Sep 192014
 

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The aptly-named “Riot Feast” food vendor list.

When we go to Warped Tour, I usually smuggle in some granola bars because:

1. Food there is exorbitantly-priced

2. There are basically no options for vegetarians. It’s burgers and chicken strips or GTFO.

I was pretty worried about the food sitch at Riot Fest, since we’ve never gone to it before. But apparently, this year’s Riot Fest was the biggest one yet, so I don’t think a lot of people really knew what they were in for it. Which was: food trucks for daaaaays. It was the best of the county fair and local staples all lined up on one street and even the options for vegetarians and vegans were downright staggering. There was so much for even me to eat that I was sad I ran out of time!

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We honestly had no time at all to do any tourist-y things in Chicago (it was literally: get up, stand in line, watch amazing bands for 10 hours, go back to the hotel and crash), so it was really awesome to still get to eat like we were vacationing in the city. And we could see the city skyline from Humboldt Park, so there was that, too.

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Riot Fest didn’t start until 2pm on Friday, so we only ate once that day. Henry had some sickening duck sausage contraption and I had a fucking fat Thai-tofu wrap. This bitch was goddamn rotund, all distended from the gluttonous amounts of tofu and vegetables rammed into that sturdy wrap. It was cold and raining when I got it, and I ate it like a hobo in a snowstorm: double-fisted, jacket sleeves half-covering my hands, hood pulled up over my face, like I hadn’t eaten since that day 6 weeks ago when someone threw a can of anchovies at my forehead. I kept talking about how good it was, but really I’m not sure if I was even able to recognize tastes and flavors at that point of the day, because the weather was so miserable and we were exhausted and overwhelmed by hordes of people. But I sure as fuck felt 1000% better after that was able to quickly go back to dictating which stage we needed to slip-and-slide to through the mud.

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The thought of drinking coffee at Warped Tour makes my belly ache. But last weekend at Riot Fest, the temperature fluctuated between 40-65 degrees. Coffee was welcome. Especially on Friday when it was so cold and wet that I’m not sure it wasn’t actually snowing at one point, but the line for Dark Matter was Cedar Point-levels of long. We actually couldn’t even find where it ended because there were so many people everywhere, that food lines just kind of snaked around in no real order and then disappeared into the masses. So I did my standard JUST FORGET IT!!! foot-stamp and went back to shivering beneath my flimsy, lightly-lined windbreaker. It was OK though, because I hit it up the next day before a line formed and it was delicious. Coffee is such an efficient attitude-adjuster. Henry can attest to that.

The only gripe I have is that Dark Matter apparently teamed up with the band Mastodon to make a limited edition blend that’s aged in bourbon whiskey barrels. Mastodon was playing Friday night, so I feel like this would have been an obvious thing to have available. But I know that I will be ordering a bag online, at least!

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THIS CHEESE, YOU GUYS. THIS CHEESE WAS EVERYTHING. The menu:

Queijio de Coalho Brazilian-style Grilled Cheese on a Stick:
Original w/ black rum maple syrup
Hatch Chile w/ hot pepper jelly
Garlic w/ mojo de ajo
Smoked Bacon w/ pineapple chipotle

The Hatch Chile was my favorite. Also, I liked it better when I thought their name was Drunkow.

Over the course of the weekend, we had each of the top three. Surprisingly, Henry didn’t get the smoked bacon one for himself, unless that’s what he was doing one of the 8298374892759093245 times he slipped away to “pee.”

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Ugh, I wish I was eating this damn stick-cheese right now. I CAN STILL TASTE IT IF I SQUEEZE MY EYES SHUT TIGHT ENOUGH.

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I also buried my face into an arepa on Saturday, which is like a savory corn cake and mozzarella, cooked on a griddle. I miss arepas. I want more arepas. Fuck the pie party, let’s have an arepas affair. (Thank god Pittsburgh’s Conflict Kitchen is focused on Venezuela right now because I’m going to eat the ever-loving shit out of some arepas this weekend.)

At some point on Saturday, I also inhaled a bowl of sweet coconut rice loaded with fresh blueberries, strawberries and raspberries, so I was in a pretty mild mood. (Henry thanks you, food trucks.)

(And this is not to mention all the STRONGBOW I chugged all weekend too. Strongbow is my favorite cider in the whole entire world, and pretty much nothing was going to bring me down with that shit in my system. Not even the $7 Henry had to continually hand over for beverage tickets.)

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On Sunday, I finally grabbed a grilled cheese from the Cheesie’s truck I had my eye on all weekend. I got the only one that didn’t have MEAT on it, the Caprese. A grilled cheese is no longer a grilled cheese once you start desecrating it with meat, I’m sorry. Those sandwiches need to have another name. (No offense to my carnivore bros out there.) It didn’t matter though because my Caprese was wonderful and it came with a small tub of pesto mayo, of which I made sure to scrape clean and I didn’t give a fuck who was looking. Pesto is the shit.

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I also had more stick-cheese, and also a roasted red pepper and goat cheese tamale from Dia De Los Tamales, which was so good that I wish I had ordered more than one. I’m such a food-ordering fuck-up. At some point, we also ordered some baos from Wow Bao (mine was vegetable wheat, Henry’s was who cares) and they too, like everything else lined up in that park, were a mini riot fest for the mouth.

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I think Henry ordered something from Big Pork, but I was way too involved in my own masticating to give his stuffed maw even a glance. I wanted him to get a Chubby Wiener just so I could tell Facebook that Henry was eating a chubby wiener but he “wasn’t in the mood for a hot dog” and I was like “Who said anything about a hot dog?”

Oh and we split a peach and bourbon hand pie from Blue Sky Bakery! I liked it but Henry wasn’t impressed, probably because it cost $4 and was really small. Every time we walked past their cart that weekend, I swear their menu kept growing and I wanted to eat it all. But….bands > food.

Oh, but we didn’t gain a single pound*. I estimated that we probably only sat down for a total of 30 minutes a day (and by “day,” I mean a Riot Fest day, which was approx. 10:30am-10:00pm; Friday was only about 12:30-9:00, though). The rest of the time was all walking, standing, running (for me), bouncing (for me). I found out afterward that it was about a mile’s distance from the Rise Stage to the Rock Stage. Contrary to the map below, there was no way to cut across the park other than following the road along the perimeter.

Which, by the way, didn’t connect into a full circle. All the water was fenced off and the road going through the middle wasn’t accessible. It was also nearly impossible to cut through the grassy areas to get to each stage, because there were ridiculously-placed VIP sections blocked off and as the days on, the population around each stage had become so dense that the only way to cut through was to put your head down and charge. It’s a miracle that Henry and I never became separated. Can you imagine? I would probably still be in Humboldt Park, laying behind a porta-potty in the fetal position.

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I wish I had worn my pedometer, because it would have been interesting to see how many miles we walked each day. Saturday especially had us going from the Rise Stage to the Rock Stage more times than I would have preferred. (And one of those times, I ran most of the way because during Television’s set on the Rise Stage, I realized we were cutting it close for Saosin on the Rock Stage and I needed to BE UP FRONT FOR THAT SHIT.

So, I ran.

Henry did not run. But I was wearing a bright orange Epitaph backpack so he said he knew where I was at all times. Like I’m his child.

Thank god for accidental exercise.

*(There was a funnel cake truck there that probably would have made this statement untrue had I caved and indulged in one. Each one basically had the contents of an entire dessert cart balancing on a bed of funnel cake. AND I SAW BRADLEY SCOTT WALDEN FROM EMAROSA IN LINE FOR ONE ON SATURDAY AND ALMOST HAD A HEART ATTACK!!!!!)

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Sep 182014
 

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That’s a lot of people. 

You know that feeling you get after you go to a really fucking amazing show, that sinking pit you fall into once the adrenaline and euphoria wears off? That emotionally-crippling post-show depression? If you give even a tiny turd about music, you know what I’m talking about.

This is the hardest and farthest I’ve fallen post-show. All three days of Riot Fest were like a fucking fairy tale for me; and I mean all of the good parts, no poison apples or trolls under bridges.  It hit me really hard this morning. I came into work and slammed my purse down, sighing heavily. Glenn asked me in his standard non-caring monotone, “What’s wrong.” I HAVE POST-SHOW DEPRESSION, I cried. “OK. You can still listen to their music, you know” was his dumb, non-helpful advice.

OMG THAT’S NOT THE POINT UGH. You don’t think I haven’t been obsessively YouTubing Riot Fest performances, GLENN?!

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I have so much to write about. The bands, obviously. But just the whole atmosphere, the sketchy Uber rides, the FOOD OMG THE FUCKING FOOD — there is so much I want to tell you guys! I’ve been on the verge of exploding every day at work because I want to talktalktalk about it so much but no one carescarescares!

