It wouldn’t have seemed right not to go, so Henry came home a little early on Monday and by 10:30am we were en route to the Penguins Victory Parade downtown. Now, I live a 5-minute’s drive from downtown, so I suggested that we just take the trolley, which is within a few blocks from our house. But Henry, good ol’ Henry, he’s all, “Oh no no no, we’ll drive and park at Station Square (which is right across from the river from town and has several parking lots) that way you can just drop me off at work after the parade.”
Immediately I was leery of this great plan.
We reached Station Square and, naturally, were met with gridlocked traffic because of course every fucking person outside of the city limits swarms en masse like fucking Syrian locusts looking for a parking spot to plague. (Just remember who suggested taking the trolley.)
We crawled ahead a few feet in five minutes, and it occured to me to ask, “You have money to park, right?”
Let me reiterate that for the few people who might think Henry is actually smart: He said no.
OF COURSE HE DIDN’T BRING MONEY. Why should I have been surprised at all.
What happened next may seem like an accident but I’m convinced it was carefully plotted stratagem.
“Jump out and go to that ATM,” Henry ordered, pointing across the street. “No one’s going anywhere, so don’t worry about me leaving,” he laughed, sweeping his hand out the window at all the cars idling ahead of us.
Funny how in the ONE MINUTE it took me to take out money, he was GONE. I’m not kidding. And where I had gotten out was right about where the road split, and then there were three different lot entrances he could have gone through.
I convinced myself not to panic and for the first minute I did really well. But after that, I sat on a retaining wall and cried behind my Mary-Kate sunglasses while throngs of excited Pens fans trampled past me, on their way to the parade that I just wasn’t destined to attend. I kept thinking I’d see Henry and Chooch amid one of these packs of fans, but they never emerged from any of the lots. I was four years old again, lost in the grocery store and all the faces looking down on me had the morphed and oblong faces of the kidnappers in my nightmares and I just knew the rest of my childhood was going to be spent in a moldy cellar eating stale crackers and Cheez-Whiz in front of a constant loop of American Gladiator reruns, if I was even that lucky.
Oh but I could just call Henry, IF ONLY I HAD MY PHONE. Which was in my purse. Which was in the car.
I WAS OMG LOST I’M GOING TO DIE. And scared. And pathetic. My future was looking grim, like I would never reunite with my family and left to my own devices, how would I ever survive long enough to make it home? I had a twenty in my pocket but if I came upon a panhandler, you just know I’d be guilted into buying that bastard a Big Mac, Hustler, and a jug of Old Crow.
So I sat there, on that wall, hugging my knees to my chest and feeling desperate and completely sorry for myself, and I even heard myself whimper once or sixteen times. And then I thought, “Jesus Christ, did I just whimper in real life?”
It took me twenty-minutes to find someone willing to let me use their phone. His name was Tyrone and he was a janitor who literally LEANED BACK and slid his glasses down so he could ogle my tits while I was trying to locate Henry.
“Your man LEFT YOU?” he asked when I handed the phone back, clucking his tongue to illustrate just how appalling this was to him.
Look Tyrone, NOT ON THIS DAY, my friend. I thanked him, shook his hand (he held his grasp a little too long and I was honestly bouncing on the balls of my feet because hello, I was about to miss this fucking parade. I had to walk in the opposite direction to meet Henry and Chooch. They were relegated to a lot a good half mile away from where I was with Tyrone, and Henry needed the cash I took out so he could get his license back from the lot attendant who was leaving soon.
I ran as fast my boobs, sans sports bra, would allow me, and when I finally met up with those two assholes, I yelled, “Do you know how scary it is being lost???” to which Henry replied, “Um, you’re an ADULT.”
Yeah, adults go missing too, asshole. I was practically a sitting duck back there, any serial rapist could have dumped a burlap sack over me and THEN WHAT. My body becomes a penis cozy, that’s what.
To summarize what happened next – Chooch was being an asshole, Henry was being slow, and I lost my fucking temper on a walkway next to the RIVER, and I hate the RIVER. I hate a clusterfuck. I mean, who doesn’t. And it was about a second away from defeating me. I was ready to go home. I was sick of ambling around that fucking parking lot with no direction and I took this plastic snack bowl of Chooch’s and whaled it against the pavement, screamed “FUCK” in several different contexts, and demanded Henry take me home. Seriously, Henry had parked so far away that there wasn’t a soul around to hear my moment of crazy lady anguish. But Henry got that hissed tone of his and goes, “I am NOT going home after making it this far, we’re going to this fucking parade.”
We eventually caught up with the rest of the last-minute stragglers, walked across the Smithfield Street Bridge, which of course made me convulse and re-eat my breakfast, and somehow, someway, found a really nice spot right on the parade route that wasn’t clogged with gyrating and sweaty fans fifteen-heads deep.
And all the frustrating pratfalls of that morning became worth it as soon as the parade started and I found myself crying again, but in a good way this time.
Seriously. Mario Lemieux.
Typically, I’d have found 1,000 people to hate in one minute flat on any other day, but on Monday I loved everyone. (Not Henry, though.)
Hossa: Always the bridesmaid, never the bride.
You guys! Billy Guerin, you guys! You guys OMG!
Three of my faves, one truck: ORPIK!!, Cooke, and Sykora. I cried.
Malkin was the only one I couldn’t get a good shot of, because every girl started boinging up and down with thrusted boobs, waving their ring fingers frantically. I may or may not have been apart of that.
Oh hello, best hockey player in the world. Fleury was on the other side of him.
I want so badly for Jessi to have this shirt, and to always stand in that exact pose while she’s wearing it.
These were set off as we were making the long trek back to the car. Henry told Chooch they were day fireworks, but Chooch heard it as “gay” fireworks, so that’s all he’s been talking about. “Mommy, remember when we saw the gay fireworks?” And then I have so many things I want to say to that but there’s only so much a three-year-old’s mind can handle.
(We may be the “City of Champions,” but I still don’t like the Steelers. Except when they’re playing the Bengals.)