When we went to DelGrosso’s mommy really wanted to go on the wacky worm so we did. then we went on the crazy mouse daddy did not want to go on it because he’s such a crybaby because of the big hill. so he didn’t go on anything grandma went on the crazy mouse ;-) twice and the marry-go-round and the yoyo witch is the swings. mommy went on the super SPIRAL and the XTREAM (I put that in capital letters because it’s so XTREAM ) :cry: mommy peed her pants :lol:
ME AND MOMMY WENT ON THE Casino. I got a picture with buddy witch is a bear. Dumb dumb Daddy won me a tiger I named it Tony I won 2 things a fish & a bear. It was mothers day and my mother rules and daddy doesn’t.
I was going to win this game but this stinky lady dumbest lady in the hole wide world cheated for this 4 year old and I was so freaking madddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddd the game was called water races.
I like amusement parks because there’s roller coasters and swings and some water rides.
En route to Delgrosso’s for some unlimited Mothers Day rides on the Wacky Worm! Henry invited his mom and I am going to try my hardest to get her on the Wacky Worm but I can’t make any promises.
So far this Mothers Day weekend has been the bomb! Chooch and I went rollerskating, had dinner with Janna and her friend Jeremy at Mad Mex, bought myself some new TOMS, and the motherfucking Penguins advanced to the next round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Feeling pretty happy right now except that Henry and his mom are practically shouting to each other in the car which is really upsetting my music-listening.
Should have brought my headphones, I guess.
Happy Mothers Day to all the REAL moms out there, regardless if you gave birth or not!
(OMG WTF is Henry’s mom talking about back there?!?)
Since we took Chooch to Knoebels on the other side of the state for his birthday, we toned down the actual party this time around and just had it at Games n’At, a retro alternative to Chuck E. Cheese with tons of Pittsburgh-flavor. It was a big hit with the kids, and awesome for Henry and me because literally all we had to do was drop off party hats, plates, etc the day before and they had everything set up for us. NO DECORATING! And each kid got to choose from a list of snack bar options, so NO PROVIDING OUR OWN FOOD!
Holy shit, it was a parental dream come true. With everything we’ve been doing lately, planning a party just wasn’t something that either of us had the energy for. And Chooch still had fun,which is all that matters.
“You’re only picking Ugli Doll stuff because you like it,” Henry accused me the day before at Party City. Well…I didn’t see any Minecraft stuff there! And Chooch likes Ugli Dolls too, God!
I secretly had Kaitlin make Chooch a “creeper” cake. It is my reluctant understanding that creepers are some sort of Minecraft villain and Chooch really likes them. When I met Kaitlin in an empty strip mall parking lot 9AM that morning, like some creepy—but delicious—drug deal, I was floored when she removed the top of the cake box to reveal this edible work of pixelated art. I mean, if it had been left up to me, I’d have just slathered green frosting on a rectangle and then finger-painted the face with black stuff.
Maybe the black stuff would be non-toxic. Maybe not.
But when you’re the presiding Queen of Zia’s Desserts, you go above and beyond and make that fondant pixels because THAT is what a true Minecraft player wants to eat. When Chooch saw it, he gasped, “Kaitlin knows what creepers are!?!?”
When we first got to the arcade, I plopped my ass down on a couch across from some dad and watched the Penguins game for as long as I could until guests started to arrive. Fuck! I’m sorry, I know I’m the birthday boy’s mom, but theses are some important times in the NHL, OK? Step off
So then I tried to be actively involved for awhile. I even spoke with a parent! And heckled Janna mercilessly!
We all wanted something magical to be inside that armoire. But it was just a folded-up table. No Narnia.
But then something glorious happened: While I was in the party room talking to one of the parents (I did OK at that, you guys!), one of the arcade workers who looked uncannily like the dude from Ridiculousness approached me with a concerned expression and asked, “Do you want me to put the game on this TV here?” and then pointed to a TV in the corner that I hadn’t even noticed.
UM FUCK YES.
But then he couldn’t get it to turn on and kept leaving and returning with tools and various wires until finally he figured out that it wasn’t plugged in.
“Oh you have to pay for this,” Janna said, pulling her finger out of the Kiss-O-Meter and walking away.
You know who is really smart? Laura. She brought a present for me because she KNOWS. I was so excited and wanted to wear it right away but for some stupid reason, no one brought a switchblade to the Kid’s Birthday Party, so I couldn’t unleash it from the backing.
Ridiculousness serving up the food.
Chooch was so goddamn sweaty. No one else was. Just Chooch. God only knows.
Of course the kids were relatively uninterested in eating and decided to have an impromptu dance party instead. That might be because I said, “Hey you guys should have a dance party” and the Chooch’s cousin Zac started doing some frantic Gangnam Style seizure thing on the floor, which was a cattle call for the rest of the kids to get up and LOSE THEIR SHIT.
But hey. It’s not my house. Spaz it up, small people.
Blurry or not, you get the idea.
After the raucous cacophony of birthday serenading, Chooch started opening his presents. He was halfway through when he turned around and stopped mid-sentence.
“Where the heck did everyone go?” he cried when he realized he had been performing his gift-unwrapping in front of a roomful of adults.
“Dude, the kids went back out to the arcade a looooong time ago,” I said. Everyone cracked up but he just shrugged and went back to collecting his loot.
Meanwhile, I had made friends with the mom of one of the girls. But one thing to know about me is that I shit the bed when it comes to introductions. (Unless you’re in a band. Then I miraculously will remember your name right away.) So my memory proceeded to fuck her name into oblivion and I spent the rest of the party paralyzed every time someone came over that I wanted to introduce her to because I didn’t want to say, “Hey Laura, this is Astaria’s mom” because fuck if someone refers to ME as “Chooch’s mom.”
(Actually, this happens a lot and I’m OK with it. I think it happened 3x at Crafts from the Crypt in March. “Oh, you’re Chooch’s mom!” Castle Blood denizens would exclaim. Because everyone knows Chooch.)
So at one point, we were all sitting around a large table watching Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, which had gone into over time, and I was struggling to replay the scene when we introduced ourselves, but all I could hear was pinball machines and this one Pierce the Veil song that has been in my head for 5 years. So, I covertly texted Janna and ordered her to ask the mom what her name is.