But before I even get started, there’s something totally painful that I need to do: I need to thank Henry on this space. Because aside from buying the tickets (literally the only thing I did), Henry took care of every last minutia to make this past weekend a reality for me. Even though he hates this shit and hates spending money and hates crowds of music fans and hates standing around all day, Henry did all of this for me and I am pretty overwhelmed by it all. I mean, not that Henry doesn’t normally do anything for me, but this was something that I honestly thought he was going to say “Fuck no!” to. I mean, when I asked him three months ago if we could go, I actually laughed a little bit because it didn’t seem like something he would ever say yes to.

It just meant so much to me. I’m a pretty lucky broad. And even though Henry frowned a lot (like in this picture, where he was frowning because we matched), we barely fought at all (and the few times we did, it was because I missed my last feeding), he admitted on the way home that he had “a little” fun. It’s going to be hard to top Riot Fest.

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I mean, unless WE GO AGAIN NEXT YEAR?!?! HENRY?!!??!

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Sep 152014
 

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Almost home from Chicago. Brought lots of dried mud with us. No liveblogging this go-around because I’m emotionally drained and too busy jawing off to Henry about all of my favorite parts of the last three days (like, everything) and you guys, he admitted that he had a little bit of fun!

This weekend started with Circa Survive and ended with The Cure. My head is still spinning. This made up for all the unicorns I asked for and never got. I have the best boyfriend ever and I guess I’ll let him be my #mcm. #blessed <–no really, for real this time.

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Sep 142014
 

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“Thinking About How Bad My Day is Going to Suck” frown.
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“Waiting For Uber to Take Me to Hell” frown.
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“Didn’t We Just See Circa Survive in July?” frown.
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“8 Minutes ’til Emarosa” frown.
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“Don’t Take My Cheese Fries, It’s All I’ve Got” frown.
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“Not Understanding How People Like Bands Like Pianos Become The Teeth” frown.
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“I’m Cold & Wet & Standing with this Annoying Person & I Hope My Mustache Doesn’t Get Frizzy” frown.
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“Still Hate of Mice & Men” frown.
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“Just Started Day 2 & I’m Already Frowning Because Day 1 Taught Me How Much This Will Suck” frown.
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“I Paid $7 For This Beer; The Numbing Sensation I Feel Is Priceless” half-frown.
20140914-090146.jpg “Waiting for Rx Bandits; They’re Going To Suck” frown.
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This is a collection of Henry-frowns from the first two days of Riot Fest. I’m sure many more will be inspired today!

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Sep 112014
 

6:54PM: Hi. Henry and I are on our way to Chicago for RIOT FEST, wooo! Supposedly, South Bend, IN is our final destination for tonight, which seems so far away. BECAUSE IT IS. I can’t promise that this live blog installment will be very…lively. But I will give it the old college try! (Which, to me, means half-ass your way through a few semesters and then quit.) Anyway, you know the drill: keep checking back for updates or just wait until tomorrow and binge on the stupidity at once.

7:07pm: We have never been away from Chooch for more than over night so this is kind of sucks but he doesn’t seem to care. I told him I’m going to Skype him during The Cure on Sunday and he was physically repulsed by this notion because he HATES The Cure. (I still don’t know why, other than because I love them so much.) Anyway, Henry’s mom Judy is staying at our house and she’s super pissed because her idiot son waited until TUESDAY NIGHT to ask her to babysit for us for FOUR DAYS. So yeah, I’d be pretty fucking pissed too. Good one, Son of the Year.

7:16pm: CONFESSION! Today I deleted a blog comment and I very rarely do that. But I was having a stressful morning at work and I just happened to check my phone at the exact moment some douche-sausage commented on my I Hate Jonny Craig post from last spring and said that I was clearly boring as fuck (I mean, duh) and that I’m a bitch for spreading made up stories about Jonny and who cares that Jonny tweeted terrible things about women? You’re right, guy. Who cares about that? I mean, other than self-respecting women. So yeah, I was like “I hope Jonny gives your gf herpes in the back of his van” and then deleted his typo-riddled comment because I’m a boring-as-fuck bitch.

8:02pm: Today Sandy found out that one of the guys in our Australia office is the frontman of a METALCORE BAND and I have been obsessed ever since because I watched one of their videos and they are LEGIT. So I emailed him (don’t worry, we have a rapport from when I was working late shift all the time and I would have to email him to tell him that a RUSH was waiting for him, OMG do it now) and gushed for multiple sentences about how much I love his band and please don’t think I’m a creep but I just liked your band on Facebook and here’s a list of some bands I like too and I go to Warped Tour and please some to Pittsburgh because HAHAHAHA YOU HAVE A CRAZY-EYED FAN HERE! Anyway, I didn’t hear back before I left because of that time zone hoo-ha, but don’t worry because I’ve spent the last hour scrolling through the last year’s worth of Facebook updates on their page and THEY OPENED FOR IWRESTLEDABEARONCE LAST WINTER!!! I LOVE THAT BAND! And they have beanies for sale so I’m buying Henry one and Sandy just texted me and said he could probably just interoffice mail one to me and I can’t stop laughing. I HAVE HAD TOO MUCH COFFEE. We’re at a rest stop now, bye

8:29pm: just ate pizza at a rest stop in Ohio. Henry is mad because I took a picture of him, as if this isn’t his norm.

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9:08pm: We’re listening to the Riot Fest Spotify station and out of 100 bands, it’s The Used that keeps playing over and over because the universe loves grinding salt into my wounded heart. Fuck off.

9:21pm: I just jumped through all these hoops to show Henry that The Used gives a nod to their old song “Buried Myself Alive” in their new(ish) song “Cry” and after all that, he was completely underwhelmed and just said, “Ok. Yeah, I get it.” FUCK.

10:05pm: Somewhere near Toledo. I heard Henry rustling something and I frantically asked, “What is that!?” “Energy,” he calmly answered. “I WANT AN ENERGY!!!” I cried. But then it turned out to be one of those energy shots. I don’t know what I thought it was going to be. But now he’s mocking me. “I want an energy!” he keeps saying in a whiny voice.

10:42om: Apparently, Toledo has an airport.

11:04pm: Oh great I just saw something on Facebook about some notorious school shooter breaking out of prison in Ohio and I’m freaking out. Henry is trying to explain that this happened on the other side of the state but all I can see is HE IS WANDERING FREE IN OHIO AND WE ARE IN OHIO.

12:17am: Oh don’t worry. We’re still driving. :(

12:18am: I just asked Henry if he was touching his weener and he very defensively cried NO I’M SCRATCHING MY LEG as if we all don’t touch our weeners every now and then and constantly.

12:21am: A cop car with its lights on just sped past us on the other side of the highway and I screamed, “OMG! Maybe they found that kid! The one who escaped from prison!” And Henry yelled, “THAT’S ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STATE!” Except that we’re in Indiana now.

12:47am: oh thank Christ we just arrived at our shady hotel in South Bend. If I don’t post again, I’m either passed out from exhaustion or chloroform.

12:53am: Henry’s all excited because the last checking him in asked to take a picture of his ring finger tattoo. I’m like IDGAF about anything but a bed. Show me the fucking bed.

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1:07am: This place actually isn’t a shit hole like I thought it would be! But apparently I’m not supposed to get used to this because the place were staying for the next three nights is apparently going to be a real shack. (Yet hopefully a step up from the HOSTEL Henry originally wanted to stay in. People, can you imagine me, Erin Rachelle Kelly, in a hostel? I didn’t think so. Also, I think Henry is too old for hostels. Unless he’s the murderer running it.)

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Jul 082014
 

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This is my “Going on a Date-Thing” face, I guess. Fake smile? Check. Vacant eyes? Double check. DON’T LOOK TOO EXCITED, ERIN.

When I asked Henry to go to Cleveland with me to see a show on July 5th, I figured we would do our usual routine of leaving home with just enough time to maybe grab some quick food before the show. But instead, Henry planned all on his own to leave Pittsburgh at noon so we could have a full day of “quality” time together.

Haha, quality time.

Of course, everything was fine until we parked the car downtown Cleveland and realized that every restaurant we had considered eating at was closed until 5pm. So that set off my internal hunger time bomb and I got real attitudinal with Henry, but he’s used to that, so it’s not like we broke up or anything. (Except we did. But not on Facebook this time, so it’s cool.)

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Henry, searching for our wandering waiter.

We ended up at this new-ish soul food joint downtown called Stonetown. I was unimpressed with the name, but it was the colorful chalkboard sign outside alerting us to the home cookin’ desserts they were offering that drew me in. The menu on the door said FRIED GREEN TOMATOES and CANDIED YAMS so I turned to Henry and said, “This. This is the place. I can feel it in my heart.”

But Henry wanted to keep looking, which made me panic because it was already 3pm and I wanted to have time to go and look at the lake. (“For what?” Henry sighed, and I was like, “YOU KNOW HOW I LIKE TO SIT BY WATER.” I mean, do I, though? Not really. But I thought it could be romantic-like and lord knows we need some of that shit up in our lives.)

