While I was having the best time over in Section 127 with my new NCTbestie from Boston, Henry was having a very different experience in his section 210. When we parted ways, I told him to send me pictures proving that he was actually in his seat and not actually just spending the concert hiding in the bathroom or wandering the empty hallways like a predator.
He sent me a selfie right away:
LOL why does he take selfies like this?!?!? You can see that he was almost at the very very back of the arena. I think there was only one row behind him.
I guess that was his view before his night took a turn.
I was busy talking to my new friend and switching between screaming my throat raw and weeping while waving my light stick. Meanwhile, he was blowing up my phone with these whiny texts that I pointedly ignored:
But then he TAGGED me in an Instagram post?! HE WAS THAT WHINY that he had to go to these extra lengths to bring my attention to his tragic seating situation by CALLING ME OUT on social media?!
Wow. He must have been mad. Let me also be clear that this is all because I bought the ticket for him on the drive there instead of letting him wait until we got to the hotel so he could do it himself. I didn’t want to take the chance!
The ticket was only $60 (you know, BEFORE Ticketmaster added their mysterious fees that their Board probably uses to purchase human blood to sip from antique chalices) so he can’t really complain that much!!
Apparently, he moved seats twice and it didn’t matter because people kept congregating in the aisles and ok, THAT would piss me off too. I mean you have to expect that people will stand at concerts. I stood for the whole thing! (Except during the Ments and interludes where a video would play to distract us while they disappeared for wardrobe changes.) you’re excited to see your faves and you want to stand for them! It’s normal.
But Henry doesn’t want to stand at concerts. I dunno I guess I can see both sides.
The next day, he was slowly revealing more and more of his experience on the drive home. There was a married couple nearby that he immediately hated. He said they reminded him of these AWFUL people we used to know from Live Journal, Regan and Lance. They were world class assholes. They apparently became friends with other people that he hated (I think the ones who were standing) and now they have plans to go see Ateez together, and then one of them had a roommate who was on the other side of the arena but then she ended ip coming to their side and also stood in front of Henry.
The only exception to the people Henry hated was a young Korean guy and his girlfriend. The guy had classic noonchi, apparently, and asked Henry if he could see because, according to Henry, he shot ip as soon as NCT came out and never stopped singing and dancing through the whole thing while his girlfriend sat down and ate. Henry was OK with this guy.
Henry wasn’t able to see the stage at all EXCEPT for when Johnny took his shirt off and danced in a cage because his section was super Johnny-biased and this caused “a lot of movement” in the crowd so then he was able to see, lol why is this so hilarious to me?! Imagining Henry being like, “oh thank fuck – at least, of all the things happening tonight, I can see Johnny’s striptease.” Henry said his favorite part was watching Taeyong trying not to laugh.
Here is the best video I could find of this song lol:
Henry said his favorite song of the night was Highway to Heaven, which he said with no hesitation so it must be true:
Neither of those videos are mine!! I didn’t really record any full songs (except for Cherry Bomb and Back 2 U!!) and also I was sitting up in the balcony section so who wants to see those anyway.
On his bias Yuta’s solo: “I didn’t even get to see it but you can put that one in if you want.” Lol ok Kpop Dad calm down.
Henry doesn’t like that Yuta doesn’t get enough lines. “He has a nice voice!”
“I liked ‘listening’ to it, how about that? Visually, it was very unappealing. Not NCT127’s fault.” – Henry’s very informative review. And then: “I wish I knew that girl’s name.” (In reference to the MAIN SWAYING VIEW-OBSTRUCTOR who reminded him of Regan.)
Much to Henry’s inner joy and invisible mirth, yesterday was the third and last day of Riot Fest. It’s also the first day Henry and I fought– we made it so far! Specifically all the way to Rob Zombie’s set where I tried to lose Henry in the crowd like lol ok what is that going to prove.
Anyway, we saw lots of bands so let’s see what Henry hated, didn’t like, and thought was “not too bad.” (Heads up, he was not impressed by anything on Sunday.)
The Bronx: They were good…? What?
Frankiero andthe Patience: I liked that too. (He sounded unsure. I don’t think he knows who this is.)
All Dogs: I don’t remember if I liked them. Apparently not.
Dee Snider: Eh. Novelty.
Juliette Lewis & the Licks: Interesting. Not too bad for what we saw before you got hangry.
A Will Away: I only saw five minutes of them so I can’t make an informative opinion. (He was sitting alone by a fence for their first few songs, looking like an undercover cop.)
Thursday: I was never a big fan anyway so that didn’t change. (He breaks my heart.)
Bad Religion: Pretty much the same. Not a big fan anyway.
Underoath: I don’t know. (He scrunched up his face and made a so-so motion with his hand.)
Deftones: I only knew their older stuff, so. Not bad. Can’t say I’m the biggest fan. (Well they played mostly old stuff, so…)
Rob Zombie: From what I heard I liked. (When I left him during Rob Zombie, he was standing by himself– obvi–and said that a younger guy was doing DRUGS next to him, but when he saw Henry, he got nervous and put it away. Like no duh, Henry—it’s because you look like a NARC.)
Sleater-Kinney: We walked through them? That was it. (Yeah right when they were commending Riot Fest for writing a No Harrassment policy – Henry hates when girls stand up for themselves and get all “lippy about their safety” don’t you Henry the Oppressor?)
Misfits: I don’t get it.
And now is the time where we ask Henry what his dream Riot Fest lineup would be. Lol, nevermind. Just Ted Nugent.
Out of every band there this weekend, Henry’s favorite was “I don’t know.”
Henry got lemonade because “everyone else seems to be getting lemonade.” What a fucking conformist.
Overall, Henry thinks that Riot Fest “wasn’t a bad weekend. At least it didn’t rain.”
Wow. I feel like a need a fucking butterfly net to catch all those words.
It was after 2pm by the time we were done being dummies at Vent Haven, which means we were precariously close to The Witching Bitching Hour, otherwise known as the hunger twilight, where Chooch and I morph from adorably angelic sweethearts into Regan and Damian in Warped Tour shirts.
Henry had approximately 37 minutes to find us a place to eat before the transformation was complete.
Back when Christina and I were friends, I used to visit her pretty frequently in Hamilton, OH, which is a few miles outside of Cincinnati. Since it was kind of on our way home, I suggested that we eat at Hyde’s, a family restaurant she took me to several times. I remembered liking the aesthetic and the pie, and was prepared to throw a fit if Henry said no, but then something miraculous happened:
Henry’s old SERVICE roommate Tim contacted him because he saw on Facebook that we were in the area! This put Henry in a great mood and he said YES to Hyde’s because now we needed to kill time in order for Tim to come out to meet us from wherever he lived in Indiana which is apparently close to Hamilton, who knew? (People who look at maps, I guess.)
Tim called Henry shortly after we arrived at Hyde’s. Henry jumped out of the booth and went outside to answer it; I’ve never seen Henry run out of a restaurant that fast in my life, not even the time he dined and dashed at HOOTERS in 1992.
So then Mr. WE GOTTA GET HOME, NO MORE STOPPING! decided that after lunch, we would be meeting TIM at Jungle Jim’s!
Holy shit, I was so so excited, I could barely eat. Just kidding, I almost accidentally ate my hand while shoving my grilled cheese into my gnashing maw.
We had a really colorful waitress too who made sure she told us how busy she was every time she swung by our table, and I really liked that Real Talk aspect. I want to believe that we were the only table she confided in. I kept hoping she would talk shit on her other tables to us but she never did.
