Engaging Adventure!

So I’m going to blog about my adventures on Sunday.

The day started with my boyfriend Scott returned from trapeze class. As we are about to leave to go to brunch, he got a phone call. He told me, “They’re handing out free Union Jacks outside. I’ve got to go and get one” and left. Since Scott is an Anglophile, this made sense. I was sorta puzzled because the British don’t usually hand out free flags but maybe it was their flag day or something.

But Scott didn’t come back. And then the buzzer rang. We weren’t expecting anyone and generally we don’t have a tremendous number of people who pop over. But I shrugged and went downstairs to find out who was there.

But there was only a note taped to the door.

It said in multi-colors:

Dear Ms. Shoenberger,

Bwahahaha! There were no free Union Jacks here, only trouble! For it is I, Le Capitain Francais! And I have kidnapped Scott to take away Britain’s greatest champion! Soon, hoards of Frenchmen shall cross the Chanel, and destroy the English monarchy! Unless…we French have a strange sense of honor. I give you one chance to recover Scott. I choose… the field of Adventure! Do you have courage (or do you have a carriage)? If so, a servant of mine will take you to the School of Circus and we shall begin! Follow the clues and you can find Scott! If not, Britain is doomed! Vive le France! – Le Capitain Francais

That horrible man! I was now on a mission to save my love and save England. And I was going to do come hell or high water. A French henchman in a striped shirt and moustache came out from the alley and asked, “Where do you want me to take you?” I told this nameless villain, who I would later dub Francoise, “Aloft.” It was the circus school nearby. Hopefully, I was correct and it wasn’t the one in Evanston.

So we drove there as the evil henchman cackled the entire time. When we got there, he told me: “You’ll find agents upstairs that may help you with the next clue.” So I ran upstairs to the main training room at Aloft. Our friend Julie ran up to me and said that a strange man came in and hid a flag on the other side of the tight wire. Her ankle was hurt so I had to do it. Luckily, my tight wire shoes happened to be there. I had no choice. It was cross the wire and save England. So I donned the shoes and walked the wire. At the end I found the flag. The Frenchman had so far kept his promises. Taped to the flag was the note:

To carry on with your adventure, you must go to the One Eyed Bookstore near the False Six Corners, and Find the Fat Detective who, if he lived here, would try to never leave the shop. Best, Le Capitain Francais

There was only one One-Eyed Bookstore I knew in Chicago. It was Myopic Bookstore in Wicker Park., our favorite bookshop. So we headed over to Wicker Park. Who was the Fat Detective? But then I recalled the training of my Mystery Master Homes and pieced it together that this Fat Detective was none other than: Nero Wolfe! So I ran into the basement where the mysteries were held. There I encountered French spies: Dan, Laura and Calliope, all dressed in a French manner! Traitors! Dan spoke some of the French language at me but the British immunization shot helped protect me from his words. I scanned the shelves for books by Rex Stout, author of Nero Wolfe mysteries, and there I found the next clue:

To Continue on your Adventure, go to the Old Chief of Police’s Irish Bar, for this is the place where many questions of John Tyler were asked. – Le Captain Francais (honh honh honh, trés French)

What could this place be? What place was known for its Chief of Police who may have had a perchance for musical instruments? And then it hit me: Chief O’Neil’s in Avondale. Coincidently, it was where Scott and I started courting. So we zoomed up there. In the lovely garden, I found Caitlin and Mike whose shocking betrayal of all things English was brutal. But the British flag I wore around my neck was a balm to their patriotic wound. I converted them back to the way of the crown. While I enjoyed a mimosa, I was given ten questions to answer:

  1. What city is known as the second city not because of its population, but because of it rebuilding itself after the fire of 1871? Chicago!
  2. This Mayor of Chicago was the second Mayor whose father also was Mayor of Chicago? Richard M. Daley
  3. This park was built by the above Mayor that was supposed to open at the time of its name, but instead opened four years later? Millennium Park
  4. This park was no small plan. Who do Chicago planners always quote when they say to make no small plans? Daniel Burnham
  5. Scott has been kidnapped by Le Capitain Francais. What in the world is he up to? You’ll just have to find out, won’t you?
  6. What was Scott’s favorite team name that he ever came up with while participating in your trivia night? Team Hubris
  7. Who is Scott’s Favorite Monarch, and who does Le Capitain Francais hate most in the world? Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
  8. This sculpture Scott thinks of as the Space Bean. What is its real name? Cloud Gate
  9. You can see everything in the Space Bean. Who built it? Anish Kapoor
  10. Space Bean is excellent for hiding things. Where do you think the next clue is hidden? Under it of course.

