Jul 242015

Thursday, July 16 found Henry doing three things that he hates: going out of town on a work night, eating at a vegan restaurant, and going to a show. But he did all of these things because he’s a goddamn prince and also, I have broken him.

I mean, Cleveland (Lakewood, if you want to get technical) isn’t too far of a haul, but when a show ends around 10:30-11:00 and then you have to drive 2.5 hours home only to wake up in two hours and go to work, well….I guess I can see Henry’s (corned) beef (and cabbage) with these out-of-town work night shows. But this one was special, and you know this if you have already subjected yourself to the 1000s of words I finger-vomited on here last week.

I left work early that day and by 3:00ish, we were on our way to Ohio, after angering Chooch when he found out who we were going to see.

“And you’re not taking me!?” he cried. But he was fine with it once he learned that it was in Cleveland because he hates being in the car for more than 15 minutes.

The drive was pretty uneventful. I listened to a Spotify playlist that my friend Terri had recently made and it was perfect. Henry talked about

Normally when we go to Cleveland, we eat at Melt, but I was already feeling nauseous. Nerves, you know? So I found a vegan restaurant on dreaded Yelp (I honestly will never stop hating that site;  it angers me so much) that was within a few miles of Mahall’s. Henry rolled his eyes as soon as I told him it was called Earth Bistro but at least my mortal enemy Yelp reviewer has never eaten there. Henry had taken a wrong turn, as usual, and deposited us smack in the middle of downtown Cleveland rush hour, so he was too busy screaming “Shut the fuck up” to the GPS, but definitely not to me because he knows better.

“They supposedly have really good cactus slaw,” I noted, trying to get Henry stoked on meals minus meat. Henry is very simple when it comes to restaurant pleasures, and a good cup of ‘slaw usually does the trick. (He especially loves it when I swipe forkfuls of his ‘slaw from across the table. “Order your own next time!” he growls and I just laugh because can you imagine Henry ever being intimidating?)

We were the only ones at Earth Bistro, which is never really a good sign, but I was relieved because my pre-show anxiety was going through the roof and I didn’t feel like sharing the air with a restaurant full of hipsters I’d be convinced were staring at me.  This anxiety happens every time we’re about to see a band I REALLLLLY LOVE and I know that must seem like every band in the world sometimes, but really there are only three bands currently that get me sick (in good ways). Emarosa has always done that to me.

Anyway, this joint’s decor was like walking into the 1980s, like you could easily imagine Robert Palmer and his Addicted To Love girls occupying a back booth, drinking Tab. I wished our waitress was wearing a gold lamé dress with shoulder pads, but she was clothed in a normal, modern outfit. Like, a long black skirt or something, I can’t remember. Who cares. It’s been A Week and I have no idea what sense I’m even making anymore.

The waitress, who reminded me of our friend Jessi from Michigan, twisted our arms into ordering an appetizer, and then continued to twist until we settled on her suggestion of their homemade guacamole. “It’s even been featured on TV a few times,” she bragged with a slight midwestern accent.

I was trying to pretend that this child-free evening was a Real Life date, but Henry was too busy wasting his life scrolling through his Facebook feed. When you only have like 70 Facebook friends, how often do you really need to check it?!


I guess I’m just too boring for him.

The guacamole actually was pretty good. It came with FRIED PLANTAIN CHIPS and I love FRIED PLANTAIN CHIPS! They also put fresh pineapple in with the guac, which tasted great but god forbid the avocado sex jam purists find out and start a new heated Internet debate. Unfortunately, it was super filling and I didn’t even consider the fact that both Henry and I ordered dinners that came with smaller portions of the guac, so what a goddamn waste.

I order vegetable tacos and they were no bueno. Totally bland and similar to something Henry would have made me at home. I was really bummed out about it, and Henry derived such joy from my order remorse.

“It’s weird that they don’t use seitan in anything,” Henry mused, because even though Henry loves to rip animal flesh right off the bone, he actually enjoys some seitan every now and then. I thought it was weird too. I also thought it was weird that it was a vegan/vegetarian restaurant but they had an entire meat-side of the menu.


“People either loved it or hated it,” the waitress said apologetically. “We were wasting so much of it, so the owner finally just took it off the menu.”

“GOOD ONE, ERIN,” Henry sneered after the waitress left the room. He loves it when my restaurant choices turn out poorly.

It doesn’t matter though, because we split a piece of raw cheesecake and it completely made up for the bland, boring cactus slaw-less dinner. I wish that I had just skipped dinner altogether so that I could have ordered two desserts, because that is apparently Earth Bistro’s secret weapon. GOOD LORD, THAT CHEESECAKE!

For a brief second I considered going on a raw diet, but then Henry said I would have to find someone else to make my food then, because he wasn’t trying to get involved in that shit. And then I panicked because does Cream of Wheat fall into a raw diet? THAT IS WHAT I EAT FOR LUNCH EVERY DAY! (Mostly because that’s all I can manage to make for myself without feeling exhausted or confused.)


After I was finished interrogating the waitress about how they made the raw cheesecake, we left for Mahall’s, which is on its way to becoming one of my favorite venues. The first time we went there was last July to see Artifex Pereo and it was just a really chill vibe. It’s also a bowling alley. This particular show was in the Locker Room, which turns out is in the basement of Mahall’s. Henry thought this was hilarious since I was just at a show in a literal, actual, real life basement less than a week before this.

As soon as we descended the dark steps and I saw just how small this room was, I knew it was going to be a magical night. Emarosa, unplugged, on the floor.

And then I felt sicker when it occurred to me how close I was going to be to them.

The first band was I Fight Fail, and I ended up really liking them a lot. Several people standing behind me were heckling them and basically shouting over the music to each other the whole time, and it was really pissing me off. Why is it so hard for people to shut their idiot faces when bands are playing?  Anyway, the singer of I Fight Fail handed out CD-R copies of their album after their set.

The second band was The Whiskey Hollow, the side project of two members of Cleveland’s Envoi. They weren’t originally listed and I guess were added last minute, because from what I’m beginning to understand, they seem to worm their way onto the bill a lot, since they apparently have a pretty big local following. When we went to see Artifex Pereo last year, Envoi managed to usurp the headlining spot and it seemed like most of the people there were there for them, which was annoying because it had a super clique-ish vibe.

That being said, I thought  Whiskey Hollow was decent, but the singer annoys me on a personal level and I just wanted to scream, “Please. Stop talking.” But a bunch of their groupie friends were there and I didn’t want to get beaten up. Also, she sang “Me and Bobby McGee” and I cannot stress how much I dislike that song and Janis Joplin—-YES, I WENT THERE. It was actually painful to my ears.

By this point, the tallest man in the room was standing in front of me, so I said fuck it and squeezed in between him and some broad who was there by herself. It was a good spot, but I kept trying to get Henry to stand in front of me so I could hide behind him when Emarosa came out, but he was like, “WHAT IF BRADLEY SHOVES THE MIC IN MY FACE AND I DON’T KNOW THE WORDS OMG SING-ALONG FOUL!”

We still had to get through Little Envy though. The singer made a big production of lighting incense and was just adorably awkward and shy. I’ll admit that my initial reaction was one of, “Whaaaaat am I watching right now?” but they grew on me. The singer reminded me of a young Christofer Drew trying to sing like Vic Fuentes.

This really spoke to 2005 Erin.

And then Emarosa. Heart-eyes for days. I know I already wrote about the Emarosa portion of the night, but someone posted a video from one of the shows after ours, and it’s too good not to share. I never thought I would be OK with someone else singing the old Jonny Craig songs, but Bradley totally owns this.

I’m going to go ahead and say that this one of the best nights I have had with Henry in quite awhile. Once he was done berating the GPS and yelling at me for taking pictures of him and being annoyed that this was a work night and sweating his balls off in the basement of a bowling alley and fantasizing about eating elk with Ted Nugent, he actually admitted that he had a decent time and that EMAROSA IS HIS FAVORITE BAND.


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Mar 212015

When I woke up last Saturday morning, I told Henry that my goal was to be as obnoxious as possible all day.

“I’m sure you’ll win,” he said somewhat happily, probably since he wasn’t going to be with me. I was Janna’s burden!

I found out last December that Howard Jones was playing in Cleveland in March and I begged Janna to go with me. But, since Janna isn’t Henry, she said sure right away and I didn’t have to make any false promises like I typically have to do to get Henry to go to shows.  Henry was so excited that he didn’t have to go, that he even rented a car for me so I honestly didn’t have to do anything to prepare for this day aside from order my own ticket. Henry is the best, you guys!

Bu then I flipped out twice before even leaving the driveway, once because I couldn’t get the car to recognize my phone and once because I couldn’t find the route he pre-programmed into the GPS for me, making Henry come out to assist on both accounts. Janna just sat there and sighed, because she has been a spectator of the sick sport of Henry and Erin for 14 years now. Afterward, Henry made some douchey retort on my Facebook status about how I “won before even leaving.” Whatever forever, Mehoover.

The drive to Cleveland was, thankfully, uneventful. I mean, as far as being murdered by hitchhikers or flipping FBI cars go. I only missed one exit! And it was because HENRY had the GPS set on MUTE, good job, HENRY. Because Henry is a Professional Driver, I don’t do much driving myself these days. And while it was nice to be behind the wheel, it was also pretty maddening not being able to tweet nonsense about Janna BECAUSE I DON’T TEXT AND DRIVE YOU GUYS. Nor should you.

Once we made it into Cleveland, our first stop was a late lunch at Melt, because it’s sacrilege to go to Cleveland without shoving a cinder block-sized pile of bread, cheese & assorted sandwich accouterments into that gaping pit in my face that is often mistaken for the portal to Hell. The best part about Melt is that they recognize vegetarians and vegans as real human beings and nearly everything on the menu can be tweaked to accommodate the meat-averse population.

And that is how I was able to enjoy the Melt of the month: a chicken pot pie grilled cheese, are you kidding me. And the funny thing is that I was never a big fan of pot pies when I still ate meat. I would eat the puff pastry on the top, scoop out the middle straight into the trash, and continue on to the bottom layer of pastry, all soggy from the gravy and totally amazing.

Here you can see some puffed pastry hanging out, like the labia of an over-worked grilled cheesgina.

If I’ve learned anything from the last three years’ worth of Melt power-chows, it’s to pace myself. Especially considering every time I’ve eaten there has preceded a concert, which means I have to endure an evening of my rumbling digestive system rivaling the sound of the show. So I slowly ate half and then immediately pushed away my plate.

Janna’s menu was on the back of an Alan Parsons Project record cover and I almost died because “Eye In the Sky” brings back weird flashbacks/maybe-memories of my birth dad and has pretty much haunted  me my whole life. Just a few weeks ago, I spontaneously queued it up on Spotify just to torture myself. So it was pretty apropos that this happened during the tour down music-memory lane I had embarked on last weekend.

Fucking orgasmic grilled cheeses (Janna got the Big Popper, which I had the last time and highly recommend!) and kismetic album covers aside, I would have to say my Melt highlight was when our waitress carded me when I ordered an Angry Orchard and then said, “No way, you look YOUNG. We were born in the same year, I’m jealous.” FUCK YES SEMI-HEALTHY LIFESTYLE FTW! Just kidding. It’s all that baby blood I drink. 

Looks aside, I definitely feel younger now than I did in my 20s, so something’s working right.

After we ate, we took a test-run downtown to make sure we knew for sure how to get to the venue while it was still daylight, and the GPS kept trying to convince me that it was OK to turn the wrong way on one-way streets, which is why I would rather just print my directions out on paper via Mapquest like the old days, ugh. Directions and I just aren’t a match. Then the Flower Child foray happpened, after which I made good on my promise to take Janna to Edgewater State Park in order to see disgusting Lake Erie (all large bodies of water disgust me) and it was even more disgusting because IT WAS FROZEN AND LOOKED LIKE THE SURFACE OF THE EARTH AS SEEN FROM SPACE AND I ALSO HATE SPACE!! Ugh, fuck you, Janna!! (Don’t worry — I said that to her face, too.)

