led into the bar's location below Ontario Street, Dad stopped dead in his tracks. "Crap," he said.

One thing about the Redhead: proper attire is required. The dress code specifically prohibits the wearing of tennis shoes. My dad is a big guy. "Party Marty" stands about six-foot-one and weighs in at a little more than 350, and he's always wearing tennis shoes because they're just more comfortable.

"You can't wear those," said the door guy breaking out the loners, a bunch of old, stanky high heels that they make violators wear—even if you're a man—and Dad picks out a pair of fraying black Nine West ladies' wedges.

So there we were, father and daughter out on the town, both of us in heels. We got absolutely wasted.

About five hours later, Dad stands up to tip the piano player for taking my request, "Lido Shuffle" by Boz Scaggs. But again, he's in these heels that are outrageously small for his feet and he just kind of teeters over and collapses. An employee—they know him by name—is like, "Marty, you're going to have to leave." Well, my dad proceeds to cause a huge scene: "I've been spending money here for years!" and whatnot. This whole time he's laying on the bar's floor in these high heels demanding to stay.

I'm so embarrassed and wasted that I start crying. "Dad, you always do this!," I howl, as if he's always engaging in this particular chain of ridiculous events. I threw a $20 bill at him and screamed, "And here's my tip!" Then I sprinted outside and caught a cab back to the hotel.

My mom was just waking up to catch her flight. She was like, "Oh, my god, what happened?" I had mascara tear stains down my face. I told her what went down and she put me to bed.

Not long afterward I was awoken from a drunken slumber by noise outside the hotel room. Assuming dad had misplaced his hotel key, I jumped up, opened the door, and found him dragging a giant potted rubber tree that earlier I'd seen in the Trump Tower lobby, a trail of rocks, mulch, and leaves scattered behind him.

"Here, hon," he said through labored breathing. "I wanted to get you flowers." v

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