Anyway, I threw a micro fit and we turned around after a block and went back to Stonetown. Right before we walked inside, some man said to me, “Hey I saw you guys looking at the menu before and I just want you to know that I just ate there and it was really good.”

Oh OK, thanks guy.

And then his two friends were like, “THE CHICKEN WAS GOOD, YALL” and then the first guy was like, “The service is…kind of slow…but the food is worth it.”

So we went in and the hostess immediately hated us, except that I think she just hates everyone because she never smiled at anyone. I watched.

The table we were seated at was wobbly and Henry was 100% fixated on it. At one point, he got down on the ground under the table and I shit you not, I thought he was going to whip out a screwdriver, but it turned out he was just picking up his napkin.

But still, what a typical white person thing to complain about.

Anyway, my whole intention of going there in the first place was for CANDIED YAMS and SWEET POTATO PIE but they were fucking out of CANDIED YAMS and then I got too filled up on fried green tomatoes, Hoppin’ Johns (that’s black eyed peas for all you dumb white people out there), collard greens (which turns out I don’t like) and FRIED OKRA to have any room left for SWEET POTATO PIE.

Sorry, my inner soul girl is making me use all caps. We likes our food soulful, y’all.

And for fuck’s sake, service was slow as…what do they say in the south, molasses, right? Yeah, service was as slow as that shit. It took us so long to get our check that my skin was starting to twitch. Hi, we had shit to do, not go home and lay in a hammock while drinking sweet tea from another fucking mason jar.

Meanwhile, the couple behind threw a fit because the broad didn’t know how to read the menu right and her fried chicken came with grits (which Henry also got and had some alarming sexual experience with them right there at the table) and she didn’t want grits, she wanted something else, and the waitress tried to explain that there was a $1.50 upcharge for side subsitutions in that situation and the bitch lady was all, “BITCH THEN I DON’T WANT THIS” and shoved her plate back at the waitress, who was about half a second away from losing her shit, god bless her.

So the waitress sighed and said, “Fine, just pay for your drinks then,” and it was really depressing watching the waitress take these two plates of untouched food and scrape everything into a garbage can. People are such wasteful assholes sometimes and it makes me so angry. Perfectly good food, in the garbage, because some bitch ass pig wanted to argue over a dollar and fucking fifty cents.

I WAS SO ANGRY.

But at least I wasn’t HANGRY anymore. Regular angry is more tolerable for those around me.

Anway, it’s a good thing I didn’t have room for dessert because we probably would have missed the show. Fucking molasses-ass service. The food was decent enough that I would maybe go back if I had absolutely nothing else to do and nowhere else to be. But only because I want that damn SWEET POTATO PIE, ugh.

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Naturally, I had room for ice cream after approximately 3 minutes of leaving Stonetown, but Henry was being a twatbucket and wouldn’t stop at any of the ice cream places in the vicinity, and then had the audacity to say we didn’t have time to walk to the lake, so instead we had to DRIVE to a different part of the lake a little ways out of the city. It was this little park area that had a snack booth offering the most basic softserve of all time, so I complained about that too. No, I wasn’t hangry again, I was just being my normal brat-self.

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Things improved about 20 minutes later when we arrived at the venue in Lakewood (Mahall’s) and still had about an hour to kill. So we walked around and discovered that we were a block away from the Museum of Divine Statues that we visited last summer! For as many times as I have been to Cleveland and its surrounding neighborhoods, I still have no directional bearings. It was a real “connect the dots” moment for me.

We ended up discovering this no-name junk store, which I had seen from the car and felt pretty confident that it was going to end up being a bust, but I still wanted to at least check it out for a minute. The proprietor and his helper were sitting on the front stoop, painting a chair.

“Are you open?” Henry asked.

“Yeah, you can go on in,” the man said, flashing one of those avuncular “You can trust me little girl, get into my car” smiles that always make me nervous. Because I’ve been kidnapped so many times.  “Maybe you can find something in that mess,” he laughed as we stepped inside. Literally, there were just piles of things and stuff and furniture and mismatched earrings. I felt claustrophobic and panicked and nothing was really catching my eye (I am terrible at thrifting—one cursory glance and I’m done) so we started to trip and stumble our way back to the door just as the owner came in and leaned in front of it.

“Did you guys get to watch any of the fireworks last night?” he asked casually.

And in my best deer-in-headlights, please-don’t-kill-us voice, I said, “NO WE’RE FROM PITTSBURGH.”

“OK,” he laughed. “Do they have fireworks in Pittsburgh?” he asked, slightly patronizing me. And then, thanks to my big mouth telling him where we live, he proceeded to spend the next 45 minutes talking to us, starting with the fact that he was a driver for an envelope company and his route for 27 years was in Pittsburgh because no  one else wanted it since it’s so hard to drive there. (Is it? I guess I wouldn’t know since HENRY is always driving.)

“You had to tell him we’re from Pittsburgh,” Henry whispered. I was starting to feel like I was in captivity at this point, like it was some fucked up junk store version of Wolf Creek and I was about to be impaled by an antique bicycle spoke so that someday my dried out hide can reupholster a 1964 bar stool. I just got that feeling from him, that’s all.

After hearing about how Ed (he’d tell us later this was his name) is a part-time pastor and how refridgerators just aren’t built as well as they used to be, Henry interrupted him to ask about an amber swag lamp hanging in the corner.

I HADN’T EVEN SEEN IT. See what I mean? Thrifting is not my forte.

Ed told us we could have it for $40, totally an easy sale. I love midcentury things so much!

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As Ed was writing up our receipt, I asked him if he ever comes across any old wheelchairs.

He snapped his head up and looked at me. “Nah,” he said, shaking his head and laughing.

WHY IS THIS SO WEIRD?!

But then he started thinking about it and decided that I should give him my number and he’ll call me if he ever comes across any. (Henry thinks he just wanted my number in general and has asked me chidingly every day since then if my new boyfriend Ed has called yet.)

(No. No, he has not.)

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I thought we had escaped, but Ed followed us out of the store and continued to talk to us for another fifteen minutes and my skin started doing that twitching thing again. Maybe he should get a job at Stonetown.

And then his sidekick, this Amish-y looking man who spoke only in grunts, I’m not joking, slowly approached me, pointed at my purse and started to grunt. I looked down and realized that my purse wasn’t zipped up all of the way, so thank you, Wolf Creek Sidekick.

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We finally broke free and walked super fast back to the car before any vintage weapons were flung at us. Just kidding, Ed was a gem and I’ll definitely stop back next time I’m in town. Especially now that he knows the shit I collect.

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Seriously though, totally worth the 45 minutes of small talk in a dusty junk store. And so was our date day. Sometimes you need to get away from the back-talkin’ children, you know? Bonus points if a concert is included. We even held hands for maybe a second.

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Jul 062014
 

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I loved Frankenmuth so much that I’m already dreaming of my next visit, where I will definitely be staying in the Bavarian Inn and inviting all my Michigan playas out for some water slide and schnitzel action. I might even want to write my own travel guide for Frankenmuth because that’s clearly what the world needs: some obscene version of Fodor’s full of sex analogies and dirty motels.

However, Chooch was NOT a fan. Which isn’t surprising because really nothing we did there that afternoon was kid-oriented, because four against one. It wasn’t until the next morning when I learned that the visitor center had some kind of Find the Gnome action, where kids have to go around and, you know, find the gnomes, for a prize.

Whoops.

Oh, wait there were horse-drawn carriage rides that had him dangerously close to throwing a fit, but they were $40 and this was no romantic getaway, boy.

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Chooch, running away after terrorizing Bill in the Frankenmuth Visitor Center bathroom.

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Looking for awnings off of which to smack Chooch’s face. IMG_8014

Ah, the goddamn Cheese Haus, home of chocolate cheese. I sampled the mint chocolate variety and was floored by how much I liked it so I bought a chunk of it and tried it once since then but I guess it only tastes good in Frankenmuth, because my second impression was “What was I thinking?”

Also, this is where I had to teach my select learning disabled son not to motherfucking double dip with store samples or, you know, EVER unless you and your fucking cheese dip live alone. Don’t worry, people who were in Frankenmuth that day: I grabbed his wrist right before he was able to complete that dreaded second dip.

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You guys, I think someone shot the Zehnder’s chicken in the face.

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My peeps. Coincidentally, I found out that Jessi used to play the accordion when she was a kid so now I’m going to need her to relearn this for my entertainment. Also, she could come in handy when Chooch is ready for me to be his post-hardcore band stage mom. Having an accordion player is surefire way to set them apart from the rest of the bands at Warped Tour.

We can make this work, you guys. It’ll be hot.

IMG_7976 And of course we visited the Lager Mill, where we took a tour of their brewing memorabilia and I made Henry buy me and Jessi a bottle of chocolate peanut butter wine, which we drank that night over a frivolous game of Cards Against Humanity, and yes, we let Chooch play because…frivolties.