She probably made fun of me to her other tables though after I was a total tourist and asked WTF “sarasotas” are.
Turns out they’re just homemade potato chips served with BBQ sauce.
“That Yinzer bitch over there asked what them sarasotas is, can you imagine,” she probably said to the table of old bitches who came in for pie.
Chooch of course substituted a basket of sarasotas for his fries and Henry was very perplexed by this.
“Why don’t they just call them homemade chips with BBQ sauce, I don’t understand,” he said.
One thing to note is that I honestly don’t recognize any of the scenery in Hamilton, for as many times as I have been there. Like, if you set me loose and said, “Find Christina’s old house or die” well I guess I’m dead. I don’t even remember the name of the street, and I used to mail her shit all of the time!
I think this is my mind’s way of protecting me, lol.
On the way there, Henry and Chooch argued over the fact that meth and methane aren’t the same.
So nothing about Jungle Jim’s was familiar to me but who cares because a REAL LIFE PIECE OF HENRY’S SERVICE PAST WAS THERE.
OMG you guys. My mind almost melted.
Chooch took these pictures because he’s my little spy in training.
Unfortunately, Tim and Henry talked about kind of boring things, mostly just catching each other up on their current lives. So Chooch and I were like, “Eh, screw this” and walked ahead of them, looking for the Romania aisle.
I never grocery shop, but Jungle Jim’s is huge and full of weird international goods and animatronics. It’s like Chuck E. Cheese for grocery shoppers. This is where I bought my first and only durian in 2004!
The last time I was here was August of 2005, when I was about 65% sure I might be pregnant. There was a fortune teller thing there, so I inserted my quarter and asked, “Hey, am I pregnant? Because I mean, I just turned down ice cream in favor of mustard, so….”
I don’t remember when her prediction was, which shot out of a slot at me, but GUESS WHAT I was definitely pregnant. Technically, this was Chooch’s second time at Jungle Jim’s, I guess.
My favorite thing about Tim is that he chided Henry about not marrying me so TIM, YOU CAN STAY.
Here’s a quick Henry Interview!
What did you & Tim used to talk about at night when you were roommates? GIRL STUFF?
Henry: I don’t remember. It was 30 years ago. Literally, 30 years ago.
Henry, sarcastically I think: Hahaha, oh my god, you’re hilarious.
Did he know you were obsessed with being Erik Estrada back then?
Henry: Just answer it yourself. I’m not answering that. You’re making shit up as always.
Hmm, I don’t know Henry. That picture tells a different story. Speaking of stories, I heard you and Tim talking about the time you drove some guy’s car into a ditch. Talk about that.
Henry: It was 1986 maybe? We had just gotten off work at 7:30 that morning and went to the bar. We (guys I worked with, there was maybe 4 or 5 of us) pretty much drank all day. I had to run home to get something* so I borrowed Joe’s car and when I got close to my house I turned the corner too sharp and went into a small ditch on the side of the road. I blew out the tire and bent the rim and then I parked it at my house, took my car back to the bar without telling him I did anything to his. He didn’t find out until the next day when he came to pick it up and he found out it was damaged so I had to pay for it.
*(Probz porn to trade.)
Good, that’s what happens WHEN YOU DRIVE DRUNK, ASSHOLE. Anyway, that was a boring story. Did you ever take a bullet for Tim?!
Henry, in an annoyed/laughing tone: No. Psh, take a bullet for Tim….
What is your most vivid memory of Tim? Was he in Panama with you?
Henry: He was always working on his car because it seemed to always be broken. I don’t remember [if he was in Panama], I don’t think so but I can’t be sure. It’s possible.
(WOW. SOME FRIENDSHIP.)
Was Tim with you when you went to see CHEAP TRICK in Texas?!
Henry, appalled at this question for some reason: No! That was when I was in training, when I just got out of basic. Tim didn’t come in until my last year maybe…
(So, right before he went AWOL.)
Henry just said he’s not going to divulge the contents of their Jungle Jim’s convo, so basically this was a huge waste of time.
Somewhere outside of Columbus, I was imitating Henry so intensely, that Chooch laughed so hard he pissed his pants, which just made Henry even angrier because now he was going to have to stop somewhere so Chooch could change.
“We’re never going to fucking get home. Thanks a lot, assholes,” Henry barked, which just made Chooch and me bust out our sides from all the laughter.
When Henry set the GPS that morning as we left our hotel in Louisville, it told us we’d be getting home sometime around 4.
We got home just shy of midnight.
Good god, that was a fun whirlwind trip to Kentucky.
Much wow, this was Henry’s 8th Warped Tour (I think? I don’t feel like counting, but it’s less than my official tally that’s for sure because I’m more legit than he is). What this means is that he is basically a seasoned, grizzled pro at this point. Let’s ask him some questions about his long-term relationship with Warped Tour and if he plans on siring any illegitimate children out of wedlock with them, too. JUST LIKE HE DID WITH ME.
Do you plan on siring any illegitimate children out of wedlock with Warped Tour?
Say that again!? [WRITER REPEATS QUESTION.] I don’t know. Is that even possible?
There were several times when I went off on my own during the day. What did you and Chooch do that I missed?
We just walked around and got some Twix [they had a booth there] and Chooch spent some time in the water tent. We saw a little bit of Cold Rain but then he saw some vendor and then we ventured off. I don’t know, we just walked around and then he kept wanting a bucket hat. [There were some merch booths selling them because nothing screams POP PUNK like a bucket hat?]
Out of all the Warped Tours you’ve attended throughout the years, give us your top 3 worst moments.
Great, now I have to think. [He is seriously thinking about this too OMG. No wait, he’s watching something about the Kennedy assassination. No, he’s thinking again!]
#3. I don’t know what year it was, but having to listen to Katy Perry sing.
#2. Whatever year it was when it was 1000 degrees there and it was miserable. [I know what you’re thinking: Isn’t that every year?? But this one year it was actually so bad that someone died, I think, maybe.]
#1. Breakdown 2016. [You guys I think he’s referring to the 87 times I wanted to leave last week because I’m emotionally cracked.]
If you had a booth at Warped Tour, what would you be selling?
Individually-wrapped prunes. [LOL JUST KIDDING THAT WAS ME, THE WRITER, ANSWERING FOR HIM.]
Huh. What would I sell….[Literally, he has no imagination.] I don’t know. Let me think about that one.
[TWENTY MINUTES LATER] Your art, and meat products, because there’s way too much vegetarian shit there.
[Um, if he’s referring to the ONE tent that Peta2 has there, then yeah: SO MUCH.]
Kevin Lyman, the founder of Warped Tour, asks you personally for a list of bands to forever blacklist. I guess he feels an affinity to you because you’re both middle-aged with probably have the same amount of callouses. Anyway, what bands are on your list? GO HOGWILD, BOO.
[Wow, this just in: Henry doesn’t care when disgusting, misogynistic bands like FALLING IN REVERSE and ATTILA play at Warped Tour, that’s why they didn’t make his list. Oh OK, privileged white male! Way to use your god-given Caucasian penis for good.]
It’s the morning after Warped Tour, i.e. DEAR DIARY TIME! What do you write on the back of the Faygo Red Pop label* about this year’s experience at Warped Tour?
I can’t have secrets and then tell you! [I won’t stop looking at him until he answers.]
When you look at me like that and start typing, it scares me. I don’t like your line of questioning. Too much thinking involved. Why can’t it just be yes or no answers. [Ew he just told me he doesn’t like my attitude?!]