Janna did my dirty work, and I saved the text so I will never forget, you guys.
I win at friend-making.
Chooch’s girlfriend of the week made him a card that stressed in no uncertain terms how awesome and cool he is.
Laura, arcade seductress.
I would probably look like that too if I had to work kids parties every weekend.
This is not true. You’re only a winner if you win. I hope all the kids there knew that.
Blake showed up right before the party ended and asked Henry for an envelope. Henry didn’t have an envelope, so I suggested that he just MAKE one, because isn’t that the kind of bullshit nonsense they learn to do in THE SERVICE?
(Or at the very least by watching “She’s Crafty.”)
I took pictures with my real camera but we have a new computer and the version of Photoshop I’m used to doesn’t work on it anymore and I’m too bull-headed to let Henry show me how to use something new so all of my pictures are just festering in a folder, unedited.
I know there comes a time when the big extravaganzas need to come to an end, and Chooch still had a blast even though this party was waaaaay scaled down, but I can’t help but feel the itch to have one more big party next year. Maybe in the park again, and CREEPY CARNIVAL-THEMED. I could use my papier mache clown head again! Chooch seems down with this idea.
Which is good, because I already started planning it.
I gave Chooch some of his presents before school, one of which was a Creeper shirt (some character from that Minecraft game he games, I guess).
“Do you know why they’re called Creepers?” he asked me as we walked to school.
“….because they creep?” I wagered.
“Dammit,” he whispered, dismayed that I was right.
His teacher calls him Swaggy because he has so much swag. She’s pretty cool for a 1st grade teacher, obvi.
Henry’s mom and Janna came over in the evening and we had cake when I came home from work, which was awesome but hello—THERE WAS A HOCKEY GAME ON. Chooch tried to change it at one point and I swiped the remote back.
“I don’t care if it’s your birthday! You don’t ever turn off the hockey game!” I yelled.
Henry’s mom looked scared, but come on guys. It’s me. And it’s hockey.
Henry bought Chooch a shit-ton of scratch offs. “Grandma-in-training,” Andrea texted me after seeing this picture of his loot. “He just needs some Pall Malls and a Bingo dauber!”
Which is funny because one of his lottery tickets was some Bingo thing which Janna scrutinzed for 20 minutes to see if he won anything, and then Henry double-checked for another 20 minutes. Janna was apparently way off.
And then Chooch turned intoa cranky son of a bitch because it was late and he all of my drama genes.
Tomorrow, we’re taking Chooch and my incision to Knoebel’s, where we will be meeting up with the Darkride and Funhouse Enthusiasts Group and having cake in celebration of the Haunted Mansion’s 40th birthday.(Some of my co-workers have been giving me weird looks when I tell them about this which I have been translating into: JELIS.) AND THEN RIDING RIDES ALL THE LIVELONG DAY.
I just wanted to thank everyone who reached out yesterday and wished Chooch a happy birthday. I was kind of bummed at one point when I realized that my mother has missed all but THREE of his birthdays (I mean, if she didn’t care that he was born, she sure as shit isn’t going to care that he turned 7) but we’re lucky to have Henry’s family, my extended family and also a ton of really kind friends who stepped up and reminded me that he is loved. I’m not going to let one rotten apple spoil the day. So, thank you all very much!
Today is Chooch’s (and my phantom C-section incision pain’s) 7th birthday and I can hardly believe it. SEVEN! I hope that things continue to go up, because six was a not-so-bad age (as opposed to every single year that came before it). His little bitch ass temper tantrums have all but died out (probably because he’s moved on to more sophisticated ways to make us miserable) and his interests have certainly broadened. Six was the age he could finally start riding some of the bigger rides at amusement parks (obviously a very big deal for me and me alone), he went to his first wedding and his first concert (Pierce the Veil, whaddup!) and also started to really get The Walking Dead — before he was only interested in the zombie parts, but now we have these long, meaningful conversations about the characters and what we think will happen, and it’s really awesome because it’s something we do without Henry so then we get to say things like, “Ha-ha, Henry doesn’t know what we’re talking about because he sucks and doesn’t watch The Walking Dead. He probably wouldn’t understand it anyway.” And then Henry frowns.
Everyone and their creepy dentist says that Chooch LOOKS JUST LIKE HENRY OMG and that’s fine, I’ve come to terms with that because Chooch has brought home 100%s on every single spelling test he’s had this year and he sure as shit doesn’t get THAT from Henry. That’s a tradeoff I’ll take, thanks.
One of the biggest things I’ve learned since becoming a parent is to just let the kid be himself. I’m sure there are people frowning down on me for letting him watch horror movies and speak freely (to this day he still NEVER swears in school and in public, or around his grandma, but we let him get away with it at home because after all, they’re just words & it’s not like it’s a Tarentino screenplay up in here), but I think it’s important to not have a super tight grasp on him. He is his own person and I’m proud of that. He might be a little smart ass, but he has a big heart. For example, when Henry took him to get cookies to take to school for his birthday, he got chocolate chip but then made sure to get butterfly ones for the girls. HE IS SUCH A LADIES MAN.
Happy birthday, Chooch! Here’s to another year full of photoshoots that increase your resentment for me! And also hopefully your first WARPED TOUR HOLY FUCK GET STOKED!
On Sunday, the three of us went to my favorite playground in Ambridge. I like it because it has things that you can spin on and an electronic game thingie, but also because the actual park is pretty run down and creepy. After playing for awhile, I made them go for a walk with me to one of the pavilions deep inside the park. Seriously, you just expect to hear Jason Voorhees fire up the ol’ chainsaw at any moment, it’s those kinds of woods.
Anyway, Chooch and I were still riding high on the fumes of Saturday night’s waitress incident, so we were giddy. No, that’s an understatement. We were some horrible wreckage of a classroom full of giddy tweens molted with the obnoxious bray of Fran Drescher and Henry was quite literally swatting us away from him like gnats. Chooch was whaling pine cones at him and kicking him in the ass and I was laughing uncontrollably while periodically body-slamming him.
Yet Henry mostly just kept walking at a peaceful pace, hands in his pockets, admiring the foliage. Occassionally, he would ask us to stop and try to give Chooch threatening glares in an effort to regrip his handle on the situation, which would only make us laugh harder. Chooch threw a particularly large piece of bark at him and we decided to run, like Henry would ever chase us.