Another successful moment in parenting.

…is it time to come back, yet?

 

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Jul 022014
 

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It might seem weird since I’m a vegetarian and all, but what I was most looking forward to in Frankenmuth was eating at one of their famous Bavarian chicken joints. There are two to choose from: Bavarian Inn and Zehnder’s, and they supposedly HATE each other. My friend Michelle told me that the two families basically built Frankenmuth so no matter which place we picked, it would be a big deal.

I mean, if you’re like me and give a shit about these things.

Zehnder’s and the Bavarian Inn really are right across from the street from each other, but there were no picketers or chicken dinner sabotage that I could see. No one was egging each other’s windows or passing out derogatory flyers. But since Roadside America mentions their rivalry, I know it must be true. I just wish it was more blatant and spectator sporty.

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I personally wanted to eat at Bavarian Inn, because it just had more of a Black Forest aesthetic to me, but Bill kept piping up with the merits of Zehnder’s, which just looked like some dumb colonial slab and not at all lederhosen-y. Turns out Bill might have eaten there once sometime in his liftetime and I think he forgot to tell us the part about how a Zehnder’s busboy saved him from choking on their world famous chicken dinner so now he feel indebted to them.

But then Jessi mentioned that she has eaten at the Bavarian Inn before and liked it, so PRAISE JESSI, we settled on the Bavarian Inn because girls rule! There was no blantant anti-Zehnder’s propaganda inside the doors of the BavInn (my new, sweet pet name for it), but I should have at least wrote “for loose bowels, call Zehnder’s” in one of the bathroom stalls. Ah, hindsight.

Fuck you, Zehnder’s.

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I want shutters like that on my imaginary never-house. 

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I anticipated a long wait, since this  seemed like the type of place that was like the Disneyworld of Old Country Buffets* for elderly tourists, but we had a table within 15 minutes!  And even had a scantily-clad Bavarian beefcake entertaining us with an accordion. (I mean, he was showing a lot of thigh and calf, but not a lot of below-knee, because that was covered with a modest swath of wool.)

*BavInn isn’t even a buffet so I have no idea why I wrote that, other than the fact that it’s 150 degrees in my house.

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I told Chooch that this place was going to be like the Hooter’s of Frankenmuth, with Bavarian boobs spilling out of corseted beer garden dresses. Partially because I was trying to get him stoked on eating there (he’s at that age, guys; boobs are everything), and also because that’s what it looked like in my hopes and dreams. Turns out the waitresses’ costumes were way more modest than the accordion player and his scandalous leg-skin.

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There was no cleavage to be had. Not even of the accidental variety.

Back to being a vegetarian: I was pleasantly surprised that the Bavarian Inn had an entire vegetarian menu! Bill said he only asked for it because he overheard someone in front of him asking for it. It wouldn’t have even crossed my mind to ask because places like that usually don’t cater to my kind and I was fully prepared to just get some side dishes but instead I got to have vegan chili and BY GEORGE it was fucking great. It had quinoa and perfect little cubes of sweet potatoes and was just a true delight my tongue even though I can’t imagine a real Bavarian eating that on their lunch break at the cuckoo clock factory.

It didn’t matter, because I still ordered a side of SPAETZEL. You guys, spaetzel. That is my ultimate comfort food because my Pappap, whose family was from Austria, made a huge pot of these buttery Alpine dumplings every Christmas and they were just spectacular. After he died, my mom tried to carry the torch but they just never tasted quite right. And then I asked Henry to make them one year for Thanksgiving but his came out really small and pathetic because he doesn’t have any of the good European regions in his genes, I guess. I  mean, I still ate them of course because anything coated in that much butter is still going to taste rad. But I just haven’t had any as good as my Pappap’s, not since 1995.

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And these noodleturds were by no means bad! Bavarian Inn has their shit together but these were just seasoned in a way that deviated from my Pappap’s spaetzel perfection. I still ate the ever-loving fuck out of them though. Why wouldn’t I?

Can we talk about our amazing waitress Kristi for a minute? Chooch spilled his lemonade all over the table so she swooped in and moved us to a clean table right next to us, all without making Chooch feel like a heel for being a normal 8-year-old who spills things in restaurants. And she brought us copious amounts of this delicious sweet bread (bread that’s sweet, not sweetbreads) which we enjoyed with ridiculously magical homemade strawberry jam. And our lunches were delayed so Kristi also brought us out bowls of German potato salad, coleslaw and something else that I forget now, but it was all perfect and made me want to book a Globus tour ASAP.

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Chooch was really anxious to sayeth Prayers from the Psalms before he ateth his chickeneth. (Everyone at the table got chicken, because duh—Bavarian Inn is world famous for that shit. Maybe one day they’ll be renown for their faux-chicken too. Now I wish I had ordered the fake chicken patty on pretzel bun. Oh well, there’s always next summer when we go back and stay at the Bavarian Inn, because yes, they have a huge resort-y hotel too. WITH WATERSLIDES.)

My second favorite part of the experience (hello: Spaetzel #1) was when I mused out loud about the comfort of the waitresses’ dresses and then a few minutes later, upon Kristi’s return to our table with more iced tea for Henry, Bill asked her what might have been the creepiest thing she had been asked by a man all day:

“Excuse me, but is your dress comfortable?” he asked casually, like he works for Cotton and it’s his job to determine a woman’s comfort as research for the next commercial featuring some random blond actress who can also kind of sing alright.

The Fabric of Our Lives: Dirndl Edition.

“You know,” she said after thinking about it for a few seconds, “it really isn’t too bad. It’s the nylons that drive me nuts, though. I can never wait to get home and peel them off, you know?” And Bill nodded knowingly.

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PSHHHHH. You wish, Zehnder’s. In your dreams.

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This is the back of the glorious Bavarian Inn. Surely there’s a nook or cranny somewhere in which I can live undetected.

You know I must have been stuffed full of spaetzel when I declined dessert, and they obviously had streudel, you guys. Motherfuck, do I love streudel. My grandma’s side of the family always made some sick streudel.

Streudel and spaetzel. These will be served at my pretend wedding. By Bavarian beer maidens, all named Gretchen.

Jesus, is it any wonder I’m a slut for Bavarian things? My childhood memories practically reek of edelweiss.

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Jun 302014
 

On the third night of our road trip, we had a quick dinner at Merriman’s Grill, where a waiter brought me a cup of coffee and enthusiastically told me that it was straight of a fresh pot and then kept lurking around our table with an unhinged smirk on his face like he was waiting for me to take the first sip and choke on hemlock. Totally weird. Henry ended up swapping dinners with Chooch, who wasn’t aware that ordering the kids spaghetti with marinara meant “kids spaghetti with sauce,” so he got to eat Henry’s huge bacon cheeseburger while Henry ate a child’s portion of spaghetti while slumped in his seat. It was incredibly funny to me.

We left straight from there to meet Bill & Jessi at their comic and game shop, Warriors3, which has grown exponentially since we were there for the grand opening 4 years ago. I’m so proud of them! Later that night, when we were back at their (new and amazing!) house, Bill was talking about something and offhandedly mentioned that we were going to Frankenmuth the next day.

SCRATCH THAT FUCKING RECORD FOR ME, PLEASE.

“Wait, what? WE’RE GOING TO FRANKENMUTH!?!??!” I screamed.

“Yes, I thought you knew that,” Bill calmly answered. “You said that’s what you wanted to do.”

“YEAH BUT I DIDN’T THINK WE WERE REALLY GOING TO GO!” I screamed again. You guys, I even sent away for a Frankenmuth brochure last year, that’s how down I am with the ‘Muth. “HOW AM I GOING TO SLEEP TONIGHT?!” I continued to scream, in spite of Henry’s full frontal frowning.

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But first, we stopped at The Red Apple for breakfast the next morning and that place was a fucking delight: cheap, dimly-lit and definitely somewhere the Bunkers would have eaten on a 1970s road trip. I am so happy Bill and Jessi took us there, and I’m excited to go back the next time we’re in town, only this time late at night when the strippers get off the pole and come in from some black coffee and…what do strippers eat? Peanuts and Slim-Jims.

(This just reminded me of the time about 5 or 6 years ago when I decided I wanted to do a photoshoot/interview with washed up strippers and placed an ad on Craigslist but the only one who responded was like, “I will do this on my terms only and no photos” and I was like, “Oh well, fuck you then.” Maybe if my standards weren’t so rigid, I might have gotten some really important answers. You know, like what do they eat. Other than rotten dreams in tear-sauce.)

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Chooch ate a hot dog for breakfast but none of us said anything because sometimes it’s a miracle to get Chooch to eat anything other than ice cream and paper (don’t ask), so sure, happy breakfast, Chooch. And then when he proceeded to get mustard ALL OVER HIMSELF, I just sat back and let Bill handle it because that’s the price you pay when you sit next to a kid at a restaurant.

