Being a teenager and going to Kennywood for our school picnic day was A REALLY BIG DEAL. You had to go out and buy a new skanky outfit (I always got mine from Merry-Go-Round, RIP pleather ghetto couture). I mean, you HAD to. Going to Kennywood in last week’s fishnet tank, looking like a cheap hood rat? Unacceptable. How you gon’ hit a home run behind a picnic grove wrapped in a faded B.U.M. Equipment t-shirt?
What I like about Delgrosso’s is that you could step into your basic potato sack, strip your face of makeup and shear yourself a mullet and still look better than most of the people there on any given day. (The employees, however, are young and pleasantly scene. They all probably had at least three Jonny Craig songs on their iPods.) The park is surrounded by nary a big city, but rather rural villages, so imagine Mabel ripping the curlers from her hair and hollerin’, “Earl! I just finished warshin’ the clothes down at the crick, so get the Pinto off the cinder blocks ‘cuz we gon’ to Delgrosso’s!”
(Altoona & Johnstown are nearby, but I’m not sure that really counts.)
You’ll get your fair share of men in suspenders, is all I’m saying. And not the kinds worn with hipster irony, either, but real suspenders meant to hitch a pair of farmer’s pants over a sweat stained-NASCAR shirted beer belly.
So Sunday morning, I threw on some jeans and a black t-shirt, smeared on some light makeup, ran a brush through my hair for good measure, and I was confident that I could still pass for Prom Queen. Even though I’m pretty sure my sweater had a rolled-up Star Wars sticker adhered to it all day.
In front of us in line for the Tilt-a-Whirl was a man in a non-descript blue-gray t-shirt (it had a logo on the front; I’m guessing a local plumbing company), camo shorts and a matching camo bandanna. Knowing what you now know about the closets of Delgrosso’s average demographic, you would think that I wouldn’t even give this guy a second glance. But I did, and then a million more glances followed, which eventually turned into full-blown, open-mouthed stares.
I pulled Henry close. “Doesn’t he look like Jonny Craig?” I whispered on a rocking bed of giggles. Henry gave him a once-over that lasted approximately .00001 seconds and then smirked.
“Um, no,” he said and then went back to looking at maps on his phone. What? That’s what I imagine he’s looking at every time I catch him with his glasses lifted up, nose-to-phone. Map porn.
Seriously, I know this is going to be a real imagination-bender, but try to imagine a white trash(ier) Jonny Craig, stripped of his TOMS, knit hats and music career, wearing Crocs and pro-America t-shirts featuring flags, mountains and moose; now accelerate his age to somewhere around 40, give him an over-weight wife double his size in the aforementioned potato sack and two of the homeliest ginger pre-teen daughters you’ve seen this side of Appalachia.
Could. Not. Stop. Staring.
“This is Jonny Craig’s future unless I can save him!” I cried to Chooch as the Til-A-Whirl flung us around. Jonny Sr. and his Frumpy Missus had chosen the car across from us, so after every other revolution, we would be face-to-face with them. I know he is unhappily married because not once did I see him smile and what kind of person takes a twirl on the Tilt-a-Whirl without cracking a smile? Serial killers and discontent husbands with frumpy wives, that’s who. I inadvertently (OK, totally on purpose) made some hardcore eye contact with Jonny Sr. Suddenly, I was thankful that I at least chose to wear a t-shirt that was tight and low-cut, and not one of Henry’s billowy Faygo Red Pop smocks.
Wait. Why do I care what I’m wearing? I asked myself inside my head, about to have a complete existential crisis on the goddamn Tilt-a-Whirl.
OMG BECAUSE I HAD A CRUSH ON JONNY SR NOW. HE TOTALLY HAD THE SAME, CLOSE-SET WEASEL EYES AS MY JONNY CRAIG.
And thus began an afternoon of old school cat and mouse stalking. Thank god Delgrosso’s is such a small park!
When I saw him in line for the Crazy Mouse, I legit nearly tripped my own child as I sprinted over to snatch a spot behind him. Some other downtrodden family with eighteen box car kids got there before I did, which angered me but really it was probably for the best. I can’t promise for sure that I wouldn’t have done something stupid.