The trail back to the car splits into two: the upper trail is in better condition than the lower trail which meets back up with the other trail about half a mile or so down the way. Chooch and I decided to take the lower trail, like Henry wasn’t going to notice — I was pretty much swathed head to toe in fluorescent pink scene girl threads. “Just keep running!” Chooch panted, and so we ran the entire way (which is a lot of running if you’re like me, a non-runner) and then climbed a hill where we hid in a wheat field, which Henry later told me isn’t wheat. (THEN WHAT IS IT!?)
Yes! We just spent 20 minutes shitting all over Henry’s authority! Now let’s make him think he lost us, too!
It was taking FOREVER for Henry to finally walk by, at which point I started wondering if he knew of a shorter way to get back to the car and if so, did he leave us there to teach us a lesson, because that would be JUST LIKE HIM.
“I bet he’s too busy looking at the grass and all that shit,” I whispered to Chooch, rolling my eyes. “‘Oh, look a berry!’” I said in my best Henry voice, which is actually just my Bullwinkle impression. Chooch started cracking up and I shushed him because look, dickhead, you just made me run half a mile and climb a fucking hill to hide from this bastard, so we are gon’ be quiet AND HIDE.
But then some hawk-like bird soared overhead and I said, “Oh shit, you just KNOW Henry is like, ‘OMG look at that bird!’ and wishing he had bird-watching glasses,” which made Chooch lose his shit all over again.
“I think I peed my pants again!” he cried in laughter.
“Ew, ‘again’?!” I asked in disgust.
“Yeah, I peed when we throwing things at Daddy, too.”
OMG we are so much alike.
But he eventually emerged from the woods and we both came barrelling down the hill toward him. Chooch ended up falling off a small drop at the bottom and landed right on his stomach, but he sprung right back up and continued to scream and hassle Henry. THATS MY BOY. I asked Henry why it took him so long to walk back and he admitted that once he realized he couldn’t hear us “giggling like assholes,” he figured he better walk back along the lower trail to make sure we hadn’t fallen into a hole.
I’ve mentioned numerous times ’round these parts that Chooch’s favorite horror movie is “Ju-On,” but it is impossible to get him to understand that the dead lady in the movie is not actually named “Ju-On.” So we will be walking through the cemetery or just down the street to school and he will say things like, “What if Ju-On is hiding behind that bush!?” and today it was, “What if I found out you’re not really my mom, but that JU-ON is?!” (Granted this was in retaliation to me trying to convince him that tomorrow isn’t actually his birthday because he’s a robot & robots don’t have birthdays, they have manufacture dates. Don’t worry, I stopped once he started to cry.)
Anyway, I thought it would be fantastic to have the magical seamstress extraordinaire, Maya, make him a Ju-On doll for his birthday. I wasn’t sure if this was possible, but holy shit did Maya make it possible!
Chooch is going to shit his pants. Thank you so much, Maya!!
Friends: If you were at a restaurant with me and Chooch, and you realized our waitress was someone you went to high school with, would you tell us?
I DIDN’T THINK SO.
(It’s funny when I ask people this in person, their eyes get all big and they say, “Um, NO. God, no.”)
But Henry did just the opposite last Saturday night when we went to Eat n Park after the Pierce the Veil show. Now to be fair, I was hyper because I had just come from a concert and had a few glasses of wine earlier; Chooch was hyper because it was almost 11pm and he was delirious from an evening at his grandma’s cable-free apartment.
”I used to go to high school with her,” Henry said in a hushed tone. “We rode the bus together.” He was referring to our waitress Dawn, who definitely seemed like someone Henry would have “loafed” with (that’s what my dad always says, and I imagine Henry’s generation probably used the same term): super skinny, stringy dishwater blond hair, sunken cheeks, probably a meth addict. She had a really rough voice and called us all “hon,” and stood sideways, looking over her shoulder at us while taking our order. Also, and this is kind of hard to explain, but she had the swagger of a drag king, the way she moved her hips while talking. IT WAS BIZARRE.
So, you know, totally in Henry’s wheelhouse.
I snorted as soon as he told me. I LOVE IT WHEN HENRY BRINGS UP HIS PRE-ERIN LIFE! He gets so pissed when I laugh about his past and he recently yelled, “You act like I didn’t exist before you met me!” But come, did he really exist? Am I not basically his sole purpose for living? He basically won’t tell me anything at all anymore, so it’s surprising that he let this particular little nugget of blackmail slip out.
Then he went up to the salad bar* and I reiterated this to Chooch.
*(“Ew, he went to the salad bar at 11 o’clock at night?!” my co-worker A-ron exclaimed when I was telling him this story last night. Yes, Henry is disgusting and eats old, congealed food from the Eat n Park salad bar after hours. Henry does disgusting things.)
“Chooch, did you hear that? DADDY WENT TO HIGH SCHOOL WITH OUR WAITRESS!!”
“With DAWN!?” Chooch, for whatever reason, had immediately taken to mocking her from the get-go, saying things like, “OK, Dawn” and “Dawn doesn’t know anything!” every time she would walk away from us. He had zero respect for this lady. (Pro Tip: Don’t ever wear a name tag around Chooch.)
“You totally have to tell her!” I encouraged him, and we both started laughing so hard that Chooch literally almost threw up at the table. People were turning around and gawking at us. An entire table of elderly black women in particular gave us very disapproving Church lady scowls. Henry returned to two children completely turned inside out with giddiness and looked utterly apprehensive.
“What?” he asked. “WHAT DID YOU DO!?”
“Nothing!” I squealed, tears streaming down my face from all of the laughs.
“I’m telling Dawn that you went to school with her!” Chooch blurted out, cracking up all over again.
“I don’t care!” Henry spat defiantly, digging into his nasty Saturday night salad to mask the nervous twitch his moustache had acquired.
But you know he totally cared. He REALLY did not want this conversation to happen. Too bad Chooch was chomping at the bit to unleash this cannon of intel. Dawn came back with our check (I mean, at least this happened toward the end of dinner, right Henry?) and Chooch nearly gave up the ghost in his attempt to scream out, “YOU USED TO RIDE THE KIDDIE BUS WITH HIM!!!” while lunging across the table and pointing furiously at Henry.
