It turned out to be A Really Good Thing that Henry was able to go to Cleveland with us after all, otherwise you’d have to address our Christmas card to:
Erin & Chooch
Whatever Zip Code
In other words, it started snowing almost as soon as we crossed the Ohio state line, but what else is new when we go to Ohio between the months of November and April? And then of course we hit rush hour, so by the time we made it Cleveland Heights, we didn’t have as much time as I had hoped before the Never Shout Never show started.
Henry had to deal with aquiring quarters for the parking garage meter and told us to just go on without him. Literally, all Chooch and I had to do was cross the street and walk straight into Big Fun. It seemed like for sure something we could without Henry’s supervision, and there was even a handy crosswalk right there too.
But for some reason, right as we stepped onto the curb after a victorious street-crossing session, Chooch was figeting with his coat and said, “Help me.” He didn’t cry it out, he wasn’t waving a white flag, he just simply said the words, “help me.” At that precise moment, a middle-aged woman was walking by and before I had a chance to ask Chooch what he needed help with, the woman stopped dead in her tracks and in a voice rife with concern, she asked Chooch if he was OK.
He just looked at her without saying anything, because, ew, stranger. So I answered for him and said he was fine.
“ARE YOU SURE?” she persisted, searching his face for some sign of an amber alert.
We both nervously mumbled “yes” and started to walk past her.
“Are you going in there?” she asked, gesturing toward the awesome Cleveland toy store, Big Fun.
I nodded and she said, “Here, let me get that” and cut us off so that she could open the door for us, which I guess was nice, but I was really paranoid at this point. And then she followed us inside far enough to make sure we safe, I guess, before retreating.
I still have no idea what Chooch needed help with, and he was too distracted by Simpsons memorabilia at that point to tell me. Then it occurred to me that Chooch and I probably look like lost, shivering foreigners when we’re out in the cold on our own, so props to that lady for her concern, I guess.
After buying some Secret Santa goods at Big Fun, we walked down the street to Tommy’s for dinner. I can’t believe how many times I’ve been on that street in Cleveland, killing time before shows at the Grog Shop, and have never once bothered to step inside this seemingly unassuming restaurant. But then one day awhile back, Henry was all, “Hey did you know that there’s a vegetarian place right by the Grog Shop?” They serve meat-things there too, but the vegetarian selections are staggering. There aren’t many places where I can eat a grilled tempeh sandwich while Chooch and Henry nosh on cow.
A few minutes after I ordered a sandwich named after my Catholic School Mom-Nemesis’s daughter and vowed to savor every last bite, I casually looked over to me left and saw the Concerned Passerby, sitting alone at a table against a wall, totally staring me down. I quickly whipped my head back around and tried to avoid ever looking that direction again for the rest of my life, but of course my eyes kept accidentally roaming, because that’s what they do, accidentally make creepy eye contact with strangers. And without fail, my roaming eyes were rewarded with reciprocal stares every fucking time, why was she staring at me-he-he-he!?!?!?!??!
But then my Catholic School Mom Nemesis’s Daughter was placed before me and my eyes were too busy staring at that loaded motherfucker each time it was rhythmically raised up to my gnashing maw, so I forgot about Concerned Passerby for awhile.
“This is definitely in the top 5 sandwiches I’ve ever eaten,” I moaned to Henry.
“What are the other 4?” he asked.
“Nothing you made,” I retorted.
And then Concerned Passerby slammed her hand down on the table and cried out urgently, “YOU DROPPED SOMETHING!” My heart began to race, thinking I was being set up for a mugging, but her heads-up was directed toward the family at the table next to us. I watched the dad jump up in panic and retrieve something from the floor, but it must have been something not very great because he didn’t seem very concerned at all when he plunked the mystery object back down on the table. I’m going to go out on a limb here and wager that it was a crayon.
But then it made sense. She was just an aggressive good samaritan who thought she was doing good things, not raising blood pressures. And she was also clearly a little mentally-challenged, so that explains why she was so drawn to me and Chooch.
I won’t lie though, I did check my coat pockets after that to make sure her outburst wasn’t a diversion to pickpocket the Icebreaker Sours in my pocket. They were still there.
My compact is missing though.