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It took about 90 minutes to get to Frankenmuth and the first thing we came upon was Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland, the largest Christmas store in the world, even larger than the one in the North Pole! I don’t even give a shit about Christmas aside from getting presents, but even I was pretty stoked for this because when in Frankenmuth, you know?

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Chooch immediately pointed to Giant Santa’s weener and then lamented the fact that he wasn’t tall enough to touch Santa’s nipples as well, and that is how I found myself thinking about Santa having nipples for the first time in my life. I clearly need to add more Christmas porn to the collection.

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They have signs in every language because Santa loves you all. I mean, Jesus does.

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CHRIST.

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You guys, this place is so big that they have some angry old lady at a desk handing out maps as soon as you walk in, and even then, we managed to briefly lose Jessi when a rack of penguin ornaments sucked her in.

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The store had this old, indescribable musty smell to it and it just followed us around every corner. I couldn’t quite place it, but it was equal parts comforting and sickening. There must have been a lot of old people there.

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If this would have said, “DON’T YOU READ MY BLOG!!??!?!” I totally would have bought it. On that note, there is an ornament out there for everyone. (OK, not everyone. Cannibals and Nazis are screwed. Didn’t see anything relevant to death row inmates or manure packagers, either. Fuck it, Bronner’s, you DON’T have something for everyone.)

But if you know someone who is REALLY INTO Sudoku or Geocaching, then Bronner’s has got you covered. There were even ornaments for insurance agents, if you feel so inclined to get your insurance agent an ornament or if you ARE an insurance agent and want to buy one for yourself and pretend that you actually have a client who really gives a shit about you.

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They had actual Easter bunny costume heads for sale but they were like $400! And Jessi and I learned that Nativity sets are really expensive and nothing is included! Not even one lousy camel.

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Chooch found the cat section within 3 minutes.

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I don’t even want to know what this place is like in November and December, holy shit. The shit stain of humanity under one roof, I’m sure.

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It was impossible to walk 10 feet in that joint without stumbling upon some kind of historical shrine Mr. Bronner himself. There was even a presentation room with millions of Hummels behind glass where you could sit and watch documentaries about the Bronner legacy. It was in this room where we found a fan that was blowing puffs of that weird cinnamon/moth ball/1970s airport aroma. They must have had hundreds of those fans hidden around the store, because that stench was inescapable. Maybe it was supposed to be frankincense?

We managed to get out of there before Chooch had the chance to break anything (or before Bill had the chance to break Chooch). There were like 63946923875 ornaments I wanted to buy for our shitty Christmas tree, but in the end I wound up only buying a commemorative Bronner’s ornament because you can’t go to the world’s largest Christmas store without getting a souvenir. I also got a magnet for my cabinet-thing at work and I made sure to tell Glenn all about it when I stuck it on. He seemed pretty unimpressed. I wonder, if I made Christmas tree Glennaments,would Bronner’s sell them…

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Down the street from Bronner’s is the Silent Night Memorial Chapel! OMG.

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Currently under renovation, obviously.

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Henry tried to run away. Maybe if it was the Faygo Vending Machine Chapel, he’d have been a bit more piqued.

I was just going to end this by saying that I can’t believe Bronner’s passed up the opportunity to hand out religious literature, but then I remembered that they slipped some pamphlet in our bag about the heavenly father and Chooch was like, “What does this have to do with Christmas decorations?”

We’re doing a fine job.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Jun 282014
 

One of the greatest things ever about the Internet is meeting new people, especially if those people aren’t psychopathic torture warriors greasing up the Iron Maiden for your visit.

Before I had this blog, I used this awesome blogging platform called LiveJournal and met some really incredible people, most of whom I have kept in touch with even after abandoning LJ in 2007 (I still miss it every day, though!). So on day 3 of our road trip, we had plans to meet two girls I have known for what seems like my entire adult life at this point, thanks to LJ.

After Indiana, we had plans to go to Michigan to hang out with Bill, Jessi and Tammy for the weekend. They were coming back from Tennesee that Friday night, so we had the whole day to make our pilgrimages to meet Michelle and Sarah, who thankfully all live within an hour’s drive from Bill and Jessi. And they were both available that day! All the stars were aligned, for once.

(Coincidentally, LJ is also how I know Bill! All hail, LJ. Some of my best friendships were forged from something that I had no idea what I was doing when I signed up.)

First up was Michelle in Royal Oak. I can’t even remember when she and I became friends, but it was definitely pre-Chooch, so probably around 2004/2005, would be my guess. I have wanted to meet her for quite some time and we even had plans to meet up last year at this Pee Wee’s Big Adventure festival that was supposed to happen in Louisville, KY, but then Pee Wee found out about the festival and pulled the whole cease and desist thing, so there went that.

Michelle and I both really like Pee Wee, obviously.

It was raining in Royal Oak when we pulled onto Michelle’s street. Henry passed her house and had to turn around but that was a good thing because it meant that I got to see her Little Free Library! Henry was like, “Oh she’s the one with the library thing?” TRY TO FOLLOW ALONG, HENRY.

Ugh.

Anyway, we finally parked in front of her house and Henry said hello to her mailman which cracked me up for unknown reasons. He just loves men in costumes, you guys.

Michelle opened the door and I immediately went into “dur dur dur now what??” mode because my social skills are missing a chromosome. My first impressions: her hair is awesome. She has purple walls! And some of my art is on them! OMG CUTE KIDS! OMG CUTE DOGS! Chooch pretended to be totally annoyed but then immediately ran off with her little girls, Delia and Kira, so Henry and I got to sit down and have grown-up conversations with someone which rarely happens!

It’s always surreal to meet someone in the flesh after they start out just being a user name (mshecubus!) but then advance to real pictures on Facebook and sending real life mail to each other. Michelle sent me my coveted blood-splattered coffee cup with the brass knuckle-shaped handle that made everyone at work shake their heads! I love that damn mug!

We passed a signed for 8 Mile on the way to Royal Oak, so of course I had to ask Michelle questions about Eminem. She wasn’t sure if he still lives in Michigan, but she said his daughter recently graduated from a high school close by and that he had to watch it from a TV somewhere inside the school so he wouldn’t get mobbed, which is kind of sad but then I remembered that I don’t like Eminem so what do I care.

Every once in awhile, Chooch would run back into the house to tattle on the girls, not one of his finer traits, and to cry about getting sand in his damn ankle wound. God, try to be a little more self-sufficient, kid.

As usual, we were behind schedule and had to leave after about an hour, plus we didn’t want to impose since it was such a poorly-planned meet-up because Henry sucks at mapping things out. Professional driver my ass.

The only good thing about leaving was watching Chooch writhe in horror and pain as Delia and Kira gang-hugged him, hahaha.

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PROOF!

Then it was back in the car for more stupid driving, this time to meet Sarah. It took about 45 minutes to get to Flint and we were too stupid to find Sarah’s salon, so she took a picture of us standing on a street corner, looking lost, and texted it to me. And this is why we’re friends!

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Sarah was one of my very first friends on LiveJournal, back when I didn’t believe in capitalization and the only punctuation I used were ellipses and groups of 18 exclamation points. We were pregnant at the same time (her daughter Alpha is two months older than Chooch) and she was one of the only people who knew the truth of my fucked up friendship with Christina; I still feel so grateful that she was there for me.

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And now we were finally meeting! More surreal feelings.

Sarah had recently finished working at the salon for the day, but if I didn’t work at a Law Firm, I would have totally asked her to give me lavender hair. I dream of lavender hair. But instead she took us around the corner to the Flint Crepe Company, which was like walking into the 1920s.

A man in a suit said, “Hi Sarah!” and after greeting him, Sarah was like, “Oh that was the mayor of Flint.”

THE MAYOR KNOWS SARAH! She is so cool. (This made me really giddy too, for some reason. Mailmen and mayors just do it for me, I guess.)

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OMG I got the Lemon Drop and it was just the right combination of lemon and drop. So good.

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Who cares what Henry got, but he was actually kind of smiling!

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Chooch got some chocolate strawberry special and ate it like we hadn’t been feeding him at all on this trip. Then he proceeded to lap his water out of the glass like a cat, because that was his new thing, as of that moment, pretending to be a cat who speaks like a toddler.

“Me a cat, meowmeowmeow,” he kept saying and I was kicking him under the table because it was creeping me out. I mean, it’s one thing if this was just his nervous tic, something that he does every now and then because he thinks he’s being cute, but aside from a casual and ironic “meow” here and there, he has never regressed like this before. I was kind of alarmed, like my kid was breaking.

I ended up chalking it up to the fact that he was acting stupid because he was crushing on Sarah.

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After crepes, Sarah took us on a walking tour around Flint. Some of my friends were like, “Really? Flint?” because vacations are supposed to have beaches I guess, but it was really fun! I love exploring places and Flint had that gritty feel to it that I love.

