When I woke up from my spinny ride coma, we were in Ohio and it was sunny. Henry said he found a place to eat that received good reviews on Yelp, but when he pulled into the parking lot (directly across from a truck stop), I think he was reconsidering the source.
I’m sorry, but I’m not going to turn down the chance to eat at a restaurant that features old people praying over their food on the sign. And thank god we chose to eat there because it was fucking weird in that wood-paneled townie-hangout sense. The tables were covered with thick vinyl tablecloths in shades of the 1970s (browns, browns, oranges, and browns) so I knew this place was either going to have really fantastic home-cooked meals, or serve us congealed slop like that fucking cafeteria in Moundsville, WV.
Our waitress was this Midwestern Joan Cusackian prototype, something straight out of a 1980s indie movie who was eager to recommend her menu favorites and I wanted to give her all of my monies as a tip. She even had the official waitress stance: hand on one hip, other hip cocked, head slightly tilted.
This was probably when they were having a conversation about how badly I stress them out. Look how tired Henry looks, ahahahah.
Not praying over his food.
Chooch’s Bowl of Meat. I guess his dreams of becoming a vegetarian are long-forgotten. He basically orders sauce-less spaghetti just so he can get the meatball, and then Henry let him have some of his ribs. I sat there and daintily ate my veggie burger, not judging.
Meanwhile, some man at the table next to us laughed. Chooch immediately shouted, “OH GOD DID YOU HEAR THAT MAN’S LAUGH?!” and then exaggeratedly mimicked his guffaw. This man was sitting so close to us that I could have reached out and touched him, so if he was aware of this blatant mockery, he chose to ignore it like a pretty, pretty Christian.
“What? I learned this from you, Mommy!” Chooch cried at the exact same time Henry was wearily mumbling, “He learned this from you.”
OK then. Next lesson: “subtlety.”
Look at the décor in the place! It was all Jesus and sheep, everywhere. I wasn’t sure if I was expected to actually pray over my veggie burger. I don’t even remember how to say that grace thing, to be honest. Yikes.
After soaking up my Waldameer’s stomach acid with homemade chocolate peanut butter pie (which I said I was going to share with Henry and then basically left him one modest forkful because I guess I had more room in my gigantic stomach than I wanted to admit), we embarked for Windsor, Ohio: home of the (supposed) world’s largest statue of Mary.
Henry was pissed off when the GPS began labeling roads as “Road.”
“This better not be like that fucking cuckoo clock,” he threatened, referring to the time in 2010 when I made him go waaaay off route on our way home from Michigan so I could see “the world’s largest cuckoo clock” in some scary Ohio village and it ended up being abandoned in pieces in an empty lot. I’m obsessed with Swiss/Bavarian/German shit so it was worth it to be anyway, but Henry was pretty annoyed.
The detour was about 30 minutes off the highway, along horror movie roads and run-down farms, but we finally made it to some establishment called “Servants of Mary,” which made Henry start bitching about how I led him straight into the arms of a cult, but I think it was actually a convent.
Funny thing about Henry: most people assume I’m the huge sacrilegious whore of Satan, but he’s actually adamantly against all religion and hates partaking in my obsession with all things holy, which I enjoy for the aesthetic appeal only (at times even being brought to tears by religious art—there, I said it). Henry won’t even watch exorcism movies, or any other horror movie involving the church. I tried to get him to talk about it last night but all he would say was, “I JUST DON’T LIKE THOSE KINDS OF MOVIES, OK” so I have obviously taken this to mean that he was possessed and exorcised when he was a child in the 70s, holy fucking shit, Chooch might actually for real be borne of demon seed.
When I posted this photo on Facebook, my friend Octavia pointed out that it looked like Mary was being hoisted up by a horned Elvis surround by teeth. Accurate!
It was dusk by the time we arrived and no one was around. The statue is so far away from the road that we couldn’t even see it at first and Henry started to get all barrel-chested and was about .0005 seconds away from screaming, “WHY CAN’T YOU EVER CHECK TO MAKE SURE THESE PLACES ACTUALLY EXIST?!!?” But then I walked a little bit closer and saw her sitting there, way out past the nondescript brick church and gift shop. (So sad that the gift shop was closed. Imagine the bounty I could have brought home!)
Chooch and I started running toward Mary, which made Henry all ruffled because apparently this shit is on someone’s farm and he didn’t want us getting out of line. Like we would ever embarrass him!
“This is super creepy,” Chooch whispered as we got closer. And it really was. It reminded me of the dancing acolytes at the Palace of Gold in West Virginia. I get that these things are supposed to be beautiful and celebrated, but my god, why do they have to look like they come alive at night?!
All kinds of devotional bullshit was strewn at Mary’s feet. Henry was getting antsy because Chooch and I wanted to look at every single thing and the sun was setting faster and faster and OMG HENRY WAS GETTING SO SCARED OF THE DARK.
Arm hair sufficiently raised now, thanks.
I have to say, I’m glad it was so late when we arrived, because it really added to the ambiance. I bet during the day, droves of old people come out to sit on benches and rifle through their fanny packs for tissue into which to soak up their old people post nasal drip. But at dusk, it was FUCKING SCARY! I had goosebumps the whole time. And not the TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL kind, either. But the “Holy fucking shit I’m approaching the Neverending Story Riddle Gate, fuckkkk I’m going to die tonight” kind of goosebumps.
These illuminated bulbs are meant to be a rosary encircling a small lake.
Teacher: Chooch, what did you do over the summer?
Chooch: I saw a scary Mary giant and tried to steal coins out of Jesus’s hand. Duh.
I mean, it is pretty impressive! And Chooch and I both agreed that it was totally worth the detour. “But I’ll probably have nightmares,” Chooch added, and Henry just frowned.
We passed an open barn on the way back to the car and freaked out when we heard rustling from within. I was waiting for the crazed owner of the land to come out in full Wolf Creek mode and feed us to Mary, but it turned out to just be rabbits in cages. Which will probably be fed to Mary.