Jul 122013


After a morning spent breakfasting & Bordening in Fall River, we began our official trek back home to Pittsburgh. This included a million miles of Connecticut. I had decided months ago that we had to stop in Mystic, because I thought we had a nice time there when we visited in 2002.

I guess I thought wrong, because aside from eating at Mystic Pizza (which Henry wouldn’t let me do the last time because he sucks) and shopping, there wasn’t much going on. I refused to pay to do shit at the Seaport, and the gift shop was full of shit I didn’t care about, anyway. I’m pretty sure you have to be wearing Dockers to give a shit about Mystic Seaport.


This place is a total tourist trap, thanks to the fact that it was the inspiration behind the 1988 Julia Roberts movie Mystic Pizza. But I really loved that movie when I was a kid and therefore, I had to eat there even though I wasn’t in the least bit in the mood for pizza.

The staff at Mystic Pizza could have very been cardboard cutouts on wheels. No personality and not memorable at all—a stark contrast from the waitstaff we encountered everywhere in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, with the exception from the weird broad in Salem who treated us like illegal aliens and acted like she couldn’t understand a word of our exotic Pittsburgh-speak. (And we don’t even have the typical Pittsburgh Yinzer accent!) The teenage hostess stared at us with deadened eyes and made me feel so uncomfortable. But, from her standpoint, we were clearly tourists (none of us were wearing boat shoes) so she probably knew we were there to gawk.

At what? Framed movie stills upon the walls? It really wasn’t that big of a deal.


But the pizza was pretty good, you guys! I don’t know if I’d consider it a slice of heaven, because that’s typically something sweet and pillowy, but it was pretty good as far as pizza goes.

So if you’re ever in Mystic and aren’t bothered by standoffish waitresses and TGIFriday-esque interior design, go have yourself some fucking decent pizza.

Yes, I’m available for commercials. Well, my cardboard cutout is, anyway.


Here, let’s ask Henry if he liked it:

[I’ve been waiting three hours and he hasn’t responded, so I think that translates into a “NO COMMENT.”]



To Chooch, it was just a restaurant. WTF does he know about “coming-of-age tales” and Lili Taylor? Kid hasn’t even seen “Say Anything” yet.

Yep, it was just a restaurant in which he pooped.

Afterward, we went to get ice cream, and when I say “we,” I mean that Chooch and I yelled to Henry what we wanted and then frolicked off to never, neverland while Henry had to stand in line with people wearing Dockers and boat shoes. Then he turned around and started screaming at us because we had the NERVE to choose a picnic table that was furthest away and god forbid Henry should have to transport our frozen delights ALL THAT WAY so he made us move closer. This angered Chooch and me because we happened to like the picnic table we chose.

“Excuse us for wanting to sit somewhere we could privately converse while looking out into the water,” I hissed at Henry, who gave me a “get serious” look because he knew we were actually sitting over there and making fun of people and probably talking about totally hedonistic topics.

It was still Really Hot, so Chooch’s ice cream began to melt immediately. Dripping Ice Cream Clean-Up is the one part of parenthood I graciously let Henry have. He’s good at mopping messes, literally and metaphorically.



Henry, Life’s Janitor.



From Mystic, we made our way to Waterbury to see my friend Jessa. I was so stoked about this, but also nervous as shit because we’ve never met in real life before! Just in fables and fairy tales. And usually when people meet me for the first time, I’m your basic Mystic Pizza waitress.

Jessa and I first met online back in 2008 when she stumbled across my blog. In fact, she was probably one of the first non-LiveJournal friends I made on Oh Honestly, Erin. She was blogging regularly then, and we quickly became friends through that and Twitter and then once we discovered that we share a love for similar bands, it was a done deal. She is my musical kindred spirit (Isles and Glaciers, FTW!) and we are always lamenting that we live too far away to go to shows together.

The original plan was to visit her at work, which I was on board with because she works for a florist and now that I’m into raising plants, I was going to buy a new one to add to my office orphanage. But as per the norm, we were behind schedule (I blame Henry and his 30-minute Best Buy pit stop in Rhode Island when he was like, “OK! FINE! UNCLE! I’m buying a fucking GPS.”) so Jessa was already home. I wasn’t sure if she’d want to let in some Pennsylvania Internet riffraff into her home, but she was like “bitch please” and that is how Chooch wound up in his slice of Heaven: a house with 6 cats, 2 rabbits and cagefuls of birds!