*[That’s what I imagine Henry’s diary to be: a clump of Faygo bottle labels crumbled into a ball and punched under the mattress.]
OK fine, pretend like it’s a postcard that you’re sending Chris & Monica from the great bustling parking lot that is Warped Tour:
Is this a new question? Why would I write Chris and Monica a postcard?
[I’ll start it for you: DEAR CHRIS AND MONICA]
[I just asked Chooch the same question since Henry’s brain is creaking and smoking as he tries to think. Chooch would just write: ‘Sup.]
Dear Chris & Monica,
Having a great time, as always. [I think he’s sarcasming.]
Brought my A&D ointment which I have been applying liberally right around the TENDER AREAS inside my thighs. I wanted to wear booty shorts today but I had to wear regular-lengthed basic white man shorts on account of all the CHAFING. Thought we were going to leave early because Erin was being a psycho but then somehow we ended staying later than ever before, wtf guys. I got to eat an ice pop and it reminded me of the days when I was a paperboy except that it cost approximately $8 more. Um, I bought my work-husband the Masked Intruder CD not because I’m thoughtful or anything but because he is my dom.
[OK fine, I might have taken some liberties after the “having a great time” line because I was tired of him sitting here saying, “Um…..uh…..”]
You seem less irritated about having to chaperone Chooch and me than you have in earlier years. Can you confirm this is because you’re sufficiently dead inside, or do you secretly LIKE WARPED TOUR now?
I think it’s a little bit of both. I like some of it and I’m pretty much dead inside because of you and Chooch.
But you hated Bled Fest – why?
I didn’t hate Bled Fest I just didn’t like it. I never said I hated Bled Fest! It was just too hot—and it wasn’t my type of music!
[Let me translate this for you, because I’m well-versed in reading between Henry’s blue-collared lines: Not enough booty shorts.]
Talk about how you’re able to sleep every year through super loud, heavy bands (the lucky bands this year were Secrets and Waterparks):
I don’t know it’s just something I can do.
[WOW GET THIS MAN ON AMERICA’S GOT TALENT.]
If Warped Tour was around when you were a teenager, what bands would you have liked to see in the line-up that was probably printed in the PITTSBURGH PRESS along with the date that the tickets went on sale so you would know when to go to KAUFMANN’S at CENTURY III MALL to buy them. I’ll just go ahead and start you off with Ted Nugent:
Probably ZZ Top
The Guess Who
[ED.NOTE: Don’t post pictures of illustrated weeners on Facebook because you will be reported for it and it will be removed, even if it looks like a Simpsons’ weener.]
Speaking of weeners, last year, that ginger-fuckerbitch Jonny Craig got kicked off Warped Tour for flapping his weener at his merch girl. Would you rather have Jonny Craig’s weener flapped in your face at such a close proximity that it gets tangled up in your beard, or would you rather get caught flapping your own weener at Jeffree Star and have him paint it with his lipgloss line? You can be honest, I won’t tell anyone:
Really? You’re not going to tell anyone? Pfft. [He just mumbled “Boy, you’re having fun with this.”] Probably the latter because I don’t like Jonny Craig.
Bradley [from Emarosa] hugging Chooch [during their set. Don’t worry Henry, I’m here to beef up your answers].
ON THE REAL HENRY, like how giddy do you get when Bradley talks to us?
How WHAT? Giddy? I don’t. I don’t need to get giddy; I have you two that get giddy and quiet.
[Oh OH, Bradley is totally his #mce (Barb, that means Man Crush Everyday).]
In closing, what advice would you give another dad who is going to Warped Tour with his kids for the very first time? And don’t say “Drop them off”:
Well that was going to be my answer, drop them off. Since I can’t say that….um….bring lots of cash for merch and food. I don’t know what else….but I’m sure you do.
[Yeah, I do: FORGET ABOUT HAVING ANY AUTHORITY, OPINIONS, OR FEELINGS THAT DAY BECAUSE IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU, IT’S ABOUT YOUR KIDS, SO STEP OFF, DAD.]
Me, looking around at all of the groups of friends who were stoked to be seeing Circa Survive together: Don’t you wish we had a crew?
Henry: Nope. I wish you did.
Tuesday, April 28th marked my 4th time seeing Circa Survive in the span of one year. (The 6th time seeing Anthony Green in general, though, if you count the Sound of Animals Fighting and Saosin.) And it’s too early in the morning for me to attempt and count how many times since 2005. Suffice to say, I really love this band and I was giddy as fuck all day at work because I was going to see them that night.
We went straight to Millvale after Henry picked me up from work and ate at the Grant Bar & Lounge. How have I been going to shows at Mr. Small’s for more than a decade and never eaten here?! And to think we were originally going to eat at the Subway across the street.
This place was everything I love in a dive: First, you have to walk through the bar to get to the dining room so you can take a quick tour of the town’s underbelly. And the walls are faux-stone! It was so Bavarian! I LOVE BAVARIAN.
Old school waitress buzzer!
I can’t really explain why else I liked this joint so much, other than you could tell it hadn’t been renovated since before I was born. I love dark, cave-like restaurants.
Henry had a burger and I had a grilled portabello sandwich with homemade onion rings. The food was fine (my Yelp nemesis gave them a thirty paragraph review all to say that his experience was “fair, a three-star experience, the Thesaurus taught me 92 new words as I was writing this review.” Fuck, I hate that man so badly. Of course, he gave 5 stars to the place in Millvale I originally wanted to try, so now I’m glad we didn’t go there), but it was really the ambiance that made it special for me. (Until the bitch-baby in the booth across from us started acting like an asshole and of course no one cared because she was the granddaughter of one of the waitresses and every single person eating there was a townie and used to it.)
We were about to pay the check when I overheard the old broads in the booth behind us inquire about the desserts, and our waitress started bragging about the coconut cream pie. THAT IS ONE OF MY FAVORITE PIES. But it’s really easy to get a shitty piece. They ended up ordering it and when I saw that the topping was whipped cream and not meringue (a thousands fist-shakes in the face of meringue), I had to order a piece ASAP.
And I shouldn’t have, because my stomach was already emitting a series of beeps and shocks to remind me that it was over capacity.
COCONUT CREAM pie.
It was the best damn coconut cream pie I have ever had, and I felt so strongly about this that I wrote a “Dear Grant’s Bar” love letter on the back on the check. (Henry was just happy that it was a positive ode for once, and not one of my infamous THIS PLACE SUCKS I HOPE YOU DIE death threats that I may have been known to scrawl from time to time before dashing out the door.)
However, those last forkfuls of food (what would my Yelp nemesis have used here? Vittles? Sustenance? Something Arabic?) really sent my digestive system into overdrive. I thought I would feel better once we walked to Mr. Small’s afterward, because walking off a meal typically helps me, but no. I spent the rest of the night in deep regret. And by regret I mean that I reached a point where I couldn’t even stand up straight. And of course it was a sold out show, and the balcony area was VIP-only that night.
We ended up all of the way in the front row, but over the side, so I could lean against the stage all night. And lean I did. At some points, I was also sagged and half-collapsed across it, too. The pain was real and just kept getting worse.
The opening band was CHON. I knew that Henry wouldn’t like them. I whispered, “FYI, they don’t sing” when we were waiting for them to come out. Henry HATES that. But I have been following them on Facebook for a few years and was excited to finally see them. I heard a girl nearby ask the guy next to her if they were the same style as Circa Survive. The guy and I both laughed at the same time, and he said, “Uh, no. Not at all.”