Of course we had to ask Sarah about Eminem too. She told us this story about how she was at Warped Tour in 1998 (Chooch perked up at this part, because WARPED TOUR) and accidentally kicked a rock at the guy in front of her. He turned around and called her a fucking bitch and then later she heard all of this booing coming from one of the stages and the guy who called her a fucking bitch was on the stage and turned out to be Eminem, haha.

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This is when Chooch was excited to trespass.

 

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Sarah taught us about these berries, the most important fact being that we could eat them, so then Chooch and I had to stand there, pulling down branches and getting stains on ourselves. “I don’t even like these!” Chooch said, popping another into his mouth. Henry just sighed and kept walking.

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I bet they sell Faygo in there!

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Then Sarah took us to the river to see if there were any dead bodies and causally mentioned that there was a 1-in-45 chance that something violent would happen to us just by being in Flint. That was exciting!

I thought we saw a dead body for sure but Henry was like, “THAT IS A RUG AND BESIDES IT’S TOO SMALL FOR A BODY.”

Oh OK. Midgets or babies can’t be wrapped up and discarded in a rug? Appendages or severed heads? I forgot we live in a perfect world where midgets don’t get murdered and babies aren’t thrown away and not everyone eats their kill. That’s so 1990 Jeffrey Dahmer.

THIS POST JUST GOT TOO DARK. Or not dark enough, if you’re my kind of people.

We did see homeless people with a George Forman Grill, and that was the one thing that Henry  took away from him. When we met up later with Bill and Jessi, he couldn’t wait to tell them about that.

“A George Forman Grill! Where were they going to plug it in!?” he laughed. Oh, Henry.

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Henry Crapo, HAHAHAHA!

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Trying not to laugh at Henry Crapo.

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Alleyway Photo Op.

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Henry and Chooch had to stay outside while Sarah and I went inside Paul’s Pipe Hospital, which immediately made me think of my dad. I’m not sure if he still smokes pipes, but he did when I was growing up and I always loved that smell. One of my high school teachers owned a pipe shop in the mall called the Tinder Box and I used to love walking in there for the same reason.

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Paul’s Pipe Hospital taught me that there are actual trophies to be won if you can continuously smoke the same pipe longer than anyone else in Pipe Competitions. Now I kind of want to acquire a taste for pipe tobacco so that I too can win a trophy. How popular would Chooch be at school once everyone finds out his mom is a competitive pipe smoking CHAMPION? And how long will it take before someone in his school realizes there are ways to make this into a euphemism for fellatio.

“OH YEAH, I HEARD SHE SMOKED YOUR DAD’S PIPE REAL COMPETIVELY.”

God, this is a fantastic idea. How do I get started? I want one of the pipes I saw there that come in a far-out array of 1970s afghan colors.

Look at what you’ve done to me, Sarah.

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My outfit matched Sarah’s hair perfectly.

After about 2 hours, it was time to say goodbye and head back to Wayne so we could check into our hotel and grab a quick dinner before meeting up with Bill and Jessi.

Sarah and Michelle, thank you both so much for making  time for us and getting the awkward “first meet” out of the way. I already can’t wait to see you both again! Come to Pittsburgh!!

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Jun 262014
 

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I read some reviews online (because that’s what I do: read amusement park reviews all day long; I don’t have any friends to occupy my time, remember?) that complained about the employees were terrible. This was definitely not the case on my visit, because they clearly know I have a blog and want all of the glowing words written about them. I will say that I didn’t have a single run-in with surly orange-shirts all day. And I even left the park with two favorites: the dude from the Lost Coaster ride and this sweet Russian broad from the Hoosier Hurricane.

The Lost Coaster guy reminded me of the Salute Your Shorts camp counselor, Ug, in that he thought he was way cooler than he was and tried to act tough by yelling things like, “LIKE DON’T SIT ON THE RAILING!” But I guess he was still more intimidating than me because Chooch never listens when I tell him to get off the rail but when Ug hollered it, Chooch hopped off with a quickness.

I accidentally left my phone on the ride and realized it about 3 minutes afterward. When I ran back up the exit ramp to the ride platform, he was checking the next riders’ seat belts and casually holding my pink cell phone and it just made me crack up so bad.

“Hey, that’s my phone,” I said in faux-outrage and he put his hands up.

“I tried to chase you down but you were already gone!” he explained, handing it back over and we both had a good laugh. Why, I’m not sure. But I think I probably was definitely in the beginning stages of heat stroke by then so everything was funny to me except for things that Henry said/did/didn’t do because those things just made me inexplicably ANGRY.

OK, now let’s talk about the Russian. (I mean, after I type out hundreds of words that seem totally unrelated to a Russian broad, of course.)

A few days before we left for our road trip, Chooch acquired some sort of cut/scrape thing on the top of his ankle. Something about he went to kick a soccer ball, missed, tripped over it, bent his foot all the back and scraped it against the sidewalk. Then he proceeded to wear Converse high-tops, which ended up rubbing his scrape raw while forming a blister all at the same time.

So now he had a mutant cut/blister injury in addition to his foot hurting in general from being bent all the way back. He would be fine in the morning, but once he started walking too much, it would aggravate the wound and make his ankle get all red and slightly swollen.

The humidity that day, and also the OINTMENT (I love that people hate that word) that Henry slathered on the wound, made Chooch’s ankle too MOIST (hahaha) for Band-Aids to stay adhered for very long. So when were walking up the metal-grated steps of the Hoosier Hurricane coaster, Chooch forgot how to walk and fell, banging his ankle against the metal edge of the step below him, knocking off the Band-Aid and making him wince in pain.

Henry wasn’t with us, since he wasn’t RIDING anything that day, so I had to try to be a mom and tell Chooch things like, “It’s probably going to be fine” and “You’ll probably still have a foot after all of this is over” and “PLEASE START WALKING, I REALLY WANT TO GO ON THIS ROLLER COASTER.” As soon as we made it into the station, a super sweet Russian girl took down the chain for us and said to Chooch, “Oh no! What is happened to you?” But Chooch was still blinking back tears so I had to do my best to make it look like I hadn’t abused my child.

“There is first aid down there,” she said, pointing over her shoulder. She was really concerned about Chooch’s ankle, which was really endearing. But then we got stuck standing awkwardly next to her while we waited for the coaster to come back, so she made broken-English small talk about the weather.

“It is hot,” she said in a staccato.

“Yeah,” I agreed, struggling for words. And then after a stretch of about 30 million acres of silence, I thought of something else to say. “That, uh, humidity makes it worse.”

“Oh yah! The humidity is worst!” she agreed, and I thanked the arrival of the coaster for interrupting our cliche weather discourse.

She made sure Chooch and I were safely buckled into our seats and then said, “Enjoy ride!” and I secretly hoped it was meant just for us and not any of the other sweaty bastards behind us.

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After we got off the ride, Chooch ran ahead of Henry and me because he knows everything, including the way to the first aid trailer. Eight-year-olds don’t need parents, you guys. By the time we caught up and walked into the first aid trailer, Chooch and the park medic were just sitting there silently, Chooch on the edge of the bed and the medic at his desk.

“He just came in and sat down,” the medic explained. “Said he was waiting for some people.”

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And then Chooch relayed the entire, sordid saga of the Origin of the Wound.

He loves to talk about it. Last night, as soon as we got to his piano lesson, he sighed and mumbled something about his foot hurting. (Side note: that fucker is pretty much healed by now, so I guess he’s experiencing fantasy pains similar to Henry’s imaginary war wounds that don’t exist because Henry was never in an actual war when he was in the SERVICE.) “Oh no, what did you do to it?” his piano teacher Cheryl asked.

“Ugh, why does everyone ask me about it?” Chooch cried and I was like, “OH OK, MY LEFT FOOT, MAYBE BECAUSE YOU CAN’T STOP BRINGING IT UP.”

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Here’s Henry re-doing Chooch’s Band-Aid 3 minutes later.

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There was another Russian girl working the Cornball Express, another roller coaster, but she wasn’t as nice. I mean, she wasn’t a dick head or anything, but she didn’t go out of her way to smother us with attention like Hoosier Hurricane did. The other Cornball Express girl routinely helped me unbuckle my seatbelt all 137 times we rode that coaster (honestly, there were no lines to wait in). Chooch, who had quickly mastered the secret of the Houdini-approved seatbelts, kept crying out, “Oh for Christ’s sake, mommy!” Before eventually just not waiting for me anymore.

I seriously have never struggled so hard with a seatbelt in my life. It was almost embarrassing. Ok it was embarrassing.

