Mar 272014
 

Henry and I checked out of the airport Sheraton early Saturday morning; as soon as we walked out into the parking lot, Henry inhaled deeply and said, “Mmmm, the smell of jet fuel in the morning. Reminds me of THE SERVICE.” I lost another one of my lives laughing so hard at him. God, I love it when he slips up and mentions his SERVICE days.

Our plans for the morning were to finally get to see our friends Terri and Christian after two failed attempts the previous two years. It’s funny, because in this day and age, most of the new friends I meet are online; but in this case, we actually met Terri and Christian in person first, back in the fall of 2011 when we were all in Cleveland for the AP Tour (and to eat at Melt, obviously). And since then, we have gotten to know each other better through Facebook and Twitter and I have been dying to hang out with them again!

Henry and I don’t need to be entertained, so when Terri suggested that we just eat breakfast at their place and hang out, I was all for it and Henry seemed relieved because he’s always tired and doesn’t like walking around looking at things. Terri even made three different kinds of breakfast casseroles! One had fake bacon in it and I was so happy! (They’re vegetarians too! I can call myself that again because I have re-eradicated seafood from my diet, so come at me bro.)

I was a little nervous on the way there because we had only ever spent that one day together three years ago and what if it was going to be totally awkward? Well, it wasn’t, so you can stop holding your breath. I mean, I was still at my usual level of awkward, of course, but at least Henry was there to ease my food-cutting anxiety. We hung out for three hours, talking about music, music, music and more music and I can’t tell you how fucking awesome that was! And we learned that Terri and Christian met while working at Tower Records, how apropros! We even had civil hockey discussions, even though our teams are huge rivals! And I found out that Christian was at the aforementioned Type O Negative show in 1998 that I couldn’t attend because some bitch named Your Druidess didn’t show up with the tickets! It’s funny how many times that memory was recalled last weekend.

I wish we could have spent more time with them, but Henry and I had plans to attend the Hollywood Theater’s “Twin Peaks” party that night, so we had to hit the road around noon. As soon as their door shut behind us, I said to Henry, “If we lived closer, I would hang out with them so much, they would get so sick of me.” (So basically, two times.) And Henry said, “Yes, I like them. They’re nice people.” THAT IS A BIG DEAL FOR HENRY TO HAVE AN OPINION! He is usually so neutral about everything. But I think what he was really thinking was, “I wish we did live closer because then Erin can just go to shows with them while I sit at home watcing NCIS in my underwear.” Seriously though, thank you for opening up your home to us and stuffing us with delicious breakfast foods! We owe you one next time you’re in our city! (Don’t worry, Henry will do the cooking.)

“I hate you,” I sighed as Henry drove around looking for a gas station.

“Why?” he mumbled with very little emotion.

“Because you weren’t working at a record store when we met!” I cried.

“Either were you!” he shot back. THAT’S NOT THE POINT, HENRY.

***

OMG, the ride home was so boring. There was a hockey game on, so that entertained us for a little while. We stopped at a rest area so Henry could finally get his stupid Auntie Em pretzel bites, but I threw a fit because he didn’t get mustard so I stormed out into the parking lot, because this is how you get what you want when you’re 34. (And also 3 and 4.)

Henry went back and got mustard.

Later, we stopped at another rest area for a late lunch/dinner situation, and he accidentally pulled into the “Trucks/RV” side of the parking lot which caused me to scream, “OMG YOU FUCKED UP NOW, HENRY ROBBINS!” while making all kinds of dramatic gasps. Naturally, he was annoyed. Especially when every hour after that, I would casually say, “Hey remember when you broke the law by USING THE TRUCKS AND RV ENTRANCE? God, you’re such a moron. You could have gotten us killed.”

“We would NOT have gotten killed,” he sighed.

***

We made it home with about 45 minutes to spare before we had to leave again. While I was upstairs changing clothes, I found out that Henry never told his mom about our Saturday night plans so she thought she was done babysitting Chooch as soon as we got home. Oh sorry, Judy, didn’t your son tell you? You’re stuck here for three more hours. Possibly even forever.

God Henry, you’re such an asshole.

Luckily, she’s a good grandma and didn’t give a shit about a few more hours with Chooch. (Who, by the way, didn’t even miss us.)

***

The Hollywood Theater is only a few blocks away from our house, but Henry has never been there because he is so lame. I’m actually surprised I was even able to get him to go Saturday night, but we do both equally love Twin Peaks, so there’s that. He refused to dress up, though. I tried to get him to go as Mike, the One-Armed Man, because literally all he would have to do was wear a black t-shirt and not put his stupid left arm through the sleeve, but even THAT was too costume-y for him. So he went as Henry.

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The theater was playing a marathon of all the episodes starting that Thursday, culminating in a party Saturday night, which entailed a costume contest, raffles and the big draw: a live performance by Silencio, a local Pittsburgh band that plays music from Twin Peaks and other David Lynch movies. I can’t tell you how much I love that music, especially the music from Twin Peaks.

Also, we were promised damn good cherry pie, and if I told you I wasn’t thinking about it all last week, I would be lying. Cherry pie is actually my favorite kind of pie and it pisses me off that restaurants around here usually have every other kind of fucking fruit pie but cherry. Maybe it looks too menstrual?

Anyway, I’m a lousy dresser-upper. It’s very hard for me to commit to a costume and I usually wind up half-assing it in the end because I’m lazy and unmotivated. (See: Fatal Attraction.) I didn’t want to go the obvious plactic-wrapped-Laura Palmer route, so I opted instead for one of my favorite characters, the Sheriff’s secretary Lucy Moran. I picked her because she’s awesome, but also because all I had to do was get a 90s’ish sweater from Goodwill, pair it with a skirt and tights, and put my hair in a half-pony. Henry kept trying to cut my bangs to make it look more authentic but, no. I’m not ready to rejoin the bangs-having society*. (However, I did order a pair of clip-on bangs from eBay for $5 but they sent me a bleached blond pair instead of the ones that would actually match my shitty hair color, so thanks for ruining my already-destined-to-fail costume, stupid Taiwanese seller.)

*However, if and when I’m ready, Henry could probably give me good bangs. (BANGS, NOT BANG.) When I did have bangs, he was always super good at trimming them and my hair stylist would always be so impressed that his meat-hands could pull off such precise scissor-y. (SCISSOR-Y NOT SCISSORING.) Of course he could. Henry excels at girly things.

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So 90s. So sweater-y. So wow.

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When I looked at this picture of myself last weekend, I thought, “Hmm, I look familiar….” and then after awhile it occurred to me that I looked like 15-year-old Erin. So, what I learned from this is that I spent my entire 10th grade year accidentally emulating the Lucy Moran hairstyle. Also, I still have the same dopey smile.

We got to the Hollywood right around 7 and proceeded to stand around like social pariahs because god forbid we should make new friends, ever. Henry bought a can of PBR (lol) and I got some coffee from the place I made Janna walk to last October, because they had a table set up and the two guys behind it kept wanting to talk to me but I think I was in the middle of one of those social strokes I sometimes succumb to? Honestly, I just stood there and kept saying, “Oh, really?” I HATE MYSELF.

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We grabbed seats near the front of the theater and I got comfortable with my damn fine cup of coffee and cherry pie, and yes, it was damn fine. (Homemade!)

Silencio came on around 8:00 and Henry promptly fell alseep. Not because they were boring, but their music is so smooth and those seats are really comfortble. (Not to mention Professional Driver had been driving for 6+ hours that day, and the day before.)

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Scenes from various David Lynch works played on the screen behind them, complementing the sounds with a bit of creepiness.

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In between sets, the Hollywood Theater people came out to do the raffle drawing and I REALLY wanted to win the log. Yes, it was just a log, but I wanted it. There was also a set of these amazing David Lynch movie posters that an artist donated, but I didn’t win those either. I HATE NOT WINNING.

I went through a brief stint senior year of high school where I was obsessed with Angelo Badalamenti because of the Lost Highway soundtrack. I keep telling Chooch that he was only 8 when he started piano lessons, but Chooch as usual does not give a fuck. BE THE NEXT BADALAMENTI, SON.

Anyway, if you have never seen Twin Peaks, both seasons are on Netflix and you should go and do that. Go get mono or something and then lay there and watch it all. It’s worth it.

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On our way out, we snagged a “The Owls Are Not What They Seem” cupcake for Chooch as a consolation for leaving him parentless for two days. Again though, he honestly didn’t give a shit that we were gone. He’s at that age, I guess.

Silencio was pretty fantastic and even though I hated being in a rush all day, I was glad that we were able to work this into our itinerary. It was a fun way to cap off three nights of three very different bands. That should tide me over for awhile. (It won’t. But at least there’s Eisley on April 10th!)

P.S. That sweater is totally now a part of my regular wardrobe.

 

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Mar 262014
 

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The closest I’d ever been to the Trocadero in Philadelphia was October of 1999, when my friend Cinn and I were stood up by some goth bitch who had our tickets for the Type O Negative show. Fourteen years later, I finally got to go inside.

****

When I saw in December that The Sound of Animals Fighting were reuniting for a very small, intimate tour and had added an extra Philly date (the first one had sold out lightning quick), I was stoked. But first I had to beg Henry. “It can be my Christmas present!” I pleaded. “You don’t have to get me anything else!” (Of course he got me other shit too because he knows better.) The thing with this band is that they’re a sort of supergroup, so touring is hard for them to pull off, logistically. They played like 4 shows I think, in 2006. 4 shows, ever. And they were in California and Las Vegas, so…while I played the FUCK out of the live DVD they released, I never got to see them live.

Until now!!

I remember when I first heard about them, and it was all still a mystery then. OMG who are these guys wearing animal masks?! But then it was pretty obvious, once I heard it, that one of the “Skunk” was definitely Anthony Green, because oh dear lord, do I love that man. Circa Survive pretty much got me through one extremely suicidal summer, and to be honest, it’s a miracle that Henry and I are even still together. I often wonder how much worse off I would have been through times like those if I didn’t have music to stave off a portion of the mania. I know that sometimes people will hear “screamo” (we’ll just call it that, even though it’s not what TSOAF is), they don’t understand the appeal. “How can you listen to something when you can’t understand the words?” Or “this music doesn’t make sense to me.” Right? I can’t speak for everyone who likes this sort of music, but for me, it’s always been about the way it makes me feel emotionally and mentally. The screaming mimics what I sometimes feel in my head, like a mental gang-banging, and it is extremely cathartic and exhilarating for me. And then the music itself is so chaotic and janky, it’s like it understands me. And I understand it. And really, that’s the best way I can explain it.

But then with a band like TSOAF, you get the beautiful, clean vocals as well, from Matthew Kelly, Rich Balling and Matt Embree, and it just ties the whole thing together into a pretty bi-polar package.

BUT I DIGRESS. You probably aren’t here from some boring post-hardcore lesson, so I will save the rest for my Dear Diary and just tell you about how miserable Henry was all night. Yay!

***

The drive there was very uneventful. It started snowing literally the moment we pulled out of our driveway, so the first hour or so of the trip was terrible.

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I made Henry listen to all kinds of music that he hates, like Gem Club. He kept being totally dramatic about it, pretending to nod off. “Please make me more depressed than I already am,” he mumbled, so I tweeted all of this and then Gem Club favorited it. This is how I make connections on Twitter, you guys.

We ate lunch at a shitty rest area where Henry bitched about having to buy me Starbucks and the fact that Auntie Em’s was out of pretzel bites.

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We were one of the first 10 people in line before the doors opened because I was in A Mad Hurry. Equal Vision announced on Instagram last week that each TSOAF show was going to get its own t-shirt design, but only 100 each would be printed. My TSOAF hoodie is one of my favorite pieces of merch ever, so I was determined to get one of these fucking shirts. So we stood in line with all the other die-hards, and I realized that I hadn’t been that close to the front of a concert line since 2001 when my friend Shawn and I got to Nick’s Fat City 3 hours early for a Cold show. When I told Henry this, he just rolled his eyes. Because he’s too old to give a fuck about these things. Don’t ever get old, you guys.

“There’s Anthony,” Henry said, elbowing me as Anthony Green and his wife Meredith walked down the sidewalk. HE IS SUCH A GOOD WINGMAN! Also, LOL forever at Henry unwittingly knowing so much about the scene.

The doors eventually opened a little after 7 and I made a beeline for the merch booth, where, for the first time in pretty much ever, I got to tell the merch girl that I needed a size small. (Only because it was boy sizes, though; don’t worry–I’m still semi-chubby.) Anyway, thank you Henry for not ruining my night by being a total tightwad! I love this shirt so much!

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I’m learning how to smile naturally.