Dawn seemed confused. Nay — Dawn seemed perplexed. She laughed nervously and asked, “What?”
Chooch was laughing so hard, the same deep-throating giggles that I too employ, that I had to explain to her what was going on.
She gave Henry a scrutinizing once-over and then said, “I’m so sorry hon, but I don’t remember….”
HAHAHA SHE DIDN’T EVEN REMEMBER HIM, BEST FUCKING NIGHT EVER!
So then Henry had to explain to her who he was and I’m pretty sure she was just pretending to recognize him at that point to get us out of her section.
“I mean, it was 30 years ago,” Henry rationalized for Dawn’s inability to remember the forgettable doof in the bitchin’ Adidas shirt and tinted glasses, which only made it better for me — THIRTY YEARS, HAHAHA!
“Have a nice night, DAWN,” Chooch seethed in faux-annoyance as we were getting ready to leave (Henry had already left us at the table, that’s how embarrassed we were apparently making him) and I had to SQUAT DOWN to keep from peeing.
“You two are fucking idiots,” Henry sighed tersely, shrugging away from us when we caught up with him at the register while he waited to pay.
And then this happened before we even left the parking lot:
My favorite part is when Chooch calls Dawn an asshole and it sounds like Henry is about to get all TOUGH PAPA on him, but then all he says is “Shut the door” for the third time. He was REALLY all about having the door shut.
(Side note: I rarely post videos of myself because when I get giddy—and I am often giddy—I wind up sounding like Bobcat Goldthwait and ain’t nobody got time for that.)
Shit, Chooch and I rode the Dawn horse all day Sunday (“Remember DAWN!?” we would ask Henry and then collapse in happy laughter); I came to work yesterday and told the story to anyone who would listen to me (some people walked away). Glenn asked me if Henry drinks a lot and I have NO IDEA what kind of question that is.
So, I think it’s safe to say that we will probably never go back to that Eat n Park.
On Sunday, we went to Round Hill Farm for my work friend Missy’s one-year-old son’s birthday party. I put a Jason Voorhees shirt on Chooch because that’s appropriate.
Missy had little treat boxes shaped like barns for all of the kids. Chooch was STOKED ON THIS. She even let him pick which stuffed animal he wanted, which of course was a vein-bulging decision. He ultimately chose a cow, and then immediately seemed to doubt himself. However, that cow never left his side all day. Except for when Henry was holding it.
Which was actually often, so nevermind.
(Side note: If Barb had thrown this party, she would have had a little barn gift for me, too. JUST SAYIN’, MISSY!)
Sandy’s daughter Elena mimicked Chooch’s every word. He inadvertently taught her to say “derp” and “EAT IT!!!” while tossing bread into the pond. He kept sighing in faux-disgust, but c’mon, Chooch — you finally had the audience you always wanted! You could tell he was relishing this on the inside.
“If she goes home and wants to watch zombie movies, it’s not my fault,” I said to Sandy.
I also loved the contrast between his Jason Voorhees shirt and her pretty pink party dress.
Missy promised Elena a balloon and was trying to pass one off to her without any of the other children seeing because she wasn’t ready to start doling out party decor yet. But of course Chooch, who was probably one of the oldest kids there, saw and was all, “I WANT A BALLOON TOO OMG.” So while Missy was untying a balloon from the cake and present table inside the visitor’s center, Elena let go of her balloon and since Henry, Sandy and I are all under 12 feet tall, it now belonged to the ceiling.
When Chooch came running back to us with his balloon, I nudged him to give it to Elena. “Be the hero!” is what my elbow yelled into his shoulderblade. He did so begrudgingly, but I know my kid and if he didn’t REALLY WANT to give her his balloon, he wouldn’t have.
And then, before we could stop him, he ran back into the party room to hound Missy for another balloon.
While everyone was gathered inside the party room, singing Happy Birthday to little James, I momentarily lost sight of Chooch and Elena. Then I saw the only two balloons undulating above the small crowd, like bouncing beacons.
“This is probably why Missy didn’t want any of the kids to have balloons yet,” Sandy observed as their balloons drifted into people’s faces and other children craned their necks to covet the accessory that their hands did not have. The whole scene just made me laugh.
What you can’t see in Missy’s blurry hand is the GIGANTIC CAKE KNIFE she was swinging around like a princess wand, slicing up the air and god forbid any poor gnat that happened to be in the vicinity. My friend Sandy and I kind of just hugged the wall and allowed this to happen because it was entertaining and we were far enough away that we probably wouldn’t have gotten carved up like someone’s Thanksgiving turkey.
You would think that going to a one-year-old’s birthday party at a petting farm wouldn’t have much morbidity going on—and it didn’t, not until my kid took it there, anyway. But while Chooch was hanging off a tree, teaching Elena god only knows what, his balloon popped on one of the branches.
So he decided to have a funeral and bury it.
(This picture is courtesy of Sandy.)
Elena of course chose a stick of a dangerous size and joined in the labor. Some party guests walked by and did a double take. Chooch explained with a shrug, “This is how people used to dig holes in the past.”
RIP Red Balloon.
I promise, this was fake. At least I think so.
After the party, we drove down the street to the pet cemetery where Speck and Don are resting. After visiting with them, we wound up going inside and reserving two plots above theirs for Marcy and Willie, so that one day they can all be together again and not scattered in far apart plots all across the pet cemetery.
You know, cat lady problems.
So, a balloon funeral and pet cemetery plots. But we had birthday cake along the way so it all balances out.
Shippensburg, PA would have absolutely no value to me if not for Ed Helms and his impeccably-constructed Tiny World, a small village in his yard built for his cats. Henry seemed pretty ambivalent about this stop on my agenda, and I think he was going to try and dispute it so I made sure to loudly announce, “But it’s a town built for CATS!” which made Chooch’s interest pique real quick, and soon Henry had two children whining and begging to visit Tiny World. Henry glared at me for using the c-word. “Cat” is like the equivalent to smelling salt for Chooch. He can be in the deepest zone, a self-induced pouting coma, but someone casually says the c-word and he’s very much in the present, yelling, “WHERE? WHERE? WHERE IS THE CAT!?”
Sometimes I don’t even know why Henry bothers to object. His voice of dissent falls on pretend-deaf ears every time.