“This is going to be the only part of the vacation he remembers, just watch,” I laughed as he made himself at home and scavaged around her house for cats.

He gets that rudeness from Henry.


Downton Bunny and Hopkins meet.

Anyway, it turned out to be not awkward at all! We hung out in her kitchen for about an hour and it was so easy!


Chooch was like, “This house rules, I’m staying.”


I even let her take a picture with me!

Hopefully we get to hang out again soon, and that her husband Simon didn’t think we were totally creepy vagabonds. I was sad that he didn’t talk while we there because he’s from New Zealand and Chooch could have added another accent to his collection. Henry later observed that he thinks he and Simon would probably get along pretty well, because Henry also doesn’t choose to speak much and he pointed that out that Simon was watching some dude-centric television show that Henry has also watched at some point, and I guess it really doesn’t take much more than that for two dudes to find each other in this world and start calling each other “cuz.”

Henry’s strategy for the next leg of our trip was to “keep driving for as long as possible until we reach Pennsylvania.” Somehow, we ended up staying at the same Red Roof Inn from our trip to Knoebel’s last spring and this totally blew my mind that we went from Connecticut to here, because I do not understand how maps or geography or Our Country Tis of Thee works.

Chooch and I are still wearing our Knoebels wristbands from April 27th so I thought it would be a brilliant idea to go there the next day and see if we could sneak on some rides but Henry just frowned and shat upon my sparkly brilliance. I guess he had already met his year’s quota of fun and any more merriment would probably put him in his grave.


The next morning, we ate breakfast at Mom’s Dutch Kitchen and I was so giddy about this because I was vetoed the last time I tried to eat here.


It was so creepy inside! Super crappy gift shop, an irritable old waitress who scowled as soon as she saw we had a kid in tow, and dusty Easter decorations on the windowsill.


But it had a peg game! Henry was glad about that.


We wised up and coaxed Chooch into ordering cereal because at least we know that’s on the short list of shit he’ll eat. The waitress was agrivated about having to list his choices, but at least she wasn’t a blank personality! She actually reminded me of how Henry’s mom must have been when she was a waitress. God, I wish I had been around for those days.

The food was good, though! Better than chain restaurant breakfasts, because it had that DUTCHLY HOME-COOKED FEEL to it. And no one got sick afterward.

And that was it. We got home around 2PM and I nearly smothered Marcy’s spirit right the fuck out of her. I MISSED HER SO MUCH!!

I’m still going through post-vacation withdrawals though. I miss my faraway friends! Big ups to anyone who managed to read all of these posts! You might be next on my list of people to impose upon visit!

Jul 112013


This fucking sword! Matt and Kristen had to go along with impromptu decapitations and amputations for the rest of the evening, because you never knew when Chooch was going to slash you with a balloon sword in 100 degree weather. I kept hoping he would pop it off Henry’s beard. Chooch didn’t want to get publicly strangled by blue latex, so not once did he hit me with that stupid sword.

During our trek, we passed numerous stands where Boston Strong ribbons and memorabilia were being sold, and banners hung everywhere. It was super bittersweet. Part of me wanted to ask about where the recent bombings happened, but I didn’t want to be That Person. (Even though we all totally know that I am.)


“Aw, duuuude. The Bruins are totally gonna with the Cup tanight.” Totally what that guy was saying.

Matt asked if we were ready to eat dinner and I emphatically said yes but in lieu of food, I was actually salivating over the thought of an air-conditioned room and a cold glass of water. With ice cubes. Water with ice cubes! It was all I really wanted. Who knew I could ever want something so basic.

Every little eating establishment we passed, Chooch would say, “Can’t we just eat there?” and Kristen would tell him that place wasn’t good, or it was dumb, and I really appreciated that because he usually needs to hear this shit from other people. Otherwise, he will turn into an asshole because, “YOU GUYS NEVER GO WHERE I WANT TO GO!” and then the whole, “OMG OUR ENTIRE LIVES ARE PLANNED AROUND YOU SO STFU!” argument happens. I also appreciated it because it pretty much was always a stupid place he was pointing to. Get a life, Chooch.