Perhaps at this time I should talk about how, in Henry’s eyes, I fucked up. In my haste to get the hell out of the house Friday morning and embark on our road trip, I left my wallet on the coffee table. I knew that I had the tickets, and that’s all that mattered to me. Forgot the hairbrush? Pfft, I’ll just send Henry out to buy a new one in the morning. Forgot the gift I was planning to give our Philly friends Terri and Christian the next day? That sucks, but I can just mail it when we get back. Forgot my wallet? NO OVER-21 ENTRY FOR ME.

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This isn’t something that I give a shit about, but the thing is, that’s the trade-off for Henry going to these shows with me: I (sometimes) will abandon all of the action in an effort to make Mister Miserable a little more comfortable in the grown-up area. Like the one time we went to see Pierce the Veil at Mr. Small’s and Henry’s stupid stomach hurt him so I was like FINE WE CAN GO TO THE BALCONY and literally it was me and a bunch of motherfucking PARENTS. So lame.

The Trocadero has a beautiful balcony, but it’s off limits without an ID. I told Henry he was welcome to go up there once the show started, but he was all, “NO JUST FORGET IT” which tells me he was secretly having a nice time. Or just wanted something to bitch about later.

The opening band was Unwed Sailor. Henry hated them because god forbid, there is no singer, OMG. I thought they were nice and soothing, an appropriate precursor for what was to come.

We were standing near the door to the backstage area, so Anthony walked by us a few times and THEN HE AND HENRY EXCHANGED PLEASANTRIES AND I COULDN’T STOP LAUGHING. It is endlessly funny to me when Henry makes contact with people in bands that I like, because:

  1. it’s Henry
  2. it’s Henry saying hello to people way cooler than Henry
  3. it’s Henry

And then he gets all embarrassed when I make a big deal about it and that just fuels the laughter.

After Unwed Sailor played, I said to Henry, “You know, I’m not saying I’m going to be one of those pushy moms, but if Chooch ever decided to be in a band, holy shit I would be the proudest mom of all time.” I paused for a second, mulling it over, and then added, “But just to spite me, he’ll probably be something dumb. Like a doctor.”

“I would be happy if he became a car mechanic,” Henry weighed in. “Something that’s useful to me.” Seriously? By the time Chooch is an adult, Henry’s not going to be driving anything but a Hoveround.

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Around 9:30, the lights went out and the intro started playing while silhouettes of orange and yellow people were ushered onto the stage and place in various positions of worship around Matthew Kelly, who then sang one of my favorite TSOAF songs of all time, The Heretic. And here is where I began to openly weep. And I didn’t give a single fuck either because I knew every single person standing near me understood.

(I AM STARTING TO CRY ALL OVER AGAIN AS I TYPE THIS IN MY OFFICE-THING.)

So here is a video that some guy took from the sold-out show the night before. He recorded the entire intro, so it doesn’t really start until about the 3:30 mark, IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN WATCHING IT. (I do highly recommend that you do though, because it’s beautiful. However, be warned that it fades right into the next song which is scream-y. This was the point in the night where the crowd fucking EXPLODED and Henry was probably like, “Oh, how I love these shows.”)

Thank you for recording this, Guy at the March 20th Show.

After the final note of The Heretic, the rest of the band came out and Anthony Green vomited screams all over our faces and I wept even harder, because ANTHONY GREEN. I have a framed picture of him on my fucking wall, for Christ’s sake.

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Please excuse my terrible pictures. I am not a concert photographer and was way too busy freaking the fuck out to worry about getting the perfect shot.

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I didn’t get a chance to look at Henry’s melting face at all because we weren’t standing near each other by the time TSOAF came out. Some tall douchebag had planted himself right in front of me so I moved up some. I don’t think Henry gave a shit; for all I know, he had gone up to the balcony. THAT’S COOL, BRO.

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It felt so good to hear Anthony scream, made me feel warm and safe like being hugged by a fat grandma. His stage presence is incredible. When I asked Henry later on if he agreed, he reluctantly said yes.

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I’ll tell you one thing, there was some mad respect radiating from the crowd that night in the Trocadero. We all knew we were seeing something special.

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The older I get, the more grateful I feel after I get to experience things, and this was definitely one for the “grateful” column. I appreciate so many bands on such a grand level that it is awe-inspiring at times to be so close to them. It means so much, but I will never be able to put it in words, not even if I made up my own language. I think I stopped making sense a long time ago.

****

Afterward, Professional Driver Henry didn’t know how to get out of the parking garage and a security guard had to come to his rescue. Listen to him hyuk’ing it up it this video, totally playing the “dumb blonde card” so a security guard can feel all strong and manly.

While Henry blindly navigated around downtown Philly and swore at the GPS, I cheerfully cried out things like, “THE REAL WORLD PEOPLE USED TO GO THERE!” to which he would spit, “I don’t give a FUCK about the Real World people!” Lost Driver Henry is mean.

We (eventually) checked into the Sheraton Four Points and crashed after a good hour of me relentlessly asking Henry what his favorite part of the show was. (No answer.) I can’t believe I got to see them, The Sound of Animals Fighting, right there in front of me. Oh my god, oh my god. What a great fucking night!

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Dec 122013
 

It turned out to be A Really Good Thing that Henry was able to go to Cleveland with us after all, otherwise you’d have to address our Christmas card to:

Erin & Chooch

A Snowdrift

Cleveland, OH

Whatever Zip Code

In other words, it started snowing almost as soon as we crossed the Ohio state line, but what else is new when we go to Ohio between the months of November and April? And then of course we hit rush hour, so by the time we made it Cleveland Heights, we didn’t have as much time as I had hoped before the Never Shout Never show started.

Henry had to deal with aquiring quarters for the parking garage meter and told us to just go on without him. Literally, all Chooch and I had to do was cross the street and walk straight into Big Fun. It seemed like for sure something we could without Henry’s supervision, and there was even a handy crosswalk right there too.

But for some reason, right as we stepped onto the curb after a victorious street-crossing session, Chooch was figeting with his coat and said, “Help me.” He didn’t cry it out, he wasn’t waving a white flag, he just simply said the words, “help me.” At that precise moment, a middle-aged woman was walking by and before I had a chance to ask Chooch what he needed help with, the woman stopped dead in her tracks and in a voice rife with concern, she asked Chooch if he was OK.

He just looked at her without saying anything, because, ew, stranger. So I answered for him and said he was fine.

“ARE YOU SURE?” she persisted, searching his face for some sign of an amber alert.

We both nervously mumbled “yes” and started to walk past her.

“Are you going in there?” she asked, gesturing toward the awesome Cleveland toy store, Big Fun.

I nodded and she said, “Here, let me get that” and cut us off so that she could open the door for us, which I guess was nice, but I was really paranoid at this point. And then she followed us inside far enough to make sure we safe, I guess, before retreating.

I still have no idea what Chooch needed help with, and he was too distracted by Simpsons memorabilia at that point to tell me. Then it occurred to me that Chooch and I probably look like lost, shivering foreigners when we’re out in the cold on our own, so props to that lady for her concern, I guess.

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After buying some Secret Santa goods at Big Fun, we walked down the street to Tommy’s for dinner. I can’t believe how many times I’ve been on that street in Cleveland, killing time before shows at the Grog Shop, and have never once bothered to step inside this seemingly unassuming restaurant. But then one day awhile back, Henry was all, “Hey did you know that there’s a vegetarian place right by the Grog Shop?” They serve meat-things there too, but the vegetarian selections are staggering. There aren’t many places where I can eat a grilled tempeh sandwich while Chooch and Henry nosh on cow.

A few minutes after I ordered a sandwich named after my Catholic School Mom-Nemesis’s daughter and vowed to savor every last bite, I casually looked over  to me left and saw the Concerned Passerby, sitting alone at a table against a wall, totally staring me down. I quickly whipped my head back around and tried to avoid ever looking that direction again for the rest of my life, but of course my eyes kept accidentally roaming, because that’s what they do, accidentally make creepy eye contact with strangers. And without fail, my roaming eyes were rewarded with reciprocal stares every fucking time, why was she staring at me-he-he-he!?!?!?!??!

But then my Catholic School Mom Nemesis’s Daughter was placed before me and my eyes were too busy staring at that loaded motherfucker each time it was rhythmically raised up to my gnashing maw, so I forgot about Concerned Passerby for awhile.

“This is definitely in the top 5 sandwiches I’ve ever eaten,” I moaned to Henry.

“What are the other 4?” he asked.

“Nothing you made,” I retorted.

And then Concerned Passerby slammed her hand down on the table and cried out urgently, “YOU DROPPED SOMETHING!” My heart began to race, thinking I was being set up for a mugging, but her heads-up was directed toward the family at the table next to us. I watched the dad jump up in panic and retrieve something from the floor, but it must have been something not very great because he didn’t seem very concerned at all when he plunked the mystery object back down on the table. I’m going to go out on a limb here and wager that it was a crayon.

But then it made sense. She was just an aggressive good samaritan who thought she was doing good things, not raising blood pressures. And she was also clearly a little mentally-challenged, so that explains why she was so drawn to me and Chooch.

I won’t lie though, I did check my coat pockets after that to make sure her outburst wasn’t a diversion to pickpocket the Icebreaker Sours in my pocket. They were still there.

My compact is missing though.

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Aug 012013
 

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We weren’t even on the boat yet, and this is what Henry looked like.

The fact that I was so dead set on taking a boat tour of Cleveland is kind of weird for a number of reasons:  I hate river water. Lake Erie scares me. (HOW CAN A LAKE LOOK SO MUCH LIKE THE OCEAN!?) Being on a boat makes my mind reel with impending cataclysm. ASSHOLES take boat tours. But the biggest weird reason is: what is there even to see on a Cleveland boat tour?!

But for some reason I had fond memories of taking this same tour on the Goodtimes III in 2004 with Henry, which is odd in and of itself because how many fond memories of Henry do I really have from back then?

So you might be able to understand Henry’s confusion when I was like, “WE CANNOT LEAVE CLEVELAND WITHOUT BOATING IT UP.” I just vaguely remembered that there were cool bridges along the Cuyahoga, some of which swung out to allow boats to pass, others of which raised in a drawbridge-esque fashion. Even though bridges also terrify me, I though that perhaps Chooch would enjoy this.

I even bought tickets for the last tour of the day from my phone because I was so afraid it was going to sell out before we arrived. WHO AM I?!

Anyway, after Henry nearly killed us by turning the wrong way down a one-way street in the middle of downtown Cleveland, we finally made it to the boat area place and Chooch and I were practically throwing elbows at people trying to get to the will call window to claim our tickets. Somewhere along the way, we lost Henry. But Henry or no Henry, Chooch and I were still going on this fucking boat. It was my dying wish.

Henry found us sitting on a bench, watching the people from the earlier tour stream off the Goodtimes III, which had just docked. I asked Henry where the hell he went and it turns out he was helping some delivery driver back up his truck. Of course he was.

“And then I had to pee,” he continued over top of Chooch’s and my raucous laughter. He helped some guy back up his truck?! Why does he even tell us these things!? And then he mumbled something about how “assholes” like me and Chooch kept walking behind the poor guy’s truck while he was trying to back up and he couldn’t see. Go be a Good (Driver) Samaritan somewhere else, Henry. You’re stinking up my air with all your do-goodery.

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“I helped some guy back up his truck. What’s so funny about that?!”

Finally, it was time to board so some nautical person barked into a megaphone that wasn’t very mega for everyone to form a single file line. Chooch and I raced to get into line, going out of our way to cut people off, while Henry just walked casually, like a person who doesn’t feel the urgency of boarding a boat.

When we finally crossed the plank-thing, Chooch and I ran for the upper deck. And it’s a good thing too, because there were approximately…..four other people up there. But gradually, more people made their way up to our deck and I quickly began to rack up entire families to hate.

The worst of which were the Ralph Laurens—my polite pet name for the Von Moneyfucks taking up two rows at the front. The patriarch came complete with a sandy toupee and a white sweater tied around his shoulders. At one point, they had a crew member take a group photo of them and their yuppie spawn so they could retreat to Chateau le Douche and show their staff that they slummed it up with their blue-collared people.

“Muffy dear, I couldn’t find the pâté de foie gras, but I procured us some of this bourgeois delicacy that the commoners enjoy at the ball game. I think this might be quails egg yolk on top.” This is what I imagined he was saying in his pompously bombastic tones as he returned from the snack bar with a plastic tray of nachos. CHORTLE CHORTLE, MOTHERFUCKER.

I guess their yacht was in the shop.

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Separating the Von Moneyfucks from us were two couples who weren’t too annoying at first. The one couple was older, the wife was maybe in her early 40s and the husband looked like he was in his 50s and praying for a quick death. They had what I can only imagine was an adopted toddler boy thing. The other couple were in their early 30s and the guy took pictures of EVERY FUCKING THING WE PASSED with his wannabe professional camera while the wife sat there making the older lady feel like shit for being a disheveled mother.

