The dumb church across the street from my house had their idiot festival all last week. I honestly couldn’t be bothered with this shit because it’s full of things I hate: church people and charity.
lol j/k some charities are ok.
Chooch, however, loves this gig. It doesn’t even have rides so I don’t quite understand what his fascination is but every night last week, Henry gave him a few bucks, told him to look both ways before crossing the street, then we went back to watching Rubning Man while Chooch swam in a sea of Bengay-stinkin’ elders.
At one point, he came barging in the house, eyes all bugged out, hands running through his hair, and cried, “I won $10 and then lost it! I think I have a gambling problem at age eleven! Can I have more money?!?”
“No!” we shouted in perfect parental unison.
But then he found $3 and took off.
He is a fucking nutcase.
(What if this is how people grow up to be gamblers for real, though??)
This went on every evening. Sometimes he went over alone, sometimes with the neighbor kids, and once with his school buddy Demajio. He brought home several stuffed animals in the midst of all the money he was essentially throwing into the wind.
Somewhere along the way, he mentioned the raffles.
“I entered to win a bike!” Chooch panted in excitement during one of his nightly check-ins which was less to appease our paranoia of his whereabouts and more to con more cash from our pockets. “I also entered to win you a new coffee maker! It’s a KEURIG!”
He was so excited about it that I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I graduated from Keurigs long ago.
Saturday was the big day. The winning raffle tickets were going to be drawn! Chooch was so concerned when I told him we were going to Vegfest that day, but then was super relieved when he realized we’d be home before the shitty festival started.
Meanwhile, I went out for one of my many walks around the neighborhood because I am having the hardest time sitting still these days. It’s like my feet are desperate to catch up to my racing mind. Anyway, I had only made it a block away before being accosted by the weird lady who lives in the big, creepy white house on the corner with who we think is possibly her brother?! I always try to avoid her because sometimes I feel like I’m looking at my future as the town eccentric.
I was walking past her sidewalk when I saw her coming toward me.
“You been to the fair yet?” she asked, skipping over any customary salutations.
“No, I don’t care about that fair,” I said over my shoulder, hoping that my snotty tone would deter her.
But no, she kept talking, and for whatever reason, I turned with a groan and walked back to the end of her sidewalk, where she had stpped to lean against her old shitty pick-up truck. “Yeah, but it’s not the kind of the fair that has RIDES and all that crap,” she said. Um excuse me, but the fact that it doesn’t have rides is exactly WHY I don’t care about it! “They got all kinds of games, and a BAKE SALE in the basement!” And then she proceeded to explain to me how to enter the basement even though I said I already knew because hello, that’s where I go to have Russia fuck with my vote.
“You know Potomac Bakery?” she asked, waiting for my nod. “OK, and you know how they sell their day-old stuff for cheap?” I didn’t know that, but I said yes anyway because WHY OH WHY OH DID I EVER LEAVE OHIO.
Sorry. Quoting Back to the Beach is my nervous tic.
“Well at the church, they’re doing that too. They had boxes of old stuff they were giving away for free. Like donuts, I don’t care for donuts, but there was other stuff too, like bread. Anyway, I’m going to go back there today and say something, because I asked how much I could take and they were like ‘well, it’s free….’ so I took it all! And when I was leaving, one of those ladies said to me, ‘I hope you’re going to make a donation!’ Excuse me? Then they shouldn’t have said it was FREE!” she cried. “Yeah, I’m going to go back and say something to them tonight.”
“Yeah, that’s misleading,” I muttered, trying to blink the glaze away from my eyes.
“You know all these churches are going under, right? A bunch of them are closing. It’s a shame. But you know, maybe if their PRIESTS would stop molesting people, this wouldn’t be happening! And now we have all these gays and…what do you call them…those, you know, ‘genders.’ Maybe if the church would let the priests get MARRIED, they wouldn’t have to go around ruining so many lives!”
“Yeah….” I whispered, looking around to make sure no one was hearing this.
“I went to Catholic school, back in the days when the nuns would whack you on the wrists with rulers!” she exclaimed. “But yeah, you should go over to the fair tonight! Fifty sent baked goods, can’t beat that!” And with that, she turned and started rummaging though her truck and I hot-stepped it the fuck out of there.
Later that night, Chooch was in his glory, spinning wheels and filling Bingo cards. He dramatically entered the house early on in the evening, hoisting a Trader Joe’s bag.
“Look what I won!” he cried, pulling out a roll of paper towels, White Rain shower gel, powdered sugar, green beans, two cans of soup neither of us can eat because meat, and a huge generic jar of peanut butter.
Henry and I just stared at this random array of food bank loot, while Chooch looked at us expectantly, waiting for praise. Finally, I just cracked the fuck up.
“What the hell kind of wheel are you spinning over there??”
Am I missing something? Was this like a Chopped challenge for a greater prize? I’M SO CONFUSED.
I told him that crazy lady was talking about the baked sale, and he knowingly said, “Oh yeah, it’s in the basement.”
“Well go buy me some stuff!” I cried, and he seemed excited to have a mission. He came back with several plates of so-so treats.
“And these cookies were 4 for a dollar. I thought that was a pretty good deal,” he said, and boy can you tell he’s been hanging out with old people.
Not pictured are the two buckeyes that Chooch and I devoured before he even had a chance to put all the plates down on the table. LOVE US SOME BUCKEYES, BITCHES.