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After hours of stalking Frankenstein’s Castle, those fucking garage doors were finally a’lift and we had the confusing task of trying to add dolla dolla bills to the Indiana Beach cash card thing. I forget to mention that this is one of those amusement parks where, if you don’t want to plan on riding much, you can load money onto credit cards and then scan it before you get on the rides. Even the ride-all-day wristbands have barcodes on them and everyone is required to stick their wrist under a scanner at the front of all of the lines. Waldameer Park in Erie does this, too. It’s annoying, but whatever.

Anyway, Frank’s Place wasn’t included in the ride-all-day admission price. Some dark rides are like that and while I’m not exactly sure of the reason (Chris? Can you help here?), I have a few theories, mostly that it’s a restoration thing. It was an additional $3.50 per person and BE STILL MY HEART, Henry actually paid for THREE. At first, I thought maybe there was some sad albino kid in line behind us, tugging on Henry’s bland heart strings and making him do charitable thangs. (I didn’t want to end on a rhyme. You understand.)

But no, he was paying for himself! Henry was finally going to not sit on a bench with his nose pressed against his phone, looking at Pinterest! (Honestly, Chooch and I made fun of him from every line in which we stood. Because why not.)

As soon as the ticket booth broad granted us admission, our nostrils were slammed with the unmistakable vintage bouquet of moth balls and Aunt Edith’s cedar closet of muumuus. It’s a smell that I love because it means old school amusement park. Fuck those flashy sterile, steel concrete jungles known as Six Flags.

I want that fancy dark ride musk.

If they bottled it as perfume/cologne, that’d be a surefire way to get me into your backseat.

(Oh come on, don’t pretend like you thought I was classy.)

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“I just paid $3.50 to walk through a fake castle with two screaming d-bags. I bet that taco would have also cost $3.50 and have been way less annoying.” – Henry, if he ever thought about anything.

After sitting on a bench and listening to a crackling recording about what scares we were about to encounter, a disinterested young Indiana Beach employee opened a door and ushered us in for the “OMG crashing elevator” segment. At first I thought this was going to be totally lame, and that part was, but then she opened another door and set us free, on our own, to shuffle through the guts of a mostly pitch-black haunted house.

Here is Henry’s review:

It was fun. I got pushed through by two scared little people. That’s about it.

Wow. Titillating as always.

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There were no scare actors, just the effective non-use of light bulbs, enclosed animatronic displays that managed to pop on when I was always the most unsuspecting, moving floors and enough enclosed spaces to make a claustrophobe fake their way through the rosary.

THIS IS A CLASSIC DARK ATTRACTION. One that keeps it real and doesn’t rely on modern, high-tech scare tactics. Let me put it this way: there are chicken doors located throughout the length of the castle and if Henry hadn’t gone in with us, I guarantee the first one would have a chunk taken out of it in the exact outline of my body.

This is the type of haunt you want to walk through with the person you’re obsessively crushing on or maybe the hipster you just met IRL on Tinder and want to terrorize in the dark with rusty hedge clippers while wearing your mom’s skin on your face. Butterflies!

I’d go back to Indiana Beach every summer just for another 10 minutes inside Frankenstein.

YEAH, YOU READ THAT RIGHT.

*****

Overall, I would rate Indiana Beach 3/5. The coasters and dark rides were its main redeeming qualities. I didn’t like how it took so long for a lot of the rides to open, instead of just opening everything when the park itself opened. And I also didn’t like the actual park grounds. The layout was weird, sloppy like the parks I used to create on Roller Coaster Tycoon because I apparently lack aesthetic. I’m not saying I expect every park to be Disney-levels of beautiful, but I don’t know, maybe try planting some more flowers or something.

We didn’t eat enough of the food for this to be a factor in my rating, although they had something called Redneck Biscuits which sounded hideous but I still wanted to eat one and Henry wouldn’t buy me one because NO TACO.

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Jun 252014
 

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My brain needs to reset itself so here, have a filler post.  There are also no pictures of Henry in this one, because as he said earlier, “Haven’t you word-raped me enough over the last two days?” TOUCHÉ, MOTHERFUCKER. 20140625-132552.jpg

Honestly was about to scratch a Will on my leg with a paint chip from this sad, downtrodden Paratrooper—it was such a janky ride! On one hand, I was like, “At least if we’re flung from this shoddy piece of mechanics, we have a 50/50 chance of hitting the lake and surviving” and then on the other hand I was like, “EW I DON’T WANT TO TOUCH THAT GROSS WATER!”

I’ve only ridden on one set of Paratroopers more run down looking than this one, and that was at the Washington County Fair.

A fresh coat of paint goes a long way, Indiana Beach. Just pretend like each umbrella is one of Tammy Faye Bakker’s eyelids. Go wild!

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Faces of Paratrooper survivors.

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That guy has what we call 1950s Indiana Swag.

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I love the Tilt-a-Whirl so much but not on days where elves are spooning viscous scoops of oil from my facial pores to use as liliputian love-stick lubricant. Let me spell it out for it: IT WAS HOT AND HUMID. I can’t ride spinny rides when I’m in the throes of heat stroke. But Chooch rode this three times in a row. God, good for you, Chooch. Why don’t you just write a song about it on your dumb keyboard, ugh.

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Obligatory ice cream cone shot. Can I get any more predictable.

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Seriously, these guys. I was obsessed. Also note: this was pretty much how crowded it was all day until late afternoon when the water park mysteriously closed down and a horde of Indiana’s finest invaded the park like beached whales.

Pale, so pale, very pale beached whales.

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This is not where I got my ice cream.

I haven’t even finished writing about this park yet and I’m already trying to con Henry into taking us to another one. I’M NEVER SATISFIED. Just ask the doves when they cry.

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Jun 242014
 

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My criteria for planning a road trip is pretty simple:

  • Are there friends along the way that I can impose upon?
  • Does my Roadside America app approve of this route?
  • Are there amusement parks in the vicinity?

I’ve wanted to go to Indiana Beach (fun fact: not actually a beach) for awhile now, and it seemed logical to combine this with a long overdue visit to Michigan to hang out with Bill, Jessi and Tammy and also meet up with some other ladies I have been Internet friends with for YEARS. (More on that later!)

We had to drive through actual farmlands to get to Monticello, Indiana, at which point a man of about 100 years of age collected $7 from us and told us where to park.

Which was “anywhere in the wide open, empty parking lot.”

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We got there right when the park opened, and not only was it a ghost town, but none of the rides were running. We roamed around for awhile, getting turned away from the Hoosier Hurricane and wasting time at the shooting gallery. Also, the humidity was so bad that it felt like Hell with the lid on. My face took on the sebaceous sheen of a glazed Christmas ham in no time. It was disgusting. But not so disgusting that I would consider visiting the dilapidated water park portion of Indiana Beach, which was included in regular admission because the lazy river wasn’t running. God only knows why not.

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No thanks, dirty pastel water slides. God only knows what kind of fungi you’re getting ready to launch into my vagina. (I have phobias, OK?)

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Chooch killed some time at the shooting gallery, while I paced around, waiting for the adjacent Frankenstein’s Castle to open their dumb doors already. I refuse to partake in the shooting galleries at amusement parks because HENRY won’t teach me how to aim. So I almost never hit anything. And then I pout, which morphs into an inevitable Hulk Rage later on.

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Fuck you, Henry.

Lame Henry didn’t get the ride-all-day wristband because he’s too old to have fun at amusement parks now. But he sure does enjoy the ones with free general admission so that he can walk around and complain for nothing. I promise you, we broke up at least 87 times that day.

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The main (OK, the only) reason Indiana Beach made my list is their staggering collection of THREE dark rides. Two of them, The Den of Lost Thieves and the most-anticipated House of Frankenstein were basically the last rides to open that day. But oh, were they worth the wait.

The Den of Lost Thieves is a shooting ride, which I generally do not enjoy. Kennywood took out a great dark ride, the Goldrusher, and replaced it with a modern shooter-type dark ride and the only thing remarkable about it is how incredibly boring it is. I would gladly bypass this one every time we visit Kennywood, but Chooch always drags me on it. I hate waiting in line for it too! You wait and wait and wait only to get put in this holding room, like a foyer, where they force you to watch some animated portrait on a wall telling you the story of Ghostwood Estate and then the door opens and it’s a fucking free-for-all. Everyone pushes their way through so even if you were the first one in line before entering that room, chances are you’ll take a fanny pack to the groin and wind up 17 people back.

So when I realized that the Den of Lost Thieves was also a shooting ride, I was like, “Damn, we drive 8 hours for this?” But it turned out to be FANTASTIC! Old, musty and full of old-school scares. I loved the shit out of this ride. Especially since I got more points than Chooch.

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Another dark ride in the park doubled as a coaster! It was called the Lost Coaster of Something I Forget Who Knows. There was no one in line when Chooch and I walked past, so I shoved all of my belongings into Henry’s chest and bolted for it.

“Um…it’s gonna take a few minutes,” the older, orange-shirted ride operator said. “It got stuck, and I’m waiting for someone to push it back out.” Oh OK, no big deal, you guys. Rides get stuck like all of the time, right? And probably not back-to-back times, right?