As Henry wound the car over country roads, he asked, “Um, this isn’t at someone’s house, is it?” I answered him by looking out the window and ignoring him.
Parts of Tiny World can be seen from the road, so I screamed for Henry to pull over the first second I glimpsed a hillside dotted with a doll-sized community. We parked in a small, makeshift gravel lot next to several other cars. At first it seemed like Tiny World was going to be booming with tourists, but we were the only oglers the whole time, so I guess the cars belonged to the family.
I don’t know what I was expecting, just some plywood shells I suppose, but Ed’s attention to detail was impeccable. I read online that he had no formal training in this stuff, just sat down and did it for no reason other than because he wanted to. And you know what, that’s inspiring even to someone like me. If I want to be a brain surgeon, I should just sit down and do it! And boy, have I got just the person to be my guinea pig.
The town was a tiny bit weathered, some of the furnishings had toppled over and cobwebs abound, but it was still pretty surprising that it wasn’t in a greater state of disarray. The proprietor is apparently pretty old and was suffering some health problems according to a Roadside America update from 2011, so it’s hard to say if upkeep is being honored at all.
The attic of one of the larger plantation-esque homes had items all strewn about and I wondered if it was intentionally done to make it look haunted. In either case, I legitimately shivered and stepped away from the window before I wound up accidently staring into the eyes of Bagul.
Dead rooster in the barn’s hay loft.
To be honest, I kind of liked that it had an abandoned tone to it. It made me feel like we were being watched from the nearby woods, hackneyed hillbillies lining us up in the crosshairs of their laser guns, preparing to shrink us down into Tiny World citizens. I already knew which house I was going to move into. (The one with the haunted attic, duh.)
If you like trains, then one might imagine you would enjoy the Tiny World Train Station.
That wallpaper! And look at that tiny box of thread on the sewing machine – even if you’re some joyless cat-hating asshole who thinks that building a sprawling town for feral cats is a waste of time, you still have to give respect to the details that went into this project — it’s a true labor of love.
There was even a relatively hot picture of Jesus Christ on the wall of the church.
Chooch’s succinct review, typed on his own: “It’s cool! it’s kitty awesome! it’s really freakin cool as shit.”
Again, the reviews I read online weren’t exactly current, but Tiny World is supposedly a hot commodity for all of the neighbors during the Christmas season. We noticed quite a bit of leftover Christmas lights and decorations peeking out here and there, so God only knows the last time the holiday lights set-up was functioning.
Built into the entrance/exit trellis is a pot for donations which I insisted on contributing. This seemed to prickle Papa Tight Wad’s asshole, but he finally handed Chooch a dollar for the pot.
“I WANT TO PUT MONEY IN TOO!” I cried. “IT WAS MY IDEA TO COME HERE!!!”
Henry sighed wearily and slapped another buck in my opened, whiny palm, which I then happily dropped into the collection hole.
“I’m so glad we came out here! It was totally worth it!” I gushed while Henry tried to find his way back to the highway and a gas station before Chooch pissed his pants. “Wasn’t it awesome?!” I cried, shaking Henry’s arm.
He didn’t answer, just continued to drive while looking like the personification of FML.
Henry, actually SMILING was washing the car windows! It’s a road trip miracle!
We also visited the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville, but I don’t feel that it’s appropriate or respectful to include that in this post.
To lighten the mood, we stopped in Bedford for a photo op with a large Coffee Pot, which used to be a lunch stand way back in the day. Like all awesomely tacky roadside attractions, it was in threat of being demolished in the 90s, but was eventually restored and is now used as a landmark.
“No, that’s OK,” Henry mumbled when I asked him if he was going to get out of the car and gawk at it with me and Chooch.
After Chooch accidentally knocked off part of the coffee pot (in his defense, that pot has structural leprosy), we both turned into royal motherfuckers. Henry of course knew this was because we were hungry and FINALLY stopped at a Valley Dairy to feed us.
“Hey Mommy, knock knock,” Chooch said after our food was served and we began to return to our non-surly, hyper selves.
“Who’s there?” I begrudgingly went along. His knock knock jokes are the worst.
“Room service!” And then we both laughed our food all over the table while Henry simply frowned at the memory of his stressful experience the night before at the hotel.
“What are you looking at?” Chooch asked me as I stared off into the distance while slowly eating a scoop of maple pecan ice cream. (Hello Weight Watcher narcs, I was on “vacation.”)
“Nothing, I’m just thinking,” I answered.
“Oh,” Chooch shrugged. “I always figured that when you do stuff like that, you’re wondering why Daddy won’t marry you.”
That night, after we had been home for a few hours, Chooch sighed, “I miss yesterday.”
“What part do you miss?” I asked.
“Uh, Pierce the Veil,“ he answered in that awesomely snotty teenaged tone.
The line to get into the Chameleon Club was pretty massive, wrapping down and around the block, this undulating horde of scene kids staring at the old people who had the poor sense to bring their six-year-0ld to a Pierce the Veil show.
Chooch got a few shout outs for wearing a Chiodos shirt though.
“All these other people are wearing Pierce the Veil shirts and I’m wearing Chiodos!” he whined when we claimed our spot at the caboose of the scene kid train. I considered giving him the “Don’t wear the band’s shirt to their show” seminar, but figured I already control enough of his life.
So instead, I explained, “Well, that’s just because you don’t have a Pierce the Veil shirt yet” and then quickly used this as incentive to get him to stop being a dickhead in line.
And I guess when I say “dickhead,” what I actually mean is six-year-old. Of COURSE a six-year-old is going to go nuts standing in line for an hour! Especially when there are masses of teenaged girls paying attention to him.
Henry seemed relatively amiable and tempered, I’m assuming because there were other parents in line so he didn’t feel quite as pedophilic as usual.
After barely moving for 30 minutes, some of the Chameleon Club staff came out and tried create some sort of order to the situation, so they separated us into will call and TicketFly lines. This meant that every time our line moved forward, we would pass new people who hadn’t yet giggled and said “Aww!” when they saw Chooch. Thanks guys, for rewinding his asshole key.
The only way I could get him to calm down and stop moving was to ask him questions about that dumb Minecraft game that he plays. Six-year-old Chooch was shelved and suddenly I was talking to this new person, this little grown-up in my kid’s body. He is INTENSE about Minecraft and speaks extremely matter-of-factly about it. He paid no attention to any of the girls around him.
