You know what Henry wanted to do on Sunday?
Sleep, watch FOX News, nap, snooze, eat some jerky, scratch his balls while dozing off, doze off, nap some more, watch things being made on the television, go to bed.
You know what Henry did instead? Every goddamn thing Chooch and I told him to do.
First, we went to the West Virginia State Penitentiary in Moundsville, which I will get to later. (Warning: it’s gon’ be photo-heavy.) Immediately afterward, Chooch and I started whining about being hungry. I mean, we had literally just gotten in the car. We’re like a cuckoo clock for hunger.
“Oh Jesus Christ, here we go,” Henry spat, stupidly thinking he could drive 90 minutes home and just feed us whatever orphanage porridge du jour he had planned.
Seriously, almost everything Henry cooks us for dinner is gray. Sometimes olive and throw-up. Indian porridge, I guess.
“There’s nowhere to eat here anyway,” Henry smugly (and wrongfully) pointed out. So I countered with at least 6 different restaurants I saw as Henry sped past.
I don’t know what made me latch on to Young’s Cafeteria, but when we started to pass it, I screamed to Henry to turn in there.
“Why?” he cried. “You’re not going to like it!”
Look, when in Moundsville, eat like the Moundsvillagers, right? And I imagine they must flock in droves to a restaurant attached to a run-down motel with a shady accountant’s office in the back.
“This is going to be just like that Roadside Restaurant you hated,” Henry mumbled as we walked through the doors and were hit with a blast of 1960s wood paneling, coagulating gravy and geriatric disdain. But unlike the Roadside, where we were forced to order from a grease-encased menu, we instead got to push a tray through a grease-encased tableau of said menu, like taking a tour of an 85-year-old’s last meal request.
As we stood there holding our trays, every last townie looked up from their snot-gravied plates and if they weren’t all whispering “City folk!” to each other, then my knack at prejudging is really tarnished.
You better believe I tried their homemade p-nut butter pie. And it actually was delicious, but it reminded me of when I used to give my German Shepherd a spoonful of peanut butter to disengage his barking ability before I would sneak out of the house in high school. I’m sure Henry enjoyed my pie-feasting silence.
The cafeteria offerings actually started out with fruit-suspended jello dishes. Come on, Young’s. Could you be any more cliche? I couldn’t decide if it was more hospital tray or 1967 block party. I even had the green one on my tray for a split second before coming to my senses.
I could practically see Henry’s ears smoking as his brain frantically tried to dissuade his stomach from choosing every single bowl of disgusting Old Person Side Dish. Pickled eggs, REALLY? You know there were beets floating around up in that display somewhere, too.
Like I’m one to talk for thinking that this BEAN SALAD would be a good idea. Oh my god, one bite and I thought it was going to spring forth in all its vinegar’d glory and kill me. I swapped it out with Henry’s cole slaw when he wasn’t looking, but that was just as dried-up as all the octogenarians dining around us.
Their entree offerings were exactly as I had guessed, short of salisbury steak. Just a bunch of mystery meats lost beneath gravy pits of varying colors. However, they actually had a vegetable lasagna! Chooch was ahead of us and doing everything on his own because he’s apparently his own person, when the fuck did that happen? Oh wait, it’s always been like that. Apparently, the close proximity of so many vats of vomit models had him suffering the same recoiling gag reflex as his mother, so he opted for the vegetable lasagna too. I heard the old hair-netted broad ask him if he wanted sauce on it, and he had the good sense to shoot down that idea.
I, on the other hand, did not engage my smarts and said yes to the same question.
In return, I was handed a plate of vegetable lasagna smothered under a blanket of MEAT SAUCE, MOTHERFUCKERS.
Seriously, MEAT SAUCE?! On VEGETABLE LASAGNA? Look, I’m not one to send back food, but I had to make an exception with this. So after whispering tersely with Henry about how “I can’t eat this now! WHAT SHOULD I DO? YOU DO IT!!!!” I handed it back to the old lady and said I didn’t want any sauce at all.
“The marinara sauce is next to the meat sauce,” her youthful co-slopper pointed out, and, not having heard me tell the old broad I didn’t want any sauce after all, was just about to begin ladling a blood pool of tomato sauce onto my pure, virginal slab of vegetable lasagna when I yelled, “NO SAUCE!” I mean, when I was originally asked if I wanted sauce, I assumed it was a creamy sauce to match what was already on the lasagna, and I only said yes because that shit looked desiccated, I’m sorry. God only knows how long it had been sitting in that vat, forced to commingle with the likes of chicken a la king and pepper steak. I’d be all withered, too.
But why would you want to put marinara sauce on a vegetable lasagna?!
I had to remind myself that we were in West Virginia, after all, and they probably don’t know any better.
This picture is too good not to use again. Why was Henry so angry? Oh god, the possibilities are endless. The fact that Chooch and I were acting like obnoxious tourists could have had a lot to do with it. Or the fact that we weren’t paying attention to the crap with which Chooch was filling his tray (like chocolate cake and a chocolate chip cookie and chocolate milk and chocolate chocolate). Or the fact that our lunch cost over $40, hahaha.
“I thought cafeterias were supposed to be for poor people?” I asked Henry, who is an authority on Poor People Things.
“Not when you’re charged for everything separately!” he growled. I don’t know why he was taking it out on us when his tray was the one filled with an individual hospital patient smorgasbord. I seriously think he took one of everything in the disgusting wet salad section, where everything was either pickled or buried under a relish helmet.
You’d think he would have been content—-this was a Babylon for blue collared gourmands!
I wonder if cafeterias remind Henry of THE SERVICE. I wonder if he ever had kitchen duty. I sense a potential Henry interview.
While my lasagna wasn’t anything to blog about, I enjoyed my time at Young’s. It reminded me of when I was little and would beg my mom to take me to Woolworth’s at the mall just so I could eat in the cafeteria. There’s something special about cafeteria pudding when you’re 4 years old. And pinching your mom’s fingers between her tray and yours.
THAT’S what I forgot to do to Henry.