I answered the questions and managed to piece together the next clue. To the Loop!

Though they were former agents of France, Caitlin and Mike gave me a ride to the Loop so I could uncover the next part of this evil plan.

In Millennium Park, I made a beeline for the Bean. Underneath its shiny exterior reflecting the glorious city and people around it, I found Sharon and Jennie. I blessed them with the flag to remove the stain of their treachery. I received my next clue:

You don’t have to wade through Muddy Waters to take the #60 to Taylor Street. Walk south to Maxwell  to find the man who will listen but does not speak. Pull up a crate and sing him the blues.

Who could this silent man be? Where would the #60 take me? Well, only one way to find out. So I got on the next #60 bus with the blessing of Sharon and Jennie. After a thrilling bus ride, I got off at Taylor and Halsted and made my way to Maxwell. After a wrong turn on Maxwell, I suddenly encountered some wondrous Blues statues. The location was the site of the old Maxwell Street Market before UIC moved it. I saw a statue of a guitarist singing the blues and knew that this was my silent man. I sat down on a crate next to him and sang him the Kidnapped Boyfriend Blues. That’s when I noticed that his set list had the following:

Bluesman set list

June 22nd 2014

  1. Baby Please Don’t GO
  2. The Things I used TO Do
  3. Price and JOY
  4. The Good American YEE-Haw
  5. Chicken NOODLE Soup
  6. Come IN My Kitchen
  7. CHINA Woman
  8. Back O’TOWN Blues

Reading between the lines, I knew that I had to go to Chinatown to Joy Yee. At this location, the French agents shocked me again! It was Paul and Sarah! But a dose of the good British flag helped them recover their good senses.

So I went to Chinatown and found yet another agent at Joy-Yee! It was Christina! Again my heart fluttered with all these secret French agents! I had a choice to make! There was Bun A or Bun B. “Choose Wisely,” she told me. I looked at the buns and chose the one with sesame seeds on top since sesame seeds are my allies as a rule. I took a glorious bite (red bean buns are my favorite) and found a laminated clue.

If you want to find Scott, you must go to the bridge where Clarence Darrow’s ghost still walks!

This meant Hyde Park, my old stomping grounds, place of our first date, land of lost academic dreams. I had to prepare myself for the ensuing battle. We went down to Hyde Park and parked near the MSI. The bridge was located behind there in a lovely wooded area (there is also a wonderful Japanese garden). Beth, Josh and Sophie were waiting to me. Hath French villainy no limits! I was asked several questions. Possibly approximately three.

  1. What is your quest? To save Scott and the British empire
  2. What is the shape of a bridge? A parabola
  3. If you turned it 90 degrees, what shape would you have? Or What is the third letter of the alphabet? C

I knew that I had to find the other bridge to save Scott! As I ventured closer, I saw hula hooper in the distance. That was odd. Was it a coincidence or part of the scheme? Suddenly, the hula hooper noticed me! It was Helena! She was a French mime! She captured me in her hula hoop and swung me around and around. Oh no! I was trapped in her hula hoop of doom! And then Capitain Francais, formerly known as Danielle, jumped out of the bushes with a baguette! She tried to beat me with it. She even tried to force feed me the evil French bread. I feared for the safety of my beloved and the freedom of England!

But then help arrived! It was Jim the Impossible Man Priz! England’s champion! He first freed me from the evil mime trap and turned her own hula hoop prison into her own. He announced, “There is only one key and I have it!” She was trapped like a mime in a box! Then he challenged Capitain Francais, herself! They had an amazing acrobatic battle with flips and turns. It was rather spectacular. After a few moments of outrageous struggle and daring-do on part of Jim the Impossible Man Priz, he yelled, “I’ve got this covered. Save Scott.” I could see Scott down in the pond, tied up, standing on a cement break wall. This was for love and glory!

I ran down the steep muddy hill dodging the many plants. I had to take off my shoes since I needed my feet for climbing. I got on the black wrought iron fence, carefully placing my feet as I climbed across it. I had to avoid spikes on the gate. Eventually I found myself on the cement break wall. Water surrounded me on the left and right. The only way was forward.

I carefully made my way to Scott, covered in British flags. I was so happy to see him alive and well. Those French villains couldn’t keep him from me! Scott told me,” I’m tied up. Help untie my hands.” So I untied his hands and that’s when the song, “Sea of Love” by Cat Power, started playing.

He got down on one knee and took out a beautiful bow tie ring. He asked me, “Will you tie the knot?”

Yes, a thousand times yes.

And for those of you who don’t believe me, this is how it happened.

Cross my heart and swear it on the British flag.





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