All that white behind us IS FROZEN LAKE DISGUSTINGNESS.

OMG I’m puking in my mouth just looking at this.

FUCK YOU. This might as well have just been ALASKA, that’s how repulsed I was. (Alaska is one of my biggest fears, in case you’re new here.)

I was just really distraught about this. I kept thinking we were going to get taken by a serial killer who would then place our mutilated bodies in some obscene ice-fishing tableau on the lake.

Luckily, I was rewarded for my valiant effort to make someone other than myself happy (ugh, who am I anymore) when we were trodding through grass and JANNA ALMOST STEPPED ON A DEAD RAT!!! Oh god, I was already cheering so hard, I can’t even imagine the euphoria that would have poured over me like a bucket of rainbow glitter had her shoe actually made contact. Of course, she was like, “It’s not funny” and then she went off to use a porta-potty but SHE HAD TO CLEAN IT FIRST BECAUSE IT WAS GROSS and she had no other option, because when ya gotta go, ya gotta go, right? So at this point, I had literal tears from laughing so hard and started to see sparks in my periphery, because this is a thing that has been happening lately when I strain myself from reacting to absolute hilarity (which I was I seriously think I have a laughing disease!!). I had to go sit on a bench and text the only person who I knew for a fact would appreciate the latest Janna episode: MY BROTHER COREY.

“Go knock over the porta-potty while she’s in it!” he begged via text and I was being stabbed in the ribs at this point by the Giggle Gods. Then I tried calling Henry to tell him that Janna almost LITERALLY imprinted with a rat corpse and then had to scrub a porta-potty, but he knew better than to answer because I was either going to:

  • bitch about direction-things and blame him for being lost in the red-light district.
  • tell him I found some medieval birthing chair at a garage sale and could I spent $666 on it?
  • try to tell him a story but end up having a Bobcat Goldthwait-esque chuckleptic seizure in his ear instead.

And then it was finally time to set off to the Trinity Cathedral for Howard Jones! And I only made one wrong turn!



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Jan 112015

Where Henry wines and dines me at Bob Evans and Olive Garden on our “vacation” two hours away from home. Part 1 is here.

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2004 (8:36am)

Haha, Henry walked to CVS to get me a new compact (he broke the cover off of my current one so I couldn’t bring it) and he came back with the wrong color. So he dejectedly turned around and headed back out into the jungle that is Cleveland. Are you crying for him yet?

We didn’t go to the bar last night because I looked exceptionally fat and ugly. Instead, we spent the evening with Carnie Wilson and her husband Rob, and then the Golden Girls stopped by.

It’s going to be 87 degrees and humid today. I can hardly wait. It’s going to be especially comfortable in the car.

Our big plans are to go on a boat tour at 12:00, but the paper said thunderstorms for today. It looks so nice out there now though.

Uh oh, Henry J. is back. Let’s see how he fared.

Haha, he bought the wrong shade again and now he’s sitting in the chair pouting. This is after he stomped around the room on a rampage, stuffing clothes into our bags. God, he’s a hothead.

Some religious show is on the WB and the host said, “Happy Happy Jesus day to everyone!” and now a choir is singing. I feel so enlightened by God’s love, like I kind of want to herd sheep.

We checked out and are on our way to find somewhere to eat outside of Cleveland and Henry called me “fucking generic.”

Downtown Cleveland has no traffic at all. Henry said it’s “on the verge of being depressed.” It’s nice when he puts his economics degree to use.

Henry’s raging because he got a tree branch stuck under the car and he was going to try and dislodge it at a red light but a mini Cooper almost ran him over. God, he’s in such a pissy mood today. His name for today will be Crappy Pants.

Crappy Pants started to lighten up for a bit but then he freaked out in the parking lot of Bob Evans [ed.note: It’s nice that Henry took me to a Bob Evans while on “vacation”] because I asked him to bring in the camera bag. You never know when you’re going to need the camera.

I simply cannot wait to indulge in my fruit and yogurt plate. I don’t want to eat too much before my highly-anticipated boat tour! Which BETTER NOT BE CANCELLED.

Holy shit, we just made it onto the Goodtimes III boat. I had to suffer through yet another Crappy Pants hissy fit because the lot he wanted to park in was full. We had to drive around in a tireless effort for somewhere else to park, and unknowingly got caught up in the American Idol audition shuffle. It’s being held at the Browns stadium.

Oh god, we just had to watch a lesson in lifeguard vest fastening. I really hope we don’t need to use one.

Christ, there’s this grandma on our boat with two girls. She held up the ticket line with her asinine inquiries of senior discounts. Then she told the ticket guy, “I really am sixty, I swear!” God, I wanted to gag. Then she held up the ticket taker by asking him where she could get a drink. HOW ABOUT IN THE RIVER. She’s dumb and I hate her.

Henry J. is all, “Look, there’s the captain. That’s where he steers when he’s pulling out.” (LOL pulling out.) I thought he was in the AIRFORCE not the Navy? God, being in THE SERVICE sure turned little Henry J into a well-rounded man of knowledge. I’m lucky to call him my boyfriend.

So far, this is really boring. We’re listening to some stupid guy on a recording tell us about industrial crap. We’re on the Cuyahoga River, going past the Flats, whatever that means. Henry J’s so hardcore that he moved up a seat to take pictures. I didn’t want to sit with him anyway.

Oh Christ, he’s talking while he films. Just what everyone longs for: commentary by Henry J. Way to make it boring.

Thankfully, the boring river segment of the tour is over (the only thing I learned is Cleveland has weird bridges and mediocre graffiti). Now we’re finally going into Lake Erie, my bitches.

Oh God, Henry J’s trying to be funny again. He’s so funny he should be on “Blue Collar TV.”

I asked, “Why is the boat rocking?” Now, I wanted to hear an exciting answer like, “Because Godzilla and HR Pufnstuf are battling at the bottom of the lake” but instead Henry J says, “Well, it’s because the waves are going one way and then the wind is coming in from over that side…..” and I stopped listening.

I wonder if Henry J ever did whippets when he was younger. It would explain a lot. I should ask him. I lost him to the upper deck it seems. What the fuck is he taking pictures of? Oh shit — me. I’m hunching over to shield my ugly face but there’s no camouflaging my chub. Ew, I think he’s taking pictures of other peoples kids now. How perverse.

Oh God. We’re floating past this little business airport and a plane landed. Henry J was watching it with his mouth slightly agape and I swear I’m not kidding — a tear in his eye. I SAW IT! He gets so nostalgic when he sees airplanes. Oh, memories of his days in THE SERVICE.

[Ed.Note: This must have been the tour boat version of childbirth, because I somehow forgot how excruciating the tour was and insisted that we do it again the summer of 2013, where one of the bridges broke, resulting in us getting stuck on the river for something like 4 hours and Chooch and Henry tried to disown me.]

Amazingly, we’re en route to E. 99. [Ed.Note: I was obsessed with Bone Thugs-n-Harmony and had been trying to go to Cleveland since I was in high school specifically to see the intersection of E.99 and St. Clair, because it was on the cover of one of their albums (E.99 Eternal) and they had rapped about it. It was like a yo-girl’s version of Graceland, OK?] I’m sure Crappy Pants was hoping I’d forget. I admitted to him that I was afraid his bandanna would get us into trouble. His response was, “No, what’s going to get us into trouble is the white girl with the video camera.”

I sure hope I get to see Bone! Maybe they’re home, creepin’ on ah comeup, you know?

Leave it to Henry J to take a truly blessed and sacred moment and shit his runny diarrhea all over it. Instead of being grateful to aid me in my lifelong aspiration of seeing E.99 Street and St. Clair, he instead decided to lose his temper and berate me for making him drive into the ghetto and then turn around twice to ensure a proper photographical opportunity. You would think that the awestruck smile on my sweaty face would warm his heart one thousand times over. Wrong. NOTHING can warm that frigid rock of ice in his chest, except maybe some hardcore porn and a bucket of chicken.

Driving through these ghettos makes me reminisce to the point in my life when I was knee deep in this shit. I’m lucky to be alive right now, but you wouldn’t understand. Running from the popo in the middle of the night, your glock in your waistband and crackrocks stashed in your asshole. These are times I look back on in fond reflection but would never want to repeat.

In other words: I used to listen to a lot of gangsta rap.

Holy shit — Henry J just pulled over on the curb to consult his map. I can’t help but feel he could have picked a better area for that. He “thinks [he] knows where we’re going now.”


This entire afternoon has been spent in a dire search for cheap lodging. We just drove past a Clarion. but Crappy Pants said, “No, it looks too nice in front. We need something that looks like it’s falling down.” God, I can’t wait until that man marries me.

We’ve embarked on a journey for dinner. I’m sure I’ll pick this book back up at 8:00 to write of our progress and we will STILL be driving.

So, I was taking a shower (after we checked into our palatial Super 8 suite) and I somehow got conditioner up my nose and subsequently sneezed FOURTEEN TIMES in a row. It was orgasmic.

Then, with a towel securely wrapped around my wet head, I began my search for the ice machine. I walked all the way to the end of the hall, but there was NOTHING. Just a barren stairwell. Luckily, two Mexican boys just happened to emerge from their rooms and were quite efficient with their offers to help me in my quest. I walked down the remaining length of the hall with the older of the two while he informed me apologetically of his poor English skills. He even squeezed my shoulder at one point and I blushed.

He led me down the opposite stairwell and said, “There. In there.” He pointed to a door at the bottom of the steps and I immediately thought it was a trap. that I was getting raped and turned into a milkmaid.

It ended up being OK though. He opened the door for me and gestured excitedly toward the ice machine. I thanked him by slipping my tongue down his throat and we bid each other adieu. [Ed.Note: I read this out loud to Henry and said, “Wait…did this really happen?” and he mumbled, “Who knows with you.”]


We’re at Olive Garden. A brief rundown on what has transpired in the past two hours: Henry J drove us to Coventry. It’s like our Southside and home to the famous Grog Shop. Anyhow, our visit was not in the itinerary and this was a bit overwhelming for me, as I had not planned on walking since my foot is broken (it is, but Henry J doesn’t believe me). Then, Henry was mad at me because I didn’t want to visit any of the eateries that Coventry had to offer. He EXPLODED. It was tres embarrassing. He was all, “We’re going home!” Ooh, big words for a little man. Then he had the audacity to put the weight of this Hell Trip on ME!

We got back to the hotel at which point I’m subjected to more of Henry’s theatrics. “I’m going out by myself to find a bar!” I was like, “Good luck with that” and then he spazzed out because I didn’t cling to his ankles, begging him to stay. He blurted out, “Then you don’t love me!” through a stream of big gay tears. Meanwhile, he only walked next to our hotel to Olive Garden to get a menu for me.

Boy is he a sucker.

Now I’m enjoying a peach sangria and flagrant flirtations from our waiter. And Henry is trying to put two hours worth of tears behind him.

Oh goody, I just ate a stuffed mushroom with secret crabmeat. There’s nine years of vegetarianism down the drain.

Samuel. Our waiter’s name is Samuel.

I can’t stand the white asscake seated across from us with his friend. He’s attempting to design business cards for the friend (Shawn, to those who know him) and he’s being so obnoxious about it. Then he told some lame ass joke about Jeb Bush and unfair elections and it wasn’t even a joke!  When their meal was served, the waiter asked if he wanted any cheese on his pasta and he said, ” Yeah, a lot.” And he was hitting on the Asian hostess by telling her he adopts kids of other nationalities. He was like, “I have a black and I’m looking for an Asian” and the black woman in the next booth whipped her head back to look at him. He was a WEIRDO. He was talking about Jews, Ukranians, and Russians later, too.


