Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


Wednesday, December 6

Gapers Block

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(With special assistance by Beth Wodnick and Suzanne Ritchie)

After several depressing bouts with men from online dating websites, I was about to throw in the towel. True, there were lots of guys to choose from, but most seemed to be of the same variety. I was starting to think all the guys in Chicago were identical�Cubs or Sox-loving, bratwurst-eating, beer-drinking, club-going Lincoln Park ex-frat boys livin' it up in a cube at a cushy job in a skyscraper downtown.

That is, until I came across The Captain.

In his profile, he had a picture of himself with an eye patch. He was 32, had a sexy black ponytail and goatee, a crooked smile and was about 5'11" with notably huge forearms (it said this in his online profile) and owned a spacious condominium in the Gold Coast. I immediately knew my search had come to its end. I knew I found the treasure I was seeking. X marks the spot.

"Cap" impressed me right from the start. He had a great tan, his forearms truly lived up to their promised brilliance, he was extremely well traveled and he owned the coolest parrot I had ever met. Cap had a special relationship with his parrot -- he rarely left home without Paulie and he even installed a special perch in the passenger seat of his Lincoln Navigator (with "Paulie II" custom painted in an arc-shape on the rear doors). I felt strange riding in the back seat, but Paulie got motion sick easily and I also didn't want him to think I was moving in on his space by taking his best mate away from him. Anyways, the car was large and plush and guzzled lots of gas and there was always an episode of "Gilligan's Island" on the 12-inch LCD television in the backseat.

On our first date we met at Kopi, noted for its spectacular first date atmosphere and charming service. It was his suggestion. Being surrounded by Lonely Planet guides and travel journals really allowed him to open up and share with me some of his many travel experiences, which seemed to be the most notable times in his life. Cap worked as a manager of Pier One Imports store and he often got to travel on business to various different countries by boat in order that the fragile foreign items could retain their proper landlocked shapes. So he told me.

On our second date, we went to see the tall ships come in at Navy Pier. The sun was setting, the water was calm and blue, the sky was traced with orange and red clouds and we watched the graceful sails cut the skyline and come towards us. He put his arm around me and when I looked into his eye (he claimed he wore the eye patch because of a "childhood accident" but I think he wore it for fashion), it welled up with tears. I could faintly see the reflection of the sails in his glassy blue iris and that was when I fell for him: hook, line and sinker.

We discovered that we had a few notable similarities: we were both Pisces, both looked better in gold than silver, both wore a lot of black and both had the same alarm clock�you know, the kind with the forest, wind and ocean effects. It was comforting to know that I was not the only one who could fall asleep to the forest and wake up to the ocean seven days a week. He understood.

As we got to know each other better, we gave each other pet names. While I usually just stuck to plain ol' "Cap" (or sometimes he insisted I call him "Sinbad") he often referred to me as his "Bonny." I was not quite sure what about "Lacey" inspired the name Bonny, but I'm thinking it had something to do with his mother and I think that's kind of admirable.

Cap was an excellent cook with a talent for preparing seafood. We almost always went out for fresh fare from Florida's fine coastal piers, but he also proved to be a fabulous fish fillet-er who was handy with a net in the Lake Michigan waters. He was so good at it, in fact, that I never had the heart to tell him I was vegetarian.

Paulie, Cap and I often visited the Shedd Aquarium and Cap would tell me many interesting scientific facts about the sea life that was not stated on the informational panels. Cap was an expert on sharks, whales, and enormous octopi -- but he was especially passionate about crocodiles. He was mildly obsessed with crocs and he informed me that later in the year he was to take a pilgrimage to the Everglades to study croc behavior more closely.

