Tonia Flippen, 37
Big Star patio, 1531 North Damen Avenue
It’s my birthday! I’ve been having a great one!
You’re wearing a sombrero, so that’s a good sign.
One of my friends gave me this as a present!
Is the sombrero an outdoor drinking necessity?
Um, probably if I was worried about UV. But obviously I’m tan, so I really couldn’t care less. Are you really fucking kidding me? I like to be outside in the sun. Vitamin D!
So what else happened on your birthday?
Well, I’m a teacher, so I went to school and one of my kids brought me a cake. A little brownnoser! Another teacher baked me a lemon cake. I got droves of Facebook messages. It was kind of overwhelming, like, God, I have all these people in my life. It’s funny how many people you’ve met over your life span that you’ve connected with and they remember you and love you.
I don’t mean to be a killjoy, but Facebook sends automatic messages on birthdays.
Yes, it does. But they all said, “Make sure that you make it home safe and you get to work, because you’re a lush!” They knew I’d be drinking.
What have you been drinking?
Margaritas for this senorita! This is the first time in a few years that I’ve celebrated my birthday. I went on the down-low for the past couple years.
You didn’t want people to know you’re aging?
No, you just go through those phases in your life where you’re like, “Fuck Chicago!” And then you’re like, “Oh, okay, I’ll embrace it again.”
What grade do you teach?
Third. Be afraid. Be very afraid. The students love to hate me. I’m very strict. I work in the Austin neighborhood, an area where a lot of people don’t want to teach.
So you have to crack the whip?
Yes. At work is the only place I’m organized. Outside work I can have a margarita or 12.