The only real highlight of the tour was when we cruised past an area where a shit ton of murders happened and Eliot Ness couldn’t solve them. Of course the area was some sketchy lot strewn with giant ant hills of garbage and old tires. (To be honest, I actually missed this entire part and only started paying attention when I heard “Eliot Ness” so then Henry had to tell me.)

At one point early on, the mom turned into Speedy Gonzalez and starting making loud ay yi yi arriba arriba noises at her toddler who looked extremely horrified by this and proceeded to sleep for the next three hours probably just to put his mom out of her misery.

NOTICE I SAID THREE HOURS. This was only supposed to be a 2-hour tour, but after an hour into the tour, we were very nearly Gilligan’d.

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So, remember those aforementioned bridges? Well first of all, Chooch didn’t give a FUCK about them because he was too busy obsessing over the snack bar and all of its contents which Henry refused to purchase. Second of all, some dude behind us was deviating from the recorded narrator to tell his kids all the insider info about them, which was ANNOYING AS SHIT at first until I realized that he works for a bridge-building company and then my ears started to perk up because maybe that means he has some money to spend on me. Third of all, the very last drawbridge-esque one we cruised beneath turned out to be quite the motherfucker.

Right after the last bridge, the boat had reached the turnaround spot, and I rejoiced because the last half hour had been total bullshit, all this industrial spanse that no one cared about. “Here is where the city gets their rocks.” NO ONE CARES. So of course, it would be on the most desolate part of the river where something would go awry.

We were headed back to that last bridge, which had JUST WORKED 5 minutes ago, but now the bridge wouldn’t raise. The captain had to brake (?) the boat while the moron bridge operator tried to get the goddamn thing to go up and it just wouldn’t budge. So we had to sit there and watch as all these lucky bastard cars got to cross the bridge while laughing at the sadsack tourists who were now stuck in muddy-brown river water, buoying methodically with nothing to look at but GAS TANKS on the left and I don’t know, piles of dirt on the right. Somewhere nearby, someone was probably getting stabbed over a drug deal gone south. It was that kind of area and I was hoping that I wouldn’t get caught witnessing any wrongdoings by a Mexican drug cartel.

The captain came on and explained that there was a “situation that only happens once in a blue moon, probably just a blown fuse” and that the electrician had been called, so here, just enjoy some crackly AM classics* and please try not to kill one another. We’re just going to keep floating here for another 20 minutes and then everything will be fine, you’ll see.

*(I guess this is the back-up for when the boat reaches the end of the river and there is nothing left for the ancient cassette tape to narrate. At one point in the BEGINNING OF THE TOUR, the tape got all fucked up and you could hear someone frantically rewinding and then fast-forwarding, trying to get it to match up to our location. This trip was doomed from the start.)

Oh at first it was funny. Watching the rich people cuddle to “How Deep Is Your Love”; Henry getting all nostalgic over “Muskrat Love”; laughing alone at “Afternoon Delight.” But then 20 minutes had turned into 45. The captain interrupted “Night Fever” to let us know that the electrician had arrived and you know, it should hopefully be any day now.

Ironically, “Blue Moon” came on and that poor toddler woke up just in time to witness his haggard mother dancing to it. “I wish she’d put her hat back on,” Henry mumbled, because her stupid baseball cap covered half her face and it was nice then. The less we had to see, the better. Then the younger of the two couples started drinking beer and apparently thought they were being HILARIOUS drunks. Mmm…maybe to fans of Dane Cook? Tyler Perry?

Chooch started to stress-cry at one point. I jokingly said, “Gee, Chooch. You just HAD to take a boat tour!” and I half-expected him to pick me up with his rage-muscles and punt me off the side of the boat.

He was, um, pretty pissed that I said that.

Mysteriously, the bridge-worker who was once behind me had disappeared. I wondered if he was on a lower deck, poring over blueprints.

Or getting fired.

Meanwhile, we kept catching glimpses of a hard-hatted man pacing along the top of the bridge like Bob the Fucking Bridgefixer. Unfortunately, it took him quite a while to fix it so the assholes in front of us started searching the boat for a deck of cards. Blue Moon Dancer came back and said that there was apparently one deck on the entire boat and someone beat them to it. Finally, a small victory for me. I don’t think I could have handled watching them play cards, but I also didn’t want to move from my seat because I was certain I would get ill. OH AND MY PHONE HAD DIED. I had to sit on this fucking boat with a dead phone. Motherfucker. (Henry’s was dead too and Chooch’s was in the car, waaaaaaah.)

After a while, I started having some pretty dark thoughts. I watched an airplane fly above us and began to imagine it crashing into the river, so now not only will we be stuck on a fucking boat, but now we’re stuck on a boat floating among plane crash carnage. I started imagining a storm coming in from Lake Erie (there actually were storms on the horizon, it looked so scary) and tipping the boat over. I started imagining that the Von Moneyfucks up there had mob ties and their fortune was primarily drug-money, probably some blood diamonds too, and now we’re about to get shot at from a rival Don who wants Sandy Toupee out of the game and THAT IS HOW I KNOW THE BRIDGE BROKE ON PURPOSE OMG.

I snapped out of my nightmare hypothesis mode when the captain came back on to tell us that the bridge had been successfully repaired, but it was temporarily operating on something that would only allow the bridge to literally creep up. Which meant we still had a good 25 minutes to continue to sit there, watching it raise like Huge Hefner’s penis.

Of course, I didn’t get to capture the entire boat exploding with cheers and applause when we were finally able to pass beneath the bridge and make our way back to the dock—which was another hour out of the day. Nearly 4 hours total, I was so pissed, and also slightly delirious.

“They could at least give us our fucking money back,” I cried angrily to Henry.

“Why? It wasn’t the boat’s fault,” was Henry’s rational response.

“I’M GOING TO WRITE A LETTER!” I bitched.

“To who*? The bridge?!” he asked sarcastically.

YES, MAYBE.

*(Henry doesn’t like saying “whom.” It makes his blue collar itch.)

It was after 7PM when we got off that fucking hostage boat, and nearly 10:30 by the time we got back to Pittsburgh. I can’t wait to add this to the evergrowing list of things Chooch likes to throw back in my face whenever we have an audience. “Remember that time that MOMMY made us take a BOAT TOUR and then the BRIDGE BROKE AND WE WERE STUCK FOR WEEKS WITH NO FOOD?! Oh how I hate her.”

Probably the last boat tour any of us will be taking in quite some time. Maybe even forever. Take THAT, boat tour industry.

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Aug 012013
 

I was so thankful to get the fuck out of our classy Super 8 hotel room Sunday morning. It wasn’t the WORST hotel I’ve stayed in, considering I’ve stayed in MOTELS too—the PAY BY THE HOUR KIND, can you even imagine—but the beds were rock hard and Henry snored all fucking night. Get fucked in the nostril, Henry. Really.

I had to pee so bad by the time we reached the part of Cleveland where we were scheduled to brunch it up, so Henry stopped at one of their local supermarkets, a Heinen, and I have never in my life felt underdressed in a grocery store, holy fuck. It was in Rocky River, which evidently is pretty uppity in and of itself, so there I am, in leggings and a bright pink Cure t-shirt, walking like a frantic pigeon in search of the bathroom. But my nagging bladder proved to be very fortuitous because this grocery store had MOTHERFUCKING CHERIMOYA, WHAT’S UP?! And also fresh figs! And a kind of apple I’ve never devoured before!

So I’m sure Heinen didn’t care that some ragamuffin family utilized their facilities once we spent $20 on designer fruit. After which came brunch at Market, which had valet parking. We were thankful that we had a nice, clean rental car to hand over and not our disgusting, squeaky, stinky, garbage-strewn (from HENRY AND CHOOCH, THEY ARE SLOBS) Ford Focus.

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Anyway, brunch was phenomenal. I had an omelette with shrimp and lobster cream cheese that was so fucking amazing and not stewing in a pool of its own grease, so I didn’t even feel like a bloated pig for the rest of the day! And I got to talk about music, Warped Tour, Jonny Craig, and more music the entire time and no one stopped me because it was my motherfucking birthday weekend, get on board or die.

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The waffles have chives and corn in them. I thought it would have to be disgusting (I can’t wrap my head around savory waffles; I know they exist, but I’m going to order mine with strawberries, blueberries, cinnamon, honey, ice cream, whipped cream and angel dust every single time, thanks) but Henry gave me a bite of his and I wanted to cry, it was that good. And Chooch got blueberry pancakes. Let me tell you a story about Chooch: he’s a kid, and 99% of kids have horrible appetites. But he ate all of his pancakes! Ate them like they were going out of style. Clearly, valet parking is key.

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The main reason I wanted to go to Cleveland was so we could visit the Museum of Divine Statues, which is only open on Sundays and the last 3 times we have visited Cleveland have been on Saturdays. I tried to go twice earlier this year, but Henry conveniently made up reasons why we couldn’t go, because even more than Henry hates making me happy, Henry hates religious roadside attractions.

From the website:

The Museum of Divine Statues opened April 10, 2011 in the former home of St. Hedwig’s Church. It is the vision of restoration artist, Lou McClung, who was passionate about creating a reflective and reverential space where ecclesiastical statues could be displayed.

His mission to rescue and restore religious statues, many of which come from parishes recently decommissioned by the Cleveland Catholic Diocese, will help preserve the history of those churches, as well as traditional Catholic art.

This is a thing for me! And finally, after two years, I got to leave my blasphemous mark on the wall.

I was concerned about Chooch though. I didn’t want him acting like, well, himself. It’s hard taking children to things of this nature because if they’re bored, they’re going to let everyone know it. Luckily, he had my old iPhone with him so when the lady in the gift shop told us photography is allowed, I encouraged him to take pictures to post to Instagram later. This appealed to him. Other things that appealed to him were St. Lucy’s eyeballs on a plate, a skull next to St. Francis, and the museum’s mascot: an elderly dog named Daisy.

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I love, love, love St. Francis and have visited Assisi, Italy numerous times. But I’m used to seeing him with animals around him, or in the middle of a birdbath, not with a skull at his feet, so it was nice to see a darker representation of him.

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The restoration artist was there, hovering around non-intrusively, and he eagerly answered all of my questions without making me feel like a moronic heathen, which really added to the experience.  I learned that real glass eyeballs were used in a lot of the creepier statues, and the really old ones were made with plaster mixed with horse hair to give them better strength. He was super cool with Chooch and didn’t treat him like a wrecking ball, but rather bonded with him over the dog.

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Some Celine Dion song came on at one point, and I was just like, “My god, where the hell am I?” The whole experience was pretty surreal.

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He even had a small collection of relics!

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We let Chooch light a candle (he actually tried to light 96,987 candles) and then he knelt down to say a prayer, which was pretty much the sweetest thing ever. He made me go away for that though.

(If his prayer had anything to do with Minecraft….)

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Chooch was actually pretty into it! I was really surprised. All of the statues had laminated pages of info next to them, and Chooch even flipped through some of them. He spent a little bit of time trying to find a Mary statue that looked like the one we saw the night before, so hey—at least he was able to make some sort of a game out of it.

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Can you imagine, most of the statues were going to be thrown out until Lou started collecting and restoring them. Thank you, Lou!

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We were there for about an hour. On our way out, the lady in the gift shop called out, “Your little boy was so well-behaved!” It’s these little victories that keep me from packing a bag and running away in the middle of the night, so thank you for not being an asshole in the religious statue place, Chooch.

I felt so peaceful by the time we left! Divine statues FTW!

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Next, we went to Big Fun, which is my favorite toy store ever and I’ve bought a lot of shit there for Chooch. But this was his first time.

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He was pretty much in heaven.

And I actually bought myself stuff this time! A Goonies coffee cup and a $6 Mystical Garden which is sitting on my desk in full synthetic bloom.

I’m easily pleased.

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Next, we went to Flower Child, which is a treasure trove of Brady Bunch furniture, creepy art and tacky dresses. I fucking love that place so much! Henry said NO to everything I wanted because he’s a dickhead. (And probably because it reminds him too much of his childhood since he’s so old.)

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Flower Child taught Chooch about Playboy, which he proceeded to talk about for the rest of the day, but only when there were enough people near us to hear. “HEY MOMMY, REMEMBER ALL OF THOSE PLAYBOYS!!??!?!”

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Playboy Face.

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Seriously, they were everywhere and Chooch was always the first to spot them.

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I wish I was having breakfast there right now. :(

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“WTF is this?”

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BURNT ORANGE EVERYWHERE!

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Yes, another place we managed to make it out of without Chooch breaking anything! Although I probably should have checked the waistband of his shorts to make sure there was no rolled-up Playboy wedged in there.