I’m sorry, Henry, but they were pretty sick to watch and I felt like they were channeling Chuck Mangione at times. I don’t listen to this style of music very often, but it served as a nice reminder that vocals aren’t always necessary to feel something, and I am definitely guilty of focusing too much on the singing sometimes.
Balance and Composure was next and I have to be honest here: seeing that they were on this tour made me even more excited about it because I have liked them for years yet have somehow never seen them live!
I have also never really paid attention to what they look like, so I was in for a shock when they took the stage because Jon, the singer, looked so much like my co-worker A-ron that I started to wig out a little bit. I kept taking pictures to send to all of my work friends, and the next day 98% of them were like, “Holy shit, are we sure it’s not really A-ron?!” except for TODD who said that it only kind of looked like him, and JEANNIE who frowned and said “not at all” and that it just looked like “an average guy with brown hair.”
“If everyone else said it didn’t look like him, you would say it did,” I said to Jeannie in a huff, which just made her laugh BECAUSE IT’S TRUE! She enjoys being the voice of dissent. But whatever, because when I saw A-ron that day, I said to him, “I’m surprised you’re here today after your big show last night” and then I showed him the picture and A-RON HIMSELF WAS LIKE OMG. But showing him turned out to be a mistake because it totally went to his head and then he kept making air-guitar motions and that was just weird.
Anyway, seeing Balance and Composure was worth the wait. I loved it, even though my stomach was like, “NOW can we go home??”
“Remember that coconut cream pie?” I dreamily said to Henry after CHON, punctuating it with a tiny burp.
“It wasn’t that great,” he mumbled.
Somewhere in between CHON and B&C, the super normal, inoffensive and unassuming girl who was next to me moved to a different spot and before I had the chance to move over into her vacated space, the grossest couple usurped it from me. The girl was about 5 feet tall and had SCENE HAIR. I haven’t seen SCENE HAIR since 2009. It was big and teased and so close to my face that I fixated on ripping out the bobby pins all night. And she stunk, you guys. Like Love’s Baby Soft and filth.
Now I’m picturing her trying to visit someone in jail with all of those bobby pins in her gross hair.
Her boyfriend was this big fucking Jersey Shore gorilla juice head who was wearing a TIGHT DRESS SHIRT.
You know how sometimes you just can’t help it, but you hate someone on sight? These were two people who did not have to give you any more of a reason to hate them other than just existing. AND THEY KEPT LOVINGLY GIVING EACH OTHER PECKS ON THE LIPS as if I wasn’t already having a hard time holding back my bile. I was having vivid hallucinations of yanking the rat’s nest off her head, I just couldn’t stand her. And during B&C, she spotted Anthony Green and squealed to her boyfriend and then jumped up and down and clapped her tiny little scene-fairy hands and I was like OH HOW FUCKING SWEET. YES I’M SURE YOU HAVE A SHOT WITH ANTHONY GREEN.
Then Gorilla Juice Head left her to stand ALL ALONE while he went and purchased practically one of everything from the merch booth for her, which she then kept in a pile on the side-stage area in front of her, and I swear to god she kept looking at me over her shoulder and then sliding her t-shirts closer to her, like yeah bitch, I’m going to steal your XS shirts. I just hated the way she kept looking at me, like I didn’t belong there, and I know it’s awful and I shouldn’t care, but it made me feel really uncomfortable (like I wasn’t already thanks to Grant’s Bar) and I started to feel like everyone was staring at me and that maybe I really didn’t belong there, and I haven’t had such low self-esteem issues like that at a show in a REALLY LONG TIME.
I would have just moved somewhere else, but I really needed to stay where I was because leaning against that stage was like a literal crutch for me, that’s how bad my stomach hurt. It was a sold-out show, and there was quite honestly no better place for me to go, other than home. And I wasn’t leaving without seeing Circa Survive.
Then this happened:
WOW JUST WOW HENRY.
Also, I felt disoriented because I swear every time we go to Mr. Small’s, something in there has changed. They’re constantly working on additions, which is great, but it’s made it seem very unfamiliar to me. I felt like a stranger in a place that used to be home.
And this is why this ended up being the worst Circa Survive show I’ve ever gone to. And it’s nothing against the band at all, because they were such amaze much wow as usual. I just could barely enjoy it.
They played all of my faves from Juturna. That album never gets old.
I felt like I was floating out of my body at one point. The pain, so real. Call an ambulance. And Henry kept getting pushed into me and every time I felt his belly pressing into my back I wanted to fucking murder him. I kept turning around to glare at him and he hissed, “What do you want me to do? Do you SEE all of the people in here?!” Ugh, I just didn’t want to be touched! It was terrible! Anthony’s antics were only making it slightly more tolerable, but I admittedly kept praying, “Please let this be the last song” 20 minutes into their set. It was hard enough standing there in physical pain, but the vibe from the crowd exacerbated my discomfort. Even Henry was like, “There were a lot of assholes there that night.” And Henry’s threshold for assholes is much greater than mine.
I was really looking forward to this show. I woke up with that excited thrill in my belly and spent all day at work bouncing in my seat, counting down the minutes. But, I guess they can’t all be wins, right? This show ranks at the bottom, with the 2005 Grog Shop show and last December’s Philly show with Terri tying for first place. That December hometown show was just so right on so many levels.
It took more than two days for my stomach to make up with me. I don’t know what the hell Grant’s did to me, other than my stomach just being overly sensitive to greasy food these days. That’s one way to keep the weight off!
Today, while following Chooch around on a bike trail, I asked Henry some questions about his billionth Circa Survive experience. Here are his scintillating* answers:
*(I did not consult a Thesaurus on that, thx.)
What did you think of CHON?
*gives me a ‘don’t be stupid’ look*
Did you like Balance and Composure?
Ehhhhhhhh. Not really.
If you could use your beard to smuggle anything into a concert, what would it be?
I don’t know. I wouldn’t. Why do I need to smuggle anything in? I just want to get out.
Do you like old or new Circa Survive songs best?
I don’t know the difference. *mumbles: I can’t believe I’m answering these*
What was the highlight for you? You’re sleeping!!
I’m not sleeping, I’m thinking! I don’t know. Two girls fighting at the end.
Off the top of your head, name three bands that you dislike seeing even more than Circa Survive.
Whatever that first band was. Crone? Cron?
If Anthony Green started a line of barbeque sauces, how tempted would you be to try them?
That’s a weird question. I would try them, but only because it’s barbecue sauce.
I would pour some on my Anthony Greenbeans and dip my Circa Surfries in it. How does it make you feel when Anthony spreads his mouth open with his hands?
Does it bring back prepubescent memories of sexual confusion?
In line for the Yankee Cannonball, I noticed the sign on the ride operator’s podium and started imagining Henry as the ride operator and a line full of Erin Rachelle Kellys distracting him. And with that, I am going to turn this over to Henry and let him tell the tale of what he was feeling in each photo, as I’m sure his thoughts and feelings are riveting. And I’m sure he’ll need some coaxing so this will probably turn into a Q&A session.
Me = italics
Henry = not italics
Asian Man Moustache Ornament.
Waiting in another line to feed the kids again.
Erin: “How much does it annoy you when Chooch and I scream our food orders at you and then leave you to carry everything on your own?”
Henry, muttering: “Oh Jesus Christ. It’s like having two 10-year-olds.”
I believe everyone else was done by the time I got my food.
