My sole purpose on road trips is to assume the role of car DJ. Obviously. What else could I possibly be good for? I put on Loverboy to see if Henry would get that far-away look of nostalgia in his eyes.
So then I put on some good old Engelbert Humperdinck. Classic, you guys. Also, hair goals for Henry. Detached sideburns?! There’s absolutely no rhyme or reason to that. It looks like an accident. In other words: Henry could rock it.
While still in North Carolina, we began passing billboards for South of the Border, a TRUE TOURIST TRAP that I have only heard about, never visited. The first billboard I noticed said that it was 87 miles away.
“EIGHTY-SEVEN MILES AWAY? THAT’S SIDNEY CROSBY’S NUMBER. IT’S FATE. WE HAVE TO GO,” I squealed into the intercom of Wish Headquarters, also known as “Henry’s Ear.”
Then we passed another billboard that said South of the Border is 66 miles away! “THAT WAS MARIO LEMIEUX’S NUMBER! We’re going.”
See also:Letang’s number. Talbot’s number. Sutter’s number. And so on, and so forth.
I had a teacher in elementary school that said “and so on, and so forth” SO OFTEN. And then I never really heard it again.
Inside Henry’s head at this moment: The letters “FML” fucking each other and giving birth to baby Nancy Kerrigan “whhhhhhhhhy” sound bytes.
The gestation period for these types of mental burdens is very short.
Of course we stopped. And that place was dead. I don’t know what I was expected exactly but I thought it was going to be some sort of fannypacked madness. Tourists bustling about, darting to and fro, scooping up collector’s spoons and flurescent-brimmed visors.
But no. It was just us and a few other carfuls of weary travelers stopping for a bathroom & cold beverage.
I wanted to buy it all inside one of the large gift shops but Henry had that tight-lipped “DONT EVEN” expression on his idiot face, so instead I settled on a magnet and an ice cream dish in the shape of an ice cream cone that says South of the Border on it, which is already the new home to a succulent, THANKS FOR ASKING.
Chooch got nothing because he’s annoying.
At first I thought we were going to have to climb to the top of the sombrero, which is fine but it was 1000 degrees out and I can’t climb steps that are so exposed like those ones. NO FUCKING WAY. Turns out, all we had to do was pay some Mexican guy in the arcade $2 each and then another Mexican guy wordlessly ushered us into an elevator and hit the button. As soon as we began our ascent, I nervously laughed, “Haha, it’s a lot higher than I thought.” Our elevator chauffeur politely smiled but I’m sure his mental FMLs we’re currently embroiled in a steamy affair with Henry’s mental FMLs.
Yeah so then we arrived at the brim of ye ol’ sombrero and I proceeded to have an internal panic attack because I just can’t play the heights game anymore. I start hearing nuts and bolts popping in my head, and that slooooow squeak of bending metal, until whatever suspended platform I’m standing on snaps and I’m plummeting to my death along with whatever other idiot tourists are with me, and next thing you know there’s a new addition on Roadside America: “Former location of giant, roadside sombrero that hadn’t been inspected since 1984, where tragic tourist disaster occurred.”
Something like that. I’m writing this is in an un-air-conditioned house and occasionally black out.
Henry enjoys waiting until the last minute to book a hotel room. And for the rest of our vacation, “hotel” will be used loosely.
Half past bustling traveler’s mecca, more toward cesspool of sadness.
“What’s that? Oh just the sound of all my time & money being punted off the brim of a giant sombrero.”
It doesn’t seem that high, but it felt like I was standing on the shoulders of Andre the Giant while he was standing on the shoulders of Lady Liberty. Oh god, I just had a flashback and my legs did the jello thing again.
Still trying to book us a “hotel.”
Before we left, we stopped in a convenience store across the street called The Pantry, where I was certain we were going to get shot by two suspicious young men who came creepin’ on ah come-up. I didn’t say anything though because Henry gets really annoyed when my “unfounded paranoia” rears its ugly head-in-the-crosshairs. I had the whole thing scripted in my head though, right down to the Erin RIP Glenn that hopefully someone would be uncouth and crass enough to create.
There’s some local ginger ale maker in the area and I wanted to tour the factory but Henry either said nein or “it’s closed” or “go to hell”, either way it was probably Henry’s fault. It’s called Blenheim and thank god, so blessed, the convenience store sold it in glass bottles which is my dad’s favorite way to drink carbonated beverage. He’s kind of an enthusiast. So I figured, golly I better knock one back in my dad’s honor.
I chose the “hot” variety, which was smirk-worthy for Henry.
“Do you even know what that means?” The words fell from his patronizing lips like crumbs from the testosterone sandwich he was eating at the Mans Rule World, Gurlz Dumm convention he’s perpetually attending in his head. “It means it’s extra ginger-y. You’re not going to like it.”
Yeah, well, guess who liked it, motherfucker? Ten kicks to man’s universal ballsack for all womankind.
Continuing on through South Carolina, I learned that Henry knows that #SPOBY means Spencer and Toby from Pretty Little Liars, which is sad and hilarious to me all at once. I was going to buy him a limited edition SPOBY shirt that Spencer (you know, the broad who plays Spencer) was selling on Instagram for charity but either my order didn’t go through or I’m about to have 6 of them delivered to my house in Henry’s name.
We stopped at Smith’s Exxon in Santee, a plain-named store that apparently boasts a wide array of local ciders, and Henry, suddenly a connoisseur of the jugged juices, was excited for maybe the second time of the whole trip. The southern gas station clerk behind the counter gave us samples of the peach cider and then taught us about muscadine, which is basically some kind of grape thing, I wasn’t listening. We sampled that too and Henry was making sex sounds so I knew he was going to buy a jug of each. (And he did. And just so you know, I never even got to drink any of it!)
Chooch was so sick but I was like, “Son, I recognize that you are ill at the moment but please sit down and let me take your picture on this Cheerwine bench as proof that we are wherever we’re currently at.” Also, Cheerwine, nothing to Q-tip your dickhole over. (But I don’t really like soda-type beverages to begin with, so.) Before we left, Henry cleaned out the car and threw out my ginger ale bottle which I was planning to save as a souvenir!
“Oh, we’ll get another,” he said.
“There will be plenty more places selling it,” he said.
GUESS WHO NEVER GOT ANOTHER BOTTLE?!
We made it to Savannah around 9 and realized that we hadn’t eaten since The Creamery in North Carolina, so we went to the Waffle House next to our “hotel,” which is lame to go to chains, I know, but it was either that or get frustrated with Yelp and then wind up going to bed with an empty stomach and a heart full of hate.
At least the southern Waffle Houses are way better than the ones in our area. We had a super nice waitress and I got to stuff a waffle in my maw, and Henry had his cherished grits (seriously, what’s the backstory with Henry and the Grits?), and Chooch actually ordered something and ate it all.
“Father, might I take a sip of my milk now?”
Afterward, Chooch made a cat friend in the parking lot, and then we found out there were like 6 more where that one came from so we quickly left before Chooch got too attached.
And then I willed myself fall asleep, totally hyper about finally meeting Octavia the next day!