We didn’t have much time after eating breakfast at the Traveler’s Club International Restaurant in Michigan (it doubles as a TUBA MUSEUM and was a great pick by our tour guides, Bill & Jessi) because I had this dire urge to see the world’s largest cuckoo clock in Sugarcreek, Ohio. Every time I brought it up to Henry, he tugged on his collar and looked around for diversions, chainsaw guys, ditches in which to push me.
I wouldn’t drop it, though, and continued down the list of merits I had made for the cuckoo clock.
By 2:00pm, we were on the road. We made a quick stop in Luna Pier, because seeing Lake Erie was another very pressing thing on my list. Sure, I’ve seen Lake Erie from Pennsylvania and Ohio, even took a boat tour in Cleveland (if you were me, you too could live such a thrilling life). But I really needed to see it from MICHIGAN.
That fruity red dot of menstruation up there is Henry.
This is the closest thing to a beach we’ve come to since that shitty fucktastic trip to Okracoke we took in 2006 with those asshole Civil War reenactors. Chooch and I kicked off our shoes and took off.
Henry’s feet never even touched the sand. “It’s just Lake Erie,” he kept saying, while Chooch and I squealed and frolicked like Hansel and Gretel dining on the witch’s carcass. Spectators probably thought we had just been let out of our cage in the basement. Henry does resemble a grizzled captor. In fact, on our way to Michigan, I mouthed “help” to the girl in the toll booth. Thanks for all the help, whore.
After Luna Pier, A LOT of driving happened. I found religious programming on the radio and pretended to be holy for a good hour while Henry scowled and periodically asked, “Can we turn this now?” while Chooch read his comic books quietly in the backseat. Jesus music is calming. Or maybe it’s hypnotic. In either case, it zipped my child’s lips, so praise be to Jesus and his Lambs of Christ.
At some point in Ohio, we turned off the highway and found ourselves up to our ears in Amish. (Henry says they were Mennonites, so we argued about that for awhile.) We rounded a bend and an old Amish man was standing on the side of the road.
“What? He’s probably just waiting for a buggy,” Henry reasoned.
“He looked to me like he was cursing us bastard civilians,” I argued. And then, “What happens if you run over an Amish person?”
Henry averted his eyes from the road long enough to look at me in disgust. “Um, you go to JAIL. They are people,” he reminded me. “Not animals.” A minute passed and I heard him repeat my question under his breath, shaking his head in exhaustion.
I didn’t know if they utilized the same legal system as us, OK? Jesus Christ, Henry. I thought maybe they left it up to the Lord; chased you around the farm with pitchforks, Benny Hill-style.
Aside from Amish culture, other things that jack off my fascination are all things Bavarian and Swiss, hence my determination to see this fucking cuckoo clock. Some of my fondest memories are from childhood trips to Europe, helping my grandparents pick out cuckoo clocks in the Black Forest and traversing covered bridges in Lucerne. Eating fondue and watching lederhosened men blow into those Ricola horns. That’s always been my favorite region of Europe. And since returning there is nowhere in my near future, making pilgrimages to chintzy, kitschy Swiss-American tourist traps is the best I can do to keep my heart full of Toblerone and army knives.
I regaled Henry with stories from these past vacations while he prayed the GPS on his phone wasn’t leading us to our fate of becoming shoo-fly pie filling.
“You weren’t even listening to me,” I whined as he consulted his phone.
“Yes I was, and I’ve heard all of those stories before.”
Bastard. What a fucking bastard.
Here are some of my tweets from the Great Cuckoo Clock Pursuance, to give you a real-time feel for the awesomeness of being in our car:
- Chooch is too engrossed in his new comics to realize something other than screamo is coming out the speakers. http://moby.to/nhcrn6
- If I don’t see a motherfucking cuckoo clock today….I’ll likely survive, but STILL. I better see a motherfucking cuckoo clock.
- In span of 2 min: angered when a flock of Menonites snubbed me, horrified at sound of church bells, hungered by sight of cheese factory.
- Motherfucking train just cuckoo clock-blocked me. http://twitpic.com/2lnc9d
- What a dick my son is, hollering LOOK MOMMY AMISH PEOPLE! When there ARENT ANY AMISH PEOPLE. Now he’s laughing maliciously.
- Me: Just ask those sluts where the cuckoo clock is. Henry: Um, that’s a guy & his kid. (YEAH SO?)
About the same time my phone lost service, we crossed the threshold for the town of Sugarcreek, Ohio’s Swiss Wonderland.
The bad vibes were immediate. Something made me feel uncomfortable; maybe it was the lack of people and how it caused the town to be quiet as a graveyard. I don’t even really remember many cars passing by, although we did see a cop idling in a parking lot with a book.
The downtown portion of Sugarcreek was quaint, charming. But also mostly deserted. There seemed to be some people in one of the restaurants, which has swiss steak on special. I wanted to go. Not to eat the swiss steak, but to see what the townies were like. Henry said no, of course. Why eat at a real restaurant when we can stop at a gas station and get hot dogs?! (Because that’s seriously what he did. And I got a Special K bar. Now there’s a real meal to say grace for.)
Henry’s GPS alerted him to make a left off the main road. A few feet later, I saw it.
And it was in pieces.
I didn’t tell Henry this, but a Roadside America user posted a tip saying that as of March, the cuckoo clock was out of commission for repairs. If I told him that, he definitely wouldn’t have taken the chance. But I thought maybe it might have been all bandaged up by then and ready to cuckoo. I needed to see for myself.
“You’re a fucking asshole,” Henry muttered. But we got out of the car anyway. Chooch and I went over for a closer inspection while Henry leaned against the car, texting his work boyfriend about what an awful lay his shitty girlfriend is.
Further research (which would have been helpful prior to making this ridiculous detour) informed me that pieces of the clock have been auctioned off, including the evergreens and little Swiss people.
Shit, I thought driving through the town was creepy? Poking around this over-sized clock at dusk was even more spine-tingling. I had a distinct sensation that townies were watching us from their windows, sizing us up for future cuckoo clock adornments. Can you picture a taxidermied-Chooch twirling out from the clock’s bowels every hour? Because I kind of can. I ushered him back into the car, ducking around Henry’s choleric glare.
“We should come back for the Swiss Festival in October,” I suggested, reading from the town’s official website on my phone. I looked up just in time to see Henry vivisecting me with his mind.
Somewhere between more Amish arguments (which found Henry yelling, “Shoo fly pie is regional!”) and crossing the Pennsylvania border, two vultures nearly careened into (MY SIDE OF) the windshield.
[Ed.Note 8/5/12: I still want to go back here sometime for the Swiss Festival! Who’s with me?!]