I think this was where Matt got us LOST! Look at Henry’s expression. I’m sure he’s thinking about how, if he were leading us, he’d never get us lost, and I really wish he would have said that out loud so I could have jabbed him in the face with Chooch’s stupid sword while recounting the multiple times he led us astray in Salem — only a few hours ago! Get fucked with your stupid stripes, Hank.


Meanwhile, Chooch witnessed a real life interaction between two native Bostonians when a shop owner ran into a mailman he knew and the two began jovially shouting salutations and niceties across traffic. Literally, things like, “HOW’S THE WIFE, PALLY?” It was so stereotypical that part of me wondered if a TV show was being filmed.

Chooch lapped all of this up and then when it was over, he whispered in awe, “It was just like Alyson said!” That may have been the highlight of Boston for him.


“Seriously, are we walking back to Pittsburgh? Because it feels like it.” In the backround, Matt consults his phone for directions.


Heat and all, I really enjoyed the walk, but that’s not to say I wasn’t internally having a Fuck Yes dance party when we arrived at Faneuil Hall, which I still can’t pronounce even though Kristen repeated it for me like 87 times and I had to Google the spelling of it just now even though it’s right there on that Boston Strong banner in the above picture.


We melted, dripped and oozed inside the door to McCormick & Schmick’s where Matt and Kristen spoiled us with a lovely, super-filling dinner. When our waiter dropped off some bread for us, I was half-tempted to use a slice to soak up the oily sheath of humidity that was making my face look like the finest glazed ham up in that piece. And thank god the waiter was so overzealous with his water-pourin’, because I think we all had chugged the shit out of our glasses. I so badly wanted to nuzzle the glass and all of its sweet, COLD condensation against my neck.

In case you didn’t know, it was approximately the same temperature as the inside of a hippo suit at a Tunisian sex camp during Furry Porn Week out there in Boston. (Although, it’s been awhile since my last trip to Tunisia so I’m basing this off memory.) Thankfully, it hadn’t been that hot the night before at Hampton Beach, or I would have had to give the finger to the Summer Wind restaurant and it’s broken air conditioning.

Chooch got mac n’ cheese and complained about it because he’s a kid and that is what kids do, I guess. I wouldn’t know, because when I was his age, I was eating lobster and other fancy things because I was amazing and spoiled. I made some comment about how it’s hard for any restaurant to match up when I make the world’s best mac n’ cheese, which made Henry almost choke on his eyeballs, but Chooch agreed! Probably only because he doesn’t know any better.

Other than not eating, Chooch was relatively civilized during dinner, which is always cause for a big exhale afterward. You never know how restaurants and children are going to mesh! It’s known to be a volatile combo sometimes.

Matt and Kristen wanted to order a bottle of wine, and asked Henry and me if we would drink some, too. Me? Wine? Fuck yes. But the thought of Henry drinking wine made me LOL openly. Maybe if they had a Faygo-flavored blend. Our efficient water-pouring waiter asked to see my ID when Kristen ordered the wine, and since I’m so fucking naive, I didn’t realize he was joking until after I had dug through my purse for my drivers license, so then the waiter felt obliged I guess to feign shock over the fact that I’m 33 when I only really look 16. Nice try, buddy.

[Ed.Note: After I posted this, Kristen pointed out that I missed the best part of dinner, when Chooch was doing some word activity thing on the back of his placemat, one of those “How many words can you make out of these letters” games, and the first word he found was “retard.” That’s my boy!]

It had started to cool off a little bit by the time we finished dinner. Kristen had to take a work call as soon as we left McCormick & Schmick’s, which is something she will probably live to regret for the rest of her life. (Or at least a few days.)

Because she wasn’t there to veto my desire to “stick around and check out this promising street performer.”

“Oh, can we stay for this? CAN WE!?” I asked Matt, who shrugged a silent “OK, but guaranteed this guy is going to suck.” Besides, I had already made eye contact with Bob (that’s his name, and he’s a JUGGLER), so I felt obliged. Plus, literally only 3 other people listened to him when he called out for people to stay and gather in close to him for some semblance of an audience.