Meanwhile, Henry was across the street trying to win shit too. He also put some more raffle tickets in the basket for the bike Chooch wanted, a steak dinner at Capital Grill (ew), and a lottery tree. When he came back, he said Chooch’s nemesis Larry’s wife was so drunk over there that two people had to practically carry her back to her house across the street. And that Jackie the Witch was over there with some guy who was equally-as-hammered as Larry’s wife. He threw down a hundred dollar bill on some game and of course he lost, so he started yelling about the game being fixed. Our neighbors, keepin’ Brookline classy as always.
When henry came back in the house, he was inspecting the goods Chooch purchased at the bake sale.
“Fifty cent baked goods, can’t beat that!” I said with faux-enthusiasm. “Oh, and Chooch also got buckeyes but we ate them without you,” I blurted out on a bed of needling laughter.
“The buckeyes were actually $1 though,” Henry said.
“How would you know?” I asked all haughtily.
“Because I bought some too, and ate them without you!” Henry laughed. That motherfucker! Ugh, well-played.
By 10:30 that night, the fair was winding down. The DJ played his last dumb doowop track and the prize wheels went for one last clickety spin. I actually felt a little sad because I sort of enjoyed the sounds of that crappy fair wafting in through my windows every night. A little action is nice every now and then.
Chooch and Henry were over there until nearly 11 waiting on the raffle drawings. They finally came back after realizing that there were 100+ prize baskets and the church said they would just call each winner the next day since they had so many to go through.
This wasn’t what Chooch wanted to hear, but he dealt with it and went to sleep.
The next morning, chooch and I were walking to Cafe Noir for our weekend coffee/hot chocolate ritual. Chooch was rambling on and on about the raffle, about the Giant mountain bike, how the Keurig came with a mug that says I Love Jesus—we both lost it at the thought of me drinking coffee from a mug like that.
I asked him whose number he put on his tickets, mine or Henry’s.
“Jaden’s mom,” he said nonchalantly.
I stopped in my tracks. “What? Why??” I asked, thoroughly confused.
“Because I was over there with her and Jaden when I first entered the raffle. Just my first three tickets have her number on it. I didn’t have a chance to change it.”
This made zero sense to me.
“So if they draw your ticket and call her, do you think she is going to give you that bike?” I said, less of a question and more of a THINK ABOUT IT statement.
Chooch paused. With forced confidence, he slowly said yes. But the realization of what he had done was starting to blow up the blood vessels in his PRECIOUS LITTLE ANGEL CHEEKS – seriously I want Chooch to always have those cute pinchable cheeks haha.
I reminded Chooch that he still had the tickets that Henry bought him, so all hope was not lost, but in the back of my mind, I already knew how this would play out. The writing was on Chooch’s cheeks.
Hours passed with no call from the church.
Later that afternoon, we saw Jaden’s mom walking across the street.
Walking through the church parking lot.
Walking into the church gymnasium.
Walking out with one Giant mountain bike.
I held back from screaming TOLD YOU SO. Chooch was crushed. Totally ripped apart.
“There’s a 50/50 chance that it really was Jaden’s ticket though,” I pointed out, because Chooch said they had split a strip of tickets.
What I didn’t know was that Jaden’s mom paid for all of them. I thought chooch had given her money for his half. So technically….regardless whose name was on that ticket….
Jaden’s mom bought it.
“All you can do is just make yourself believe it was Jaden’s ticket and move on,” Henry-Knows-Best said like it was a fortune pulled straight from a cookie.
“Or!!!! I can go ask to see the ticket!!!!” Chooch cried in a really scary, BOY ON THE EDGE warble.
He was reaching for the front door when I stopped him because hello that’s our neighbor and the last thing I care to have is drama. Asking to see the ticket is basically accusing her of being a liar. I don’t even know this woman, but I want to believe that she was going the right thing and I have no reason to think otherwise.
Chooch was straight up pacing. “I will wait until tonight AND DIG THRU HER GARBAGE IF I HAVE TO!”
Oh for Gods sake.
I suggested that we go get ice cream as a distraction.
“Pfft! I don’t need ice cream,” Chooch scoffed. “….I need a gallon.”
“Wow. Did you just break up with a girl?” Henry laughed.
We ended up going to Target so he could pick out something small to fill the void left by the Bike of Betrayal. As usual, he couldn’t decide on anything, but I bought this AMAZING GAME called Fündopop which is basically Thingie Ball 2.0 and I’m so excited about it because I have been looking for a Thingie Ball replacement for years.
We went across the street to play in the church parking lot (ironically) and Chooch was like, “I’m really glad we bought this. It’s taking my mind off the bike. Oh god now I’m thinking about the bike again!”
He is wrecked.
Meanwhile, we made Henry come over to watch us play because after two minutes we became experts and were getting all cocky and arrogant about how amazing we are at Fündopop and demanded an audience.
While we were playing, some old bitch was in the parking lot, stuffing into her car a large, inflatable tree dripping with scratch off tickets.
“LOL, there goes your lottery tree, Henry,”I laughed.
“Son of a bitch!” Henry spat.
Chooch spent the next day avoiding Jaden, but by Tuesday he was ready to “face his fears,” as he put it. He said Jaden told him it honestly was his own ticket that was drawn, and Chooch said he believes him and has made peace with the whole situation, friendship intact.
He is way more mature than I am, that’s for sure. I’d have held an unrealistic grudge for years and probably would have signed the subject of my hatred up for Scientology or advertised their kidneys on Craigslist.
You don’t know what I’m capable of.
If there’s one thing Chooch learned through all of this, it’s NEVER SPLIT A STRIP OF RAFFLE TICKETS. And also, two buckeyes for $1 seems like a rip-off.