Erin: “When you were in the SERVICE, did you go to any amusement parks?”
Henry: “Magic Mountain. I don’t recall being anywhere else.”
Erin: “Did you have fun?”
Henry, seriously thinking about it: “Yeah.”
Erin: “What did you wear?”
Henry, appalled: “WHAT? I don’t KNOW. It was like 20* years ago! I’m going to guess jeans and a t-shirt.”
*(Try THIRTY years, buddy.)
Erin: “A TED NUGENT shirt??”
Henry: “No I don’t know what it was.”
Erin: “DID YOU RIDE STUFF?!”
Henry: “Yeah, whatever rides they had back in 1984.”
Erin: “So, you rode rides and had FUN. What happened since then to make you hate amusement parks then?!”
Henry: “I don’t HATE amusement parks. I just can’t ride rides without getting sick now.”
[Finally. The truth comes out. Henry was molested by another SERVICEMAN on a ride at Magic Mountain and now gets sick every time he goes to an amusement park. How did it take me so long to uncover this?!
I bet it happened on the Tilt-a-Whirl.]
Getting ready to finish Chooch’s food, and also the rest of Erin’s.
Thanks for winning me a Strawberry Shortcake, assholes.
Chooch and I wasting another $5 on rings.
Contemplating finding a bar to go to.
Best time of the day!
Erin: “Did you try to fuck that lady in front of you?”
He learned this fancy hand-clasp in PANAMA.
All my minions follow behind.
Erin: “Did the Sky Ride bring back memories of BASIC TRAINING EXERCISES in the SERVICE? Like JUMPING OUT OF A PLANE?!?!”
Henry: “I didn’t jump out of airplanes.”
Erin: “What would it take to get you to ride the Tea Cups? Fill them with FAYGO?”
Henry: You’re so dumb.”
“I have an idea: let’s leave.”
Erin: “Did you have any fun at all? Like on a scale of Sitting in Your Underwear Watching Criminal Minds to Remarrying Your Ex-Wife, how terrible was your day?”
Henry: “I never said I didn’t have fun. Just because I don’t ride anything, doesn’t mean I don’t have fun.”
Was forced to go to Warped Tour again. It was pretty terrible but not as bad as in previous years, mostly because we are only marginally poor now so I was able to buy as many bottles of Coke as I wanted and I even bought FOOD this time instead of sitting under a tree, nibbling on contraband granola bars. (Erin still did this because she is a cheap whore and honestly thought she was going to save money to buy merch; little did she know she was funding my free-flowing supply of COCA COLA.)
I don’t even like Coke.
It was hot, but not “need to apply Desitin in a bathroom stall” hot.
The first shitty band we saw was Chelsea Grin. They weren’t even on the stage yet and I knew I was going to hate them based on their bleeding eyeball signs. And then they came out and the screamer started screaming and it was like being anally probed by their band name’s font. Then the screamer started to sing and I said, “He should just go back to screaming” and Erin did that thing where she looks at me like I don’t get it. But what is there to get about a band who sound like a satchel of shrieking newborns on steroids. Of course Erin would like that shit because it sounded as schizophrenic as one of her daily temper tantrums.
I got a free beef jerky sample and that was pretty good. Here is a picture of me eating that. I don’t know what stupid band was playing during that though, but I bet there was screaming in it.
Then I ate some wings and fresh potato chips. Here is a picture of me eating that too. Sure, my meal cost about $20, but I didn’t mind so much because that was one less pair of scene kid YOLO booty shorts Erin could buy from some obnoxious merch dick. The fact that some stupid band was shouting on a nearby stage negated the happiness that I felt from the food. At least I got to sit down while I ate, but that was only because Erin was waiting for some other band to start playing so she let me.
And then that band began playing and I got to re-taste my meal.
Everyone depended on me to hold up the barrier during Pierce the Veil. We are all lucky we’re alive. Those kids really act like feral hillbillies when they hear music sometimes. I was hoping one of them would hit me so I could punch them backcall my mommy call the cops.
I know, it looks like I am sleeping while standing in this picture. That is because I am.
I’m surprised there was not a terrible band there called Sleeping While Standing.
Ugh, I hate kids and I hate music and I hate kids who love music. And I hate whatever band that is, too.
Sometimes I just walk away because I need to sit down.
Don’t look at the half-naked 16-year-old. Don’t look at the half-naked 16-year-old. Don’t let Erin see me looking at the half-naked 16-year-old. Oh shit, don’t let the half-naked 16-year-old’s DAD see me looking at the half-naked 16-year-old.
COME AT ME, BRO.
Got to take a nap on the lawn during Breathe Carolina, which was great, but then I dreamt that I was drinking Yoo Hoo out of Jeffree Starr’s mouth with Jonny Craig. Woke up needing a cold shower and pissed that I know who Jeffree Starr is thanks to fucking Warped Tour.
Then the Used screamed some songs and I finally got to leave.
Highlights: beef jerky; avoiding Blood On the Dance Floor; not getting stuck in parking lot traffic on the way out.
Lowlights: Finding Erin after I lost her in the crowd; the existence of Blood On the Dance Floor; everything else.
Music has really gone downhill since I played in that Ted Nugent cover band when I was in THE SERVICE.
(I may have had some or a lot of help writing some or all of this.)
Usually when we go to county fairs or amusement parks, Henry declines getting on rides in lieu of standing off to the side, looking like a regular woman’s purse-holding creeper. But I guess this past Sunday, Henry really wanted to remember what it’s like to have all of the fun, so he actually allowed the elderly woman in the ticket booth to slap a ride-all-day wristband on his arm.
Either that or he just really wanted to feel the breeze cruisin’ through his McNichol-locks.
Me: So, which is it?
Henry, mocking me with a Santa laugh: I wanted to have all of the fun, of course.
He complained about neck pain a lot during and after the Crazy Mouse, which is such an old person thing to do.
Me: Seriously, how did it feel to actually be on a ride for once, and not ogling underaged girls with a twitch of your Selleck ‘stache?
Henry: Seriously, I’m not answering a question right this minute.
(Oh, that’s because his nose is in his phone, ogling underage girls with a twitch of his Selleck ‘stache on Facebook.)
Me: What was your favorite ride there, and don’t say ‘the ride home’?
Henry, in a tone that implies I’m a fool for not knowing: The Crazy Mouse.
Me: So, would you say that the Crazy Mouse is your Wacky Worm?
Henry, using the tactic of saying whatever I want to hear in an effort to appease me faster than ear-fucking me with Jonny Craig records: Yeah, I guess.
When it comes to bumper cars, I ususally tend to sit that one out and let Henry and Chooch do their thing. But on this day, I was feeling all sorts of female empowerment and decided what better way to celebrate my day as a mother than by getting all sorts of vehicular homicide on the sperm receptacle that knocked me up in the first place? I immediately regretted the decision when we ascended the steps and got into a line which was turnstiled inside an area the size of a walk-in closet (a regular person’s walk-in closet, not Kimora Lee Simmon’s walk-in closet; bitch, watch an episode of “Cribs” now and then, and you’d know). It was so cramped up in there that I had to stand stockstill, with my arms straight down my sides to avoid my white bread city flesh accidentally chafing against red neck farmhand brawn. Remember in my last Delgrosso’s editorial where I expounded on the social classes of its average patron? Well, it was here, in line for the bumper cars, that all my hyperbolic observations manifested themselves into an actual breathing and stinking family. Imagine the TV show Roseanne, but if the Connors lived in hills that have eyes and not Illinois; marry that with People of Wal-Mart; and then bathe them in liquid cabbage, body odor, vomit and spritz them with eau d’ petting zoo and then plant them right behind the judgmental girl with the over-sensitive olfactory system.