OK so we finally got to eat after 3 hours of Hell, most of it from Erin. Needless to say dinner was interesting. I must admit the most annoying man I have ever the pleasure of sitting near was there. I think he mentioned every ethnicity there is in his conversation. For once, we had a good waiter. except for the mushroom episode, everything else was good. I feel bad she ate the little clam, I hope she doesn’t DIE! Well, I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings. I’m sure it will be another “Happy Happy Jesus Day” because I can sure use another one. I’m not sure my heart (old heart) can take it. So it’s off to watch the Amazing Race and explain all of the confusing things to her.


“Amazing Race” is pretty fascinating.

Anyway, I need to write about all the food that Crappy Pants shoved into his fat face: Three and a half breadsticks, a huge salad, the entire stuffed mushroom plate (after I found out about the crab), and three gigantic meat ravioli. ROAR.

OH! There’s some midget on Amazing Race and she just said, “Another one of my dreams came true!” because she got to see the pyramids and Henry said, “Another of her dreams is to have normal-sized legs.” I hope he goes to Hell. Midgets are people too.

I asked Crappy Pants what his favorite memory of me is, and he slapped me on the side of my head and said, “That.”



Oh yes. There is a companion video. It’s called “How Are They Still Together?” P.S. The part where I call Henry “uneducated”? Don’t go crying rivers of pity for him just yet. That was my tip of the hat in reference to the time he and I had a political argument and he told me I was uneducated. I responded by breaking his glasses.

How happy are you  that I don’t vlog?

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Jan 042015

Guys. When “we” were cleaning the house last month, I found one of my old vacation journals; specifically, there is a written account of when Henry and I went to Cleveland in 2004 to see the Cure (and also E.99 & St.Clair, an intersection made famous by the BEST RAP GROUP EVER: Bone Thugs-n-Harmony)  and I decided that I am going to transcribe it because somehow I was able to charm Henry into writing a few times and also because I have no idea how we are still together because I was way bitchier and he was way less tolerant. So here is part one.


Monday, August 2, 2004


I’m sitting in the parking lot of PNC Bank while Henry is inside, dutifully cashing in $243 worth of rolled change. Otherwise, this trip would not be possible.

Originally, we were supposed to go to Chicago (how my heart bleeds for that City of Wind), but Henry threw a hissy fit yesterday about how it’s not worth a ten hour trip for me to find happiness. Oh OK.


We’re on McKnight Road. My stomach feels acidic. I briefed Henry on my situation, explaining that vomiting is a possible conclusion. He said, “You’ll be OK” and continued reading his map. He’s such a big shot driver that he’s using a BOB EVANS map, no less.

We stopped at the Sky Bank in Northway Mall so I could continue sucking my savings account dry (Henry makes me do it). There was this big crane there because they’re working on the mall’s roof. Three ladies were standing in the middle of the road, gawking at it, and Henry had to drive around them. We parked and got to walk past them, so I said loudly, “WOW I’VE NEVER SEEN A CRANE BEFORE!” Henry said, “No wonder you don’t have any friends.”

I should note that a lot of times I re-word Henry’s quotes to either make it funnier or add some sense to it. Normally he only speaks gibberish and them I’m left to my own devices, trying in vain to translate. It’s a tedious job.


We stopped at Sheetz in Wexford. Henry proclaimed that it was the same Sheetz he calls me from everyday during work, and that he’d make love to it if he could. It was touching until my first sip of their cheap, watered-down coffee. That, my friend’s, is poor man’s coffee.

I told Henry that I’m hungry and he’s turning it into a game. “Oh, I know! Let’s only eat at uncommercialized [sic] restaurants!” Meanwhile, we’re driving through a veritable oasis of eating establishments that don’t follow his moronic guidelines. What’s worse is that he’s singing along to A Perfect Circle and this coffee is completely unsatisfying! I can’t believe saving a few bucks is more important to him than satiating my hunger! I’m a growing girl! My anemia can grow worse any second now! But no, I have to sit here and wait until we enter a trailer park community and pray there’s a diner nearby. He’ll be sorry. Son of a bitch.


We’re at Brown’s Country Kitchen in Portersville, being serenaded by Enrique Iglesias and sitting in a hard wooden booth. Henry likes it. He said he likes hard things pressing up against his ass.

Hopefully, sometime today we’ll make it out of Pennsylvania.

Holy Christ, he just ate coleslaw off the table. Do you know how many people masturbate while sacrificing livestock to the demon lord and then put their unwashed. seminated hands all over the table? Nasty.

It occurs to me that Henry didn’t want to go to Chicago because he doesn’t want to be too far away from his mommy.

There’s this really ugly boy that just came in. He has red hair. I started laughing and when I turned around to get a better look, I snorted. Henry said, “Don’t start. We’re still really close to home.” Ooh, a threat, and so early in the trip. But come on, this boy is repulsive!


The Bastard Redhead left the restaurant just as we got in the car. I excitedly readied the camera and had just gotten it to focus when Henry decided I’d had enough fun and pulled out of the parking lot! That picture could have been spectacular. It could have been all I’ve ever wanted. But HENRY fucked it up and he didn’t even apologize. He said he DOESN’T CARE and that it was “just a picture.” How will I remember that fucker now? The memory is so fleeting. This trip is officially ruined.

And our waitress was lazy. I don’t care t hat she was old.


We’re currently in the business district of Jefferson, OH. It’s  truly the working man’s town. I can see Henry living here. He looks like a lot of the men I see milling about: dirty, toothless, and tattooed.


I’m going to die in this goddamn un-air-conditioned car. I swear, I’m sweating to death and my skin feels like it’s burning. I’ve asked him countless times to please stop somewhere so we can get out of this sweatbox, yet he’s STILL driving along aimlessly.

We went to Geneva-on-the-Lake, which was a joke and drove for like 45 minutes after seeing a sign that said “Lake Erie Circle Tour.” Henry insists that the tour is really just the road that we’re on, but I know it’s not true and that he must have missed a turn somewhere.

God, I just want to go home.


Typical. Henry J is being all mushy now. “Oh, I am so sorry. I love you more than you’ll ever know and I just want to kill myself knowing that I’ve upset you.” I haven’t forgiven him, but we’re in Cleveland now. I can’t wait to find E.99 and St. Clair. Maybe Bone Thugs-n-Harmony will be there.

So we drove past the Marriott (on St. Clair) and the hotel looked like it was being evacuated. There were sheriffs that stopped traffic for all these kids to cross the street. The ATF and these news crews were there. The American Idol auditions are being held here on Wednesday, but something else is going on and I need to know. So I’m sending Henry back around.

Right now, the “E.” streets are in the low numbers. I said, “Wow, E.99 must be really far down there” and Henry J. said, “In the good part of town, I”m sure.” He’s SO FUNNY. He should go on “Last Comic Standing” and make us all proud.

I had a major realization that Henry J. confirmed: Cleveland hates people from Pittsburgh. Henry J. said, “So I”m from Harrisburg and you’re from Pittsburgh.” See? He’s so piss-your-pants funny.

Wow, Henry J. is actually inside a Holiday Inn inquiring about room availability. We never stay in real hotels. He left me in the car with the windows down because he hopes someone steals me.


We scored a room at the Holiday Inn. Right now, we’re sitting in Willard Park. We’re walking around because if we take the car, we risk losing our free parking spot and then we’ll have to pay $15 to park in the hotel’s garage. That’s a crime!

So Henry J. confirmed that all the commotion was for the International Childrens Games. I said it’s stupid and Henry J. snapped, “No, it’s not! It’s for kids of different nationalities to meet so they won’t grow up like you, hating the world!” Oh snap.


We’re at the Winking Lizard Tavern after walking FOREVER because Henry J. is directionally WRONG. And lucky for us, Laura Ashley is sitting across from us.



And Henry J. is drinking a Coors Lite! Oh no, folks—an evening of drunken debauchery is surely in store for us! Or domestic violence. But really, isn’t it all the same?


I’m so happy! Not only did I have the best veggie burger (and it was HOMEMADE) I just saw CNBC that Kerry/Edwards are leading Bush/Cheney 49% to 42%! Of course, Henry Dubya Robbins is being a naysayer. “It’s not because of the convention <eye roll while gnawing on toothpicks>!”


We’re sitting near the lake now and Henry J. is wasting pictures. On our walk here, we encountered a homeless man who smelled so bad that people were crossing the street (I have a bad sense of smell though), a fat dude with an eye patch trying to give away a newspaper, a crazy guy rocking back and forth in front of the Catholic Diocese (he looked at me and said, “Heeeeeeeeheeeeee”) and a possible American Idol hopeful singing to a black homeless man.

I LOVE CLEVELAND! I want to move here and work for Alternative Press.

Oh, did I mention that Henry’s using a tan leather Puma “gym bag” that’s a “souvenir of the 70s”? It’s really a bowling bag from when he was in a league, OMG. They’d bowl and then go to the disco. Ooooh, disco delight!


Well, it’s my turn to tell the truth about the trip so far. I think this trip is a record to see how fast she could piss me off. I think it happened around 2pm. Almost came home. But as usual, she begged to stay. So the first 6 hours of the trip were not the best. So we are staying in the Holiday Inn, small room for a big price. But anything for my “sweetie.” Dinner was OK. Got lucky finding it, but seeing as how I’m the master of directions, I had no problem finding it. After dinner we walked down to the pier (so to speak). Got to see two lesbians kissing (Erin got excited). So now we’re gonna head down to the hotel bar and throw down some juice. Hopefully next time I write I’ll have more fun things to write about.

Wow. It took him nearly 15 minutes to write that. What an incredibly stimulating read.

On our walk back to the hotel, Henry J. told me a story about the last time he drank at a hotel bar. Apparently, he had such a wild time that he was too hungover to wake up for the maid the next morning. Oh my god, how exciting is that. And oh my god, it was when he was in THE SERVICE!! That was truly a story I’ll treasure always.

Yeah, so I want to hang out in the hotel bar and you know, meet some people, go home with a hot tourist, the usual.



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Dec 252014

There were numerous reasons why I HAD to go to Philly to see Circa Survive:

  • They just released a new album
  • This was the first tour they were doing in support of that album, and it wasn’t coming to Pittsburgh
  • The guys in Circa Survive are from Philly (or nearby), so this would a hometown show and everyone knows hometown shows are the best shows
  • It’s Circa fucking Survive
  • I would get to go with Terri and  Christian!

So I did that thing that I do when I really want something, which is tell Henry that it’s all I want for “x holiday.” This time, Christmas was the next holiday coming up, which is good because Christmas works better than Flag Day. So I was like, “OH PLEASE, PRETTY PLEASE, HENRY CLAUS, I’LL DO ANYTHING!” I think he liked the idea that all he had to do was get me to Philly, and not have to go to the show.

Plus, we all got to hang out beforehand and the next morning, so it just made sense for us to all go and make a weekend of it. At least, that’s how I tried to sell my case. “We can have group hangs! Then you and Chooch can dick around town doing fuck all while I go to the show with Christian and Terri!” I cried excitedly, and Henry didn’t really say anything, which is better than when he gets all huffy and starts yelling at me about money. Not that that happens a lot.


The show was at Union Transfer, and it was a fantastic venue even before the show started. The line to get in was super quick, the staff was friendly, and there were numerous ciders to choose from at the bar. This is really all I ask for. Terri and I each got some cider and hung out at a table near the window,  and I know this is cheesy, but we text pretty much every day so it was super nice to actually talk like real people. Eventually, we could hear the opening notes of Pianos Become the Teeth so we ditched the bar and made our way to the stage. Christian was already in there with one of his friends, but I needed to be closer for Pianos so we were like, “Peace out” and wormed our way through the crowd.