We spent many nights gazing at the stars on the lakefront with picnic dinners that often featured an abundance of citrus fruits and Chips Ahoy! cookies. Cassiopeia, Orion and Sagittarius were often characters in stories he would make up to entertain me. He kept a sextant in his Navigator despite the vehicle's advanced navigational system (it was then that I admitted that I owned an abacus before a calculator. We grew closer after I confessed this). He got me hooked on "analog" astronomy and we always looked up stars in old-school books by dudes like Galileo and Newton. I learned how to operate the sextant (and I taught him how to use my abacus) and we would often plot our coordinates while driving down I-94 for practice. I got pretty good at using it, I must admit.


Cap double-majored in physics and marine biology from a large university near Tampa. When I asked him why Tampa, he replied, "I was a huge Bucs fan and I really wanted to live close to their hometown. Then I got sick of the humidity in Florida and finished earning my degrees at a college in Pittsburgh. Fortunately, Pittsburgh's baseball team was pretty good so I didn�t feel too bad about leaving my beloved Buccaneers behind. After I finished college, Chicago seemed like the perfect city to settle down in -- a beautiful lakefront and not one but two cutthroat baseball teams!" I didn't tell him I loathed the sport, but I thought it was cute the way his eye twinkled when he got excited.

Things were going well with Cap. He would bring me shiny yellow jewelry and foreign coins from his travels. I got excited when he came back with the tiny boxes that clinked when they were shaken. We grew closer and closer and I was almost 100% convinced he would walk the plank for me. Then, I had the dream that changed it all.

The dream goes like this: The night was violently stormy and we were being tossed all over the ocean. My flowy off-the-shoulder white cotton dress was wind-blown and I had to use a narrow red scarf to tie back my long, black curly hair. I held a knife in my teeth as I scaled the net to free a line that had caught the mast, hindering the sails from moving properly. I climbed until I reached the height of the offensive tangled rope. Lightning flashed all around me and through the pelting rain I was able to maneuver from the net to the mast, securing my vertical position with a rope affixed to my waist. I threw the rope around the wooden pole, like a telephone repairman would scale a telephone pole with a leather strap. I removed the knife from my teeth and cut the tangled rope and the sail swung sharply into place, the strong wind snapping the fabric into full formation almost instantaneously. I smiled at my success, but just then I noticed that the rope holding me to the mast loosened abruptly. It was too late to act: I started to fall the 30 feet and right before I hit the deck, I saw Cap, eye gleaming, holding a series of small throwing knives in his hands. The rope holding me to the mast didn't just slip�he sabotaged me with those throwing knives! That's when I noticed that he had not just one eye as I was used to, but two! His other eye was not damaged at all, but was perfectly fine, and had so much time to adjust to darkness (what with it being under a black patch all the time) it was sharp and did not have trouble adjusting to the dark, stormy night. As I plunged to my death, the last thing I saw was the glint of the hook on his right hand and I knew that I had been betrayed in more ways than one.

After that dream, I could never look at Cap in the same light. I kept thinking he was going to backstab me or try to poison me (I started to notice all kinds of caustic substances in his condo). He often asked me what was wrong but I could never answer properly because I was always wondering if his eye was really okay under that patch. I think he picked up on my distrust because he would leave town without calling and he was tardy on enough occasions for me to get the hint that the relationship was going sour. I didn�t feel too bad though because I felt like my dream probably meant something and it�s good to trust your gut about things like this. The pieces were just not fitting together�the long work trips via boat, the gold jewelry, the Lincoln Navigator with the weird custom paint job on the back�I just felt like he was hiding something from me all the time and I did not trust him one bit. I was even starting to think that the jewelry he gave to me was not real gold after all!

In hindsight, I realize that the motives behind our courtship were trivial: I liked his forearms and he liked my booty. But it was an action-packed and exciting few months of dating The Captain and I look forward to my next good find on Ahooy! Personals. I'm a little nervous about diving into the dating scene once again, but I think I'll be ready for my next challenge. I honestly and eagerly anticipate whatever might blow in my direction.


About the Author(s)

Lacey Graves sails the city's seas at

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