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Jul 312013
 

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When I woke up from my spinny ride coma, we were in Ohio and it was sunny. Henry said he found a place to eat that received good reviews on Yelp, but when he pulled into the parking lot (directly across from a truck stop), I think he was reconsidering the source.

I’m sorry, but I’m not going  to turn down the chance to eat at a restaurant that features old people praying over their food on the sign. And thank god we chose to eat there because it was fucking weird in that wood-paneled townie-hangout sense. The tables were covered with thick vinyl tablecloths in shades of the 1970s (browns, browns, oranges, and browns) so I knew this place was either going to have really fantastic home-cooked meals, or serve us congealed slop like that fucking cafeteria in Moundsville, WV.

Our waitress was this Midwestern Joan Cusackian prototype, something straight out of a 1980s indie movie who was eager to recommend her menu favorites and I wanted to give her all of my monies as a tip. She even had the official waitress stance: hand on one hip, other hip cocked, head slightly tilted.

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This was probably when they were having a conversation about how badly I stress them out. Look how tired Henry looks, ahahahah.

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Not praying over his food.

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Chooch’s Bowl of Meat. I guess his dreams of becoming a vegetarian are long-forgotten. He basically orders sauce-less spaghetti just so he can get the meatball, and then Henry let him have some of his ribs. I sat there and daintily ate my veggie burger, not judging.

Meanwhile, some man at the table next to us laughed. Chooch immediately shouted, “OH GOD DID YOU HEAR THAT MAN’S LAUGH?!” and then exaggeratedly mimicked his guffaw. This man was sitting so close to us that I could have reached out and touched him, so if he was aware of this blatant mockery, he chose to ignore it like a pretty, pretty Christian.

“What? I learned this from you, Mommy!” Chooch cried at the exact same time Henry was wearily mumbling, “He learned this from you.”

OK then. Next lesson: “subtlety.”

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Look at the décor in the place! It was all Jesus and sheep, everywhere. I wasn’t sure if I was expected to actually pray over my veggie burger. I don’t even remember how to say that grace thing, to be honest. Yikes.

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After soaking up my Waldameer’s stomach acid with homemade chocolate peanut butter pie (which I said I was going to share with Henry and then basically left him one modest forkful because I guess I had more room in my gigantic stomach than I wanted to admit), we embarked for Windsor, Ohio: home of the (supposed) world’s largest statue of Mary.

Henry was pissed off when the GPS began labeling roads as “Road.”

“This better not be like that fucking cuckoo clock,” he threatened, referring to the time in 2010 when I made him go waaaay off route on our way home from Michigan so I could see “the world’s largest cuckoo clock” in some scary Ohio village and it ended up being abandoned in pieces in an empty lot. I’m obsessed with Swiss/Bavarian/German shit so it was worth it to be anyway, but Henry was pretty annoyed.

The detour was about 30 minutes off the highway, along horror movie roads and run-down farms, but we finally made it to some establishment called “Servants of Mary,” which made Henry start bitching about how I led him straight into the arms of a cult, but I think it was actually a convent.

Funny thing about Henry: most people assume I’m the huge sacrilegious whore of Satan, but he’s actually adamantly against all religion and hates partaking in my obsession with all things holy, which I enjoy for the aesthetic appeal only (at times even being brought to tears by religious art—there, I said it). Henry won’t even watch exorcism movies, or any other horror movie involving the church. I tried to get him to talk about it last night but all he would say was, “I JUST DON’T LIKE THOSE KINDS OF MOVIES, OK” so I have obviously taken this to mean that he was possessed and exorcised when he was a child in the 70s, holy fucking shit, Chooch might actually for real be borne of demon seed.

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When I posted this photo on Facebook, my friend Octavia pointed out that it looked like Mary was being hoisted up by a horned Elvis surround by teeth. Accurate!

It was dusk by the time we arrived and no one was around. The statue is so far away from the road that we couldn’t even see it at first and Henry started to get all barrel-chested and was about .0005 seconds away from screaming, “WHY CAN’T YOU EVER CHECK  TO MAKE SURE THESE PLACES ACTUALLY EXIST?!!?” But then I walked a little bit closer and saw her sitting there, way out past the nondescript brick church and gift shop. (So sad that the gift shop was closed. Imagine the bounty I could have brought home!)

Chooch and I started running toward Mary, which made Henry all ruffled because apparently this shit is on someone’s farm and he didn’t want us getting out of line. Like we would ever embarrass him!

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“This is super creepy,” Chooch whispered as we got closer. And it really was. It reminded me of the dancing acolytes at the Palace of Gold in West Virginia. I get that these things are supposed to be beautiful and celebrated, but my god, why do they have to look like they come alive at night?!

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All kinds of devotional bullshit was strewn at Mary’s feet. Henry was getting antsy because Chooch and I wanted to look at every single thing and the sun was setting faster and faster and OMG HENRY WAS GETTING SO SCARED OF THE DARK.

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Arm hair sufficiently raised now, thanks.

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I have to say, I’m glad it was so late when we arrived, because it really added to the ambiance. I bet during the day, droves of old people come out to sit on benches and rifle through their fanny packs for tissue into which to soak up their old people post nasal drip. But at dusk, it was FUCKING SCARY! I had goosebumps the whole time. And not the TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL kind, either. But the “Holy fucking shit I’m approaching the Neverending Story Riddle Gate, fuckkkk I’m going to die tonight” kind of goosebumps.

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These illuminated bulbs are meant to be a rosary encircling a small lake.

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Teacher: Chooch, what did you do over the summer?

Chooch: I saw a scary Mary giant and tried to steal coins out of Jesus’s hand. Duh.

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I mean, it is pretty impressive! And Chooch and I both agreed that it was totally worth the detour. “But I’ll probably have nightmares,” Chooch added, and Henry just frowned.

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We passed an open barn on the way back to the car and freaked out when we heard rustling from within. I was waiting for the crazed owner of the land to come out in full Wolf Creek mode and feed us to Mary, but it turned out to just be rabbits in cages. Which will probably be fed to Mary.

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Jul 302013
 

 

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I always bring spare TOMS.

So, my new thing has been to do whatever the fuck I want in the days preceding my birthday (excluding murder, unfortunately) and Henry knows better than to stand in my way. He didn’t even act too put-upon when I, with arms haughtily akimbo, announced where I wanted to go for my birthday weekend. I wanted to spend my birthday weekend at Waldameer Park, getting down on some dark rides and hopefully not getting sick this time. Erie’s only about a two hour drive, so we didn’t have to get up at 4AM or anything, which is good because I still had a slight food coma from the previous night’s dinner with Wendy and Evonne at Savoy. (Butternut Squash in chocolate raviolis with lobster, fuck yes.) It was nice to be all leisurely and listen to Hands Like Houses on repeat (and also the Dance Gavin Dance and letlive. Spotify channels, FTW) while still making time to yell at Henry for no reason.

I even let him book a super crappy hotel in Nowhere, Ohio so that we could focus more on the f-u-n and less on the hemorrhaging of money. Because we’re still not rich. (Any day now, Chooch!)

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Part of my new-ish outlook on life is not throwing a huge fit and screaming, “MY LIFE FUCKING SUCKS!!!” when it starts raining as soon as we pull into Waldameer’s parking lot. The old Erin would have thrown a fucking fit and proceeded to ruin everyone’s day probably while causing several scenes. Trust me, I’m not proud of the way I acted in my 20s. Whoever told me that 30s are better was right.

It’s a good thing I brought those spare TOMS.

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Temperature-wise, it was only about 70 degrees on Saturday, and that’s better than 100, I reasoned. So what if my hair is going to get wet? At least my face won’t look like a glazed ham. And because of the weather, the park wasn’t crowded with assholes! I think the longest we stood in line for anything was about 20 minutes, and that’s because it was the Whacky Shack, so people were just using it for shelter.

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Henry opted to not get a ride-all-day wristband because it’s the biggest waste of money on him since he DOESN’T RIDE ANYTHING that won’t give him a blow-job afterward. This meant that Chooch and I were BFFs all day and had all kinds of inside jokes. Henry overheard us laughing hysterically once and so he did that weak I-Want-To-Be-A-Part-Of-This laugh that he’s probably been doing since junior high because no one wants him on their team, and tried to get us to tell him what we were laughing at.

“You wouldn’t understand,” I sighed while Chooch rolled his eyes at Henry. “It’s an inside joke.”

“You two aren’t on the inside of anything,” Henry mumbled and stalked off.

I wonder what it’s like to be Henry, in public with Chooch and me. I’d like to think it must be EXCITING and a REAL HONOR. But somehow I think the reality of it is akin to visiting the hyena exhibit at the zoo.

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We had about to kill before the rides opened so we took shelter beneath the awning of some small building. Of course an entire extended family had to sidle up next to us. They were mildly annoying, but it wasn’t until one of them shouted, “THAT WAS A GREAT GRANOLA BAR YOU MADE!!!” to this one Earth Mama, who responded, “GEE THANKS THE RECIPE IS ON MY BLOG” that I shot Henry the “remove me from this situation NOW” glare. I then proceeded to mock, “OH THANKS FOR THE GRANOLA BAR” in a Fargo voice every time we saw the bitch after that.

Oh, I just can’t stand it.

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These Tea Cups aren’t as much fun as the ones in Canobie Lake.

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OMG this is the saddest Henry face of all time.

We made him order us food and then abandoned him for the gift shop. When we returned, he was standing there alone, looking around for us, dejectedly holding a tray of pizza, and we started cracking up. Henry, in fact, was NOT laughing along with us.

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I got pissed at 4 kids inside the Pirate’s Cove (a dark walk-thru attraction) for acting like fucking animals. You know what I said to them? ‘YOU ARE ACTING LIKE FUCKING ANIMALS.” One of them tried to be cute by swinging himself under a railing in one of the rooms and wound up tripping Chooch, who was walking along the serpentine-queued rows like a civilized amusement park-goer. Another fucker cut in front of me and then freaked out when he realized he was separated from his hooligan sister and I screamed, “THEN YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE CUT IN FRONT OF ME, DUMMY.”

FUCK.

I almost said, “WHERE ARE YOUR PARENTS?!!?” at one point until I realized that their parents were probably just as bad and in my mind, I caught a glimpse of an ensuing fistfight.

I think I finally know what I want to be when I grow up! A hall monitor for an amusement park.

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Major giggle fits on the Tilt-A-Whirl! Such a classic ride.

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This is what Henry did all day: stood around looking suspiciously creepy. Imagine how much creepier he looked when he was trying to HIDE BEHIND A TREE while Chooch and I were in line for god knows what. I get that he was trying to be cute, but to all the parents of the swarms of kids out there that day, that maneuver translated to: CREEPY.

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THERE WERE AMISH PEOPLE THERE! AN ENTIRE HORDE (AND NOT ‘HOARD’ LIKE I PREVIOUSLY TYPED)!!! Actually, I’m not sure if they’re Amish or Mennonites, but it was fucking wonderful. An entire brood from baby to grandma. I realized some of the dudes would be pretty fucking hot if they lost the Johan-hair.

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Just Shrutin’ along, pretending our ice cream is flavored with beets.

OMG I actually felt kind of bad after taking this picture, like I stole some of their innocence (and soul). What the hell is happening to me!?

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Henry was all excited because one of them (not pictured, unfortunately) was a ginger and he’s never seen a ginger Amish (Mennonite? I really need to read a book about this. Or ask Siri. But she’ll probably just give me a list of places to get an omelette, because she’s hearing impaired) in all of his years. And there are a lot of years there.

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OK I finally gave up and Googled. 99% sure they’re Mennonite. Chooch and I were in line with some of the menfolk for the Whacky Shack and I got to hear them speaking in their weird German farmer tongue!

One of the highlights of the day for me was standing in line and watching some teenager pretend like he was going to puke on the Wipeout. Some lady even ran up to the ride operator and screamed, “THAT BOY LOOKS LIKE HE IS GOING TO PUKE! STOP THE RIDE!” She was really concerned and I kind of wished she would be my mother. Meanwhile, Chooch and I were standing in line with this kid’s friends who were trying to take pictures of him every time the ride would spin him back in our direction; his tongue wagging like a dog and he was leaning over the edge of the ride. I started to think he maybe wasn’t pretending anymore, which made it even funnier, until I realized there was a chance I could feel some of that vomit spray against my face. When the ride stopped, he got out of the car and fell to the ground, prompting us to laugh harder.

He was still sitting on a bench near the ride by the time Chooch and I departed the Wipeout, and that’s when I realized that he actually was sick. His face had that balmy glaze of motion sickness that I know so well now that I’m an old person.