Meanwhile, Henry and Chooch were going to hit up some diner down the street from the hotel and then go get ice cream.


Pianos Become the Teeth is a hard band for me to describe, for some reason. I had a moderate affinity for them for awhile, but when I saw United Nations last summer, my appreciation for them grew (two of them are in United Nations: the drummer and bassist) and I knew I had to see Pianos live sooner rather than later. Luckily, they were at Riot Fest and their short set in the rain on one of the smallest stages in Humboldt Park turned out to be one of the highlights for me, which probably doesn’t mean much since that entire weekend was one big, obese highlight.

Their music is akin to post-rock, think Mogwai. But with anguished vocals that aren’t quite a scream so you can’t call this screamo, but more like a cry: a gravel-throated anguished cry over top of beautiful music that ebbs and flows with intensity.

Henry dislikes them because he’s a moron.

But OK, OK, this isn’t a music blog. So I’ll just say that when they played “Repine,” my eyeballs burned with tears. Jesus, that song.

Next up was Title Fight, which was exciting because the first time I ever saw them was the first time I met Terri and Christian at the AP Show in Cleveland almost exactly three years ago! We were all there as guests of our mutual friend Jason from Alternative Press, and spent the whole day together, record shopping, grilled cheese eating, and AP back issue rummaging. Jason had to do some obligatory networking during the after party that night and was so afraid to leave us alone together, for fear of one of us instigating a fistfight (we are hockey fan rivals—Pens vs. Flyers). I had a feeling that night that we were going to stay in touch and likely become good friends. You can just sometimes tell these things! It didn’t feel awkward hanging out with them and we had a lot to talk about, too.

Title Fight is one of those bands that I am a casual fan of, but seeing them live is a whole new ballgame. Terri has definitely gotten me way more into this genre, and I’m so thankful for that because I need all the help I can get to keep me away from stupid Jonny Craig and his stupid music. Ugh.

And then finally, it was time for Circa Survive. This time, Terri and I secured a prime spot near the side of the stage and, with the exception of the couple behind us who talked the whole time (GO STAND IN THE BACK IF ALL YOU’RE GOING TO DO IS TALK), it was a nearly flawless show, crowd-wise. Although Terri had some weird experience with some guy’s butt that I might try and talk her into guest-posting about.


Over the weekend, I went back in my blog and read about other Circa Survive shows I’ve gone to and really….what more can I say other than they are really something special. Even Henry, who doesn’t necessarily like their music, has admitted that they are entertaining. I’ve seen them in several different cities now: Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Chicago, Cincinnati….but I have to say that this Philly show was hands down the best Circa show I’ve seen to date. There was so much energy in the room that it was impossible to stand still, especially during “Child of the Desert,” when Anthony ordered everyone to stand as still as they could, holding all their wiggles in. “I’ll let you know when it’s time to let the wiggles out,” he promised. And when that time came, I grabbed Terri’s arm and we started jumping around like idiots because WHO CARES, WE’RE AT A CIRCA SHOW!? No offense to Henry, but it was like, next level amazingness. You have to understand that I don’t often go to shows with other people who love it as much as me! With Terri, it was like, “Fuck yes, let’s sing, high five our neighbors, and let our fucking wiggles out!”


They played The Difference Between Medicine and Poison is the Dose, which ends with Anthony yelling, “Did you ever wish you were somebody else?!” After which, Anthony said to the crowd, “I used to wish I was somebody else. You know who I wished I was? James Brown! James motherfucking Brown!” and we all screamed of course because, James Brown. But the girl I hated behind me yelled to her boyfriend, “WHO’S JAMES BROWN?”




Later, I would find out that while we were having religious experiences at Union Transfer, Henry and Chooch ended up just going to McDonald’s (Chooch’s choice) and Chooch spilled his drink in the car (“Daddy was pissed off,” Chooch wants me to  tell you) and then they went back to the hotel because the ice cream place apparently sells Christmas trees in December instead of frozen treats. So essentially, a pretty typical Henry and Chooch evening.

I’ve said this before, but there is something about Anthony Green that reminds me of Chooch. I honestly think that if Chooch was the frontman of a band, he’d have that same cult-like charisma and charm, and I was really excited when, after the show, Christian said that he was thinking the same thing. And again, I just know that Chooch is going to grow up and become something stupid just to spite me. Something stupid like a doctor. Ugh!


I bought this sick limited edition show poster (only 100 were made for this show!!) and treated it like a fucking Faberge egg until I finally got it home the next night. Still waiting for dumb Henry to frame it.

After we left the venue, I chimed in from the backseat to point out how happy I was to leave a show and have friends with me to completely analyze and dissect the night. I love Henry and I appreciated that he accompanies me to pretty much every single show I want to go to, but he doesn’t give a shit. And I wouldn’t want him to change. It’s our thing: I’m all hyper and wistful at once, and he’s just….”deep sigh.” It was just really fun and game-changing to be at this one, of all shows, with two people who are just as passionate about Circa Survive and music in general. It was such a great night and you know I don’t ever take these experiences for granted, but this one really made me extra appreciative.

Before taking me back to the hotel, Christian drove around the city for a little bit while we talked excitedly about the show and how on point all three bands were, and Terri pointed out noteworthy things and we saw a sick fight that briefly spilled out into the street. And, and, and! Even two weeks later, my mind is churning with minutiae that I don’t want to let go of.  I’ve watched YouTube videos of this show countless times since that night and Henry is like, “HOW MANY TIMES CAN YOU WATCH THESE.”


Chooch was wide awake when I got back to the hotel after midnight, watching trashy TV and filling out MadLibs, but Henry was mostly asleep.  I shook him violently and, in my teenager vocal cadence, rapidly recounted all of the highlights for him and then shoved my phone in his face so he could see my Instagram videos.

“I know what Anthony looks like,” he mumbled, rolling over in bed and going back to sleep.

Ugh, shows like these make me feel better than a day at the spa.

We listened to Circa Survive for a good portion of the drive back to Pittsburgh the next day, and I cried a little while revisiting old memories and talking for the thousandth time about the first time we saw them at the Grog Shop over the summer of 2005, mostly because I like to tell that story. Henry of course knows that story well because he was there with me, so he just sighed a lot.

From: First Feet Productions

*If you’ve stumbled across this blog and aren’t familiar with Circa Survive, please please please do yourself a favor and check them out. They’re really something special.*

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Dec 212014


After looking at our fair share of medical anomalies at the Mütter (thanks, Chooch, for your gripping recap of our experience there), I reminded Terri that she promised we could eat at Blackbird, a vegan pizza joint where meat-averse people like me can enjoy a slice without worrying about pepperoni juice spill-over.

I don’t know what part of Philly it’s in because I don’t live and didn’t pay attention to how far we drove from the Mütter, except that we were lucky enough to find a parking spot that wasn’t too far away, but just far enough that Terri got to point out a street that’s on the cover of a Cinderella album. This is the shit that I want to know when I’m being a tourist! I mean, OK the Liberty Bell is cool, I guess, but I was more interested in seeing where Mannequin was filmed.



Tantalizing! Chooch tried to act like he didn’t care but I saw him turn back around to get one last boob-ogle.


Because Terri excels at pointing out places of interest (unlike me in my own city; I’m  the worst! “I don’t know what that building is…um…maybe a strip joint?”) I got to see what remains of Zipperhead, a much better Hot Topic-type store that was so cool it was referenced in a Dead Milkmen song. It sounds like it was a real institution in the Philly punk scene. We have a store similar to that in Pittsburgh—Slacker—that was the fucking shit when I used to shop there in high school, but now it’s super lame. I used to buy Lip Service clothes, crazy rings, and Fantasia cigarettes that emitted colored smoke when lit. I popped in briefly over the summer and was saddened by a rack of Yinzer-themed novelty t-shirts. God, Slacker was my jam back in the day, and I can only imagine how much I would have loved Zipperhead too.

The Internet ruins everything.

Onward to Blackbird!



Can I just tell you how amazing it feels to not be the outsider at a restaurant for once? Usually it’s all, “Oh, I’m sure I can find a salad on the menu, don’t worry” when I’m out with carnivores—I even brought a sandwich to work on the day of our office holiday party). But at Blackbird, everything is vegan and I had the hardest time ordering because for once, everything was an option. I was hoping Henry was going to cry bacon-flavored tears onto the table when his faux-meat pizza was served, which launched him into a defensive monologue about how he likes seitan, it’s only tofu that he hates. OK tough guy. (He really did eat the crap out of an order of root beer wings, so there you have it: a real blue-collared meat eater, dispelling the myth that vegan food is shit.

Seitan is everything.

So is Satan, but that’s a post for my secret 666 blog.


I ordered this chicken parm-type of sandwich and it made my heart so happy. Everything about it was on point, and I was so stuffed before I even got halfway through the second half, but I powered through it and then could barely walk back to the car later. Ugh, I wish this place was in Pittsburgh.



Chooch hated his pizza because it wasn’t ice cream.



A nightmarish window display.



There was an antique shop that I wanted to check out on the way back, and before anyone could stop him., Chooch whipped the door open, arousing about 150 years worth of dormant dust particles, and forged ahead. Unfortunately, the available foot path inside this shop was approximately two feet across, both sides lined floor to ceiling with unimaginably-priced breakables. Chooch was wearing a parka and I was hissing at him to stop and wait for us, but he is so fucking stubborn that he just kept speed-walking through the store and my mind started racing, thumbing through all of our available options at taking out a loan on a Saturday afternoon in Philadelphia when we were presented with a $65, 900 bill for damages.



An old man emerged from a cavern of gaudy lamps and followed Chooch, who was now standing at the foot of a staircase. “You don’t go up there without your mother,” the man growled and Chooch knew he was fucked. So then there was this awkward stand-off, where Henry and I were begging Chooch to turn around and come back, while the old man stood there glaring at us, and poor Terri was kind of just caught in the middle of it all and I kept hoping that maybe the man thought Terri was Chooch’s mom. I kept saying, “PLEASE GO OUTSIDE WITH DADDY” and Chooch, who was suddenly uber interested in chandeliers that would give Liberace’s interior designer a boner that no prescription of Viagra is capable of, just kept standing there in a swirl of vintage must. I was braced for A Scene (like, even more than we were already in the middle of), but Henry finally coaxed Chooch out of the store and I was able to breathe again, which wasn’t necessarily a good thing because OMG the dust.



Even with Chooch out of the store, Terri and I were already marked. I felt that man’s angry eyes on us the entire time we expressed genuine appreciation at the haunted clocks and sconces, and I really wanted to go upstairs because I’m certain we would have unearthed The Neverending Story book. But I was pretty anxious to get away from the proprietor. When we reached the back of the store, Terri and I both nearly knocked shit over trying to turn back around. A fucking waif would have had to walk sideways in that shop.



On the way out, I tried to tell the man that I thought everything was beautiful, but I don’t think he accepted my compliment. Something about his angry, milky eyeballs just screamed, “Go back to Target, peasant.” Meanwhile, some lady was behind the counter on a personal call, laughing so hard that Terri thought she was crying, and then she referred to someone as a fucking shit, and there was just something about her that made the whole experience even creepier. I hate/love that shop so much.


It was pretty late in the afternoon by this point, so we took Terri and Christian back home, and then checked into our hotel, where I had about an hour or so to rest before the Circa Survive show, because that’s what happens when you’re 35, I guess — it’s now necessary to “rest” before a show.

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Dec 162014


This is about the time I went to The Mutter Museum. First, We went to Philly to visit our friends Terri and Christian. To get to the Mutter it took us 20 minutes from Terri and Christians house. We played Heads Up by Ellen DeGenerous  in the car. I won!