He said something about the cars not being “properly weighted” and I was like, “Oh well if you’re looking for all of the weight, you’ve come to the right thunder thighs.” Four more people joined us right as a mechanic came grunting out of the fake cave, pushing the double mine cars in front of him.

The ride operator seemed confident that we had enough bodies to successfully propel the mine cars from start to finish, so we loaded up with me and Chooch and some lady and little girl in one car, and a guy and kid in the one behind us.

Awkward thing about this ride: four people fit in a car, but the seats face each other, so unless you’re with three of your homies, you get to stare at strangers for the next two minutes and I hate that you guys. Looking at people who are looking at me, it’s just…ew. Not for me.

This ride was pretty thrilling and volatile, just like a relationship with me! All of the ups and downs and whiplash and violent shoves. Will you need a PFA? Maybe! And then…nothing. It just stopped, right in the middle of the dark cave.

“Is it supposed to do this?” I asked the people in the car with us.

“I DON’T THINK SO BUT THE STEEL HAWG GETS STUCK ALL THE TIME,” answered the little girl in an octave only little girls can manage.

****Mental note to be wary of the Steel Hawg. (Which never opened that day anyway, so moot point.)

Anyway, guess what guys? We were stuck! I think this may have been my first time ever getting stuck on a ride, too, so thanks Indiana Beach! That’s a cherry I sure needed popped.

As if it wasn’t hot enough that day, now we were stuck inside some muggy faux-cavern, in a near-enclosed car, with no rescue in sight. I had sweat rolling into my eyes and mouth, I could feel it dripping from the backs of my knees, my whole person was slick with the moist essence of PANIC.

And I had these strangers staring at me and I had nothing to say other than nervous laughter and then the kid in the car behind us started to cry and his dad was mouthing off about how this was such BULLshit and Chooch kept meowing and I was like, “WHY IS NO ONE TRYING TO COMMUNICATE WITH US OVER AN INTERCOM OR MORSE CODE OR CROP CIRCLE?!” And then finally, after a good FIVE MINUTES OF NOTHING, that same disgruntled mechanic came trudging up the track behind us, shouted an answer to a garbled voice over his walkie talkie, fumbled with some switches in the breaker box next to us, and then said “Enjoy your ride” just as the motor kicked in and we went STRAIGHT DOWN A HILL. Oh that’s right, we were stuck on the zenith of a hill and had no idea because it was so dark in there. So…that was definitely a thrill.

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Meanwhile, Henry had been dreaming of buying a taco all day. That’s what he’s thinking about in this picture, as a matter of fact. Indiana Beach has a taco stand that was apparently featured on the Food Network for some reason. I love me a good taco, but I knew that Indiana Beach was for sure not going to have a meatless option. So Chooch and I decided to get pizza and then Henry was going to get his coveted taco afterward.

Except that Chooch only ate one slice of his personal pizza and Henry acted like a motherfucking martyr and ate the rest of it. Like, who cares? Sometimes I think he does this shit on purpose, like he’s some Leftover Scraps Hero. OK, you ate three small slices of crappy pizza, good for you.

Oh, you ate the rest of Chooch’s waffle for breakfast? Well, FUCK Henry. Thanks for taking one for the team. Shit.

I knew all of his moaning and groaning over this would eventually paint a bigger picture, and I was right: Now that he had eaten Chooch’s pizza, he was “too full” to get a taco, and that was ALL THAT HE WANTED, you guys. A fucking taco, but now Chooch and I had ruined his life by having the audacity to get pizza for our own lunches. Last time I checked, no one was forcing pizza down Henry’s enlarged hatch.

I kept coaxing him to get a taco, but he was being such a bitch about it. He was acting offended almost, like he was on a porn diet and I was trying to get him to succumb to peer pressure by showing photos of naked broads going to town on tacos.

So bizarre. Maybe he’s trying to fit back into his SERVICE costume?

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Wistful thoughts over the taco stain on his shirt that could have been.

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Dreaming of brushing a taco with his moustache bristles to the tune of a Selena song.

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He had his chance right here! Going, going….

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Gone. This was right after he said, “I DON’T WANT ONE NOW. JUST FORGET IT.” Oh wow, someone’s come down with a case of the Erins.

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Imagining a lake where all the sailboats are tacos and he’s a great, venerable taco sailor.

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Not buying a taco.

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Yeah Henry. Don’t forget. Bitchbaby motherfucker.

(I think Mexico might find it hard to believe that the world’s best tacos are in Indiana.)

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Jun 232014
 

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OMG one of my favorite parts of our road trip was when we got to drive through the boarded-up hole where Henry used to live while he was in the SERVICE OMG CAN YOU STAND IT.

I wondered out loud if perhaps Henry had grown children running around Bunker Hill, but he assured me that was impossible, which means that Henry didn’t have sex for like THREE YEARS from 1984-1987.

I was in elementary school then, roller skating and being awesome.

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Henry is sitting next to me right now, against his will, and I’m asking him for information to include with these pictures since he has refused to write anything on his own because he hates thinking of the years of his life that didn’t include me.

Obviously.

He was an aircraft CREW CHIEF. Whatever that means.

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Here is a street that Henry may have walked on! He probably at least drove on it in his GREEN GRAND PRIX. (He just corrected me and said it was blue but last night he told me it was green. Now he’s saying he had both. God, brag much?) He doesn’t recall Brown’s Game Room being there when he lived there in the EIGHTIES. I asked him if there were any whore houses there and he got really impatient and said, “Not in BUNKER HILL. Those were in KOKOMO.” Oh. Sorry.

Henry never want to Indiana Beach while he lived there because he didn’t know it existed. He did, however, go to the fair. Once. He can’t remember if he rode anything, but he knows for certain he didn’t kiss any girls there because kissing leads to SEX and he wasn’t having that in Bunker Hill. That would have ruined his reputation as the Base Eunuch.

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This is the neighborhood where Henry’s trailer was but he claims the trailer isn’t there anymore, but he wouldn’t drive back to where it used to be so I couldn’t get any pictures of the empty pit that remains. He wouldn’t even get out of the car while I was taking these pictures. (Admittedly, there wasn’t much there to photograph and I didn’t want anyone to come running out of their home, spitting Skoal at me, so I was pretty quick to wrap this up.)

Also, Henry has no pictures of his trailer, because he wasn’t in the habit of taking pictures of his non-descript living quarters. He had a variety of roommates, including Les, Tim (WHO HE IS FRIENDS WITH ON FACEBOOK! I’m going to message him soon), and John. He thinks John only lived there for a little while but he doesn’t remember because it’s hard to remember things that happened in the 80s, you guys. He claims that they never brought home any local women and this is just so weird to me. They had lots of porn on VHS though. He mumbled “no” when I asked him if they all watched it together, which means that he wanted them to all watch it together but they were like, “Ew get out of here, Eunuch.”

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HENRY HAS BEEN TO THIS BAR!!! Apparently, he mostly drank at the bar on BASE. What a snob. He told me that he used to drink LONG ISLAND ICED TEAS at the bar on base. You guys, Henry used to drink LONG ISLAND ICED TEAS. Now I know what I’m serving at his 50th birthday party next year, complete with cocktail parasols and fruit on swords. And obviously they will be served in mason jars with paper straws, as an homage to Henry’s Pinterest addiction.

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Henry made me get in the car after this for fear of the homeowners mistaking me for someone casing their house.

Henry used to cook his own food when he lived there and he just said, “I don’t understand why this is such a big deal to you, I cook my own food now, too.” Oh yeah. But for some reason, I keep imagining him in velour lounge pants and a wife-beater, stirring succotash on top of a hot plate. He just told me he cooked Thanksgiving dinner once!! For like 4 or 5 people, he doesn’t remember!

(I AM SO GIDDY AS I WRITE THIS! The notion of Henry having a life prior to me is hilarious and mythical to me all at once. I need to know all of it.)

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I was excited to talk about this picture but Henry yelled, “THAT IS A WHOLE DIFFERENT THING. THAT IS NOT EVEN BUNKER HILL. THAT IS TEXAS.” He didn’t do cool things like this in Indiana. Probably because he didn’t know how.

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This was when Henry first saw the thing and then realized it wasn’t the thing anymore. (You know, that base thing.) It’s a prison now! He said he doesn’t have many feelings about this since it was so long ago. There was a reunion last year that he didn’t attend. He said it was because all of the people who went were people who were there for like a million years and not an early-discharge pussy like himself. I asked him if he had one of those dishonorable discharges and he got really irritated so that means yes. Probably because he was a Eunuch. And back then, that was probably worse than being gay.

He’s laughing right now but it’s not the “I’m having a good time!” kind of laugh, but more of a “Can I please go to bed now because my sanity is starting to come out of my nose” kind of scary laugh.

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