Wow. I just pictured his future and it looks dark. I guess that’s because he’s going to be LIVING IN MY BASEMENT.
The show was supposed to start at 7, but I’m pretty sure we were still standing outside by then. I don’t know if they were having problems or what, but it gave me way too much idle time to have a million doubts and second thoughts about bringing Chooch to a post-hardcore show.
Perhaps the person who called Child Services on us last year was on to something.
I kept scanning the crowd, looking for some other retarded, negligent mom who brought her innocent youth to the show, but Chooch was BY FAR the youngest kid there.
Of course he was. No one else is that stupid!
“Do you think this was a mistake?” I asked Henry as the lines finally started moving with purpose. Henry just frowned at me and then there we were, inside the Chameleon Club, throbbing bass drowning out Chooch’s Minecraft monologue. The transition from Quiet Outside to Loud Pandemonium didn’t even faze him. He just kept right on talking, mindlessly handing over his ticket to be scanned while explaining all of the Minecraft weapons to me.
At the top of the first flight of steps, a club staff member encouraged us to keep climbing the steps to the two balconies, because Chooch would supposedly be able to see no matter where he stood up there. Which would be true if Chooch was a six-foot-tall man. But as it turned out, every space in front of the balcony was already claimed and those teenagers don’t give a fuck about no six-year-old kid, that’s for sure. Not a single asshole would budge.
We decided that the main floor would be best, and to be honest — being on a balcony with Chooch is not really the best idea for a hyper-protective mom like me. Besides, we found a prime spot near the back, next to a wall that had a small ledge on it that was perfect for Chooch’s butt. The club was pretty small, so even though we were in the back, we weren’t very far from the stage. Even I could see perfectly, and I’m pretty short.
NOTE TO THE AUTHORITIES: WE PROVIDED EAR PLUGS FOR CHOOCH AND MADE SURE HE KEPT THEM IN DURING EVERY BAND. WE ARE NOT IDIOTS.
When the house music faded out and the first band — Issues — came out, Chooch became hyper-alert. It was a true make-or-break moment — this kid was either going to fucking FEEL it or he was going to be struck with aural fear. Henry hoisted him up on the little ledge thing and, without being prompted, Chooch started throwing his arms up in the air and he was SO INTO IT, you guys, I wanted to fucking DIE. I felt like I had waited my whole life for that moment.
Chooch placed a hand on his chest and laughed.
“Do you feel the bass?” I yelled over the music.
“Yes!” he shouted and laughed again.
This was Chooch’s face after Tyler Carter from Issues called everyone motherfuckers.
[Interestingly, Jonny Craig and Tyler Carter were having a feud awhile back. Jonny's twitter handle ends in "4L" and then Tyler made his twitter handle end in that too, so Jonny was all, "TAKE THE 4L OUT OF YOUR NAME, WAHHHH!" And then Tyler had all of these cryptic-but-not-cryptic tweets about losing all respect for his idol, which was actually pretty awesome. But I guess they're friends again because Jonny recently posted a picture with him on Instagram. Maybe I should host my own Scene Kid News Hour since it's the only real news I know.]
At one point, Chooch booted me in the back.
“CLAP, MOMMY!” he screamed, after one of the songs ended and he noticed I wasn’t clapping. I started to tell him I wasn’t clapping because I didn’t care too much about this band, but instead I just sighed and joined in the applause. Chooch seemed satisifed about that.
LOOK AT HIM WITH HIS ARM UP, OH MY GOD!
After the Issues set ended, the concert version of the “Are we there yet” game commenced (“When’s Pierce the Veil coming out!?”), so Henry stuffed a slice of pizza into Chooch’s mouth. I’ve never seen that kid devour any sort of non-ice cream food so fast before. All that raging during Issues made him hungry, I guess.
I kept his mind focused in between sets by allowing him to continue the Minecraft conversation. He was talking about some of the Minecraft videos he watches and mentioned something about someone’s roommate.
“Do you have a roommate?” I asked. (He only plays the Pocket Edition on his Kindle so he’s not actually playing online with other strangers.)
“Oh yes!” he answered excitedly. “It’s a pig. His name is Gilbert.”
Some guy in his early 20s stopped next to us and looked at Chooch thoughtfully. Finally, he spoke. “You’re awesome,” he said, offering his knuckles to Chooch, who bumped them back with his own fist. Chooch looked at me after the guy walked away and kind of laughed, as if to say, “What a fucking weener, of COURSE I’m awesome.”
Chooch disliked the next two bands (letlive.* apparently made his stomach hurt and Memphis May Fire wasn’t Pierce the Veil so he hated them) so I let him play on my phone. By the time MMF was over, he was starting to unravel. It was past 10PM and he had a long day being in the car with his asshole parents, so I couldn’t really blame him.
“Just try to make it a little bit longer and I’ll play air hockey with you when we get back to the hotel,” I promised, figuring he would be too tired by then anyway.
But when the lights went out and everyone started screaming, “PIERCE THE VEIL!”, Chooch was suddenly very alert. Henry put him back on the ledge and he sat there, clutching his Vic Fuentes doll, looking so expectant and excited.
I wish I had a picture of his face when PTV came out onto the stage, but I was so very much in the moment that fucking around with my phone was the last thing I was thinking of. It doesn’t matter if I don’t have a picture because I know I’ll never forget that look on his face — his smile was so big and he started laughing and waving his Vic doll in the air.
Chooch, in total awe. And speechless! When does THAT ever happen?
“I really like the drummer!” he shouted, so now of course he wants to take drum lessons and I am more than happy to oblige.
A few songs in, some kid pushed through the crowd, his 1998 candy raver girlfriend unconscious and draped over his arms. “Move!” he yelled, parting the people next to us.
Chooch took all of this in, then turned to me and said dryly,” She’s dead. She saw Vic and she died.” And then he focused his attention back on the stage. I wish I had that kid’s comedic timing.
Henry ended up taking him out to the car during the fourth song. It was almost 11 by then and he could barely keep his eyes open. They stopped by the merch table for a shirt and the merch guy gave Chooch a free poster for being his youngest customer.