Next, We got to the city I saw the hockey stadium where the Flyers play I wanted to meet them so bad. They were playing the Carolina Hurricanes. Boo the Hurricanes. Go Flyers! I was so excited! I wanted to meet them so bad! If they lost I would die!

Last, We got to the Mutter. Me and Christian were pretty much partners the whole time. I went inside this What It Feels Like To Get Shot In The Arm machine and it was weird. Me and Christian were partners. Well not partners but I didn’t want to be with Terri, Goth Erin and Napkin Dispenser Forgetter. Goth Erin told me there were people making out. But I didn’t see them so I didn’t know. She was so mad because we were in a museum with gross stuff in it. They were making it even Grosser. Me and Christian saw Einstein’s Brain so I tried to see if I could see Math Answers.  Goth Erin saw drawers of everything Dumb People swallowed because  I don’t even know why people would swallow these thing. Screws, Nails, Toys, Pins, Buttons, Dentures and Teeth, Bones and that’s all I can remember. Goth Erin got sick after she saw a bunch of Eye diseases. Pink eye, Eye Cancer, Tumors, Beaten Up Eyes,  Big Eyes, and that’s is what I remember. Me and Goth Erin kept seeing Baby Weiners. Before we left we went to the gift shop. I got a Brown Liver Cell stuffed Microbe. He is so Cute his name is Sir_osis. I had a blast at the Mutter Museum!

Clearly, This about the time I went to the Mutter Museum in Philly.

PS. If you don’t know where the Mutter Museum is ask Siri. This is the response.

Sorry what is the Mutter Museum? If you want I can show every Eat n Park near you.



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Dec 142014

12:22pm: Probably a dumb idea, but hey let’s liveblog home from Philly! We just said our sad goodbyes to our awesome friends Christian and Terri. Goodbyes are stupid. Chooch was like “Don’t think of saying goodbye; think about the next time you’ll meet.” How profound, I thought, until he finished with, “I read that in my Minecraft book.”


12:44pm: Chooch was looking for his phone charger earlier and said, “Mine is big and black….HAHA THAT SOUNDED WRONG.” This is a real great age, guys.

1:13pm: Really? Henry just checked my water bottle for floaters before drinking out of it? #insulted #IWouldDoItToHimToo



1:54pm: My Babylon.


Ohio Amish can go home now, because PA Dutch shoofly pie is EVERYTHING! I was worried that maybe I had built it up in my head (like I would EVER do that!) even though it’s only been two years since I was last at Dutch Haven, but no. Somehow it’s even better than I remembered.

We bought a slice to eat there and also a whole pie to take home so that I can gorge on it and then never want another shoofly pie ever again in my entire life. (Won’t happen.)

I didn’t want to tell Henry this, but on Friday, Glenn came back from lunch and said, “You know the deli downstairs has shoofly pie, right?” I let that sink in for a second and then figured he was fucking with me. “No really, go downstairs and look for yourself.” Ten minutes later I swiveled in my chair and said, “Yeah, but is it REAL shoofly pie or some bastardized Pittsburgh version of it?” Glenn sighed, “Yeah that’s exactly what the sigh said: Bastardized shoofly pie.” I didn’t go check it out for two reasons: I figured I would be disappointed (once you go PA Dutch blackstrap, you don’t go back), and I was afraid that if I ate shoofly pie on Friday, Henry would find out (there could be moles in my office, I don’t know!) and say, “Oh good! Now we don’t have to detour to Lancaster on Sunday.”
Which I didn’t think he would actually do, by the way. When I asked him last week, he sighed and mumbled, “We’ll see.” THAT CAN GO EITHER WAY.
2:40pm: WE ARE AT A GAS STATION. I REPEAT, WE ARE AT A GAS STATION. Also, I finally put on something other than Circa Survive to help retain some of Henry’s sanity. Sigh.

2:48pm: Chooch keeps creepily whispering “Illuminati” in my ear from the backseat and it’s kind of scary. Also, I have no idea where we are but we just saw a big billboard for a store called Maple Donuts.

3:09pm: “Ain’t it Fun” came on and I pointed out the part that reminds me (some day inexplicably) of George Benson. “Let’s listen to George Benson next!” I happily cried and Henry
mumbled, “Like I have a choice.”

3:39pm: Got my George Benson fix and now this:


4:00pm: Suggested that Chooch just write down his thoughts and mail them to me because I’m tired of hearing his shrill voice. I really should just write a parenting book, for Christ’s sake.

4:41pm: Just for back on the road after taking a rest stop by storm. I got mediocre pizza and immediately regretted it. Then on the way out, I whined that it got colder. Henry pointed out that we’re in the mountains and I said, “YOU’RE in the mountains.”

“Yeah, I AM in the mountains, dummy.” You win some, you lose some.

5:34pm: Thank you, Henry and Chooch, for running your mouths through my favorite Pierce the Veil song. Assholes.

5:48pm: Chooch & I have been bickering basically the whole way home off and on; I got so flustered toward the end of our last spat that I ended it by blurting, “GIRL BYE. HASHTAG GIRL BYE.” Ugh.

6:21pm: Welp, Professional Driver Henry nearly killed us by peeling out onto an exit ramp at the last possible second. Thank god for seatbelts. This sure snapped me right out of my daydream about Vic Fuentes writing a song about me. Sigh.

6:54pm: Are we there yet.
6:55pm: I’ve inhaled so many of Chooch’s farts in the last 7 hours that I’m afraid I’ve been conditioned to like it.

7:03pm: we’re home k bye.

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Nov 282014

After coming up empty on our quest for shoo fly pie in Sugarcreek, it was getting late so we decided that it was time to head out of Amish country and heed the final Post-It note on our dad’s itinerary: The “Hardware” store.

First though, Corey’s GPS took us down what I referred to as the Las Vegas Strip for craft fanatics. Literally just one long sprawling road of shop after shop boasting rustic Amish wares. There were people and cars everywhere and it took an ungodly amount of time to crawl through the traffic lights. Looking out the window at all of the window fluttering from shop to shop like locusts with too much money, I felt eternally grateful that I was there with Corey and not some middle-aged broad with a hankering for quilts and Christmas wreaths. It brought back flashbacks of the time we went to Lancaster in 2010 with Tommy and Jessy. Jessy insisted on going inside every last shopfull of overpriced, commercialized pieces of “Americana” while Chooch, Henry, Tommy and I stood outside shooting ourselves in the face with finger-guns.

Finally, we made it back onto a peaceful, country road, drove past Heini’s and waved goodbye, and then felt scared when we witnessed the second Amish person that day staring vacantly at a burning pile of leaves.



The sun was setting when we pulled into the Lehman’s parking lot. I still don’t know why our dad calls it the hardware store, maybe it used to be one? When we walked in, I noticed that it did have kind of an industrial, saw-dusty smell. And then, right away: BIRDHOUSES!



Honestly, I have no idea what about me gives my dad the impression that I’m an avid looker at birdhouses, but there you have it. The wall of birdhouses that my dad was sure would please my eyeballs. I wonder if he’s confusing birdhouses with the frog hotels I used to build when I was a kid? And by build, I literally mean I would tape a bunch of boxes together and cut doorways in them and then fill them with Barbie furniture and, obviously, frogs. Way cooler than birdhouses, dad!

We rounded a corner and it suddenly became very clear to me way our dad loves the hardware store so much: novelty beverage. He is what you’d call a soda savant. A pundit of pop. A carbonation connoisseur. He has numerous vintage Pepsi machines around his house, and I’m not sure what the contents are like now, but when I was a kid, you could go out to the garage, skirt past one of his vintage cars, and grab an ice-cold glass bottle of Barq’s Root Beer out of one. It’s one of the quirks that make him who he is: he loves old shit.



My dad was kind of leery of Henry at first because of the age difference and the whole IMPREGNATING ME OUT OF WEDLOCK situation, god forbid. But then one year, Henry brought him an entire case of Faygo root beer in vintage-looking glass bottles and my dad, holding one up to the kitchen light, breathlessly said, “Oh man. Oh my god. You can’t find these anymore!” They’ve been beverage-buddies ever since.



Corey got the Bacon Soda just because, why not? He said the reviews online were like, “This is the best thing ever!” but that it was literally the most disgusting thing he’s ever drank and that it didn’t even taste anything like bacon. There was a PB&J soda that I was tempted to buy, but I ended up buying Chooch some kind of zombie drink that he actually drank so I guess it wasn’t too vile.

A Lehman’s worker walked by, pushing a cart of shopping baskets. I followed her and asked if I could take one. “Oh!” she cried cheerfully, handing me one. “Please do! It would make me so happy!”


Then some man kept trying to talk to us because this is what happens in Amish Country: everyone forgets that it’s 2014 and wants to start talking to their neighbors. It ‘s uncomfortable for people like me who assume that they’re only being spoken to as a decoy while a pick-pocketing is taking place.

Anyway, the rest of the store was full of housewares, food mixes like split pea soup, and then an entire showroom of vintage stoves and furnaces, which my dad probably kneels before and prays.



And then we saw an Amish person! I felt like an asshole after I took this because I had literally gone the whole day without violating one of the basic rights of the Amish, but at least this picture is blurry, so maybe it doesn’t count? It was interesting to  note that Lehman’s was the only place we ventured all day that had Amish shoppers. Right before we left, I noticed that he was looking at a rack of Amish Country postcards.

“Do you think he’s looking to see if he’s on any of them?!” I whispered to Corey. And then I started to wonder if I’m accidentally on any Pittsburgh postcards. That would be horrible/awesome.

By the time we checked out, it was 6:00 and we still had something like a two and a half hour drive home, so we said goodbye to Amish Country. BUT NOT GOODBYE FOREVER.


We stopped over my dad’s last night for Thanksgiving (and so I could claim one of the shoo fly pies he special ordered!) and I got him to talk about Amish things for nearly 3 hours. He mentioned the Amish roofers and I had to pretend like I hadn’t seen 54548 pictures of them, courtesy of Corey. And then he was like, “Do you guys like apple cider?” And then, taking two frosted mugs out of the freezer, he said, “Well, you’ve never had apple cider like this!” and then handed us two ice-cold mugs of glorious Amish nectar.

“Did you guys go to the hardware store?” he asked me excitedly, and I know he knows that we did because Corey showed him the novelty beverage he bought, but I figured he just really wanted to hear about it again. While I was telling him about our experience there, he got this faraway look in his eyes, like he was trying to mentally trace our footsteps through the blueprint of Lehman’s.

You guys. Not only did my dad get shoofly pies, but he got THREE of them from TWO different bakeries! The one bakery, he’s still being pretty vague about it so Corey and I are convinced that this supposed bakery is actually the kitchen of his Amish mistress’s farmhouse. But the third pie came from goddamn DER DUTCHMAN are you kidding me!? We ate there that day! When I mentioned that to my dad, he was like, “Yeah, Corey told me he had a CHEESEBURGER. Who goes to an Amish-style restaurant and eats a CHEESEBURGER?!” he asked in rhetorical disappointment.

“I had a grilled cheese,” I laughed, and my dad just sighed. We are clearly not doing a good job filling those Amish boots. He was also disappointed that we went to Heini’s Cheese Chalet and not Walnut Creek Cheese House, because Heini’s is a disgraceful tourist trap.

Then, after offering Henry thirds of Amish beef sticks and licorice, he told me about this annual Amish auction he goes to in June, where the local Amish fill a schoolhouse with all of their wares and you bid on all of their meticulously handcrafted goods which immediately depreciate once you bring it back to your house of whores and inverted crucifixes.

Apparently, they set up tents and serve homecooked meals all goddamn day while all of their horses and buggies are parked on a giant hillside and everyone acts civilized and peacefully.

