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.)
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.
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.
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!
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.)
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.
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.
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.