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A mom’s night out in Madison
Em's Gucci dinner
EMILY AND HER COUSIN Hannah snuck away to Madison for a ‘girl’s night out’ a few weeks ago. The two treated themselves to a ‘small plates’ dinner treat before attending a concert and staying out until bar time.

GAYS MILLS - I’ve gotten pretty lucky the last couple of months in terms of going on adventures. First, I took an epic trip with my best friend to an amusement park, and just last weekend, I went and whooped it up in our state capitol. 

On a whim, I mentioned going to a concert for a band called ‘The Wood Brothers,’ way back in the summer time. My cousin, who is a very proactive-personality type, got right on it the day of the ticket presale and scored front row seats. 

Months have passed and I kept forgetting we were going until it inched closer on the calendar.

Friday after work we took off in her car to the big city, arriving just in time at our first destination–the ‘fancy schmancy’ Madison Concourse Hotel. 

Often anymore when I go places, it seems my hillbilly side happens to be hanging out. So, I didn’t even notice when we hobbled into this upscale establishment in our holey old jeans, aggressive snow boots and six pack full of beer, that we were a little out of place. It only became apparent when we made it up from the parking garage and into a sea of young professionals, all wearing business suits, lovely high heels and carrying designer handbags. 

Luckily, Hannah is intimidated by no man or woman, and she led the charge straight through to the desk for us to check in, six-pack extended out front like her battle sword. I followed behind, clip clopping through, probably dribbling mud across the marble floor, trying not to drop any of my belongings out of my old canvas bag. 

Once in our room, we enjoyed the view of the capitol and the incredible bed. There were moments that I wished I didn’t even have to go to the show at all–just taking a nice long nap in my very own queen-sized bed seemed totally sufficient to me. But alas, we had dinner obligations with other family members and needed to set off on the second half of our journey. 

For this, we engaged in the not-so-new-anymore-but-still-new-to-me trend of the Lyft. 

I’ll admit that when I was in Gurnee at Great America, I intended on using one. But, couldn’t figure out the app. But we had no troubles this time and our driver was able to get us to our destination, The Pig in a Fur Coat, at breakneck speed in downtown Madison rush hour traffic. 

The Pig in a Fur Coat is an upscale restaurant in my old neighborhood on Willy Street. When I lived there, now many years ago, I was too broke to even considering going in. But tonight was a night for feeling fancy, so we met some family there for an adventure in small plates. 

We dined on beef-fat-fried French fries, a humble slice of pork belly elegantly draped over a pile of Sauerkraut, and what was supposed to be a ravioli, but turned out to be a pocket of egg yolk and ricotta cheese.  It kept with the theme of the evening, ‘fancy schmancy’ indeed. 

I had forgotten what it was like to wander down a city street on a Friday night. So many things have changed in the six years since I lived down there. Many old shabby places have gotten a fancy new look; appealing to the young, upscale professionals who now live there. 

It was an oasis of the familiar though when we reached the Barrymore, for it has not changed too much. It still offers the welcoming warm feel of an old theater. Greeted by the bustling crowd and distinct and strong smell of hot buttered popcorn.  It was a wonderful show; the band did a stellar job. 

It felt like it ended as quickly as it began and we were swept off once again in a Lyft ride to a downtown dive bar, where we met up with Chasca’s aunt and uncle for more fun. We played shuffleboard, and even a game of pool. It was fun to be an adult out in the world, and luckily my loving family humored me as I blathered on and on about my kids and personal life, probably to an obnoxious extent, knowing, I don’t get out much. 

Suddenly the bartender was switching off the lights and shuffling us all out the door. I couldn’t believe at the moment that a grizzled old mom like me stayed out all the way to bar time. Hannah just laughed and reminded me “You’re only 30 Emmy!” I’m pretty sure though I may have referred to myself as a ‘weathered old crone’ a couple of times. 

Just as Cinderella turns back into her old self after midnight, Hannah and I went back to mom life right around 7 a.m. when we just couldn't manage to sleep any longer, despite certainly still being tired. We hobbled down to the lobby once more. Looking a little worse for the wear than we did the day before and thankful that fancy schmancy hotels have Starbucks right in them. We grabbed our caffeinated beverages and bid the Capitol City adieu until next time. Because, although it is fun for a visit, there’s no place like our quiet home in the valley.