We weren’t even on the boat yet, and this is what Henry looked like.
The fact that I was so dead set on taking a boat tour of Cleveland is kind of weird for a number of reasons: I hate river water. Lake Erie scares me. (HOW CAN A LAKE LOOK SO MUCH LIKE THE OCEAN!?) Being on a boat makes my mind reel with impending cataclysm. ASSHOLES take boat tours. But the biggest weird reason is: what is there even to see on a Cleveland boat tour?!
But for some reason I had fond memories of taking this same tour on the Goodtimes III in 2004 with Henry, which is odd in and of itself because how many fond memories of Henry do I really have from back then?
So you might be able to understand Henry’s confusion when I was like, “WE CANNOT LEAVE CLEVELAND WITHOUT BOATING IT UP.” I just vaguely remembered that there were cool bridges along the Cuyahoga, some of which swung out to allow boats to pass, others of which raised in a drawbridge-esque fashion. Even though bridges also terrify me, I though that perhaps Chooch would enjoy this.
I even bought tickets for the last tour of the day from my phone because I was so afraid it was going to sell out before we arrived. WHO AM I?!
Anyway, after Henry nearly killed us by turning the wrong way down a one-way street in the middle of downtown Cleveland, we finally made it to the boat area place and Chooch and I were practically throwing elbows at people trying to get to the will call window to claim our tickets. Somewhere along the way, we lost Henry. But Henry or no Henry, Chooch and I were still going on this fucking boat. It was my dying wish.
Henry found us sitting on a bench, watching the people from the earlier tour stream off the Goodtimes III, which had just docked. I asked Henry where the hell he went and it turns out he was helping some delivery driver back up his truck. Of course he was.
“And then I had to pee,” he continued over top of Chooch’s and my raucous laughter. He helped some guy back up his truck?! Why does he even tell us these things!? And then he mumbled something about how “assholes” like me and Chooch kept walking behind the poor guy’s truck while he was trying to back up and he couldn’t see. Go be a Good (Driver) Samaritan somewhere else, Henry. You’re stinking up my air with all your do-goodery.
“I helped some guy back up his truck. What’s so funny about that?!”
Finally, it was time to board so some nautical person barked into a megaphone that wasn’t very mega for everyone to form a single file line. Chooch and I raced to get into line, going out of our way to cut people off, while Henry just walked casually, like a person who doesn’t feel the urgency of boarding a boat.
When we finally crossed the plank-thing, Chooch and I ran for the upper deck. And it’s a good thing too, because there were approximately…..four other people up there. But gradually, more people made their way up to our deck and I quickly began to rack up entire families to hate.
The worst of which were the Ralph Laurens—my polite pet name for the Von Moneyfucks taking up two rows at the front. The patriarch came complete with a sandy toupee and a white sweater tied around his shoulders. At one point, they had a crew member take a group photo of them and their yuppie spawn so they could retreat to Chateau le Douche and show their staff that they slummed it up with their blue-collared people.
“Muffy dear, I couldn’t find the pâté de foie gras, but I procured us some of this bourgeois delicacy that the commoners enjoy at the ball game. I think this might be quails egg yolk on top.” This is what I imagined he was saying in his pompously bombastic tones as he returned from the snack bar with a plastic tray of nachos. CHORTLE CHORTLE, MOTHERFUCKER.
I guess their yacht was in the shop.
Separating the Von Moneyfucks from us were two couples who weren’t too annoying at first. The one couple was older, the wife was maybe in her early 40s and the husband looked like he was in his 50s and praying for a quick death. They had what I can only imagine was an adopted toddler boy thing. The other couple were in their early 30s and the guy took pictures of EVERY FUCKING THING WE PASSED with his wannabe professional camera while the wife sat there making the older lady feel like shit for being a disheveled mother.
The only real highlight of the tour was when we cruised past an area where a shit ton of murders happened and Eliot Ness couldn’t solve them. Of course the area was some sketchy lot strewn with giant ant hills of garbage and old tires. (To be honest, I actually missed this entire part and only started paying attention when I heard “Eliot Ness” so then Henry had to tell me.)
At one point early on, the mom turned into Speedy Gonzalez and starting making loud ay yi yi arriba arriba noises at her toddler who looked extremely horrified by this and proceeded to sleep for the next three hours probably just to put his mom out of her misery.
NOTICE I SAID THREE HOURS. This was only supposed to be a 2-hour tour, but after an hour into the tour, we were very nearly Gilligan’d.
So, remember those aforementioned bridges? Well first of all, Chooch didn’t give a FUCK about them because he was too busy obsessing over the snack bar and all of its contents which Henry refused to purchase. Second of all, some dude behind us was deviating from the recorded narrator to tell his kids all the insider info about them, which was ANNOYING AS SHIT at first until I realized that he works for a bridge-building company and then my ears started to perk up because maybe that means he has some money to spend on me. Third of all, the very last drawbridge-esque one we cruised beneath turned out to be quite the motherfucker.
Right after the last bridge, the boat had reached the turnaround spot, and I rejoiced because the last half hour had been total bullshit, all this industrial spanse that no one cared about. “Here is where the city gets their rocks.” NO ONE CARES. So of course, it would be on the most desolate part of the river where something would go awry.
