Something amazing happened last Friday. It was so great that I suddenly wasn’t so sad to be riding the trolley to work.
Henry texted me and said that his new co-worker asked us to hang out that Sunday.
Not just Henry.
But me, too!
The reason this is a big deal isn’t because we’re like, mountain moles who never get invited to do things, but in the 11 years Henry has been at his job, I have never actually met anyone he works with!
(Because this is how Henry prefers it, I suppose. Me and my mouth, god knows what will happen!)
“—scary,” Henry cut in as I was about to say, “monumental.”
It’s also a big deal because his new co-worker — Andrew– is from ENGLAND and has only lived here for the last three years. Yes, I want to hang out with a British dude!
When I got to work, I cried to Glenn and Todd in my standard brand of hyperventilation, “Guess who I get to hang out with on Sunday?!”
“G-Dragon!” Glenn guessed in faux-excitement.
And then I wasn’t as excited because now I was just thinking about how I could have been hanging out with G-Dragon instead.
In some alternate reality.
So how it all went down is that a few weeks ago, Andrew asked Henry if he had ever heard of St. Anthony’s church, the home of the largest collection of relics outside of the Vatican. Henry told him that yes, he had heard of it, and that I had actually been there. Andrew and his wife were interested in checking it out and asked if we wanted to join them. UM, YESSIR WE DO!
Also, I love St. Anthony’s. It’s one of Pittsburgh’s many hidden gems. I had never heard of it until my religion professor at Pitt mentioned it once in class and I was all, “OH HELLO I’M WOKE MY NAP. TELL ME MORE.” I have these types of things! It took a few years, but I finally visited the venerable Troy Hill church in 2011 and I won’t lie even a little – actual tears were shed.
I even bought this St. Rita medallion in the gift shop, which is a third-class relic. That means it touched either a first-class (actual bone/body part) or second-class (article of clothing, etc) relic, for all you relic dunces out there.
I keep it in a poison tin on my desk at work:
Needless to say, I was so fucking stoked for last Sunday!
We found Andrew and his wife Karen across the street from the church, in the gift shop. Henry continuously blocked me from actually entering the gift shop though, because he’s tired of all the religious memorabilia I’m always trying to smuggle in the house. (My bathroom is church-themed.)
Right off the bat, some old man came up to Henry and placed a stack of burned DVDs in his hand and told him if he watched them, he’d have a halo over his head.
Henry was like, “OK cool story, bud” and then we all went upstairs to check out the museum (literally just two small rooms – you can read all about that in my original blog post about St. Anthony’s if you feel so compelled), and Andrew told us all about the old as shit churches in his hometown in England, and Chooch looked like he was going to cry because England is to him what Korea is to me, and anytime it comes up in conversation that I’ve been to England, like, 8 times, he gets furious.
Last night, he found out that I’ve been to Paris numerous times too and steam began unfurling from his nostrils.
This is the shit I live for as a parent.
Anyway, I immediately got good vibes from both Andrew and his wife and felt comfortable talking to them. I can definitely come off stiff and standoffish at times when really I’m just BEING SHY.
Finally, we went to the church! There was some large church group there getting a tour, so we were told to just join them and then come back again for a full tour, which was kind of bullshit but OK fine. I’ll come back. I can’t resist the seductive charm of those goddamn relics.
There was literally only 10 minutes left of the tour, and the docent was speaking so softly that it wasn’t even worth it. Henry and Andrew drifted off and started looking at things on their own, but I was determined to try and infiltrate the group by sticking around for the Q&A session. Some old ass broad asked if there were any relics of Pope John Paul II and the docent was all, “No I wish…” and then the priest that was with the group pulled something out of his pocket and said it was a PIECE OF FABRIC FROM THE POPE MOBILE, but I couldn’t tell if he was kidding or not, and then he laughed and said, ‘I’ll sell it to ya!”
WAS HE LYING OR WAS HE FULL OF THE GOOD LORD’S WORD, WE MAY NEVER KNOW.
Meanwhile, the old man from the gift shop tried to give Henry more DVDs and Henry said, “You already gave me some in the gift shop” and then they had a good laugh because the old man said, “You look different without your hat!” Of course, I had no idea what was actually being said because I was too far away and didn’t want to talk over the docent, so you know it was killing me until I finally had an opportunity to ask what they were talking about.
I always need to know what people are talking about.
It drives Henry mad.
My Pappap used to always say, “Are you writing a book? Well, leave that chapter out.” Because I’d always sidle up and cry, “What? What?” when adults were hush-hushing.
After the tour, we hung out in the church and just took it all in. In addition to the whole relic thing, St. Anthony’s has one of the only two near-life-sized Stations of the Cross in the U.S. Because they’re such masterpieces, there’s a brass rail guarding them with signs posted that say an alarm will go off if you touch the rail or try to cross it, so of course Chooch kept playing chicken with the alarm and I was SO NERVOUS. Why does my kid have to be a church hooligan?!
“What is this even supposed to be, anyway?” Chooch asked.
“It’s where they gave Jesus the cross to carry and then he fell a lot,” I said with a shrug, and Henry was so disappointed. What? I mean, that’s basically how it went!
Then Chooch demonstrated the only thing he remembers from his brief and tragic stint at Catholic school, which was doing the sign of the cross with holy water.
Except that I don’t remember the finale of touching two fingers to your lips and pulling them away with a kiss. I guess things have changed a lot since the last time I went to church.
Outside of the church, we discussed lunch options while Chooch literally played in the street.
I mentioned that Chooch and I are vegetarians but we could pretty much always count on grilled cheese no matter where go, so we were fine with anywhere.
“My favorite food is Korean,” Karen said, and Henry and I exchanged “OMG” faces.
“OMG ARE YOU SERIOUS? IT’S MINE TOO!” I cried, taking a giant step closer to her.
And that’s when she told us that her ex-husband was Korean AND THEY OWNED A KOREAN RESTAURANT TOGETHER.
I never in a million years saw this coming. It was kismet. I felt so giddy!!
Chooch, on the other hand, started grumbling about how this was the worst thing ever. Which made it even more fantastic for me! Karen started giving Henry cooking tips and it was music to my ears. TALK TO ME ABOUT GOCHUGARU.
And then, in true Erin fashion, I showed her a picture of what the inside of our refrigerator looks like, because it’s about 75% staples of Korean cuisine. I’m so proud of my lifestyle that I actually took a picture of my refrigerator. As if I even know what to do with any of those ingredients!
And that’s how we ended up having lunch at Korea Garden in Oakland.
Chooch is so thrilled! Also, Heil Hitler much, Henry? Yikes.
Kimchi jeon all day long.
While we were there, BIGBANG’s “Fxxk It” came on and I interrupted everyone to squeal, “THIS IS MY FAVORITE KPOP GROUP!” Henry did the “please don’t embarrass me” sharp intake of breath, but Karen just laughed and said, “You’re funny.”
Give it time and that’ll change to “You’re annoying.”
It was just a really satisfying afternoon and I hope that we hang out with them again! Henry needs his own friends. I dropped subtle hints about the Bayernhof, because I’m dying to go back there again even though it’s not Korean.