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The Whacky Shack is a really great reason to visit Waldameer, but the best ride in the whole park is the motherfucking Ravine Flyer—a totally bitchin’ wooden coaster. Waldameer is this little, family park in goddamn Erie, PA of all places, the kind of park that Mennonites visit, apparently. Right? Total podunk amusement park with quaint little dark rides and a Musik Express, and then OH HELLO RAVINE FLYER! I rode this alone last year and it scared the shit out of me. I totally wasn’t expecting to have my ass kicked on a coaster in a park that makes Pittsburgh’s Kennywood seem like Cedar Point. So I was really stoked to drag Chooch on it this year since he’s tall enough now.

Except that Chooch REALLY didn’t want to ride it. “Uh…not just yet. How about later? Let’s come back.” He kept coming up with all these excuses, but before he could think to exclaim, “I’m pregnant!” it was our turn to board. I tried to distract him by pointing out the glorious views of Lake Erie as we ascended the inaugural hill (also while trying to distract myself from thinking about the lady who recently perished on a coaster in Texas, ugh ugh ugh).

By the time the coaster reached the top, Chooch didn’t have any more chances to tell me he hates me, because that fucking coaster literally takes your breath away. It is NONSTOP and so fantastic. There are tunnels! It crosses over traffic twice! It’s really fast with a ton of hills! And that concludes my review of the Ravine Flyer. Go to Waldameer and ride it.

Oh, and Chooch fucking loved it, btw.

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After hounding him all day, we finally got Henry to ride the Ravine Flyer. Waldameer is a cash-free park, so you basically get this credit card-like thing and add money to it from various Wally Card machines. Each point equals a dollar, so Henry had to use 4.5 points on his card to ride the Ravine Flyer, which is way better than paying $25 for a wristband only to ride one thing.

While we were in line, “Is This Love?” by Whitesnake came on and I started cracking up because it just seemed like the kind of song that SHOULD play while Henry is standing in line for a bitchin’ wooden coaster.

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We rode this approximately 18 times that day! The last time we rode it though, there was an incident with not one but FOUR linejumpers. Mama don’t play that game and before we knew it, those four little pre-teen motherfuckers were begging us to go in front of them just to get me to shut up. One of them even tried to offer Chooch candy in an effort to kiss my ass but I was like, “NO MY SON DOESN’T WANT THE SUGARY CONFECTIONS OF A LINEJUMPER.” God, get fucked you little dickhead. And one of the girls was black but a ginger at the same time and I was really confused but too angry to admire her mutt-like qualities. She can get fucked, too.

THE LINE WASN’T EVEN LONG ANYWAY! They had two trains running, and each time we rode it, I promise you we only stood in line for 5 minutes. There was no need to show off your Olympic dreams by hurtling a fence just to cut off the 6 people who happened to get to the line before you. KIDS CAN RUIN ANYTHING.

Anyway, I like to think that Chooch was super proud to be my son at that moment.

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This billboard thing was located right outside of the Ravine Flyer entrance, so Chooch and I kept referring it to as “The Bob and Tom Ride” all day, which was infuriating Henry because he didn’t know why we were saying that. SUCK IT, HENRY. My favorite part of this picture is that we had abandoned Henry at the Dippin’ Dots stand, just totally up and left him to take this picture, while the kid behind the counter started asking Henry questions he couldn’t answer because only Chooch and I knew the answer.

(Turns out he was just asking Henry to repeat what I had ordered, but Henry didn’t know what I had ordered because he doesn’t pay attention to me. SO EITHER START LISTENING OR DEAL WITH IT, HENRY.)

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I guess Henry managed to have a good time somehow. He’s one of those weirdoes who are content watching other people be happy and having a good time. I don’t get that.

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Anyway, the very last ride we rode that day was the Mega Vortex, which is the exact same ride as Cosmic Chaos at Kennywood—a ride that I really enjoy. But for some reason, this one churned my stomach in such a way that I wasn’t sure how I was going to be able to walk off the ride, churned it even worse than when Chooch spit on me on the Scrambler. It also seemed like it was much longer of a ride than the one at Kennywood, and I collapsed onto the first bench I came across after it was over (and after Chooch ditched me as usual, so I was the last person to get off the stupid thing, how does it always work out that way??). And then it started pouring (the rain never really cleared up  that day, but it never rained hard enough for any rides to shut down), so that combined with my new olive-green complexion was my cue to leave. Seven hours is plenty of time to get your money’s worth at Waldameer, trust me.

I was so sick and clammy from that fucking Mega Vortex that I immediately fell asleep in the car. I guess that’s what I get for making fun of that nauseous kid on the Wipeout.

 

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Jul 282013
 

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Henry will never admit it, but he had a GREAT WEEKEND WHOA. We went to Erie & Cleveland because these were my birthday weekend requests and Henry has been pretty agreeable ever since he started having that affair/selling drugs. I might even have a picture of him smiling in Erie. (Accidentally typed “sleeping” at first, like that would ever be a treasure. Oh wow, Henry sleeping. Haven’t seen THAT before.)

Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend, too! More later!

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Jul 122013
 

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After a morning spent breakfasting & Bordening in Fall River, we began our official trek back home to Pittsburgh. This included a million miles of Connecticut. I had decided months ago that we had to stop in Mystic, because I thought we had a nice time there when we visited in 2002.

I guess I thought wrong, because aside from eating at Mystic Pizza (which Henry wouldn’t let me do the last time because he sucks) and shopping, there wasn’t much going on. I refused to pay to do shit at the Seaport, and the gift shop was full of shit I didn’t care about, anyway. I’m pretty sure you have to be wearing Dockers to give a shit about Mystic Seaport.

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This place is a total tourist trap, thanks to the fact that it was the inspiration behind the 1988 Julia Roberts movie Mystic Pizza. But I really loved that movie when I was a kid and therefore, I had to eat there even though I wasn’t in the least bit in the mood for pizza.

The staff at Mystic Pizza could have very been cardboard cutouts on wheels. No personality and not memorable at all—a stark contrast from the waitstaff we encountered everywhere in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, with the exception from the weird broad in Salem who treated us like illegal aliens and acted like she couldn’t understand a word of our exotic Pittsburgh-speak. (And we don’t even have the typical Pittsburgh Yinzer accent!) The teenage hostess stared at us with deadened eyes and made me feel so uncomfortable. But, from her standpoint, we were clearly tourists (none of us were wearing boat shoes) so she probably knew we were there to gawk.

At what? Framed movie stills upon the walls? It really wasn’t that big of a deal.

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But the pizza was pretty good, you guys! I don’t know if I’d consider it a slice of heaven, because that’s typically something sweet and pillowy, but it was pretty good as far as pizza goes.

So if you’re ever in Mystic and aren’t bothered by standoffish waitresses and TGIFriday-esque interior design, go have yourself some fucking decent pizza.

Yes, I’m available for commercials. Well, my cardboard cutout is, anyway.

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Here, let’s ask Henry if he liked it:

[I've been waiting three hours and he hasn't responded, so I think that translates into a "NO COMMENT."]

 

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To Chooch, it was just a restaurant. WTF does he know about “coming-of-age tales” and Lili Taylor? Kid hasn’t even seen “Say Anything” yet.

Yep, it was just a restaurant in which he pooped.

Afterward, we went to get ice cream, and when I say “we,” I mean that Chooch and I yelled to Henry what we wanted and then frolicked off to never, neverland while Henry had to stand in line with people wearing Dockers and boat shoes. Then he turned around and started screaming at us because we had the NERVE to choose a picnic table that was furthest away and god forbid Henry should have to transport our frozen delights ALL THAT WAY so he made us move closer. This angered Chooch and me because we happened to like the picnic table we chose.

“Excuse us for wanting to sit somewhere we could privately converse while looking out into the water,” I hissed at Henry, who gave me a “get serious” look because he knew we were actually sitting over there and making fun of people and probably talking about totally hedonistic topics.

It was still Really Hot, so Chooch’s ice cream began to melt immediately. Dripping Ice Cream Clean-Up is the one part of parenthood I graciously let Henry have. He’s good at mopping messes, literally and metaphorically.

 

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Henry, Life’s Janitor.

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Firestarter.

From Mystic, we made our way to Waterbury to see my friend Jessa. I was so stoked about this, but also nervous as shit because we’ve never met in real life before! Just in fables and fairy tales. And usually when people meet me for the first time, I’m your basic Mystic Pizza waitress.

Jessa and I first met online back in 2008 when she stumbled across my blog. In fact, she was probably one of the first non-LiveJournal friends I made on Oh Honestly, Erin. She was blogging regularly then, and we quickly became friends through that and Twitter and then once we discovered that we share a love for similar bands, it was a done deal. She is my musical kindred spirit (Isles and Glaciers, FTW!) and we are always lamenting that we live too far away to go to shows together.

The original plan was to visit her at work, which I was on board with because she works for a florist and now that I’m into raising plants, I was going to buy a new one to add to my office orphanage. But as per the norm, we were behind schedule (I blame Henry and his 30-minute Best Buy pit stop in Rhode Island when he was like, “OK! FINE! UNCLE! I’m buying a fucking GPS.”) so Jessa was already home. I wasn’t sure if she’d want to let in some Pennsylvania Internet riffraff into her home, but she was like “bitch please” and that is how Chooch wound up in his slice of Heaven: a house with 6 cats, 2 rabbits and cagefuls of birds!

“This is going to be the only part of the vacation he remembers, just watch,” I laughed as he made himself at home and scavaged around her house for cats.

He gets that rudeness from Henry.

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Downton Bunny and Hopkins meet.

Anyway, it turned out to be not awkward at all! We hung out in her kitchen for about an hour and it was so easy!

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Chooch was like, “This house rules, I’m staying.”

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I even let her take a picture with me!

Hopefully we get to hang out again soon, and that her husband Simon didn’t think we were totally creepy vagabonds. I was sad that he didn’t talk while we there because he’s from New Zealand and Chooch could have added another accent to his collection. Henry later observed that he thinks he and Simon would probably get along pretty well, because Henry also doesn’t choose to speak much and he pointed that out that Simon was watching some dude-centric television show that Henry has also watched at some point, and I guess it really doesn’t take much more than that for two dudes to find each other in this world and start calling each other “cuz.”

Henry’s strategy for the next leg of our trip was to “keep driving for as long as possible until we reach Pennsylvania.” Somehow, we ended up staying at the same Red Roof Inn from our trip to Knoebel’s last spring and this totally blew my mind that we went from Connecticut to here, because I do not understand how maps or geography or Our County Tis of Thee works.

Chooch and I are still wearing our Knoebels wristbands from April 27th so I thought it would be a brilliant idea to go there the next day and see if we could sneak on some rides but Henry just frowned and shat upon my sparkly brilliance. I guess he had already met his year’s quota of fun and any more merriment would probably put him in his grave.

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The next morning, we ate breakfast at Mom’s Dutch Kitchen and I was so giddy about this because I was vetoed the last time I tried to eat here.

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It was so creepy inside! Super crappy gift shop, an irritable old waitress who scowled as soon as she saw we had a kid in tow, and dusty Easter decorations on the windowsill.

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But it had a peg game! Henry was glad about that.

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We wised up and coaxed Chooch into ordering cereal because at least we know that’s on the short list of shit he’ll eat. The waitress was agrivated about having to list his choices, but at least she wasn’t a blank personality! She actually reminded me of how Henry’s mom must have been when she was a waitress. God, I wish I had been around for those days.

The food was good, though! Better than chain restaurant breakfasts, because it had that DUTCHLY HOME-COOKED FEEL to it. And no one got sick afterward.

And that was it. We got home around 2PM and I nearly smothered Marcy’s spirit right the fuck out of her. I MISSED HER SO MUCH!!

I’m still going through post-vacation withdrawals though. I miss my faraway friends! Big ups to anyone who managed to read all of these posts! You might be next on my list of people to impose upon visit!

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Jul 112013
 

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This fucking sword! Matt and Kristen had to go along with impromptu decapitations and amputations for the rest of the evening, because you never knew when Chooch was going to slash you with a balloon sword in 100 degree weather. I kept hoping he would pop it off Henry’s beard. Chooch didn’t want to get publicly strangled by blue latex, so not once did he hit me with that stupid sword.

During our trek, we passed numerous stands where Boston Strong ribbons and memorabilia were being sold, and banners hung everywhere. It was super bittersweet. Part of me wanted to ask about where the recent bombings happened, but I didn’t want to be That Person. (Even though we all totally know that I am.)

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“Aw, duuuude. The Bruins are totally gonna with the Cup tanight.” Totally what that guy was saying.

Matt asked if we were ready to eat dinner and I emphatically said yes but in lieu of food, I was actually salivating over the thought of an air-conditioned room and a cold glass of water. With ice cubes. Water with ice cubes! It was all I really wanted. Who knew I could ever want something so basic.