At first, Henry just thought my urgency in grabbing a spot in line was because I was that excited to ride the Crazy Mouse for the third time that afternoon, until he interpreted my throaty giggles to mean, “I am standing five feet away from today’s prey.” He actually left Chooch and me alone in line because he was that embarrassed. But I like to pretend it was because he didn’t want to impede on my game.
Henry runs the gamut of emotions when it comes to this stuff. He starts off mildly amused, then annoyed, maybe a little embarrassed, there’s always a plateau where he is completely worried and concerned, and then it usually ends with him angry.
Chooch and Henry rode the carousel together, while I sat my ass on a bench and took pictures. Every time their horses would buoyantly carry them around to the tune of Liberace’s music box collection, Henry would see me laughing and smiling, so he would laugh and smile, too, like we were having a true 1950’s TV family moment. When they rejoined me afterward, Henry said surly, “I couldn’t understand why you looked so happy until I was getting off the carousel and saw that that guy was on here with us too.” He was! He was sitting on one of the benches with his wife while their backwoods offspring were each dryhumping a horse, and he totally fell asleep. I HOPE HE DREAMT OF ME.
Later, Henry was buying us ice cream cones, and Jonny Sr came over to buy nachos! This is him BUYING NACHOS!
Henry kept trying to block me from taking his picture. “HE’S TOTALLY STARING AT YOU, OK?!” Henry hissed at me, running his hand through his non-ginger hair.
“Oh my god, really!?” I cried. “Do you think it’s because he likes me too!?”
“No! It’s because you’re being totally fucking obvious!” And then Henry sighed and said, “Whatever, do what you want.”
I’ll tell you what I wanted to do. I wanted to follow him around the park so he could watch me fellate my jimmied ice cream cone, but Henry deemed that it was time to go. So we all headed over to the park’s entrance when Chooch, bless his heart, started crying about wanting to go on one more ride before we left. So he and I hurriedly downed our cones and rode the kiddie free fall ride that’s next to the Wacky Worm. We rejoined Henry afterward, and I clutched his arm, begging him to let us take one final stroll through the park.
“For what?!” Henry spat.
“Um, I don’t know. I just want to get one more look. You know, before I say goodbye,” I stammered.
“You don’t have to walk through the park for what you want to do,” Henry sighed. I was confused about what he meant, until I turned toward the direction of the park entrance and THERE WAS JONNY SR, WALKING TOWARD US WITH HIS HOMELY WIFE! Instead of basking in his Elder Jonny Craigness while I had the opportunity, I clung to Henry’s arm and burrowed my face in his side, giggling and spitting all over his t-shirt. I was convinced that I was IN LOVE with this man and was about two more furtive glances away from actively seeking a way to go home with him. I really fucking disgust myself sometimes.
Still, this wasn’t enough. I needed to see him again. And again and again. So right before we left the park, I squeezed Henry’s arm and shouted, “Wait! You said you wanted to buy some of that potato salad to take home!” (Our friends Chris and Kari told us that Delgrosso’s is notorious for having the best potato salad of all time, and it’s a good thing I’m the authority on this and was able to confirm that yes, this is true. It was the best and I am right now sitting at my desk at work, remembering the creamy sex of it all.)
I know that Henry really wanted to turn around and go back for a tub of it, and probably he would have if the threat of Jonny Sr wasn’t lurking around like sleazy land mines of infidelity in the park. But instead, he was like, “Nah, maybe next time.” That ginger-hating asshole.
Many hours later, as we were getting ready for bed, I asked Henry if he thought Jonny Sr liked me back in a hyper-tone extremely reminiscent of a 7th grader seeing her crush at the mall and spending the next 6 hours interrogating her friends regarding every nuance of his eyebrow arch. (Not that I could relate to that.)
Henry put his pillow over his face and turned his back toward me.
I leave you with some Jonny Craig for your ears! And possibly a Henry Interview tomorrow!