Again: Ravinia

Ahem: As Chips forgoes a hot & buggy night with the BoDeans in favor of learning (learning!), Salsa and I make the trek to Ravinia alone.

Although the weather threatens its usual downpour/storm/flood (a la "The Night That Would Not End," circa 2002)  it quickly becomes clear that any so-called "Ravinia Travel and/or Dining Curse" has, in fact, been perpetrated by Mrs. Smith all along. Any blame previously directed toward CV is therefore regretted and withdrawn.

To wit: I arrive downtown via Metra train without incident; Salsa and I drive to Highland Park in record time; diverted from the main parking corral, we find a free lot just blocks away from the festival.

Hmmm.

Two rented lawnchairs and a side table later, I somehow manage to insult a group of four strangers by kindly asking them to please make sure no one wanders off with said rentals. Whatever; strangers like these are the reason I hate strangers. The carry-out dinner, while expensive by normal-eating standards, also goes off without a hitch: a prime rib sandwich, the garlic/parmesan fries I have long coveted (bacon & cheddar-loaded for Salsa), and a nice cold beer all go down smoothly. The poor suckers at the Buffets-from-the-World tables look on with longing and regret.

Darkness falls. The bugs arrive. The Deep Woods Off! seems to work (fingers crossed -- no sign of West Nile yet). The BoDeans play in their mellow, inoffensive BoDeans way. There is random dancing on the lawn but the niceties of personal space and picnic boundaries are observed; the Tweeter Center should take a lesson. Candles flicker and sparklers sparkle. Children frolic unobtrusively along the sidelines, the ice cream is good as ever. The rain waits. The crowd is friendly. All is politeness.

And afterward? A Saugatuck-like stroll back to the free lot, where intuition and a little blind faith lead Salsa to the Best Accidental Detour ever, allowing him to circumvent the dreaded Lake-Cook post-show traffic jam for a quick, clean getaway.

Lesson learned? Mrs. Smith will be invited back next year, but she's no longer allowed to A) drive or B) direct. It's just not worth the pain.

Next up: Patti LuPone. Woo hoo!