My senses were all a’prickle. Even HENRY was like, “What the fuck is behind me, I’m too afraid to look, here use my periscope.” The Dan Connor of the family was wearing a billowing t-shirt with the arms cut off to allow for adequate stench expulsion from his putrid pits. One of the younger boys was a true ginger and I felt extreme sorrow for him. Also a little bit of disgust. The two pre-teen girls were dressed unintentionally whorish and one of them will probably fail a pregnancy test within the coming weeks while the other loses her virginity to a saw horse.
But the worst was by far the mom. Totally Roseanne Barr if Roseanne Barr was hatched from an egg under a troll bridge, she did nothing but fucking HOLLER at her family and repeat over and over again, “WE’S GON NEED 12 CARS YA’LL CUZ BRITNEY WANTS TO RIDE BY HERSELF! 12 CARS!” and it’s like, “OK! We get it! You can fucking count! You can put the abacus away now!” but really I wanted to know who (or what) she was counting, because I only saw 5 people in their party.
I think the bigger question is why were they spending money on Delgrosso’s admission and not TOILETRIES?
And then one of them, either the mom or dad, emitted the nastiest, wettest fart I’ve ever smelt, and I grew up with two younger brothers. A stew of John Wayne Gacy’s corpse pit, the Jersey Shore smoosh room and sauerkraut might have emitted a comparable fecal bouquet. It was so terrible that I actually CRIED OUT LOUD, DRY-HEAVED and made a big production of covering my nose and mouth.
We ended up getting the last two cars, so at least I was able to ram the fuck out of Henry’s backend without having to hold my nose. (In this case, anyway.)
Me: How good do you feel about yourself when you’re amongst the riffraff at Delgrosso’s, be honest? You probably feel hot like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever. Or at the very least, Michael Landon in Highway to Heaven*. TOTAL SELF ESTEEM BOOST, right?
(* I imagine this is someone Henry emulated in the 80s after his Erik Estrada infatuation fizzled.)
Henry: I don’t understand the question.
(OK. Maybe Henry isn’t that much better than the signature Delgrosso’s patron.)
Henry actually won something! A stuffed shark that his mom kept calling a whale the next day, much to Chooch’s chagrin.
Chooch didn’t understand why his hands weren’t sparking when he stuck them out of the Crazy Mouse car. How fucking precious.
Me: How close did that random redneck resemble Jesus Christ, I mean, Jonny Craig?
Henry: I don’t know, I never really looked at him.
Me: I’ve totally been squeezing my eyes shut and pretending you’re him, just so you know. Hey, speaking of Jonny Craig, what is your favorite Emarosa song?
Henry, before I even finished the question: I don’t have one.
(Well, he better get one, otherwise it’s going to be one excruciating wedding dance for him – OH WAIT WE’RE NOT GETTING MARRIED OH HO HO.)
There were girls in line with us, which explains the bewildered smile.
Henry didn’t want to go on the Swing Buggies until he heard Journey’s “Wheel in the Sky” playing, and then was suddenly all stoked. God, imagine if it had been Ted Nugent. He’d have plowed down girls in wheelchairs to get in line.
This is really what Chooch looks like. I photoshop all his other pictures.
If there are maps, Henry will read them.
Me: What are your favorite kinds of maps to read, and how badly do you want to have sex on top a stack of atlases?
Henry: WHAT? WHAT KIND OF QUESTION IS THAT? I DON’T HAVE A FAVORITE KIND OF MAP TO READ. Murmuring: What’s my favorite kind of map to read. You’re so fucked up.
Me: [reiterating the atlas part of the question and flinching even though this part of the exposé is now being conducted via telephone — you don’t think I actually get him to answer everything in one sitting, do you? We’re going on FIVE DAYS NOW.]
Henry: WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? I’m going to kill you.
Me: Imagine that your daydreams of becoming a Universal Hemorrhoid Ambassador came true.
Henry: A universal what?!
Me, repeating myself and gagging on deep-throated giggles: How would you rate Delgrosso’s ‘rrhoid comfort level for your fellow sufferers on a scale from Preparation H-eaven to Bleeding From My Anus?
Henry, after making me repeat it again because he doesn’t understand my laughing slur: I don’t understand the question.
This is apparently Henry’s new go-to answer. Either that or I need to seriously work on my syntax.
Me: OMG Henry, how adorable are me and Chooch? (Answer wisely and this can be your last question.)
Henry, looks at me suspiciously: Very?
Jesus Christ, now I can’t wait for our annual Father’s Day romp in Kennywood!
Henry said to me, “You’re asking a lot, you know.”
“It’s the least you can do since you won’t marry me.”
And on that note, here is what was supposed to be the final installment of the Harangue Henry questions. I am attempting to type this for him while he is busy assembling zombie Valentine cards.
Ally poses several Tough Thinkers for our Henry: Who does Henry want his mustache to be when it grows up? (e.g. Tom Selleck, Hulk Hogan, etc.)
[Oh the look I just got from him! Shoooooot.]
“I don’t know! Me! [Unintelligible mumbles.]”
Who was Henry’s favorite Teletubby?
“I don’t have one. I didn’t watch Teletubbies. I was freaking thirty years old when it came out!”
[Ed.Note. In other words: The Gay One.]
Sandra Lee, Giada, or Rachael Ray? Who is Henry’s favorite food network personality?
Henry, with extreme confidence: “Giada.”
[Ed.Note. Then why won’t you make any of her recipes, you douche-kabob?]
Does he agree that Alton’s recipes always work and that Ina’s never do?
Getting tangled up in double-sided tape, Henry half-assedly answers: “I would say yes but I’ve never done any of Ina’s at all.”
Has he ever tried any of David Lebovitz’s recipes (if not, he should!)?
Henry, who likes to make up his own recipes for orphan gruel, mutters: “No.”
What would Henry do if he had an entire day, completely to himself?
“Sleep,” Henry said in a way that made me scared to press for more. “That’d never happen,” he mumbled. “You guys don’t even let me sleep when I’m sick.”
What is Henry’s favorite milk shake flavor?
With a face contorted in perplexion: “Probably chocolate.”
[The actual answer is: Whatever Erin or Chooch order that he has to finish.]
Which Golden Girl can Henry most readily identify with? I HAVE TOO MANY QUESTIONS, I CAN’T PRIORITIZE THEM!!!!!
“Which one has a girlfriend that’s a pain in the ass?”
That concludes this round. It only took a WEEK to get these answers, and then I made the mistake of asking him the last 2 directly after he got off the phone with Comcast, who have failed to fix our Internet for a week now. HENRY IS MAD YOU GUYS.
The other day, I gave you the opportunity to shoot some questions at Henry. Facebook really came through with some good ones, so this is going to have to be split into parts, otherwise Henry will flip out about having to talk to me for me too long. So here are the first 5 questions!
Misty’s question is threefold: I want to know who he thinks is the hottest on Jersey Shore: Mike, Vinny, or Pauly D.
Henry, no hesitation: Pauly D.
Also, does he have any strange fears nobody knows about? (balloons, hair brush hair etc.) He probably won’t tell you but you never know.
Henry, making all kinds of confused and constipated faces: Strange fears? I don’t know! Getting cut by metal scares me.
[Pretty sure we covered that already at some point, so good job Henry.]