Every little eating establishment we passed, Chooch would say, “Can’t we just eat there?” and Kristen would tell him that place wasn’t good, or it was dumb, and I really appreciated that because he usually needs to hear this shit from other people. Otherwise, he will turn into an asshole because, “YOU GUYS NEVER GO WHERE I WANT TO GO!” and then the whole, “OMG OUR ENTIRE LIVES ARE PLANNED AROUND YOU SO STFU!” argument happens. I also appreciated it because it pretty much was always a stupid place he was pointing to. Get a life, Chooch.

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I think this was where Matt got us LOST! Look at Henry’s expression. I’m sure he’s thinking about how, if he were leading us, he’d never get us lost, and I really wish he would have said that out loud so I could have jabbed him in the face with Chooch’s stupid sword while recounting the multiple times he led us astray in Salem — only a few hours ago! Get fucked with your stupid stripes, Hank.

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Meanwhile, Chooch witnessed a real life interaction between two native Bostonians when a shop owner ran into a mailman he knew and the two began jovially shouting salutations and niceties across traffic. Literally, things like, “HOW’S THE WIFE, PALLY?” It was so stereotypical that part of me wondered if a TV show was being filmed.

Chooch lapped all of this up and then when it was over, he whispered in awe, “It was just like Alyson said!” That may have been the highlight of Boston for him.

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“Seriously, are we walking back to Pittsburgh? Because it feels like it.” In the backround, Matt consults his phone for directions.

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Heat and all, I really enjoyed the walk, but that’s not to say I wasn’t internally having a Fuck Yes dance party when we arrived at Faneuil Hall, which I still can’t pronounce even though Kristen repeated it for me like 87 times and I had to Google the spelling of it just now even though it’s right there on that Boston Strong banner in the above picture.

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We melted, dripped and oozed inside the door to McCormick & Schmick’s where Matt and Kristen spoiled us with a lovely, super-filling dinner. When our waiter dropped off some bread for us, I was half-tempted to use a slice to soak up the oily sheath of humidity that was making my face look like the finest glazed ham up in that piece. And thank god the waiter was so overzealous with his water-pourin’, because I think we all had chugged the shit out of our glasses. I so badly wanted to nuzzle the glass and all of its sweet, COLD condensation against my neck.

In case you didn’t know, it was approximately the same temperature as the inside of a hippo suit at a Tunisian sex camp during Furry Porn Week out there in Boston. (Although, it’s been awhile since my last trip to Tunisia so I’m basing this off memory.) Thankfully, it hadn’t been that hot the night before at Hampton Beach, or I would have had to give the finger to the Summer Wind restaurant and it’s broken air conditioning.

Chooch got mac n’ cheese and complained about it because he’s a kid and that is what kids do, I guess. I wouldn’t know, because when I was his age, I was eating lobster and other fancy things because I was amazing and spoiled. I made some comment about how it’s hard for any restaurant to match up when I make the world’s best mac n’ cheese, which made Henry almost choke on his eyeballs, but Chooch agreed! Probably only because he doesn’t know any better.

Other than not eating, Chooch was relatively civilized during dinner, which is always cause for a big exhale afterward. You never know how restaurants and children are going to mesh! It’s known to be a volatile combo sometimes.

Matt and Kristen wanted to order a bottle of wine, and asked Henry and me if we would drink some, too. Me? Wine? Fuck yes. But the thought of Henry drinking wine made me LOL openly. Maybe if they had a Faygo-flavored blend. Our efficient water-pouring waiter asked to see my ID when Kristen ordered the wine, and since I’m so fucking naive, I didn’t realize he was joking until after I had dug through my purse for my drivers license, so then the waiter felt obliged I guess to feign shock over the fact that I’m 33 when I only really look 16. Nice try, buddy.

[Ed.Note: After I posted this, Kristen pointed out that I missed the best part of dinner, when Chooch was doing some word activity thing on the back of his placemat, one of those "How many words can you make out of these letters" games, and the first word he found was "retard." That's my boy!]

It had started to cool off a little bit by the time we finished dinner. Kristen had to take a work call as soon as we left McCormick & Schmick’s, which is something she will probably live to regret for the rest of her life. (Or at least a few days.)

Because she wasn’t there to veto my desire to “stick around and check out this promising street performer.”

“Oh, can we stay for this? CAN WE!?” I asked Matt, who shrugged a silent “OK, but guaranteed this guy is going to suck.” Besides, I had already made eye contact with Bob (that’s his name, and he’s a JUGGLER), so I felt obliged. Plus, literally only 3 other people listened to him when he called out for people to stay and gather in close to him for some semblance of an audience.

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Chooch got to assist with removing a ball from his tube.

I mean…

Basically, this guy took decent juggling skills and mired it down with a heavy-handed, mildly-racist comedy script. And he made two young guys volunteer (the one was so resistant and by the end looked semi-homicidal) for a grand finale that may or may not have happened because we grew bored watching and then it started to rain REALLY HARD which is my fault because had we ignored Bob the Shitty Juggler in the first place, we probably would have been back at Matt and Kristen’s apartment.

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But it was worth it just to see how totally annoyed Kristen was. Oh my god, she HATED BOB from the moment she returned from her work call and proceeded to spend the next—-how much time did we waste on Bob? 20 minutes? 30? seemed like a lifetime—xx minutes finding different ways to say that he sucked. Maybe the wine from dinner played a role in this, but I could NOT stop cheering ironically, which gave me laughing fits that required me to bury my face in Henry’s arm several times.

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Kristen and Chooch got lost at the T station and admittedly, part of me was like, “Yay! No more balloon sword!” But then Matt wrangled them up.

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Pondering about Bob. “How did he do all of those magnificent stunts!?”

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Another blurry picture. I’m so mad that I left the real camera at home. WTF kind of amateur tourist am I?!

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Hung out for a little bit back at Matt and Kristen’s. Kristen continued to win Chooch’s heart by sitting on the floor with him and asking him to help her play games on her iPad. Friends Forever!

It was so awesome seeing them again and I wish we had gotten there earlier like we had planned. Blame Henry. Besides, Matt probably wanted some privacy to watch “The Craft.”

Made our way out of Boston and found some lame hotel somewhere relatively close to Fall River and found out that the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup! But then I felt guilty for being so gleeful because it was hard not to get caught up in the excitement being in Boston and wanting to be all “Boston Strong, yo!”

Seriously, YOU try living with this dichotomy.

Henry sent me up to the second floor of the hotel ALONE AND IN THE DARK OF THE NIGHT to unlock the door and I was very nearly kidnapped while he stayed in the parking lot devising a way to carry every single piece of luggage all on his lone person. Bob the Juggler could’ve done it, but not without pretending to fail for 20 minutes while telling really frustrating jokes.

Chooch fell asleep immediately with Bunny Stew (he’s really into bunnies these days):

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***

Several days after we came home, Henry texted me a picture he took of the TV. It was Faneuil Hall (WTF, had to scroll up for the spelling; I hate this word!!) from some show Henry was watching on the Food Network. “No Bob, though ;(” Henry captioned the picture. Bob the Juggler: NEVER FORGET.

 

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Jul 092013
 

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It’s 103 motherfucking degrees. Panic.

It took Professional Driver Henry nearly 30 minutes just to find his way out of Salem and I could have sworn he was doing this on purpose to make me even more anxious. We were already several hours behind schedule and I was pissed because this was cutting into prime Matt & Kristen Hang-Out Time.

I met Matt a super long time ago on LiveJournal, I’m going to say 2005. I know it was definitely pre-Chooch and definitely while I was in the height of being a member of some of the douchier communities on LiveJournal. I know you’re shocked to learn that I was an asshole on the Internet. There were these totally elitist, pretentious journal rating communities in which I was a “reviewer,” which basically meant I got to help decide if other people were good enough to belong. It was so incredibly dick-headish and I’m sure I don’t even need to elaborate to get anyone to agree. And that’s how Matt and I became friends, out of a mutual love for flaming people, I guess. All these years later and he still comes up with some of the best zingers, especially when Henry or Pittsburgh is involved. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said to Henry, “Haha, guess what Matt said about you?”

In 2007, Matt and his girlfriend Kristen relocated from Boston to Seattle and decided to turn the moving process into a cross country road trip and I was lucky enough to make the list of people they wanted to see. Of course it was surreal and super-awkward, because I am super-awkward, but it was really awesome at the same time because how often do you get to meet your online buddies in real life? Although, I remember Matt called me a SHRINKING VIOLET or something like that on his journal afterward and I was all, “OMG that’s so true but I am still going to pout about it!”

Meanwhile, Kristen and I had recently been getting better acquainted via email and when she told me that she and Matt were moving back  to Boston last winter, it all fell into place so perfectly.

Plus, Chooch has been talking for the last few months about how he inexplicably wants to move to Boston, so he was on board for this leg of the road trip. It was all fun and games for me, too, until the BRUINS beat my PENGUINS in the Eastern Conference Finals to advance to the STANLEY CUP FINALS. What perfect timing, you assholes. And to add insult to injury, there was a home game that too.

Jesus, it was around 4PM by the time Henry un-lost us in Matt’s neighborhood and we pulled up to his apartment building. As soon as Matt came out to greet us, I kept hoarsely whispering, “Ask him!” to Chooch, who kept giving me a “STOP IT” look and shaking his head.

“What do you want to ask me?” Matt asked Chooch, who glared at me in response. I kept prodding him, but he wouldn’t budge, so finally I blurted out, “I TOLD HIM YOU’RE A WITCH AHAHAHAHAHA!” I don’t know why this was so hilarious to me. Henry just sighed, Chooch looked embarrassed to be my son, and Matt was just like, “Oh. No, I’m not a witch.”

It was just funny to me, OK? And it still is!! I just now pictured Matt playing Light As a Feather with Fairuza Balk and now I’m cracking up all over again.

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That lady could be dead but no one cares.

After we got the awkward hugging over with, Matt took us inside where Kristen was waiting and I was so happy to see her! Chooch got to meet their cats, Reggie and Chloe, so of course he was like, “This is the best place in the entire world.” We probably could have just sat in the apartment all evening and he would have been content. But as it turned out, we got to ride the T downtown! I was excited to ride a T that was not the one I ride every day to work, and this one was a real city T which means it was super scary, fast and hot. As soon as the doors closed, I immediately began to perspire. Thankfully, I wasn’t the only one sweating, as evidenced when the stranger next to me got too close and our moist skin briefly touched. It was about as erotic as it sounds, you guys.

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Matt and Kristen made sure that we got off at a stop directly across from the stupid BOSTON GARDEN so that I could choke back bile at the sight of all the jubilant Bruins fans. Meanwhile, Chooch thought it would be funny to say disparaging things about the Bruins and we were all kind of like, “Um, please, not here.” I mean, it was bad enough he could have popped off with his fake Boston accent at any second, and now he’s ridiculing their beloved hockey team and wanting to tell everyone we’re from Pittsburgh? Not sure if I’m willing to take a punch for him.

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“Just admit that Boston was the better team,” Matt tried to reason after the 87th bitter comment fled from my lips. “They’re your daddy.”

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Diving.

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Cemetery swag? I don’t even know what to say about this.

After being  forced to cross dozens of busy downtown streets without proper preparation (I am a street-crossing phobe), we arrived at one of the old, creepy historic burying grounds. There were informational signs spread out, giving brief histories on select corpses and featured a picture of the respective tombstone, which Chooch and I treated as an I Spy game. Not sure if that’s what it was intended for, but if you’re like me, every last motherfucking thing is a competition. And it just so happens that Chooch is like me. A lot like me.

Of course, I won each time, but Chooch tried in vain to pretend that he was the winner, prompting Matt to observe that Chooch and I make the exact same smug winner’s face.

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Originally, we thought that this was some sort of mass burial dump, but it turns out the T was down there. Henry and Matt seemed satisfied with this conclusion, but not me.

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“Look, Henry made friends,” Matt pointed out, getting me all worked up in spite of the 485 degree heat. I was only able to capture one shitty picture before Henry’s Erin-sensor started to prickle and he stalked away from his new age-appropriate friends. I wonder if they were talking about the WAR. I tried to ask him, but he wouldn’t answer me so I bet it’s true.

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We stopped at another burying ground a few blocks away. Matt tried to give me a “This or Boston Commons” ultimatum but I was like, “Both.” And I won, yay!

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At first, we thought Henry was really into this (not Ben) Franklin character, but it turned out he just wanted to show us that he could read. Kinda.

After stomping on dead bodies, we made it to Boston Commons, where Matt and some random stroller-pushing dad with a thick Boston dialect had an intense conversation about the Padres, inspired by Matt’s baseball cap. What really happened was the guy started spouting off his knowledge about the baseball team while Matt said, “OK.” And as the dad speed-walked past us with the stroller, he shouted over his shoulder, “And they shoulda won in ’92, ’98, ’02 and ’05!” (I made those dates up.)