We were headed back to that last bridge, which had JUST WORKED 5 minutes ago, but now the bridge wouldn’t raise. The captain had to brake (?) the boat while the moron bridge operator tried to get the goddamn thing to go up and it just wouldn’t budge. So we had to sit there and watch as all these lucky bastard cars got to cross the bridge while laughing at the sadsack tourists who were now stuck in muddy-brown river water, buoying methodically with nothing to look at but GAS TANKS on the left and I don’t know, piles of dirt on the right. Somewhere nearby, someone was probably getting stabbed over a drug deal gone south. It was that kind of area and I was hoping that I wouldn’t get caught witnessing any wrongdoings by a Mexican drug cartel.
The captain came on and explained that there was a “situation that only happens once in a blue moon, probably just a blown fuse” and that the electrician had been called, so here, just enjoy some crackly AM classics* and please try not to kill one another. We’re just going to keep floating here for another 20 minutes and then everything will be fine, you’ll see.
*(I guess this is the back-up for when the boat reaches the end of the river and there is nothing left for the ancient cassette tape to narrate. At one point in the BEGINNING OF THE TOUR, the tape got all fucked up and you could hear someone frantically rewinding and then fast-forwarding, trying to get it to match up to our location. This trip was doomed from the start.)
Oh at first it was funny. Watching the rich people cuddle to “How Deep Is Your Love”; Henry getting all nostalgic over “Muskrat Love”; laughing alone at “Afternoon Delight.” But then 20 minutes had turned into 45. The captain interrupted “Night Fever” to let us know that the electrician had arrived and you know, it should hopefully be any day now.
Ironically, “Blue Moon” came on and that poor toddler woke up just in time to witness his haggard mother dancing to it. “I wish she’d put her hat back on,” Henry mumbled, because her stupid baseball cap covered half her face and it was nice then. The less we had to see, the better. Then the younger of the two couples started drinking beer and apparently thought they were being HILARIOUS drunks. Mmm…maybe to fans of Dane Cook? Tyler Perry?
Chooch started to stress-cry at one point. I jokingly said, “Gee, Chooch. You just HAD to take a boat tour!” and I half-expected him to pick me up with his rage-muscles and punt me off the side of the boat.
He was, um, pretty pissed that I said that.
Mysteriously, the bridge-worker who was once behind me had disappeared. I wondered if he was on a lower deck, poring over blueprints.
Or getting fired.
Meanwhile, we kept catching glimpses of a hard-hatted man pacing along the top of the bridge like Bob the Fucking Bridgefixer. Unfortunately, it took him quite a while to fix it so the assholes in front of us started searching the boat for a deck of cards. Blue Moon Dancer came back and said that there was apparently one deck on the entire boat and someone beat them to it. Finally, a small victory for me. I don’t think I could have handled watching them play cards, but I also didn’t want to move from my seat because I was certain I would get ill. OH AND MY PHONE HAD DIED. I had to sit on this fucking boat with a dead phone. Motherfucker. (Henry’s was dead too and Chooch’s was in the car, waaaaaaah.)
After a while, I started having some pretty dark thoughts. I watched an airplane fly above us and began to imagine it crashing into the river, so now not only will we be stuck on a fucking boat, but now we’re stuck on a boat floating among plane crash carnage. I started imagining a storm coming in from Lake Erie (there actually were storms on the horizon, it looked so scary) and tipping the boat over. I started imagining that the Von Moneyfucks up there had mob ties and their fortune was primarily drug-money, probably some blood diamonds too, and now we’re about to get shot at from a rival Don who wants Sandy Toupee out of the game and THAT IS HOW I KNOW THE BRIDGE BROKE ON PURPOSE OMG.
I snapped out of my nightmare hypothesis mode when the captain came back on to tell us that the bridge had been successfully repaired, but it was temporarily operating on something that would only allow the bridge to literally creep up. Which meant we still had a good 25 minutes to continue to sit there, watching it raise like Huge Hefner’s penis.
Of course, I didn’t get to capture the entire boat exploding with cheers and applause when we were finally able to pass beneath the bridge and make our way back to the dock—which was another hour out of the day. Nearly 4 hours total, I was so pissed, and also slightly delirious.
“They could at least give us our fucking money back,” I cried angrily to Henry.
“Why? It wasn’t the boat’s fault,” was Henry’s rational response.
“I’M GOING TO WRITE A LETTER!” I bitched.
“To who*? The bridge?!” he asked sarcastically.
*(Henry doesn’t like saying “whom.” It makes his blue collar itch.)
It was after 7PM when we got off that fucking hostage boat, and nearly 10:30 by the time we got back to Pittsburgh. I can’t wait to add this to the evergrowing list of things Chooch likes to throw back in my face whenever we have an audience. “Remember that time that MOMMY made us take a BOAT TOUR and then the BRIDGE BROKE AND WE WERE STUCK FOR WEEKS WITH NO FOOD?! Oh how I hate her.”
Probably the last boat tour any of us will be taking in quite some time. Maybe even forever. Take THAT, boat tour industry.