I wasn’t there for that though because hello — I wasn’t leaving the Pierce the Veil show! I stayed there ’til the end. And then cried.
This will be my favorite picture of him for a long time, I can already tell.
We decided not to stick around and try to meet the band. It was almost midnight, cold and who knows what kind of area that place is at night – Amish juveniles might rage in the street with their pitchforks and torches, holes pre-cut in rape-ready bed sheets. Chooch had had enough excitement anyway, so maybe next time he can scratch “groupie” off his Underage Bucket List.
Chooch’s second wind kicked in when we got back to the hotel and I honored my promise of air hockey. However, when I was trying to get change out of the change machine, some older man and his grandson (?) hijacked the table, so Chooch ended up playing air hockey with some little foreign child and it was utterly awkward for me because the old guy and some broad who was presumably that kid’s mom just up and walked away, leaving me to supervise while they went off to play pool. So fucking weird!
But then Chooch and I got to play while that kid stood to the side, trying to capture the puck. I had visions of me screaming, “HE WASN’T MY RESPONSIBILITY!” as the paramedics wrapped his broken fingers. Stupid idiot kid.
This entire situation left Chooch and I somewhere near an 87 on the Giddy Meter, so after our game, we tore off through the halls of the hotel, laughing and carrying on like children (which I guess is understandable in Chooch’s case). But then Henry happened to pass us in the hallway, on his way back from complaining about a clogged toilet to the front desk (maybe Of Monsters & Men can write a shitty song about THAT little talk), and totally put his foot into the asshole of our late night hotel antics.
“Get back to the room! SHUT UP!” he hissed, guiding us down to the room the Ramada had relocated us to. Apparently, we had to swap a working heater for a working toilet. But after the night I had, I could have been relegated to a hobo tent and would have still fallen asleep happy.
OK, that’s probably a total lie. But still — a chilly room was a small price to pay for the memories I got to make with Chooch at the Chameleon Club. My heart could not have felt any more swollen that night, I swear to god. Finally, both of my loves had converged inside of this little club in Lancaster. It was hard to justify complaining about a chilly room after that.
We arrived in Lancaster, PA around 3:30 and since the crappy Ramada check-in time wasn’t until 4PM, we decided to go get some motherfucking shoo-fly pie.
Someone asked me at work WTF is a shoo-fly pie anyway, and all I could really say was, “Very gooey pie.” I mean, read the sign. Duh.
My family went to Lancaster when I was a kid, in some elementary school grade, and all I remember was eating at family-style smorgasbords—literally sharing a table and bowls of food with other restaurant patrons, passing the corn and butter for real, Amish people of course, and that sweet fucking shoo-fly pie. Years later, my mom found some mail order (pre-Internet, remember) shoo-fly pie place but it just wasn’t the same. You can’t eat that at home unless there is the stench of fresh cow shit in the country air and Amish fuckers giving you the hairy eyeball.
Everybody knows that. God!
Anyway, there are days when I DAYDREAM about shoo-fly pie. It’s not even that it’s the Best Pie In the World, but it reminds me of childhood.
And my immature obsession with the Amish community.
And Intercourse, PA.
And fucking someone through a hole cut in a sheet.
(What? That’s called Amish-style. Read a fucking sex book every once in awhile and you might learn something.)
We passed the hotel and drove straight to Dutch Haven, a local gift shop shaped like a windmill (not the kind I hate, but a real Holland-kind of windmill!) that sells all kinds of Amish crap and SHOO-FLY PIE. Bitch, best warm a slice up, Mama’s comin’.
OMFG you can’t even see the pie beneath that double-D whipped cream bosom. I would gladly drive 6 hours every Saturday for this to be my Weight Watchers splurge item. (Or have Henry drive me.)
They have other pies there too, but who needs that shit.
Chooch opted for a plate of chocolate chip cookies, because he has poor taste. This picture was taken right as he was coyly asking, “MOMMY WHAT DOES THAT SHIRT SAY!?” because it said something witty about Intercourse, PA and he wanted to hear me say it out loud, presumably so he could then ask loudly, “WHAT DOES INTERCOURSE MEAN?” when he clearly damn well knows, or else he wouldn’t have been asking me in that creepy, fake-innocent tone of his.
Masticating Amishly. (He’s so lucky that I was too distracted by Pierce the Veil to make any Weener Photos this times around.)
God, this place just injects me with joy-sperm! SO MUCH OF THE JOYFUL PENETRATION.
I wanted to eat at Jakey’s Amish Barbeque (even though I don’t do meat; I had my heart set on potato salad, yee haw) but it was CLOSED. Henry didn’t seem to care, but I was all bent out of shape about it.
“Over what? Macaroni and cheese?” he spat over top of my ad nauseum whining.
I can’t tell you how many times during the six-hour car ride I said, “Gee willikers, I can’t wait to grind into some sexual, creamy potato salad at Jakey’s Amish BBQ.”
NOT MACARONI AND CHEESE.
This is proof that Henry doesn’t listen to me. At all.
We settled for Jennie’s Diner, mostly because it was:
right down the street
not an overpriced smorgasbord with a parking lot full of tour buses carrying religious people
Henry immediately liked it because it boasted an Air Force wall clock. That’s the SERVICE that Henry was in back in the 80s, you guys! (1980s, not 1880s.) I didn’t actually check, but I bet Henry left the waitress a big tip.
(She actually was a really good waitress and even told Henry the best way to order his burger to save money. I bet she also likes Pierce the Veil. I’m good at stereotyping.)
Chooch deduced that our waitress’s boyfriend was sitting at the counter and kept speculating loudly about it. He had a neck tattoo so I asked Chooch to kindly STFU before he interpreted Chooch’s concern to mean that Henry had the hots for his woman.
I know, I know — like anyone would be threatened that Henry would steal their woman. But go talk to my ex-boyfriend Jeff. I’m sure he has a lot to opine on that topic.
Pre-Pierce the Veil fuelage.
We had about an hour to kill after we checked into our hotel, which was conveniently situated directly across the street from a very closed-for-the-season Dutch Wonderland, thanks for that, Henry.
Since Henry was unloading in the bathroom, Chooch and I decided to go exploring, which is the best part of staying in a hotel when you’re six and/or Erin. The game room was right down the hall from our room, so we scoped that out but there were lots of d-bag kids in there at the moment (plus, Henry gave us zero dollars for tokens), so we retreated. When we got to our room, I said, “Watch this, Chooch.” Knowing that Henry was definitely still pooping, I rapped on the door and yelled, “Room service.”