And also, If he could retire today and spend his life doing manly man activities what would he choose to do?
Henry: Manly man activities? Do you have to go with me?
Erin: Maybe to watch.
Henry, tapping his fingers and then getting distracted by Friends.
[Now we are both distracted by Friends.]
Henry, 2 hours later: I don’t know. I think I would travel and maybe go fishing.
Erin: Fishing for a new girl to not-propose to?
My old school* bud Liz asks: I’d love to hear Henry wax poetic on the Kardashian clan. Who is his fave?
*(Not “old school” in the sense that she slinks around in Adidas tracksuits and Kangol hats with a boombox on her shoulder, but in that I’ve known her since 6th grade.)
Henry, with a crinkled nose and agitated squeal to his tone: I don’t know! I don’t even like the Kardashians! None of them!
[But he’d sure bang any of them in a pinch.]
Terry from Twitter has a burning curiosity: Name two things you love and two things you hate about @ohhonestlyerin?
Henry, using the aid of a toothpick to think: Why does it have to be TWO things I love? [Staring at me for several icy seconds with hate and disdain]
[Still thinking and staring miserably into his grim future. This is obviously a Very Hard One.]
Henry, realizing the faster he answers, the faster it’s over: Two things I love would be sense of humor & sex.
[Fantastic, now everyone knows my Virgin Mary qualities are bogus.]
Henry, on a roll now: Two things I hate are her semi-self-centeredness [Lies.] and that voice she just used.
[I don’t like this game anymore.]
Andrea and Alyson could both kill to know more about the now-infamous Ted Nugent concert.
Answers are in video-form!
Bill of Funny Accent Land inquires: I would like to know which episode of Degrassi is Henry’s favorite.
Henry, laughing in disgust: I don’t HAVE any favorite episodes.
Erin: Not even the one where Paige gets raped by the frat boy? Is that what they’re called in Canada?
Henry: What? Which one is that?
Erin: Well, it’s the one where Paige gets raped by the frat boy.
Henry, pretending like he remembers: Oh. No. I don’t know, I never pay attention to it!
Erin: Then why did you cry when Jimmy got capped?!
Henry: I did not cry.
More answers later!
It’s amazing he answered any at all after I fake-broke up with him Friday morning and caused him all kinds of duress.
You know what I think is interesting? Henry rarely declines when I say, “Let’s go to [insert city] to see [insert band].” As long as the driving distance is within reason, he will usually oblige, so you know what I think? I think that Henry ENJOYS it. You know what else he enjoys? Answering my questions. So let’s just get right into it.
Me: What style are you going for when you go to shows – Urban Lumberjack, Megan’s Law leisure or Amber Alert athletic?
Henry, looking up from Bakery Story on his phone and twisting that mustache into a snarl: What the hell are you talking about?
Me: Do you mean you’re denying pulling clothes from the Child Predator rack?
Me: What are your thoughts on Craig Owens?
Henry, mumbling and making put-out faces: Same as they were before.
Me, pressing the issue: Did you approve of his hair this time? You seemed concerned about the darkened hue when he was on Warped Tour.
Henry, annoyed that I’m making him think and string words together: It was a little better, I guess. I don’t know. It looked blond. What the fuck do you want from me?
Me, changing the subject so he wouldn’t completely shut down: Let’s talk about your caesar salad. What kind of man orders a salad?
Henry, smirking indignantly: One that wants a salad to eat.
[When asked if it was better/worse than tossed salad, he said better, which leads me to believe that he didn’t understand the question.]
Me: If you actually had a say in what we listened to in the car on the way to Cleveland, what would it have been?
Henry, cutting me off before I had a chance to add “And don’t say anything but Jonny Craig”: Anything but Jonny Craig.
Me: Why didn’t you propose to me during Craig’s set?
Henry, my questions now wearing his face into the visage of a wild Appalachian man: What?! Because I was in the bathroom at the Mongolian BBQ!
[Henry went next door to the Grog Shop and went through the motions of getting a table at the Mongolian BBQ joint just so he could shit on their toilets. He quite literally missed half of the show and I didn’t even notice. And also, nice try Henry. We all know it’s because you don’t even have a ring!]
Me, brushing off the bitterness: Yeah, speaking of, let’s talk about your gastrointestinal hiccups of the night.
Henry: What about it? And why do we have to talk about my gastro—[gives up because he can’t pronounce it]?
Me, trying to get this over with so I could stare longingly at my Jonny Craig Christmas tree topper: Because some people might daydream about your bowel movements. YOU DON’T KNOW.
Henry: WHAT? People don’t…what the fuck are you talking about? You’re so…[goes back to playing on his phone]
Me: When you were young—-
Me: —did you ever roadtrip for a show?
Henry, disinterestedly: No.
Me, pressing the issue: Not even for Judas Priest or Tone Loc?
Henry, all emphatically: NO. [And then repeated “Tone Loc” to himself and shook his head.]
Me, determined to dig deep beneath the non-descript t-shirts (worn over top of non-descript Henleys now that it’s winter!) for real answers: In your own words, describe the trip to Cleveland.
Henry, looking around confusedly. (Sorry, your mommy’s not here to hold up cue cards for you.): I don’t know. The trip was OK until we hit the snow that you didn’t tell me about. [Ed.note: maybe if he would use his phone for more than playing games and watching porn, he would have been privy to the weather forecast.] Then it became annoying. That was about it until the show and then the trip home which was not fun because I had to drive with a drunk girl next to me.
[Imagine how riveting it would be if Henry had his own blog.]
Me: That’s it?
Henry: Yeah. What else do you want?!
Me: Sentimental stuff.
Henry, repeating my request in a tired tone: My stomach was upset 90% of the time. Sentimental stuff went out the window.
[Or down the commode, as it were.]
Me, poking the bear one last time before we went to bed: Did you see any shows in the SERVICE? Like Bette Midler or Gloria Estefan.
Henry: What? No! You mean USO concerts? No. I did see Cheap Trick though when I was stationed in Texas.
Me, getting unnecessarily worked up: YOU DID? WHERE WAS IT?
Henry, looking at me suspiciously and clearly debating whether or not to answer: In a bar.
Me: [Dying of laughter, smothering myself with a pillow.]
Henry: [Ignoring me and trying to remember what album Cheap Trick had just released at the time of this show.]
Me: [Crying at this point.]
Henry, snapping out of his Cheap Trick glory: IT’S NOT THAT FUNNY. Really, it’s not that funny.
Me: Was that the show where you pushed over someone in a wheelchair?
Henry: What, no. That was Ted Nugent, and that’s not what happened.
Me: [Losing it all over again.]
This is what Henry looked like during most of our interview.
I’m going to try and really hone my investigative reporter skills by getting him to reveal what REALLY happened at that Ted Nugent show.
When my friend Jason presented me with the option of either going to the AP Fall Tour in Cleveland or at home here in Pittsburgh, I didn’t hesitate to choose the 2.5-hour drive to Cleveland because I wanted to go back to Melt.
I mean, I wanted to hang out with Jason.
While eating the fuck out of some Melt.
Saturday morning, Jason and his wife Emily were already standing outside of the back entrance, sentinels in anticipation of an impending line of grilled cheese aficionados. We were soon joined by Jason’s friends Terri and Christian from Philly, who were quick to apologize when it came up in conversation that I once stayed in a motel in Camden. Then I asked if they have ever eaten at Cereality, because that is all I know about Philadelphia. I’m not sure how well I sold the cereal bar, considering my review featured the line: And then I almost threw up on my drive home.
