It’s just been “July 4th” for me for several years now – just some rando’ day we get off work, yay. Nothing to celebrate unless you’re proud to be part of a nation of mass shootings, a nation that puts guns and fetuses over people, a nation that hates women, a nation with enough types of racism, prejudice, and homophobia that Crayola could create a new box of crayons with an ugly-ass shade for each.
I want to say something like “I wish I could back to a time when I was ignorant to how shitty America is and was able to celebrate the 4th of July the way commercials and extremely biased text books told me to” but really, I wish I knew back then what I know now.
(Speaking of Wayzzzz, I got to be in control of Henry’s Waze while he was driving over the weekend and why oh why (oh did I ever leave Ohio – sorry, there’s my Back to the Beach quoting tic acting up again) is it so relentlessly funny to me to comment “Stan <insert any Kpop group here>” on traffic alerts?! Forever Fifteen over here.)
This was our last day in Michigan, and I was stoked because Jessi & Bill were available to meet us for breakfast before we headed out!
Chooch already didn’t want to pose for this but as I was taking it, I shouted, “MOMMY’S BIG BOY NEXT TO BIG BOY!” and he pretty much wanted to smash himself inside that hamburger and let Big Boy masticate him.
You guys, I took a picture this time!
Breakfast was fun! We don’t have any Big Boys left in Pittsburgh (that I know of, anyway) so it was fun being back in one. I got to tell the table about how Big Boy was the catalyst to my becoming a serial pen paller in the late 80’s/90’s (Henry has probably heard this story a dozen times at this boiling point in our relationship but he sat there quietly and indulged me). Back in the 80s, the Big Boy’s kids menu was its own separate entity. None of that getting a tiny after thought in the regular menu, kids got what was essentially an activity book with food offerings sprinkled in there somewhere between animal facts and a word search.
But on the back, that’s where it really got cookin’. Kids could submit their names and addresses for penpal purposes!! This was huge! I was always so excited to go to Big Boy so I could collect more kids to write to. Granted back then, our exchanges didn’t go much deeper than HI HOW ARE YOU IT IS RAINING HERE TODAY GOTTA GO TIME FOR DINNER! But it was an excuse to go to Kmart and buy Lisa Frank stationary! (I would later upgrade to better stationary stores, don’t you worry.) To this day, I associate Pirates baseball games with summer nights, laying on the floor of the living room and writing QUALITY CONTENT on unicorn’d paper while my dad watched the game on TV and summer bug sounds droned in from the window screens.
I REALLY miss the 80s a lot. Like, everyday a lot.
Eventually, Big Boy published MY name and address in one of the menus! It was like, my crowning glory as a youth. Maybe even greater than winning first place in a coloring contest in Mrs. Zombek’s 1st grade class.
(I hung on to that for YEARS….)
(….and clearly am still clinging.)
Eventually I graduated to the “cool teen years” of penpalling, where one would order address labels that would also include pertinent penpal-attracting stats, like your age and a hobby or two. I had one set that I remember vividly probably because I’m pretty sure I still have some and must have recently uncovered them, but they had Marvin the Martian on them (inexplicably – I was never actually into that??), said that I played tennis, and NO PREPS OR POSERS PLZ.
I mean, duh.
These came in handy for sticking inside SLAM BOOKS, which were tiny booklets started by one person who would put their info in it, send it on to one of their penpals who would also add something, and etc etc etc until the last page would get filled and that person was responsible for sending it back to the creator. I *lived* for these.
All of this was just the gateway to the real BIG BOY (not sorry) of penpalling, which was PRISONER PENPALS. Man, those were the days (as I shuffle through today’s mail and see that my death row pen pal has written to me).
Where am I going with this. Help me, I’m trapped in my head again.
OK I face-slapped myself back to present day. After our waitress asked us for the 57th time if we needed anything else, we felt that perhaps it was time to get rolling before she came back with the lunch specials.
I was overly excited that Big Boy had Korean won on their wall! Chooch actually pointed it out first, ugh, gotta give credit where credit’s due, I suppose.
I wanted to try and snag a stranger to take a full group photo for us but literally no one was coming or going. So Henry was all, “OH DARN, I GUESS I WILL JUST DO IT.”
Jessi & Bill are literally on the super short list of my favorite people of all time, no exaggeration, and I am so happy that we got to spend some time with them. I was sad to leave BUT they said that they might be able to come to the pie party (oh shit did I tell you, dear blog, that we’re having a pie party again after five years?? More later) in September so I’m not allowing myself to get too emo over here.
My favorite thing about them is that they’re not just friends of mine and Henry’s – they’re Chooch’s friends too! They have been in his life since he was like, 2, and he freaking adores them so much. Plus, they brought out his pleasant side all weekend and he was willingly telling stories and just being overall decent. I wanted to scream out, “There’s the Chooch I know and love!”
Don’t worry, as soon as we pulled out of the Big Boy parking lot, he was suffocated by all of our annoying traits and general parent-ness, so all was righted in our world again.
Jessi sent me their versions of some of the photos taken on Saturday and I’m cracking up because I hadn’t originally noticed the sign that says NOBODY PUTS BABY ON A UNICORN!!
OMG I loved this store and this day so much.
LITERALLY THE BEST PEOPLE YOU WILL EVER MEET.
Then we drove home with very little drama – no big fights, etc. Even though the three of us in a hotel room is usually cramped hell and I am dying for personal space fifteen minutes in, I really love our road trips so much. I’m glad that Henry was so agreeable when I was like, “Hey we should visit Jessi and Bill, and oh yeah, while we’re at it, we could also just pop right on up to Michigan’s Adventure…” and by “pop right on up” I mean drive an additional 3.5 hours, but sure why not!
Look forward to the Michigan’s Adventure recap here soon, or don’t! Dread it, even! I don’t care!
(Just kidding, I do care. I want everyone to look forward to my dumb blog posts. Wah.)