“You never hear anyone yelling at their kids!” my dad exclaimed, shaking his head in disbelief. “They are SO WELL-TRAINED” as I’m standing there repeating, “Turn the flashlight off. Turn the flashlight off. Stop shining the flashlight in our eyes. Put the flashlight down. Put it down. Give me the FUCKING flashlight. Get your shoes. Put your shoes on. Put your shoes on. Put your FUCKING SHOES ON” to my disobedient spawn.

“I’ll give you the information for that auction when I get it in the mail,” my dad said, walking us to the door.

Great. Hopefully that have Amish Kid Prison where I can send Chooch while I’m mocking people fighting over quilts.

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Nov 212014


After our life-changing trip to Heini’s Cheese Chalet, Corey and I decided it was time to get a substantial meal that didn’t consist of cheese cubes on toothpicks and (the best) butter (in the world) on Wheat Thins. We opted for Der Dutchman because it boasted Amish Kitchen Cooking, so of course we went and ordered the two most American meals on the menu: a cheeseburger and grilled cheese. And we forgot to use our dinner rolls the way they were intended: as vehicles for Der Dutchman’s peanut butter spread. Corey wanted to ask our waitress for more rolls so that he could have a do-over, but then he kept chickening out. Also, we had to stand in line just to get inside the restaurant, which normally would be a huge HELL NO for me, but when in Amish Country, I guess. Some hag in front of us kept trying to make conversation because we clearly have such avuncular faces? I’ve always been told that I’m stand-offish, so I guess that doesn’t translate in Ohio.

Before we were seated, there was a brief moment of panic when Corey and I thought that this was a family-style restaurant and that we might have to sit at a table with some horrible family, asking us to pass the biscuits, and I almost fled. When I was a kid, this might have been pre-Corey, our family went to Lancaster, PA, which is essentially the Amish capital of America.  We ate at some restaurant that had an attached petting zoo and we sat a long wooden table with other families and I was crying internally because I didn’t want to eat with people I didn’t know but our dad was like FUCK YES THIS IS REAL COUNTRY-LIVING! He was all about it. But what I remember most about that meal was the shoo-fly pie. Because of that experience, it has always been the first thing my mind goes to when I think of Amish (OK fine, right after I think about them copulating through a hole in a sheet).

This is all to say that I was really looking forward to piggybacking  my grilled cheese with a slice of that sticky molasses Dutch pie.

(Oh dear god, my tongue is having vivid flashbacks of my last shoo-fly pie experience.)


I was really excited about the creamed corn.


Halfway through lunch, I noticed that Bitch-Broad from Heini’s, the one who had the nerve to yell at our beloved Father Cheese, was also dining at Der Dutchman! (That’s her in the green shirt and stupid poufy hair behind Corey.) Corey said she was also at the bakery we stopped at across from Heini’s and that even in there, she was bitching about how she couldn’t believe the price of whatever bakery item she was glaring at. Then we saw her after we left Der Dutchman as she and her horde of less-bitchy broads walked into a chocolate shop. She still looked mad! How are you going to be mad walking into a CHOCOLATE SHOP? Maybe she should have just stayed home and watched her DVR collection of The View.

But as usual, my train of thought is getting derailed once again. She has literally nothing to do with shoo fly pie.

When our waitress asked us if we wanted dessert, Corey and I declined because we hadn’t seen shoo fly pie on the menu and we were obviously saving room for that down the road.

Before we left the Der Dutchman parking lot, Corey decided that we should call our dad and ask him where to get the dessert of Amish gods.

Corey put him on speaker, and it was one of the  most painful laugh-stifling moments of my life, possibly even moreso than the one at Heini’s, because I felt actual kidney pain. Like the angel on my shoulder had hopped off and started punching me in the side for being the type of asshole who laughs at a dad who is genuinely trying to help his kids have the best Amish experience possible.

“Oh, I doubt you’re going to find shoofly pie,” our dad said gravely. “In fact, I had to pre-order one the last time I was there because I knew the bakeries wouldn’t have any otherwise.”

We were suffering at this point from what I can only describe as “The Wet Laughs.” Tears were streaming down our faces and I was even starting to break a sweat from the exertion of laugh-containment.  Corey wheezed, “I can’t!” and flat out hung up on our dad. I can only imagine how ugly I looked in that moment, with my face wet, red and twisted in a mixture of pain and hilarity. I FELT ugly. It was an ugly laugh. Hearing our dad speaking so seriously about shoofly pie was just too much.

Finally, we calmed down enough for Corey to call our dad back, who answered immediately by saying, “The reception is really bad out there, I know.” And then proceeded to sound disappointed when we mentioned that we chose Heini’s over Walnut Creek Cheese, and then asked, “Did you guys go to the hardware store yet?”

That fucking hardware store!

“It’s not like a Home Depot, you know,” he earnestly advised. “It’s TWO FLOORS and it has a lot of things that Erin would like to look at. Like birdhouses.”


We promised that we would stop and check it out after we visited Sugarcreek, but first we had important business to tend to at Swiss Heritage Winery, which was essentially like your Aunt Rhoda’s house, full of sparkly trinkets, Betty Boop memorabilia, and clashing floral patterns, with a small wine bar thrown in almost as an afterthought.



Corey and I each chose 5 wine samples from a cheerful lady in a supposedly traditional Swiss dress and then plucked some complimentary chips and cheese cubes from a platter and took our wine samples over to a tall table where we recalled what we learned from Roberto at Narcisi Winery last year, and proceeded to stick out like sore thumbs. I liked all  the wines just fine, but wasn’t really in the mood to purchase any bottles until I noticed that he cherry cranberry variety was called “Han’s Favorite Wine” and featured a picture of Hans himself, in a Swiss cap and lederhosen. Swiss Heritage, you got yourself a sale.

While Corey and I were paying for our wine, I used it as an opportunity to ask the older women behind the counter if they had the shoofly pie 411.

I’m not even exaggerating when I say that the expression on the one woman’s face actually darkened, like we were suddenly in I had audaciously screamed “Voldemort.”

“I wouldn’t even know,” she said curtly. “That’s something you don’t see very often around here anymore.”

“You might want to try Der Dutchman,” the other woman offered, with a slight shrug, but I told them we had just come from there and it was a no-go. (Although we never actually ASKED the waitress. Now I’m kind of glad we hadn’t. We might have been told to get the fuck out.)

“Sorry, I just don’t know,” the first woman said without even a HINT of apology as she handed over our gaudy gift-wrapped wine purchases.

As we shirked out of the door, I could hear the two of them still talking about shoo fly pie, like they had just been reminded of something that they were told to forget.

“I think I might have a recipe for that somewhere….” the nicer of the two was saying as the door closed behind us.


“What the fuck, Corey!?” I laughed as we set off for Sugarcreek to finally gawk at the world’s largest cuckoo clock. “Why did t hey act so weird about shoofly pie!?” We spouted off some theories, like maybe there was some feud between the Pennsylvania Dutch Amish community and the Ohio Amish, and the PA peeps won the rights to the pie.

After checking out the clock, we stopped in some novelty shop called Finder’s Keepers, where we quickly learned that a movie was recently filmed there called “Love Finds You In Sugarcreek.” Almost every shop along the main street had signs and DVD displays in  their windows. Even the Gospel Shop! We stopped in the Decanter and Stein “Museum,” which was basically just a small,  musty room full of steins and decanters for sale. I found pretty  much the only one that wasn’t $500 dollars and decided that I needed to buy it because I refused to leave Sugarcreek without a stein. I’m suddenly hot for steins, I don’t know.

The proprietor was a really old man who took his grand old time wrapping my stein in newspaper and taping it with 87 pieces of Scotch tape while I was having a coughing fit. My allergies had been flaring all week and basically as soon as we set foot in that shop, I knew I didn’t have much time. This was he only low point of the day for me, and as sweet as that old man was, I had strong urges to snatch the half-wrapped stein from him and yell, “I’LL JUST DO IT MYSELF THANKS” except that I couldn’t even speak since I was coughing so hard.

Once we stepped out into fresh air, I felt fine, so we went to Esther’s Home Baked Goods which was right next store. The inside of the bakery was very brown and austere. But Esther’s friendliness and bonneted-head compensated for the lack of paper lanterns and pastel palette.

“Oh, I see you looking at my chocolate pie!” she enthused, and I had porn flashbacks. “It’s on sale because I messed it up. It still tastes good, though!”

Way to sell it, Esther!

“You don’t happen to have any shoofly pie?” Corey asked.

“No,” Esther said, seemingly bemused by this question. “But it’s funny you ask, because several people have asked me that lately! Maybe I should try to make it again….” she added, mostly to herself.

I ended up getting some weird date cake thing and Corey got pumpkin ice cream and peanut butter fudge.

“Tell me if the fudge is OK!” she begged Corey. “It just didn’t seem right when I made it.”

This lady and me would make a great business team. Esther and her “Dessert Messes” and me and my “Fake Art.” Our confidence will bowl you over.

My date cake thing was actually pretty good though. Corey said the fudge was way too soft but he liked it. He left out the “too soft” part when he gave her his review before we left to set off for the infamous “hardware store.” If I didn’t know any better, I’d think we were being sent off for slaughter.


I don’t know why I didn’t bother doing this while we were there, but a quick google of “shoofly pie” explains that it really is mostly just a Pennsylvania Dutch thing. No wonder those broads seemed so weird about it. They clearly hate Pennsylvania.

If there is one takeaway from our day in Ohio Amish Country, it’s that I really need to spend more time with my dad. He has inadvertently given Corey and me a day that we will probably talk about (and laugh about!) for the rest of our lives. And THAT is better than shoofly pie.




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Nov 192014


You might know this about me, but I am a hoe for Swiss/Bavarian/German culture, especially when it involves American tourist traps. So it’s really no surprise that one of the biggest draws for me when it comes to Ohio Amish Country is definitely the small town of Sugarcreek. Henry, Chooch and I had briefly stopped there in 2010 after I insisted we take a detour on our way home from Michigan so that I could see the world’s largest cuckoo clock. Henry was PISSED because when we finally found it, it wasn’t even assembled; it had apparently been dismantled after the restaurant it was once attached to had closed, and now it was just sitting in an empty lot.

I had heard that it had finally been bought and moved to the center of town, so I had been begging Henry to take me back for the last two years now and he always has some stupid excuse like, “I don’t want to spend money” or “That place is dumb.”

So when Corey suggested we take a sibling trip to look at Amish people in Ohio and I found out that he was actually talking about THIS SAME AREA, it was on.


We arrived in Sugarcreek sometime after lunch at Der Dutchman but before visiting our dad’s beloved “hardware store.” The clock puts on its show every 30 minutes, so since we had about 15 minutes to kill, we asked some local jogger to take our picture. She was pretty much slowing her roll before we even asked because I’m sure we looked like idiots trying to take a selfie while capturing the entire clock in the background. The struggle was real.

People in Sugarcreek are super nice. Obviously. IT’S OHIO’S LITTLE SWITZERLAND!

Sitting on the bench (which Corey discovered flips over into a picnic table!), waiting for the 3:00PM edition of Swiss folk music to blare out of the barely-hidden speakers, I was revisited by all of my past lives where I was better known as Swiss Miss, Heidi, and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen.

(Whoever said this waste of Internet space wasn’t occasionally educational?)

I felt so excited and in touch with my inner Alps-frolicking, Ricola-sucking self at that moment, it was like someone stuffed a bouquet of edelweiss up my ass.


Very kitsch. Such creep. You just know those lederhosen-clad band members sneak off in the middle of the night and drag stray cats and severed human limbs back into the dark penetralia of the cuckoo clock.

Another family joined us for the highly anticipated 3pm viewing, and somehow Corey and I were able to act like civilized human beings through its entirety. We managed to get our fill of the cuckoo clock’s 2 minute presentation of robust Swiss folk music**, right before a tour bus, probably full of those impatient cheese-grubbing fuck lords at Heini’s, rolled up to clog the area with a coterie of obstructed bowels.