I think these were actually the first words I slapped them with after the standard “how do you do”s. I am not very good at small talk.
Once we were all situated in a booth (first ones in, motherfuckers!), Jason, Terri and Christian all ordered different root beers and I could tell Henry was bursting at the seams to start masturbating their minds with all of his lame bottled beverage knowledge. (And then he orders plain old iced tea.) Meanwhile, Emily’s palate twice rejected the grape soda she ordered so she finally surrendered and just got a Coke. Jason teased her about holding up the ordering process but if it had been Henry, my foot would have swiftly kicked his nuts in lieu of good-natured teasing.
Last May was my first time at Melt and I experienced a complete meltdown behind the curtain of my menu. Absolute ordering paralysis. So many choices! And nearly all of them can be made vegetarian/vegan. So what did I get? A plain old mushroom melt. Granted, not so plain when you get it at Melt, but still – it was a far cry from fancy and exotic. Delicious, but pretty pedestrian when wedged in between a line up of artery-clogging sensations like The Dude Abides (homemade meatballs, fried mozzarella cheese sticks, rich marinara, provolone & romano); Paramageddon (2 potato & cheese pierogi, fresh napa vodka kraut, grilled onions, sharp cheddar); and The Big Popper (fresh jalapeno peppers, cheddar & herbed cream cheese, beer battered, mixed berry preserves), which I almost ordered because my aunt Susie recommended it and also because of the mixed berry preserves (Henry puts jelly on my grilled cheeses at home; it’s the best way to eat a grilled cheese) but I was afraid the jalapeno peppers would ignite bonfires in my stomach for the rest of the day.
But then I saw that the special was the New Bomb Turkey, which could be substituted with seitan turkey, and just like that, all the other options paled in comparison. Terri and Christian are both vegetarians as well, and Terri also ordered the New Bomb Turkey so I didn’t feel like an asshole forgoing the meat like I normally do when I’m eating with a bunch of carnivores and being the “difficult one.” Jason and Emily ordered the regular versions of this, Christian I believe got the Dude Abides with vegetarian meatballs because I remember exclaiming that I might have wanted to get that instead but I already ordered. Henry got something dumb.
Waiting for our food went something like this: Blah blah blah, JONNY CRAIG DISCUSSION, blah blah blah, OH HENRY IS THE BEST FOR BRINGING A CASE OF BOYLANS ROOT BEER EVEN THOUGH IT WAS ERIN’S IDEA, music industry scoop, WHERE IS OUR FOOD MY STOMACH IS REVOLTING & IT SOUNDS LIKE NICKELBACK.
Oh, you guys. It was the most glorious sandwich I have ever had the pleasure of sloppily masticating. I softly cried when I took the first bite, like a woman meeting her baby for the first time. (I did not do that when Chooch was born; I was too shell-shocked and hyper-aware of the fact that beneath the sheet, my abdomen was splayed open like a freshly-fucked corpse on a row of milk crates in the back of a serial killer’s Econoline van.)
The bread alone on this sandwich was enough to grow a food baby in a belly. They use the thickest slabs I have ever seen on a sandwich and I don’t know what sort of liquid heart attack they use to grill it, and it’s probably best that I don’t know, but it makes the most glorious goddamn grilled cheese vessel of all time. If it won an award, Kanye West would probably interrupt its speech just to agree. Greasy as fuck, crispy around the edges, moist in the middle—just the way Henry liked his hooker vaginas when he was in the SERVICE.
And there’s so much going on between the slices, I have no idea how the sandwiches don’t topple over on their way to each table from the kitchen. Even the vegetarian versions had so much seitan turkey jammed atop a soft wad of stuffing, there was no way that bitch was fitting into my mouth (and I do have a big mouth) without the aid of a fork.
It was all the things I never get to have on Thanksgiving, punched inside a towering stack of Paula Deen-approved toast and served with a prescription for Lipitor.
The cranberry dipping sauce was like gilding a lily at that point, but fuck did it make for an ambrosial lily.
I had to take copious breaks, but I managed to polish off an entire half and I felt my stomach expanding sickeningly throughout it all. Henry had already engulfed his entire plate in that time.
Speaking of Henry, here is what he has to say about his lunch at Melt.
Me, watching Henry wash the dishes last night: What was on your sandwich?
Henry, in his standard indignant tone: It was gyro melt.
(I guess this means we’re supposed to figure it out on our own.)
Me: OK, no one cares anyway. How sad were you that you couldn’t sit next to Jason and dish secretly about root beer like two little 1950’s school girls?
Henry, maintaining his Man of Few Words image: I wasn’t.
Me, as Henry takes a hearty swig of Faygo Cola. Dish washing is hard work, ya’ll: What was harder to wrap your mouth around, your sandwich or the words “I do” in 1993.
Henry: Why do you have to do that.
Me: Seriously, which one?
Henry, adopting his “You’re pushing me” high-pitched squawk that I hate so much yet cause so often: I don’t know! Let it go!
(He hates being reminded of That Time in his life.)
Me, furiously scribbling in my important “I’m Interviewing Henry!” notebook (it has monsters on it): If you could have your own sandwich on the Melt menu, what would be on it?
Henry, trying to make my dinner at this point, so you would think I would back off lest a generous sprinkle of rat poison fall into the pot: I don’t know!
(This is assuming Henry has any imagination, but it would probably be some sort of flesh marinated in Faygo and served on a bed of emasculation, with a bandanna as a napkin.)
Me: Did you think our waitress was hot?
Henry: [Looks at me suspiciously and slowly says no. This means YES.]
Me: What about the guy who refilled your iced tea?
Henry, in a flat tone: No, I didn’t pay attention.
Henry, playing Bakery Story on his phone at this point: I wasn’t.
Me: If you found a finger in your sandwich, would you
Pull it out and set it aside, then puke in a flower pot;
Eat it. Meat is meat and they know what they’re doing at Melt;
Use it to replace the butt plug you lost during the Great Marital Separation of 2001.
Henry: [Laughs like a gay Santa, I think to illustrate the fact that this is going to be one of those NO COMMENT moments.]
Me: If you invented a sandwich at Melt in my honor, say if I died saving an albino support group from a hostile group of arms-bearing Serbians mistaking them for enemy Albanians, what would you name it?
Henry, no hesitation: Pain in the Ass.
(That sounds unappetizing and pregnant with pinto beans. Pretty apropos then.)
Me: There were some big words on the menu, like “muenster” and “diablo.” Did you use your phone to covertly look up the definitions under the table?
Henry: [walked away.]
Me: What would your SERVICE buddies say if they knew you were eating trendy gourmet sandwiches and not pork-n-beans?
(Totally typed porn-n-beans at first.)
Henry, in a beaten-down, wilted-dick mumble: Nothing.
Me: What did you eat in the SERVICE, anyway?
Me: No, seriously. All asshole-ness aside, I really want to know.
Henry: I ATE WHATEVER I MADE.
Me: So like, succotash?
Henry, slashing my throat with his glare: I don’t know.
We officially reached WOKE BEAR status at this point, so I quickly closed my notebook. Maybe someday Henry will regale us with tales of making messes in the mess hall. But today is not going to be that day.
Here’s a quick review from a special guest:
Henry’s Moustache: I have been trying for the last 20 years to emulate Tom Selleck’s lip wool. Maybe then I won’t walk around with meal souvenirs tangled in my bristle. Someone please send Henry a stencil.