Chooch got to assist with removing a ball from his tube.

I mean…

Basically, this guy took decent juggling skills and mired it down with a heavy-handed, mildly-racist comedy script. And he made two young guys volunteer (the one was so resistant and by the end looked semi-homicidal) for a grand finale that may or may not have happened because we grew bored watching and then it started to rain REALLY HARD which is my fault because had we ignored Bob the Shitty Juggler in the first place, we probably would have been back at Matt and Kristen’s apartment.


But it was worth it just to see how totally annoyed Kristen was. Oh my god, she HATED BOB from the moment she returned from her work call and proceeded to spend the next—-how much time did we waste on Bob? 20 minutes? 30? seemed like a lifetime—xx minutes finding different ways to say that he sucked. Maybe the wine from dinner played a role in this, but I could NOT stop cheering ironically, which gave me laughing fits that required me to bury my face in Henry’s arm several times.


Kristen and Chooch got lost at the T station and admittedly, part of me was like, “Yay! No more balloon sword!” But then Matt wrangled them up.


Pondering about Bob. “How did he do all of those magnificent stunts!?”


Another blurry picture. I’m so mad that I left the real camera at home. WTF kind of amateur tourist am I?!


Hung out for a little bit back at Matt and Kristen’s. Kristen continued to win Chooch’s heart by sitting on the floor with him and asking him to help her play games on her iPad. Friends Forever!

It was so awesome seeing them again and I wish we had gotten there earlier like we had planned. Blame Henry. Besides, Matt probably wanted some privacy to watch “The Craft.”

Made our way out of Boston and found some lame hotel somewhere relatively close to Fall River and found out that the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup! But then I felt guilty for being so gleeful because it was hard not to get caught up in the excitement being in Boston and wanting to be all “Boston Strong, yo!”

Seriously, YOU try living with this dichotomy.

Henry sent me up to the second floor of the hotel ALONE AND IN THE DARK OF THE NIGHT to unlock the door and I was very nearly kidnapped while he stayed in the parking lot devising a way to carry every single piece of luggage all on his lone person. Bob the Juggler could’ve done it, but not without pretending to fail for 20 minutes while telling really frustrating jokes.

Chooch fell asleep immediately with Bunny Stew (he’s really into bunnies these days):



Several days after we came home, Henry texted me a picture he took of the TV. It was Faneuil Hall (WTF, had to scroll up for the spelling; I hate this word!!) from some show Henry was watching on the Food Network. “No Bob, though ;(” Henry captioned the picture. Bob the Juggler: NEVER FORGET.


Jul 092013


It’s 103 motherfucking degrees. Panic.

It took Professional Driver Henry nearly 30 minutes just to find his way out of Salem and I could have sworn he was doing this on purpose to make me even more anxious. We were already several hours behind schedule and I was pissed because this was cutting into prime Matt & Kristen Hang-Out Time.

I met Matt a super long time ago on LiveJournal, I’m going to say 2005. I know it was definitely pre-Chooch and definitely while I was in the height of being a member of some of the douchier communities on LiveJournal. I know you’re shocked to learn that I was an asshole on the Internet. There were these totally elitist, pretentious journal rating communities in which I was a “reviewer,” which basically meant I got to help decide if other people were good enough to belong. It was so incredibly dick-headish and I’m sure I don’t even need to elaborate to get anyone to agree. And that’s how Matt and I became friends, out of a mutual love for flaming people, I guess. All these years later and he still comes up with some of the best zingers, especially when Henry or Pittsburgh is involved. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said to Henry, “Haha, guess what Matt said about you?”

In 2007, Matt and his girlfriend Kristen relocated from Boston to Seattle and decided to turn the moving process into a cross country road trip and I was lucky enough to make the list of people they wanted to see. Of course it was surreal and super-awkward, because I am super-awkward, but it was really awesome at the same time because how often do you get to meet your online buddies in real life? Although, I remember Matt called me a SHRINKING VIOLET or something like that on his journal afterward and I was all, “OMG that’s so true but I am still going to pout about it!”

