Monday, May 14, 2012

Say You, Say Free

Our downtown date night is nearly upon us! And in anticipation of this event, I've been tidiously toning my body through a strict regiment of cardio and Pilates. A body, which is being fueled by an abusive cabbage diet. All this - - so that I look my best when the lights go dim. As the days grew long and the nights short, the anticipation surrounding our night grew. With the smell of sauerkraut staining our living space, I wondered where would we eat? What it would cost, and more importanly, could I get it for free? My first instinct was steak, then fondue finally I decided on to take on the creatures of the deep... seafood. After careful considerations I've concluded that there is no place better than the legendary Shaw's Crab House. So, with room in hand, could a free meal be within reach?

Dear Shaw's Crab House,

I just finished eating a taco salad, the Midwest kind - - You know the one with the Doritos, iceberg lettuce and French dressing. It was good - - decent. It tasted like 8th grade. The other day I made Sloppy Joes. My two little girls we’re repulsed and cried when I showed them dinner. My 6-year-old, she’s pretty smart, she said the slice of melted American cheese looked “unnatural.” I didn’t disagree. I don’t cook like this all the time, only when the day gets away from me. This is becoming more and more frequent. It was obvious - - I needed to be rejuvenated and there are only three things in this world that gets my blood pumping: Banana flavored candy, the idea that the government is hiding a secret alien recipe for an all encompassing universal toothpaste and super delicious food. So after a trip to Costco where I replenished my stash of yellow Laffy-Taffy, I sat back and hatched a plan, a social experiment.

Now I have eaten at a ton of restaurants, good, bad and Chili’s. But how can I possibly call myself a “foodie,” and resident of Chicago, when I’ve never experienced the culinary depths of Shaw’s Crab House? It’s sorta like sayin’ you’re a Lionel Richie super fan, but then completely dismissing “Say You, Say Me,” which is by far one of the most under rated songs of all time. 

But alas, after a 33-hour sugar coma, I had a clarity and purpose, the likes of which I've never known. I understood why I haven’t eaten at your restaurant, seen the Grand Canyon and after years of searching for a reason, I begrudgingly accepted why an ALF movie was never made… Time and money… mostly money (and ALF was a black-listed Hollywood racist!)

My plan is simple, find the time - - try not to spend the money. What will happen when I write fun people, great companies and Scandinavian countries and ask them to do the extraordinary, the unthinkable, when I ask them for “free?” The response has been obscenely positive. In fact your neighbors at The Hotel Palomar graciously set my wife and I up for a night on Saturday, May 19th. With fancy sleeping quarters at-the-ready, I was presented with the prefect opportunity to add a meal to our long overdue date night. So here it is… Will you Shaw’s Crab House, allow me, (a "creatively-bored" stay-at-home-dad) and my wife the privilege of eating at your wonderful establishment for free? In return, you will reserve a spot on "The Official Awesome List" of my blog “Life Between Naps” and quite possibly inspire me to cook a feastly brunch worthy of a thousand Viking Kings. Please consider giving “free,” or "close to free” a chance.

Thank you for any and all considerations.

Jim Noonan

After several pleasant dreams and one nightmare involving killer dungeness crabs, I would like to thank Amanda, Jeffery and all the good people at Shaw's Crab House for giving us the opportunity to stuff our food holes with all the sushi, shrimp, crab, tuna, grouper, lobster, steak and cocktails we can physically handle. Awesome company. Awesome Restaurant. Awesome people. LBN is happy to announce that Shaw's Crab House has staked it's claim on The Official Awesome List of LBN. Thank you Shaw's for giving "free" a chance.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Hulk & The Palomar

Last year I forgot our anniversary. Forgot! Like not even close to remembering! I just thought the tickets to see Ricky Gervais, the dinner, the uh... other stuff was just an awesome weekend. Then Cathy asked whether or not I got her anything. I paused, smiled and tried to give her the uh... other stuff again. It took 2 nights on the couch and an all to easy (for her) day of silence and disgusted looks until I realized my error. So... in order to make it up to her, I'm starting early. She's gonna get the anniversary present of a lifetime! I'm gonna take her to go see highly anticipated summer blockbuster The Avengers.

Of course she'll be repulsed by this, so I'll attempt to sweeten the deal by trying to get a night stay at one of Chicago's most beautiful hotels... The Palomar. Essentially my goal is to spend the same amount of money as last year (nothin') but add thought and recognition. If everything goes as planned we should have a delightful night of pleasant conversation, loving gazes and a bunch of uh...other stuff.

Dear Hotel Palomar,

I don’t know what you may/may not have heard, but I’ve never slept with you. Don’t get me wrong you’re pretty - - real pretty. I like you; you’re classier than the others. Sometimes at night I drive by just to see if you’re still there, you know, if you’re busy. I know this is embarrassing for me, so I can’t imagine how this feels for you. Maybe you get letters like this all the time, maybe you just hand them over to your “Manager,” but I have to act on my urges, I’m only human, I have desires.

I’m just a regular guy, a family man, a nerd, guys like me are a dime a dozen. But you - - you’re the captain of the cheerleading squad, the Prom Queen. Everyone loves you. In fact, you’ve definitely given a couple of my buddies the night of their lives. Ugh, I get jealous just thinking about it. So the other day and I don’t quite know why, I told a friend of mine that I’ve actually slept with you…. on several occasions! He was amazed; he didn’t think I had that kind of money. It was a slippery game of deception and a blatant attempt to gain popularity, to feel cool, to say I was inside of you. It was all a lie. Lies! Lies! Lies!

You see I’m a stay-at-home-dad with two little girls and a wife who works 60 hours a week. I don’t know what it feels like to have a real night out on the town, with the wife, as a couple, away from the kids. The last time we tried, the Super 8 was booked. Yes, The Super 8! Seriously?! They have rooms for everybody… I mean, come on - - In my early twenties, I was in and out of a Super 8 every night. They’re cheap, convenient and you can get one on every corner. Needless to say, it was a sad attempt at getting away for the weekend, we ended up spending 6 hours at an Applebee’s. With nothing left to lose, I came up with an idea. What if I just asked? This is not a crude ploy to get a free night’s stay at a world-class hotel; this is a social experiment!

Here it is… Will you, Hotel Palomar, let my wife (she’s nice) and I stay with you for free? I know it’s a lot to handle, you don’t usually work for “free,” but I have to ask. And wait… it gets better, (or worse, you may have already stopped reading) I have a blog with a pretty decent following. Imagine the “free” publicity you’ll get when I show the world this letter and how you'll personally feel the satisfaction by allowing my wife and I get away. You can prove to the world that sometimes all you have to do is ask. Nothing bad can happen, it’s all good. Do I expect you to say, “Yes, here’s the key card to the suite,” No. Would it be a heart-warming feel good story if you did? Yes.

Thank you for any considerations that you may give to this ridiculous request.

Jim Noonan

Three days later I was contacted by the lovely folks at the Hotel Palomar. They loved the letter and are graciously allowing us to spend the night with them in a King Spa Premier Room! They are straight up awesome and are the first official hotel of LBN.