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We stopped and let Chooch play at a playground with real life Boston spawn and Henry bought him a balloon sword. God, Chooch gets everything! But actually, it was nice to sit down for a few minutes after Matt’s Walking Tour of 100° Terror. And there were kids playing with the water fountain nearby so every once in awhile, we get the slightest little splash and I would be reminded of cooler, less sweaty times.

Kristen started telling us about some unintentionally-creepy bed and breakfast she stayed at for work, somewhere in Pennsylvania, and one of the rooms was clown-themed. Henry frowned through the whole conversation because he knows that he will now have to take me there. Thanks, Kristen!

Meanwhile, Chooch’s sword popped so Matt bought him another one, because he’s a sucker. Balloon swords are annoying! Especially in the hands of Chooch. I really enjoyed all of the occasions that thing got adhered to my disgustingly sweaty skin.

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Weird flowers that no one knew the name of! NOT EVEN HENRY. WHAT.

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Ugh!!

I’m going to stop here for now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Jul 052013
 

So, after a weekend spent studying Alyson’s imitation of the Boston accent, this is what Chooch came up with. I was pleased that he made it about hockey but I kept telling him that it didn’t make sense because Ovechkin isn’t a Boston Bruin. But Chooch didn’t care; I think he just likes saying “Ovechkin.”

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Jul 052013
 

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One long lady.

Hey! You! Tired of reading this yet? Don’t worry, I’m tired of writing it! But I’m almost done. Probably just two more posts to go. WE WILL GET THROUGH THIS TOGETHER!

We departed New Hampshire on the mornning of June 24th, making our way back into Massachusetts way behind schedule, but Professional Driver Henry reminded me that if we had left the hotel as early as I wanted, we’d have been stuck in the rush hour commute to Boston. I was not happy about this wrench in my plans.

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We arrived in Salem sometime after 11:00 I think and immediately stopped at the Witch Museum. I felt that it was really imperative for Chooch to suffer through the hour-long presentation with other strangers, most of which happened to be French tourists and required translator headphones. The woman I was sitting next to was using a pair and I would occasionally hear parts of it when the French narrator would raise his voice to put emphasis on all of the ACTION that was unraveling.

Henry and I spent an entire day in Salem back in 2002 and being there this time around made me realize that my memory either sucks or I purposely blacked a lot out because Henry and I used to fight so much back then. Because I didn’t remember SHIT about anything we saw in Salem. Henry kept saying, “Yeah, don’t you remember…” and my response every time was, “Nope.”

I did, however, remember the glowing red circle in the middle of the museum floor, commemorating all of the names of the victims during the Salem witch trials, because I had a really terrible coughing fit while everyone was gathered around, trying to learn about some witch shit. At least they changed it so now everyone gets to sit down. I mean, if I’m paying to get into this so-called museum, the least you could do is give my fat ass a bench.

<Insert lesson witches here.>

Ironically, the second half of the tour was led by some old broad who was having a coughing fit. There was also a crying baby. And rude French women. And here I was worried about Chooch acting inappropriately.

Afterward, Henry had to go feed the meter and instructed us to walk to the visitor’s center on our own. We made it about five feet before coming to an alley, at which point I clotheslined Chooch and said, “WAIT. Let’s hide from daddy.”

So we stood just inside the mouth of the alley, giggling like evil assholes, doing pee jigs, waiting for Henry to round the corner so we could jump out and make an even bigger spectacle. (There were already old people across the street watching us nervously.)

“It’s taking him so long!” Chooch sighed.

“Yeah, I don’t remember the car being that far away,” I agreed, starting to get agitated.

“I’ll go check it out,” Chooch declared seriously, like the appointed superhero for Fathers We Want To Scare But Are Missing. Meanwhile, I dialed Henry’s number.

“Where are you?!” I screamed when Henry casually answered, not at all sounding like a parent who just left his peeps alone in a strange city in 100 degree heat.

“Just walking down the sidewalk, behind some people acting like assholes.” And I turned to find him walking toward us from the direction we were supposed to have walked before getting sidetracked by something more devious. So then I had to go and retrieve Chooch, who was still trying to contort his body around the corner of the building like a human periscope. I hate when Henry thwarts us.

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He pretty much didn’t walk with us for the rest of the day.

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Stopped at some café and got an iced maple latte fuck yes!  And Chooch got a strawberry smoothie because that’s his “thing,” apparently. Who cares what Henry got. Something boring.

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Stopped at Count Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery to ogle some of horror movie favorites, and then hit up the cemetery, natch.

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I mean, it would be weird if we went on vacation and didn’t visit a cemetery, right?

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Chooch was mad because there were approximately 87 different haunted attractions that he wanted to check out, but we didn’t have time. Kept trying to tell him that we’ll probably be going back in October, but he was beginning to reach the Dickhead Precipice.

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Someone littered their empty coffee cup in the cemetery and I was so pissed off about it. You don’t leave your trash in a cemetery, especially not one so old and historical! So I quietly gulped and picked it up and then proceeded to be stuck carrying it for an entire 4 blocks before finally coming across a garbage can, I was so fucking pissed off.

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“Don’t you have enough pictures of your kid in a cemetery?” asked everyone who has ever read this blog, even once.

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Town Hall, I guess.

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Seriously, look at how far ahead of us Henry stays! God, I’m offended.

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I deemed it imperative to find the post office before we left so I could finally get stamps for my postcards since the Fireside Inn LIED about having stamps! (Actually, they did, but they were supposedly “locked in the manager’s office” and he wasn’t in yet. I guess they have a stamp theft problem in Nashua.) Not surprisingly, Salem’s post office was all big and grand. Exactly how all post offices should be, and not tiny cement shoeboxes full of defeat and deadened eyes like the one in my dumb town. While Henry stood in line for stamps, Chooch and I took that as our cue to clamor up the marble stairs and check out the creepy upstairs, which was basically just a hallway lined with therapist offices and art studios. And a locked bathroom door, which sucked because I was really afraid Chooch wasn’t going to make it.

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And then we reached the point of the day known in some regions as “Erin and Chooch are Hungry and Now Everyone Must Suffer.” Henry frantically tried to find somewhere suitable for us to eat. Just kidding. Henry is never frantic. Always calm and monotone. Except for that time a camel began devouring my hand. For some reason, Henry responded to that in a frantic manner. Maybe because he cares?? No. Probably because he didn’t want his hand jobs to suffer.

Anyway, we ended up a pub called the Witch’s Brew. Of course it was called the Witch’s Brew.

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I don’t think our waitress liked us. Either that or she actually was really struggling to understand our WEIRD PENNSYLVANIAN dialect. Each one of us had to repeat ourselves to her twice and, after a simple surveillance of her interacting with other tables, I don’t think she had a hearing problem.

Chooch especially was getting pissed off at her not understanding him. Poor kid was just trying to order chocolate milk and she reacted like he asked to suck it from her teat.

“What??” she asked him in a voice that Alyson would have had a field day with.

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I feel the same way, Chooch.

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And then Henry confiscated our knives!!

Three hours later than I had planned, we were finally on our way to Boston to spend the day with our friends Matt and Kristen (after Henry literally drive in circles around Salem for a good 30 minutes before getting stuck in some random mid-day traffic). It was about an hour’s drive, and I used it wisely — by convincing Chooch that Matt is a witch.

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Jul 042013
 

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After the beach, we spent the rest of the evening on the boardwalk which was my favorite part because I love boardwalks. Especially boardwalks that also have rides, which this one did not but that’s OK because it still had a 1980s vibe to it, as evidenced by the postcard Chooch and I bought for Barb:

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Nothing was NEW and FLASHY about Hampton Beach and that made it easier to imagine all of the Lost Boys-era Corey Haims carousing up and down the boardwalk. There was also a significant bit of police action, mostly traffic-related, which gave Alyson the opportunity to teach Chooch to call them popo, much to Henry’s chagrin. You know how he loves the popo!

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Fried dough is the big treat to get in that region, in lieu of funnel cake which is the big summer staple that I’m used to. I figured it was the same, just a different shape, but Alyson insisted that they didn’t really taste alike. She was definitely right, and I decided that I liked fried dough equally as much as I like funnel cake, which is “A good deal, but not enough to order my own.” So it’s a good thing that Chooch isn’t a total dick when it comes to sharing.

I would have preferred him to get a different topping other than “chocolate syrup” though. There were a ton to choose from! Alyson opted for powdered sugar, which seems like the classic route. I wanted Henry to order one with the vague topping of “Sauce.” What kind of sauce? SECRET sauce? I couldn’t even imagine. But then Alyson said she thought it was just tomato sauce and I was disappointed. And also a little disgusted because I don’t want fried dough to be savory. I want it to be stuffed with marshmallows and Sno-Caps and wrapped in spun sugar.

Ice cream on the side.

With sprinkles.

Rainbow ones.

Is it that obvious that this is being typed by a fat bitch on a diet?

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I appreciate Alyson’s sense of balance and that Blink’s spells it “fry doe.”

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OMG I’m sorry!! I don’t know what I did, but I’m sorry!!

There is a fan on the ceiling near the entrance of Blink’s which Alyson warned us of ahead of time. Sometimes, she said, people will order fried dough with powdered sugar, and when they turn to leave, the fan will blow the sugar all over them. It didn’t happen to her too much that evening, and she seemed kind of bummed about it. Had it been me, that motherfucker would have made me look like I had just gone bobbing for cocaine. Trust me. I’m a magnet for food spills.

Remember my French waffle initiation last year?

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I only took two bites of Chooch’s fried dough and felt like I had a chocolate beard. I kept asking Henry if I did and he’d say “Yes” over and over without ever looking at me because he is the worst boyfriend ever and never has my back. Or a napkin!!

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We don’t have Rexalls in Pittsburgh, so anytime I see or hear about one, I always think about that Dave Navarro song “Rexall” and then I feel shame for owning that CD.

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No one kicked me out, though.

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Dude, THIS PLACE. We weren’t even over the threshold yet and this beautiful, antiquated musk wafted out from inside the arcade and suckerpunched my face.

“Oh wow, that smell!” I said to Alyson, but not at all in a tone of disgust.

“I knew you would appreciate it,” she said, nodding.

It was the perfume of a century of fun-having and Skee Ball-playing and ticket-redeeming and first-kissing. Alyson said this place is full of ghosts and she’s right. But the good kinds. The kinds that would die all over again if this place was ever completely modernized, the way Chuck E. Cheese was which subsequently took a huge dump on my childhood.

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It was here that we discovered Henry is apparently “pretty good” at Skee-Ball. I wish he was also “pretty good” at buying a house. Or “pretty good” at playing Skee-Ball in a veritable Fodor’s guide of European destinations that he was also “pretty good” at taking me on vacation.

Sometimes I cry along with the ghosts.

The ghosts of my silver spoon childhood!

I’m not really much of a game-player, though I did call some young lad over to help me turn on Q*bert, only to expire at the beginning of level 2. That was enough of a fix for me! I spent the rest of the time watching Chooch and Alyson play air hockey like maniacs and Henry act cool for playing some poker machine thing. Then it took Chooch an eternity to redeem his tickets. He wound up with a stuffed penguin (yay, more stuffed things—we really think he’s going to grow up to be a furry) and a ball. And some candy, because the girl behind the counter was just trying to get rid of him at that point. HERE, TAKE SOME TOOTSIE ROLLS K BYE.

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Henry stands beneath a sign of his People!

Finally, I had reached the point where my Parker’s pot-stirring grilled cheese had seemed like days ago and I decided for all of us that we must eat now. Alyson said that there was a good seafood joint up ahead called the Whale’s Tail, but we arrived to find that it had turned into the Summer Wind at some point along the way, the strip-facing windows of which told us that there were absolutely zero diners inside. It was around 7:30 on a Sunday night, but Hampton Beach was still packed so it seemed odd that a single table was occupied.

Red flag #1: deserted restaurant.

Still, we inspected the menu posted on the door and found that the restaurant had everything we were looking for…except other diners. I mean, yes, I hate crowded restaurants, but when you’re smack in the middle of a busy beach and there is not one soul inside eating some fucking clams, that’s weird, right? And just when Henry was like, “Let’s keep walking,” the middle aged hostess inside the restaurant made eye contact with us and started smiling wildly and waving at Chooch, because all the crazies sink their no-good hooks into him first. (Me second.)

Red flag #2: overenthusiastic hostess miming through a window.

Alyson and I decided that it could be an adventure to go inside while Henry was all NO NO NO NO, but majority rules, sweetheart.

“The air conditioner broke, so that’s why no one is here!” the hostess explained very Edie McClurg-y. “BUT WE HAVE FANS!! I CAN SEAT YOU BENEATH A FAN!!!”

Red flag #3: OMG no a/c.

It didn’t feel bad in there though, and it was already cooling down outside anyway, so we followed her to a table near the window, so that other people could walk by and wonder why only 4 people were eating at this weird restaurant.