Meanwhile, Kristen and I had recently been getting better acquainted via email and when she told me that she and Matt were moving back  to Boston last winter, it all fell into place so perfectly.

Plus, Chooch has been talking for the last few months about how he inexplicably wants to move to Boston, so he was on board for this leg of the road trip. It was all fun and games for me, too, until the BRUINS beat my PENGUINS in the Eastern Conference Finals to advance to the STANLEY CUP FINALS. What perfect timing, you assholes. And to add insult to injury, there was a home game that too.

Jesus, it was around 4PM by the time Henry un-lost us in Matt’s neighborhood and we pulled up to his apartment building. As soon as Matt came out to greet us, I kept hoarsely whispering, “Ask him!” to Chooch, who kept giving me a “STOP IT” look and shaking his head.

“What do you want to ask me?” Matt asked Chooch, who glared at me in response. I kept prodding him, but he wouldn’t budge, so finally I blurted out, “I TOLD HIM YOU’RE A WITCH AHAHAHAHAHA!” I don’t know why this was so hilarious to me. Henry just sighed, Chooch looked embarrassed to be my son, and Matt was just like, “Oh. No, I’m not a witch.”

It was just funny to me, OK? And it still is!! I just now pictured Matt playing Light As a Feather with Fairuza Balk and now I’m cracking up all over again.


That lady could be dead but no one cares.

After we got the awkward hugging over with, Matt took us inside where Kristen was waiting and I was so happy to see her! Chooch got to meet their cats, Reggie and Chloe, so of course he was like, “This is the best place in the entire world.” We probably could have just sat in the apartment all evening and he would have been content. But as it turned out, we got to ride the T downtown! I was excited to ride a T that was not the one I ride every day to work, and this one was a real city T which means it was super scary, fast and hot. As soon as the doors closed, I immediately began to perspire. Thankfully, I wasn’t the only one sweating, as evidenced when the stranger next to me got too close and our moist skin briefly touched. It was about as erotic as it sounds, you guys.


Matt and Kristen made sure that we got off at a stop directly across from the stupid BOSTON GARDEN so that I could choke back bile at the sight of all the jubilant Bruins fans. Meanwhile, Chooch thought it would be funny to say disparaging things about the Bruins and we were all kind of like, “Um, please, not here.” I mean, it was bad enough he could have popped off with his fake Boston accent at any second, and now he’s ridiculing their beloved hockey team and wanting to tell everyone we’re from Pittsburgh? Not sure if I’m willing to take a punch for him.


“Just admit that Boston was the better team,” Matt tried to reason after the 87th bitter comment fled from my lips. “They’re your daddy.”




Cemetery swag? I don’t even know what to say about this.

After being  forced to cross dozens of busy downtown streets without proper preparation (I am a street-crossing phobe), we arrived at one of the old, creepy historic burying grounds. There were informational signs spread out, giving brief histories on select corpses and featured a picture of the respective tombstone, which Chooch and I treated as an I Spy game. Not sure if that’s what it was intended for, but if you’re like me, every last motherfucking thing is a competition. And it just so happens that Chooch is like me. A lot like me.

Of course, I won each time, but Chooch tried in vain to pretend that he was the winner, prompting Matt to observe that Chooch and I make the exact same smug winner’s face.


Originally, we thought that this was some sort of mass burial dump, but it turns out the T was down there. Henry and Matt seemed satisfied with this conclusion, but not me.


“Look, Henry made friends,” Matt pointed out, getting me all worked up in spite of the 485 degree heat. I was only able to capture one shitty picture before Henry’s Erin-sensor started to prickle and he stalked away from his new age-appropriate friends. I wonder if they were talking about the WAR. I tried to ask him, but he wouldn’t answer me so I bet it’s true.


We stopped at another burying ground a few blocks away. Matt tried to give me a “This or Boston Commons” ultimatum but I was like, “Both.” And I won, yay!



At first, we thought Henry was really into this (not Ben) Franklin character, but it turned out he just wanted to show us that he could read. Kinda.