Then to Chooch, I screamed, “RUN!!!” So we ran like escaped orphans through the halls of the Lancaster Ramada, hugging corners and panting at the thrill of potentially being chased but really knowing that Henry was probably still sunk into the Room 306 commode and even if he was post-poop, he’s still a 47-year-old man who would rather turn on the Canadian DIY show “She’s Crafty” than search a stinky hotel for his missing child & faux-spouse.
Speaking of Canada, there was a Canadian-themed* hotel down the street and while I wasn’t quite sure what it could possibly have to offer other than poutine and cheap Nickelback CDs on the pillows, I was still pissed that Henry didn’t book us a room there. There were maple leaves all over the signage!
“It didn’t come up in the hotel listing!” Henry cried defensively.
THAT’S WHAT THEY ALL SAY.
(*Maybe Canadians are a hot commodity in Lancaster, who the hell knows.)
While Henry was doing God only knows what in the hotel room (as if God even WANTS to know), Chooch and I had taken our tour of terror up another level — to the fourth floor, bitches.
It looked exactly the same as our third floor layout, but I noticed that one of the room number signs on the wall had rooms that started with a 5.
It became our mission to find the fifth floor and we were so confused because the staircase stopped on the fourth. We found a small ramp and door at the end of the hallway and realized that the fifth floor was really the four and a half floor. Still, it didn’t stop us from blowing through the door and barreling down the hall like heavyweight tumbleweeds.
There were a few rooms in that hallway, a random table and lamp and an elevator. And then we reached a dead end. On our walk back to the 4th floor ramp, a middle-aged, rotund little Asian man in a blazer walked through the door. My paranoia immediately prickled. I didn’t like his shifty gait and I didn’t like the way his one hand kept disappearing beneath the side of his blazer, like he was REACHING FOR SOMETHING.
“Chooch,” I whispered hoarsely. “I don’t trust this guy.”
“Can we get stuff out of the vending machine?” Chooch responded, not yet grasping the severity of the situation.
“DON’T MAKE EYE CONTACT,” I coached him. When we passed him, me all stiff-limbed and Chooch walking like a normal human, I barked out a hollow, “HELLO.”
(I always hope that if I am friendly to someone who is considering assassinating me, it might change their mind.)
He smiled congenially and then stopped in front of the elevator. I kept trying to covertly shove Chooch along—he walks so slow, like he doesn’t know that we’re being HUNTED—and dared to look over my shoulder once. The man was still waiting for the elevator and didn’t seem to be paying attention to us anymore. Probably because he is THAT GOOD of an assassin.
When we reached the door at the end of the 5th floor ramp, I yelled, “RUN!!!!” and we sprinted all the way back to the stairwell and to our room, where we collided with Henry who did NOT look happy.
“Some Asian guy was going to kill us!” Chooch informed him and Henry just sighed deeply and I’m sure the idea of finishing Asian Guy’s job for him crossed Henry’s mind at least twice.
In case I haven’t mentioned lately how much Henry sucks, he got us a room with two double beds. DOUBLE BEDS.
As we pulled out of the parking lot, en route to the Chameleon Club for the Pierce the Veil show, I said, “Hey Chooch, remember when that Asian guy was trying to kill us?”
And Henry mumbled, “You two are fucking idiots” for the 87th time that day.
Most people know Chooch as the trucker-mouthed, acerbic-witted kid obsessed with The Walking Dead, Ju-On, cemeteries and ghosts, but he also has a much softer, cat-loving and stuffed animal-cuddling side. I like to cultivate his sunnier side every now and then to keep a safe balance. Currently, his favorites are Fox and Rabbit, both puppets. Fox was a Goodwill find and Rabbit was Chooch’s purchase at the Magic Mob economy boost two weeks ago.
My friend Steph has a plush monsta-making company called Frankenstitch. She posted a picture of her new Easter-inspired peepers last week on Facebook and I immediately clicked over to her Etsy shop because I thought it would be the perfect addition to Chooch’s Easter basket this year, plus I had been wanting to buy something from her for a really long time but I am always so annoyingly distracted.
Then I got to her shop and had a complete meltdown because THERE IS JUST SO MUCH MONSTERLY CUTENESS TO BE HAD. And I have never been the best at making decisions.
But then I saw him. Wolfie Maximus. The only monsta in the whole shop that wasn’t brightly colored, but still—he spoke to me and I could totally see him in Chooch’s arms. Bam, ordered.
He arrived yesterday.
Not the greatest picture because I was on my way out the door for work, but I had to open it and cuddle with him! He is BIG (bigger than I thought he was going to be), sturdy and his wolfish pelt is so soft and fuzzy that I considered stuffing him in my purse and showing him around downtown.
(You know, the whole three alleys I’m familiar with. And the trolley station!)
When I came home from work last night, I couldn’t help it — I gave him to Chooch right then instead of waiting until Easter.
“OMG YOU’RE THE BEST MOM!” Chooch screamed, nearly tackling me with a hug. This kid is REALLY into stuffed things. And yes, I realize how that sounds.
“You couldn’t wait, could you?” Henry sighed in the kitchen, after hearing Chooch erupt in giddy jubilation.
WOLFIE IS TOO CUTE TO KEEP HIDDEN, OK.
I planned on taking a better photo today, but then this morning, Chooch asked to take Wolfie to school. “I have to show my friends! They won’t believe how awesome he is!” And then he gave me ANOTHER HUG, you guys.
If that’s how it’s going to be, maybe I should just sign up for the Monsta of the Month club.
If you’re looking for a fun and colorful present for a kid (or grown-up! I want all of them!), I can’t recommend Steph’s plushes highly enough. These would also be good gifts for:
people with a mood disorder which requires them to squeeze colorful, stuffed fabric;
blind people you hate (they’ll never be able to figure what they’re feeling);
serial killers who need something to hold after their moms reject them;
your local anthropomorphism support group in need of a mascot
Erin Rachelle Kelly
Frankenstitch Production’s creations are top-notch quality – totally worth the price. Chooch is totally getting another one for his birthday in April.