“Are you ready?” the hostess called out to a young waitress sitting in a booth with a busboy. But the way she said it, it made me feel like, wait—ready for what? Was she going to sing us a song? Get the cameras rolling because this is actually an episode of Kitchen Nightmares? Did the hostess want her to alert the devil in the kitchen that his sacrificial lambs had arrived? Prepare the arsenic?

Red flag #4: WEIRD EMPLOYEE CUES.

And then of course as soon as we were seated, I started talking shit about how weird she was only to find that she was standing right behind me still. But she was too busy doting on Chooch to notice I think. God, Chooch gets ALL OF THE DOTING.

The waitress, who I guess was ready, came over to take our orders and let us know that they were out of French fries so there would be a no-charge substitution for sweet potato fries instead. I was glad for this, because I like sweet potato fries. So I ordered that and fried clams, Henry copied me, Alyson chose clam chowder and boiled clams and Chooch got something plain. Probably chicken strips which he didn’t eat.

When the waitress came back with our drinks, I noticed that she brought Henry water instead of iced tea. Henry either didn’t notice or didn’t care, and I chose not to say anything because I enjoy watching things play out on their own. But of course he noticed and waited until she came back with Alyson’s chowder to point at his water glass and ask simply, “Iced tea?” in a tone subtly tinged with ice. Do not fuck up Henry’s drink order, bitches.

Before our food arrived, Henry ran out to the parking lot to feed the meter. The waitress chose that moment to regretfully inform us that the kitchen was also out of sweet potato fries and offered to substitute HOME MADE tortilla chips and artichoke dip instead. At this point, I just wanted SOMETHING TO EATTM so I said that was fine.

“And him….?” she asked, motioning to Henry’s vacant chair.

“Oh, he’ll be fine with that too!” I lied, and after she retreated I said to Alyson, “Oh, Henry is going to be so pissed!” and we burst out in laughter.

Red flag #5: A restaurant that has not served any patrons all day SUPPOSEDLY is out of potato products. WHY?

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But, despite all of the red flags, I found my clams to be just fine! And Alyson enjoyed hers too, and the Summer Wind had given us so many LOL-moments that the red flags only made it better. Plus, no one became violently ill afterward. Although I’m not entirely ruling out the theory that the old Whale’s Tail owner is now a life-sized Popsicle in a basement freezer.

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Henry, upon returning to a plateful of HOMEMADE TORTILLA CHIPS and artichoke dip. Surprise, motherfucker!!

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Henry, still displeased with the experience.

Right as we were leaving, some hungry people came in wanting a table and were turned away. “We’re closing early tonight,” I heard some waitress call out to them from inside the bowels of the restaurant. It was only 8:30, and they had been complaining about how no one had come in all day! Maybe they ran out of HOMEMADE TORTILLA CHIPS too.

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Afterward, we stopped by the shooting gallery, and I don’t know what this old woman whispered into Henry’s furry ear, but it sure cheered him right up! Alyson swears this woman has been a shooting gallery icon even back when her mom was a kid, and I can believe it. I was watching this babushka’d woman the whole time as she leaned back and watched everyone shoot away, and I could tell that this was her happy place. But I’m fairly certain that when the gallery closes for the night, she links arms with the Sheriff in the corner and returns to her original mannequin form.

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She even taught Chooch how to take his time and aim. It was a real Christmas miracle. Typically, as soon as Henry feeds quarters into the slot, Chooch kicks into rapid-fire shooting-mode and wastes all of his shots in the span of 5 seconds.

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Made Henry pause for another photo-op on the way back.

One last stop for ice cream and it was sadly time to leave. I’m not much a beach person & usually opt to take several small weekend trips over the course of the summer, doing amusement park-y and concert-y things because I need constant action. The last time we went to one was Ocracoke in 2006 (and it was one of the worst vacations of my life), but spending the day at Hampton Beach brought back so many good childhood memories of summers in Wildwood, NJ with my Pappap and now my mind is made up that we are going to Wildwood next summer and staying in one of the same hotels that I used to stay in with my family. So have fun planning that, Henry. Don’t fuck it up.

During the car ride back to Nashua, Alyson sat in the back with Chooch and told him more stories of her Massachusetts-tongued co-workers and delivery drivers she encounters daily, and we were all laughing until our stomachs hurt. Even Henry twisted his mustache a few times, which means he is currently finding mirth in something but trying to fight it. Alyson would be in the middle of some deep, burly Bostonian improv when she would smoothly transition into dulcet tones in order to give Henry directions, which made me crack up even harder. I only half-joked that she should be a GPS voice.

Then Chooch realized he had my old iPhone with him and made Alyson start over so that he could record her. He then proceeded to watch these videos ad nauseum for the rest of our vacation. It was all fun and games until it occurred to me that Alyson had taught Chooch to mock the Boston accent when we’d be spending the next day there. I hoped he wouldn’t openly mimic anyone in public because I wasn’t sure if I’d be willing to take a punch for him.

Back at Alyson’s house, we said goodbye for what hopefully will not be another 5 years. Thank you, Alyson, for a weekend of pure happiness and many Tolhurst-moments!

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GET TO WORK, BOY!

 

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Jul 022013
 

I’m so glad we got up bright and early on a Sunday morning to eat a sad hotel breakfast. But sometimes sad hotel breakfasts are a must because the money you save can often equal A REALLY AWESOME PRESENT for you later on. (Spoiler alert: this never happened. Thanks, Tight Wad Hank.)

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Really. This dumb bitch. What grade are you even in, like, 4th? Save the weird spandex ensemble for when you’re 16 working the street, REALLY. She’ll probably be in all of the other street walkers way too! I was about to queue up Ludicris’s seminal hit “Move Bitch” and hold it up to her face while screaming “GET OUT DA WAY.” Bitch was hovering over the toaster like your basic hobo trying to keep warm.

Maybe I wanted a fucking bagel, you don’t know! YOU WEREN’T THERE.

(I didn’t really want a bagel. But mayhaps I’d have wanted to peruse my stale options.)

And then I went over to get some orange juice but some motherfucker in a polo beat me there. He poured himself some orange juice and then was all,” Hey buddy, you want some OJ too?” and then poured some for Chooch. So I held out my cup too, blatantly, and Polo Dick put the pitcher back and walked away.

I was so offended and proceeded to complain about this back at the table.

“He probably didn’t know that you’re not an adult,” Henry mumbled around a hearty mouthful of disgusting biscuits and congealed gravy. Hhhhhrrrrk.

Then we lounged around the Fireside Inn’s kidney-shaped pool after a quick trip to Target because we can’t go more than a week without going to Target.

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Later, we picked up Alyson from her house and she gave us some suggestions for New England-y things to do. One was to have lunch at Parker’s Maple Barn, which sounded fine by me because I like maple, barns and Parkers. The drive to Parker’s from Alyson’s house was quite scenic and became more and more rural the longer we drove. Parker’s seemed to be in the middle of nowhere, but Alyson warned us that it usually drew a large crowd from neighboring Massachusetts.

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However, we were greeted with a sparsely-populated restaurant and I was extremely happy about this because crowded restaurants make me anxious! I already decided on the way there that I was going to get a grilled cheese, because I’m on vacation and I haven’t had a grilled cheese since right before I started Weight Watchers, in December. Do you know how much this pains me? Grilled cheeses are my favorite foods ever! And I’m glad I chose Parker’s to break my grilled cheese abstinance, because it was delightful! The bread can make or break a grilled cheese, and the whole grain bread that I selected was so whole and grainy!

I also got a side of maple baked beans and maple coffee. WHAT. Maple coffee is fucking incredible and I’m kicking myself for not buying a bag in the gift shop. And you know, since we skimped on breakfast, we could have “afforded” it. Shit, I’m the worst shopper ever.

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Chooch is unfortunately still in that age bracket of hating restaurants because being in a restaurant means that we’re not out somewhere playing. So he was pretty much like, “I don’t know. Give me a pancake I guess.” And then proceeded to complain that it was bad-tasting but this was after he drowned it in a tub of (maple) syrup like an unwanted baby*, so maybe he’s just averse to syrup-sogged pancakes? MAYBE HE DOESN’T LIKE MAPLE?

*(Of course, I was sitting next to him so the rising levels of syrup became MY problem, and Henry yelled things across the table at my face, like, “TILT THE PLATE! OH FOR CHRIST’S SAKE, MOVE!” and then finally handled it himself, thank god.)

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Henry asked Alyson questions about a lot of the ads on the placemat. I guess so when he moves to New Hampshire, he knows who to call when he’s ready to have his gutters drained.

I didn’t notice any ads for brothels, though. Sorry big guy.

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My maple baked beans, which were very good but I could not finish them. I tried to pass them off on Henry, but he was already full from polishing off his BLT and fries and also Chooch’s syrup sponge.

 

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Henry, deducing that there is “nothing wrong with these pancakes, boy!” I think Chooch even wrote about his dislike of Parker’s pancakes on one of the postcards he sent out. It tasted just like a pancake, I don’t get it!!

Alyson even got Henry to speak of the infamous Ted Nugent concert where he pushed over some broad in a wheelchair but now totally tries to deny it every time someone asks him! Usually if the topic is broached, he will shut down and peace out of the conversation, sometimes even going for hours without speaking. He HATES being asked about Ted Nugent and hates that I supposedly made it into “something more than it ever was.” (His words.) But Alyson asked him questions in a soothing voice which tricked him into answering! And by answering, I mean strumming his fingertips together and saying, “I don’t know, I can’t remember.” But he said it in pleasant tones and that is way different than how he responds to me!

She’s a real Henry whisperer. I wish I had studied this more intensely so that I can know how to trick him into thinking I’m genuinely imterested in his past. (I mean, I am genuinely interested, but for all the wrong reasons.)

Chooch was in such a hurry to get out of there, but had no problem loitering in the cat-laden gift shop while I bought postcards of Parker himself from the 1970s to send to people not aware of how maple-y New Hampshire is. Chooch, meanwhile, did not throw a tantrum or run through the store with a real ax like he did once in Tennessee two years ago.

I really enjoyed Parker’s and can see why it pulls in such a large touristy crowd. I would eat there a lot if I lived nearby (thus making Weight Watchers a real bust).

But that maple coffee…oh man. Even Andrea was like, “THAT SOUNDS AMAZING!” when I texted her about it, so that’s how I knew maple coffee was a thing that is probably enjoyed universally because she is usually like, “That sounds disgusting” when I tell her about all the things I ate and liked, like rambutan and Henry’s pride. (To be fair, I do enjoy weird flavors. I like to think it’s because I have such a sophisticated palate, but probably it’s more like something in there is broke.)

I bet if I told Andrea I drank maple coffee while sitting on a music box*, she would have had a different opinion, though.

*(Andrea is a music box racist.)

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We hadn’t actually planned on going to Hampton Beach that day and no one had their bathing suits with them, but I remembered that Alyson mentioned in an email that going to this old-fashioned arcade on the beach could be a possibility of something to do, and that sounded like something fun to do on a 95-degree day while wearing black skinny jeans. So we drove about an hour while Alyson told us stories about the delivery drivers she encounters every day at work in Boston and Chooch was cracking up so bad, totally mesmerized by Alyson’s impressions of the Boston accent and begging her to tell us more. I’m going to venture to say Chooch was pretty smitten. (He likes older chicks!)

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Henry von Standsalone. With purses.

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When we first got to the beach, Alyson mentioned that her Pep used to bring her here a lot when she was a kid which really took it from “a beach” to something more special. One of the things Alyson and I first bonded over all those years ago on LiveJournal was our unwavering devotion to our grandfathers. I was really happy to get to see one of the places she spent time at as a kid. I know that I would much rather take out-of-town friends to Blue Flame rather than the more obvious Food Network-beloved Primantis, because Primantis doesn’t mean shit to me. And maybe Blue Flame doesn’t have a “claim to fame,” but it’s someplace that has special meaning to me and I like to share that with people. So I really loved when Alyson pointed out the place we needed to get fried dough and where we’d have to stop for salt water taffy and the best place to get t-shirts because her excitement was contagious!

There. I met my “sentimental” quota for the week.

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That time Henry and another man caught crabs together on the beach. (It’s always a huge deal when we catch Henry chatting with other men in his demographic. There should be a National Geographic show about him.)

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Chooch made friends with some boy who coincidentally is also from Pittsburgh.

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And that boy had no fear touching crabs, that’s for sure. Me? I was like, “OMG DON’T TOUCCCCCHHHH IT EWWWWW IT’S GOING TO KILL US ALL!”

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What a nice, peaceful afternoon, walking leisurely along the beach, not having anywhere we needed to be, and not being surrounded by assholes! There was literally no one who pissed me off at the beach! OMG I LOVE THE BEACH.

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But I love the BOARDWALK even more!

(To be continued, of course.)

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