After stomping on dead bodies, we made it to Boston Commons, where Matt and some random stroller-pushing dad with a thick Boston dialect had an intense conversation about the Padres, inspired by Matt’s baseball cap. What really happened was the guy started spouting off his knowledge about the baseball team while Matt said, “OK.” And as the dad speed-walked past us with the stroller, he shouted over his shoulder, “And they shoulda won in ’92, ’98, ’02 and ’05!” (I made those dates up.)


We stopped and let Chooch play at a playground with real life Boston spawn and Henry bought him a balloon sword. God, Chooch gets everything! But actually, it was nice to sit down for a few minutes after Matt’s Walking Tour of 100° Terror. And there were kids playing with the water fountain nearby so every once in awhile, we get the slightest little splash and I would be reminded of cooler, less sweaty times.

Kristen started telling us about some unintentionally-creepy bed and breakfast she stayed at for work, somewhere in Pennsylvania, and one of the rooms was clown-themed. Henry frowned through the whole conversation because he knows that he will now have to take me there. Thanks, Kristen!

Meanwhile, Chooch’s sword popped so Matt bought him another one, because he’s a sucker. Balloon swords are annoying! Especially in the hands of Chooch. I really enjoyed all of the occasions that thing got adhered to my disgustingly sweaty skin.


Weird flowers that no one knew the name of! NOT EVEN HENRY. WHAT.



I’m going to stop here for now.








Jul 052013


One long lady.

Hey! You! Tired of reading this yet? Don’t worry, I’m tired of writing it! But I’m almost done. Probably just two more posts to go. WE WILL GET THROUGH THIS TOGETHER!

We departed New Hampshire on the mornning of June 24th, making our way back into Massachusetts way behind schedule, but Professional Driver Henry reminded me that if we had left the hotel as early as I wanted, we’d have been stuck in the rush hour commute to Boston. I was not happy about this wrench in my plans.


We arrived in Salem sometime after 11:00 I think and immediately stopped at the Witch Museum. I felt that it was really imperative for Chooch to suffer through the hour-long presentation with other strangers, most of which happened to be French tourists and required translator headphones. The woman I was sitting next to was using a pair and I would occasionally hear parts of it when the French narrator would raise his voice to put emphasis on all of the ACTION that was unraveling.

Henry and I spent an entire day in Salem back in 2002 and being there this time around made me realize that my memory either sucks or I purposely blacked a lot out because Henry and I used to fight so much back then. Because I didn’t remember SHIT about anything we saw in Salem. Henry kept saying, “Yeah, don’t you remember…” and my response every time was, “Nope.”

I did, however, remember the glowing red circle in the middle of the museum floor, commemorating all of the names of the victims during the Salem witch trials, because I had a really terrible coughing fit while everyone was gathered around, trying to learn about some witch shit. At least they changed it so now everyone gets to sit down. I mean, if I’m paying to get into this so-called museum, the least you could do is give my fat ass a bench.

<Insert lesson witches here.>

Ironically, the second half of the tour was led by some old broad who was having a coughing fit. There was also a crying baby. And rude French women. And here I was worried about Chooch acting inappropriately.

Afterward, Henry had to go feed the meter and instructed us to walk to the visitor’s center on our own. We made it about five feet before coming to an alley, at which point I clotheslined Chooch and said, “WAIT. Let’s hide from daddy.”

So we stood just inside the mouth of the alley, giggling like evil assholes, doing pee jigs, waiting for Henry to round the corner so we could jump out and make an even bigger spectacle. (There were already old people across the street watching us nervously.)

“It’s taking him so long!” Chooch sighed.

“Yeah, I don’t remember the car being that far away,” I agreed, starting to get agitated.

“I’ll go check it out,” Chooch declared seriously, like the appointed superhero for Fathers We Want To Scare But Are Missing. Meanwhile, I dialed Henry’s number.

“Where are you?!” I screamed when Henry casually answered, not at all sounding like a parent who just left his peeps alone in a strange city in 100 degree heat.

“Just walking down the sidewalk, behind some people acting like assholes.” And I turned to find him walking toward us from the direction we were supposed to have walked before getting sidetracked by something more devious. So then I had to go and retrieve Chooch, who was still trying to contort his body around the corner of the building like a human periscope. I hate when Henry thwarts us.


He pretty much didn’t walk with us for the rest of the day.