**(Seriously, click that link to watch exactly 15 seconds of the clock in action. It’ll take you to Instagram, because I just found out the hard way that I apparently can’t embed my Instagram videos here now.)

After sufficiently making fun of the tour bus, we decided that our next sibling adventure will definitely need to involve us booking one of those weekender tours.

“It’ll be us and old people,” Corey said dreamily. “They’ll love us!”

And they really will, too, because somehow old people are incapable of sniffing out our douchiness.

Next up: the shoo fly pie saga.

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Nov 142014


Somehow, Corey and I were able to stifle our giggles long enough to devour Heini cheese samples. I was delighted to see that nearly every type of cheese had a tupperware container in front of it, loaded with tiny tastes in cube-form. Corey and I grabbed toothpicks and got to samplin’.

The store was very crowded, and nearly every person in line was also buying stuff, so the line moved pretty slow. To the man behind me, this was unacceptable and rather than wait 20 seconds until I moved forward, he stretched his body across me so that he could blindly spear spear. I gave him a good once-over with my judging eyes and he did not appear to be OMG STARVING. I guess he was just in a hurry.

Buddy, I don’t think they were going to run out of cheese.

Corey and I were intrigued by the weird cheese flavors in the aisle next to us, flavors such as rainbow sherbet, which looked beautiful but I thought for sure would not taste as such. Then that entire aisle turned out to be fudge, so I guess Heini’s isn’t really that progressive after all.

I didn’t try any fudge samples because I knew it would culminate into my shaking entire containers of the minuscule slivers into my mouth because I can’t do stuff like that in moderation. One sample would quickly turn into an easy 5 new pounds on the scale Monday morning.


Corey tried some and said it was amazing. Of course it was! It was Heini’s brand.

At one point, I looked around and felt sad at the urgency these people were popping sample after sample past their cheese-lusting lips. Sad and sick. Welcome to America! In fact, after crawling past the cream cheese spreads (the fruity ones were great, thanks for the heads up Father Cheese!) and beef sticks, Corey and I decided that we really didn’t care to stand in line and eat anymore, especially since we were going to be headed to lunch afterward. So we took our wares to the nearest register. Corey bought some Amish noodles for our dad, and I showed tons of restraint by only snagging two types of cheese: horseradish and Vidalia onion. I really, really love cheese, but I’m also super cheap and don’t enjoy spending money on food. I also grabbed a jar of gooseberry jam, though. Because I could always go for a good gooseberry.

We ALMOST left right after this. The joint was a madhouse of directionless tourists and I can’t stand crowded stores. But I needed a souvenir! There were other areas of the chalet, like a candy room, a cafe, and also a room in the back that was full of Americana home decor, cat calendars and souvenirs…but also samples of butter.


Father Cheese had mentioned this butter during our excruciating cheese tour, and told us at least twice that we were lucky to have come to Heini’s that day, because the butter was ON SALE. I remember thinking that I didn’t care.

In fact, I had forgotten all about this highly-touted Heini butter, until we walked into the back room where a man in a blue shirt stood behind a counter and cried out, “THIS IS…THE BEST BUTTER IN THE WORLD. YOU WILL NOT FIND A BETTER BUTTER!” while methodically slathering Wheat Thins with smooth, yellow globs.

Corey and I exchanged wide-eyed looks of hyperbolic wonderment and marched over for a sample, fully prepared to refute this man’s lofty claim.

But goddamn if that wasn’t the best butter in the world. I mean, maybe I’m just really sheltered when it comes to the best butters, but this seriously was the BEST BUTTER that ever touched my tongue.

“And today, you can buy not one but THREE for $5!” the butter-slinger announced. I had a vision of myself splayed out on a hammock somewhere in Georgia, maybe, spreading perfect smears of the best butter in the world on hot biscuits and quite honestly not giving a FUCK about anything else, because why would I? The best butter in the world was melting in my mouth.

I made a beeline for the cooler behind him, where I snatched up three tubs of the perfectly-churned bread lotion before the tour bus people caught on and another grotesque lined formed. I won’t be beat by the fanny-pack set.

Across from the Best Butter-slinger was a small section of postcards, mugs, magnets and t-shirts for those sentimental types (me me me) so I grabbed a magnet for my collection at work. (I like to show my new magnets to Glenn right before I stick them on my closet-thing; he will say things like “wow” or “cool” without so much as a glance.) There was also a pile of red Heini shirts. A bright wheel of cheese was displayed prominently on the back, right above the informative phrase: WHERE THE CHEESE IS MADE.

Corey said, “Should we?” and I said, “Oh my god, definitely!” He had to go out to the car to get more cash, which left me alone, unsupervised and undistracted for way too many minutes with the Butter Monologue.

It was like falling inside an infomercial at 3am: monotonous, cheesy (oh hahahaha), outrageously boastful…the only thing missing from his hyper sales pitch was a BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE!

I guess probably because there wasn’t more. The best butter in the world was enough on its own. Do you think Butter-slinger wakes up at 6am every morning without the aid of an alarm, bounds out of bed and brushes his teeth with a squirt of that slick pasteurized cream while reciting facts to the mirror, such as BUTTER IS GOOD FOR YOUR LIVER, before rubbing the best butter all over his nude body while making orgasm-faces before going to his woodshed and slaughtering the Amish hostages he has chained up and frying up their flesh in the best butter?

Does he bring his own to-go tubs of Heini’s best butter to restaurants with him so he doesn’t have to use disgusting, white trash Land o’Lakes? (The horror.)

I wonder if he’s married. If so, did they have a butter sculpture at their wedding reception? TELL ME YOU’RE NOT WONDERING ABOUT THIS NOW. I sat on a bench with an old lady who totally busted me filming Instavids of the butter show, so I got up and moved to a different area, where people were too busy looking at racks of wind chimes and other such Amish novelties to notice me being weird.

The line had grown a bit by the time Corey came back to buy his shirt, so we had to endure an additional fifteen minutes of butter superlatives barraging our ear drums. Corey made eye contact with the cashier while he was purchasing his t-shirt and he said she gave him this “I know, right?” look.

Once Corey paid for his shirt, we fled the butter room before we wound up having another fit. As we made it closer to the main area of Heini’s, we realized that Father Cheese’s voice was emanating from the ceiling, like God himself, and then we saw him with a HEADSET ON! And not only that, but somehow Best Butter had made it to the front of the store without us knowing and was HAVING A CONVERSATION WITH FATHER CHEESE!



We had originally wanted to say goodbye to Father Cheese, mostly so that we could show him that we bought things, maybe that would convince him that his cheese tour wasn’t all for naught, that Corey and I aren’t so bad after all and at least Heini’s made a few dimes off us. But there was an actual wall of people blocking us from his information table and I was starting to sweat at the idea of trying to Moses my way through.

As if that wasn’t a great note on which to end our visit, we noticed that some broad was arguing with Father Cheese. The joint had become so packed with tourists hungry for cheddar that Father Cheese was trying to direct foot traffic. It appeared that he mistakenly told the poufy-haired broad to get into the wrong line, and she was FUCKING PISSED.

Corey and I stood there in horror. How could anyone yell at Father Cheese?! He’s so old and frail and has TWO hearing aids! I wanted to march over and save him, but then a ginger-man standing nearby began speaking to me, because apparently this is what people do in Ohio Amish Country: cultivate small talk.

“This is ridiculous!” he spat through a set of interestingly-directioned teeth. “I been standing here watching people cut in line this whole time! My wife has been standing in line forever trying to pay and I seen THREE WOMEN—I’ll just leave it that, three WOMEN, I won’t say anything else about them—walk past all those people and cut right in front of my wife!”

OMG OK “I’m Not Racist, But…” Guy.

It was incredibly awkward and he just kept ranting about how out of control the place was. We stood in mutual silence for a few seconds, taking in the rowdy cheese epicure-wannabes, 80% of whom I guarantee have a fridgeful of Velveeta and individually-wrapped Kraft slices, anxious to taste the next sample and buy all of the cheese before it had a chance to age anymore.

Finally, I shrugged and said, “I mean…it’s just cheese” while slowly backing out of the door.



As soon as we got outside, we absolutely lost our minds all over again. IT’S JUST CHEESE.

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Nov 122014


I felt kind of bad that Corey and I opted to visit Heini’s Cheese Chalet over our dad’s suggestion of Walnut Creek Cheese. He’s a self-professed expert on Ohio Amish Country, so I don’t doubt that Walnut Creek Cheese is a wonderful establishment. However, when I did my own research last week and stumbled upon Heini’s Cheese Chalet, I was like, “Holy fuck, this is the one.” Because:

  • it’s a cheese CHALET
  • it’s called HEINI’S
  • it offers cheese factory tours!!

I texted Corey and he was like FUCK YES HEINI’S.

I noted that some of the Yelp reviews mentioned it was imperative to get there before 11:30, because that’s when it gets really crowded. We made it to Millersburg around 10:45, after squealing and pointing at all of the Amish buggies we passed along the way because we are Those People Who Remind the Amish Why They Chose That Path.

…because they don’t want to be American assholes like us.

We pulled into the parking lot of Heini’s at the same time as a large tour bus, and I was like “WHAT IF THE CHEESE TOUR FILLS UP?!” so we ran toward the entrance at the same time as four older woman, who laughed at us because they too were trying to beat the bus. THEY EVEN HELD THE DOOR OPEN FOR US. Corey and I thanked them sweetly and then exchanged excited LOOK AT US, MAKING FRIENDS! looks. If those old ladies really knew!

I went straight to the restroom, knowing that an empty bladder was imperative considering how quick I am to laugh to the point of pee-drops. When I came out, I found Corey standing near an information kiosk with a comically-old man who said he was willing to give us a tour anytime we’d like.

Which obviously was RIGHTNOW. This was around the time that I realized literally no one, not one single fanny-packed Midwesterner, was trying to get a spot on this critically-acclaimed tour. It was just me and Corey with some old guy in a Cosby sweater who was extremely stoked to tell us the story of how cheese is born. We got started at the beginning of a hallway, where we could peek through windows into a large factory-room with industrial-sized bins where milk apparently does things. There was no cheese being made at the time, so our guide kept expecting us to “imagine” the process, but you guys. I have to admit, it was pretty boring. Curds and whey and blah blah blah. Corey looked extremely bored. He spent most of the time looking away, and all I could think was, “Oh no. Corey’s not having fun! I built this cheese tour up too much!” But then I quickly realized that he was trying not to make eye contact with me because he knew, and I knew, that we would both start laughing.

While fidgeting to get my phone to start recording, I tried to occasionally nod my head and say things like, “Wow” and “Whoa.” I mean, this guy was so into it, almost treating it like it was the greatest bedtime story ever told, and I waited for him to invite Corey and me to sit on his knees so he could be better inspired to tell us wayback stories about how he used to walk 40 miles in cardboard-soled shoes in the winter to fetch Heini cheese for his mother while Father was in town watching nudies at the theater.



“And this is the man who invented yogurt cheese right here at Heini’s!” Father Cheese proudly exclaimed, and then stepped back to watch Corey and I gape at the portrait. I was surprised that the yogurt cheese man wasn’t a Heini! Man, he must be heralded by all those lactose intolerants.

We moved at a snail’s pace down that hallway, pausing to peer through new windows that offered the same views of large, steel vat-things, and I became acutely aware of the fact that the cheese shop had become twice as crowded since we started our tour. People were shoving cheese samples into their gluttonous maws mere feet from where we stood, listening to Father Cheese talk about the aging process for sharp varieties, like your CHEDDARS AND SUCH.