Stopped at some café and got an iced maple latte fuck yes!  And Chooch got a strawberry smoothie because that’s his “thing,” apparently. Who cares what Henry got. Something boring.


Stopped at Count Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery to ogle some of horror movie favorites, and then hit up the cemetery, natch.



I mean, it would be weird if we went on vacation and didn’t visit a cemetery, right?



Chooch was mad because there were approximately 87 different haunted attractions that he wanted to check out, but we didn’t have time. Kept trying to tell him that we’ll probably be going back in October, but he was beginning to reach the Dickhead Precipice.




Someone littered their empty coffee cup in the cemetery and I was so pissed off about it. You don’t leave your trash in a cemetery, especially not one so old and historical! So I quietly gulped and picked it up and then proceeded to be stuck carrying it for an entire 4 blocks before finally coming across a garbage can, I was so fucking pissed off.


“Don’t you have enough pictures of your kid in a cemetery?” asked everyone who has ever read this blog, even once.




Town Hall, I guess.


Seriously, look at how far ahead of us Henry stays! God, I’m offended.


I deemed it imperative to find the post office before we left so I could finally get stamps for my postcards since the Fireside Inn LIED about having stamps! (Actually, they did, but they were supposedly “locked in the manager’s office” and he wasn’t in yet. I guess they have a stamp theft problem in Nashua.) Not surprisingly, Salem’s post office was all big and grand. Exactly how all post offices should be, and not tiny cement shoeboxes full of defeat and deadened eyes like the one in my dumb town. While Henry stood in line for stamps, Chooch and I took that as our cue to clamor up the marble stairs and check out the creepy upstairs, which was basically just a hallway lined with therapist offices and art studios. And a locked bathroom door, which sucked because I was really afraid Chooch wasn’t going to make it.


And then we reached the point of the day known in some regions as “Erin and Chooch are Hungry and Now Everyone Must Suffer.” Henry frantically tried to find somewhere suitable for us to eat. Just kidding. Henry is never frantic. Always calm and monotone. Except for that time a camel began devouring my hand. For some reason, Henry responded to that in a frantic manner. Maybe because he cares?? No. Probably because he didn’t want his hand jobs to suffer.

Anyway, we ended up a pub called the Witch’s Brew. Of course it was called the Witch’s Brew.


I don’t think our waitress liked us. Either that or she actually was really struggling to understand our WEIRD PENNSYLVANIAN dialect. Each one of us had to repeat ourselves to her twice and, after a simple surveillance of her interacting with other tables, I don’t think she had a hearing problem.

Chooch especially was getting pissed off at her not understanding him. Poor kid was just trying to order chocolate milk and she reacted like he asked to suck it from her teat.

“What??” she asked him in a voice that Alyson would have had a field day with.


I feel the same way, Chooch.


And then Henry confiscated our knives!!

Three hours later than I had planned, we were finally on our way to Boston to spend the day with our friends Matt and Kristen (after Henry literally drive in circles around Salem for a good 30 minutes before getting stuck in some random mid-day traffic). It was about an hour’s drive, and I used it wisely — by convincing Chooch that Matt is a witch.

Jul 042013


After the beach, we spent the rest of the evening on the boardwalk which was my favorite part because I love boardwalks. Especially boardwalks that also have rides, which this one did not but that’s OK because it still had a 1980s vibe to it, as evidenced by the postcard Chooch and I bought for Barb:


Nothing was NEW and FLASHY about Hampton Beach and that made it easier to imagine all of the Lost Boys-era Corey Haims carousing up and down the boardwalk. There was also a significant bit of police action, mostly traffic-related, which gave Alyson the opportunity to teach Chooch to call them popo, much to Henry’s chagrin. You know how he loves the popo!


Fried dough is the big treat to get in that region, in lieu of funnel cake which is the big summer staple that I’m used to. I figured it was the same, just a different shape, but Alyson insisted that they didn’t really taste alike. She was definitely right, and I decided that I liked fried dough equally as much as I like funnel cake, which is “A good deal, but not enough to order my own.” So it’s a good thing that Chooch isn’t a total dick when it comes to sharing.