I could feel the giddiness begin to churn deep inside my gut, just like all that HOT MILK THAT MAKES THE CHEESE. I just kept chewing on the inside of my cheek, digging my fingernails into my palms, and repeating “Don’t make eye contact with Corey” over and over. I was thinking that maybe I was going to make it through without making a complete asshole of myself!

I found out later that Corey too was employing the physical pain infliction method of curbing the giggles, along with the classic “thinking about depressing things” tactic.


“What kinds of things do you like in your cheese?” he interrupted his curd-y fact-sharing to ask us.

Corey just stared back blankly, so I quickly blurted, “You know, I like FRUIT in my cheese.” WHICH IS A LIE! WHY DID I SAY THAT?! I mean, I’ve had cheese with dried cranberries in it that was pretty tasty, but fruity fromage is not something that I would consider a staple on my cheese board. I wanted to take it back and tell him that I meant dill or fennel, horseradish even! But he had already plunged head-first into a passage of fruit-infused cream cheese spreads.

By this point, he had backed us into a dead end while explaining to us how the cheese got its shape or something, I can’t remember. Full disclosure, I retained absolutely nothing from this walk down Learning Lane except that the men working in the factory were wearing BEARD NETS. While I was gawking at two of them pushing a cart of cheese up a ramp, Father Cheese made some comment about how heavy such large quantities of cheese is.

“Look at them, pushing that booger up there,” he said adoringly, and in my head, I was like HAHAHAH HE SAID BOOGER, DON’T LAUGH DON’T LAUGH.

But then bits of pieces of the last 15 minutes came flying back into my face: the fact that Father Cheese’s wife made him a breakfast shake out of WHEY that morning, the picture of the man who invited YOGURT CHEESE, the tour bus full of people HUNGRY FOR CHEESE, the bonnet-wearing cashiers who I’m not sure were actually Amish, Father Cheese’s sweater, us racing the passengers of the tour bus because we thought they were going to fill up the cheese tour….


And then I accidentally made eye contact with Corey right as Father Cheese was ticking off the BIG CITIES where one could find Heini’s cheese (Pittsburgh is one!). Corey made some kind of painful squeak from trying to contain the giggles, and that was all it took. Flood gates opened. We laughed so hard that it actually, physically hurt and even though I had purposely peed before the tour started, I felt a drop threaten to fall.

It was hilarious and horrifying all at once because I have never actually been busted laughing in someone’s face like that before. I mean, at the Bayernhof, there were people (and music boxes) to hide behind. But here, it was just the three of us, and I was backed into a corner. Literally.

This used to happen to me a lot when I was a kid. In church. Sitting on a pew among hundreds of silent parishioners, and there I go. Snorting and wheezing and my whole body shaking because YOU ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO LAUGH IN CHURCH WHILE THE PRIEST IS TALKING ABOUT A MAN WHO WAS CRUCIFIED.

But it was never this bad.

Father Cheese stopped talking and slowly looked from Corey to me. He was confused, yet trying to keep a smile on his face. He knew that nothing he was saying was funny, but Corey and I were fucking scream-laughing at this point. I was slightly squatting to stop myself from peeing and Corey’s face was bright red from the exertion of hilarity.

You need to know about Corey and me that we are basically human hyenas. We will laugh at nothing and everything and then proceed to feed off of each other’s hyper-inappropriateness and it’s just a hot, douchey mess.

So, that’s all it took: one quick contact with the eyeballs and there went our sanity, slipping off our faces like rotted banana peels. I thought about how disappointed our dad would have been right then, at his kids making a mockery of Amish Country; and how disappointed Henry would have been, at the mother of his child setting more examples of assholery. And how disappointed Father Cheese certainly was, at these two spoiled brats who were laughing all over his very livelihood. We might as well have been squirting Easy Cheese into mouths right in front of him, that’s how badly our laughter was desecrating the entire Amish cheese process, right down to the Amish milk shooting out from Amish teats.

What probably only lasted for 30 seconds felt like watching a wheel of cheddar being aged. It was so uncomfortable, awkward, mortifying, embarrassing—-but SO FUCKING FUNNY.

Poor Father Cheese though, he was so confused. Finally, I was able to psychically bitch slap myself hard enough to stop laughing long enough to explain that we had been in the car all day and were extremely slap happy.

Father Cheese smiled and placed a hand on my arm.

“I understand. Why don’t we just end it here,” he said in grandfatherly tones lightly seasoned with exhaustion and a desire to suckle butterscotch; he handed me a sheet of paper with additional information, including great advice such as:

Do not put cheese in your car trunk [on hot summer days]. This would be the hottest place.

Corey and I had to walk back down the hall with him after that and it was excruciating. We purposely fell behind and then pretended to be SUPER INTERESTED in a bulletin board full of children’s cheese drawings until we were certain that Father Cheese was far enough away for us to safely proceed.

This was the first time in my life that I ever had to flat out confront my immature and out-of-place bray and it was A REAL EYE OPENER. Not enough to suddenly put us in check though. We were practically hiccuping at this point from all of the fermented laughter.

I texted Henry:

Me: Well, I peed my pants from laughing so hard at our first stop.

Henry: I’m glad it’s just the two of you.

Me, Oh, you would be so pissed!

Henry: I’m sure of that.

And then we proceeded to get in a line that would eventually herd us like cattle past veritable troughs of cheese samples.



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Nov 082014


Ever since our dad had Amish people working on his house, Corey and I decided that it was imperative for us to have an Amish adventure, because what is the most obnoxious thing for us to do?!

Our dad was REALLY excited to find out that we decided to go to Sugarcreek, OH because it’s apparently one of his favorite places and Corey said sometimes our dad will disappear for 6 hours only to come home with bags of cheese and beef sticks after taking his motorcycle to Amish Country on a whim.

Anyway, he was excited to make us an itinerary of post-it notes, pictured above, and Corey said he mentioned the hardware store several times.

“Ya gotta finish up at the hardware store!”

Corey said he was jabbing his finger at the map and was so into it, so now we’re like WHAT IS AT THE HARDWARE STORE?!

I’m excited to find out.

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Oct 262014



I have been dying to go back to Knoebel’s ever since I was there on opening day in 2013 with the DAFE crew. I know this sounds weird coming from the likes of me, and that this is the opposite of what I should like, but this park is ADORABLE. It’s all quaint and family-friendly, far away from the Big City and rife with fluffy dogs on leashes. And that’s just on a regular day! They have Halloween-themed weekends in October, so Henry earned a million brownie points (do those still exist? is there an app to keep track of them now?) by taking us there last weekend.

It was goddamn precious. Leaves on the ground. Hay bales painted like pumpkins. Ghosts hanging from the trees. A Halloween-music light show on the front of some building. There were no chainsaw guys or zombies popping out from behind garbage cans, but who the hell cares? Sometimes a little Halloween Lite is just as magical.


Also, the novelty of amusement park rides in the fall!


On the way through the parking lot, Chooch declared that whoever stepped on a leaf first loses. Because I am an 8-year-old too, I was all about this game and nimbly tip-toed past crisp leaves skipping across the pavement in front of me, all while giving Chooch sharp shoves to try and make him trip up, Once we crossed the threshold into the park, though, I decided that we should stop playing because I wanted to look around at the seasonal decor instead of keeping my eyes on the ground.

“Besides,” I added. “Everyone knows I won anyway, Chooch.”

“Hey! I didn’t step on any leaves either!” Henry cried from in front of us, and I laughed because what the fuck, guys? Who invited Henry to our reindeer games?

I didn’t know this until we got there, but Chooch could have worn a costume and participated in the trick-or-treating stops around the park. I am always so woefully unprepared.


CHOOCH: I thought the skeletons in the car were Ron and Jim from the tombstone right in front of it.


First up, Chooch waited in line for the much-anticipated new ride of 2014, Flying Turns. It was the longest line we’d wait in all day, because this bitch is a hot commodity. (It took something like 8 years to build it, I think.) They had cute Halloween decorations set up along the line though, so we at least had things to distract us from the violent thoughts and ideas our minds were drawing up regarding the three teenagers in front of us who were totally obnoxious and kept rough-housing (ladies and gentlemen, I’m officially my dad) and every time they would lower their voices and side-eye me, I was certain they were making fat jokes.

(Chooch can’t write his thoughts on those kids because I won’t let him swear of make violent statements, so he said he has nothing to say then.)

Did I mention that there were signs along the way that threatened an approaching weigh-in? Because of the type of coaster this is, and physics that make my brain bleed, the ride attendants have to make sure that the weight is dispersed between the cars in a very precise manner and that SOME RIDERS MAY NOT BE ABLE TO RIDE TOGETHER. I texted Henry and said, “Great. I have to get weighed just to ride this thing? I want to die.” And he was all “lol.” I’m sorry, how is my body dysmorphia/eating disorder/obesophobia FUNNY? Fuck you, Henry. Have fun sitting on benches all day with the old people.

Turns out, it wasn’t that big of a deal. There were three large metal plates on the coaster platform that you had to stand on with your riding partner while waiting for your turn, and the weights weren’t displayed, and even if they were, it was a combined total anyway. Chooch and I got the front car and several pre-teen kids filled up the other two and I guess my thunder thighs didn’t break the ride because we made it back in one piece.

All of that for a ride that seemingly lasted for all of 40 seconds and was just OK.


Meanwhile, Henry had been roaming about like a child predator on the loose, and won Chooch some stupid plush peace finger thing, but it says YOLO on it. I kept hoping Chooch would lose it.

CHOOCH: I had it put in my sleeve and I kept acting like it was my hand and just holding it up.


I think that the Phoenix might be my favorite wooden coaster of all time. It makes me laugh so hard that my face hurts (I KNOW, I KNOW: AND IT’S KILLING YOU). The second time Chooch and I were in line for this, we had an actual argument over where we sat the first time (he said it was the third car, BUT IT WAS THE FOURTH).

Anyway, the first part of the Phoenix has you going through a tunnel, which is fun on its own, but at night it was all foggy and lit up with Halloween shit! IT WAS SO EXCITING! CHOOCH AND I SCREAMED LIKE ASSHOLES!!!

CHOOCH: When it was nighttime, me and mommy were just talking and then we didn’t even know a hill was coming up and we screamed like idiots.


This park is really not that big at all but Chooch and I would have been lost, literally, without our maps. Except that later that night, we had our maps and still got lost, literally, when Henry was naïve enough to think we could handle finding a bathroom on our own. Yeah, good one, Henry.

After Chooch and I went on a ride called Fandango and he continually cried YOLO instead of POLO when the ride operator wanted us to play Marco Polo, I decided it was time to break for food before I lost consciousness or murdered some nearby campers. Whichever came first. So Henry got in line to procure food for us (pierogies and potato pancakes!) while Chooch and I went to find somewhere “nearby” to sit but apparently it wasn’t near enough for Henry, who had a hard time finding us. MAYBE IT WAS INTENTIONAL, HENRY.


We took pictures of ourselves while sitting next to two scarecrows who were apparently on break. Remember when we all carried around 35mm film cameras and practically no one took selfies because what a goddamn waste of film? Those were the days.


Then Henry pouted because he didn’t want anything from the place Chooch and I chose to get food from, like he wasn’t grazing the entire time Chooch and I were on the rides. No one’s crying for you, Henry.


CHOOCH: While we were in line for the Black Diamond, daddy was creeping on us and everybody else. He went on the side of the Black Diamond to look at the eagles, I guess. That’s what he said. Nobody else had a group of two and they needed a group of two for the coaster, and we were the only ones that had two and we got to line jump and it was so awkward. But I was happy because we actually got to go on quickly.


CHOOCH: This lady was eating an apple and it was so awkward because she was creeping on people and I was laughing.

I only took this picture because I’m jealous of people who can eat apples without cutting them up first. SORRY THAT I WASN’T RAISED ON A FARM!!!!


I know, it sucks to be at an amusement park!

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