I would have preferred him to get a different topping other than “chocolate syrup” though. There were a ton to choose from! Alyson opted for powdered sugar, which seems like the classic route. I wanted Henry to order one with the vague topping of “Sauce.” What kind of sauce? SECRET sauce? I couldn’t even imagine. But then Alyson said she thought it was just tomato sauce and I was disappointed. And also a little disgusted because I don’t want fried dough to be savory. I want it to be stuffed with marshmallows and Sno-Caps and wrapped in spun sugar.

Ice cream on the side.

With sprinkles.

Rainbow ones.

Is it that obvious that this is being typed by a fat bitch on a diet?


I appreciate Alyson’s sense of balance and that Blink’s spells it “fry doe.”


OMG I’m sorry!! I don’t know what I did, but I’m sorry!!

There is a fan on the ceiling near the entrance of Blink’s which Alyson warned us of ahead of time. Sometimes, she said, people will order fried dough with powdered sugar, and when they turn to leave, the fan will blow the sugar all over them. It didn’t happen to her too much that evening, and she seemed kind of bummed about it. Had it been me, that motherfucker would have made me look like I had just gone bobbing for cocaine. Trust me. I’m a magnet for food spills.

Remember my French waffle initiation last year?


I only took two bites of Chooch’s fried dough and felt like I had a chocolate beard. I kept asking Henry if I did and he’d say “Yes” over and over without ever looking at me because he is the worst boyfriend ever and never has my back. Or a napkin!!


We don’t have Rexalls in Pittsburgh, so anytime I see or hear about one, I always think about that Dave Navarro song “Rexall” and then I feel shame for owning that CD.


No one kicked me out, though.


Dude, THIS PLACE. We weren’t even over the threshold yet and this beautiful, antiquated musk wafted out from inside the arcade and suckerpunched my face.

“Oh wow, that smell!” I said to Alyson, but not at all in a tone of disgust.

“I knew you would appreciate it,” she said, nodding.

It was the perfume of a century of fun-having and Skee Ball-playing and ticket-redeeming and first-kissing. Alyson said this place is full of ghosts and she’s right. But the good kinds. The kinds that would die all over again if this place was ever completely modernized, the way Chuck E. Cheese was which subsequently took a huge dump on my childhood.


It was here that we discovered Henry is apparently “pretty good” at Skee-Ball. I wish he was also “pretty good” at buying a house. Or “pretty good” at playing Skee-Ball in a veritable Fodor’s guide of European destinations that he was also “pretty good” at taking me on vacation.

Sometimes I cry along with the ghosts.

The ghosts of my silver spoon childhood!

I’m not really much of a game-player, though I did call some young lad over to help me turn on Q*bert, only to expire at the beginning of level 2. That was enough of a fix for me! I spent the rest of the time watching Chooch and Alyson play air hockey like maniacs and Henry act cool for playing some poker machine thing. Then it took Chooch an eternity to redeem his tickets. He wound up with a stuffed penguin (yay, more stuffed things—we really think he’s going to grow up to be a furry) and a ball. And some candy, because the girl behind the counter was just trying to get rid of him at that point. HERE, TAKE SOME TOOTSIE ROLLS K BYE.


Henry stands beneath a sign of his People!

Finally, I had reached the point where my Parker’s pot-stirring grilled cheese had seemed like days ago and I decided for all of us that we must eat now. Alyson said that there was a good seafood joint up ahead called the Whale’s Tail, but we arrived to find that it had turned into the Summer Wind at some point along the way, the strip-facing windows of which told us that there were absolutely zero diners inside. It was around 7:30 on a Sunday night, but Hampton Beach was still packed so it seemed odd that a single table was occupied.

Red flag #1: deserted restaurant.

Still, we inspected the menu posted on the door and found that the restaurant had everything we were looking for…except other diners. I mean, yes, I hate crowded restaurants, but when you’re smack in the middle of a busy beach and there is not one soul inside eating some fucking clams, that’s weird, right? And just when Henry was like, “Let’s keep walking,” the middle aged hostess inside the restaurant made eye contact with us and started smiling wildly and waving at Chooch, because all the crazies sink their no-good hooks into him first. (Me second.)

Red flag #2: overenthusiastic hostess miming through a window.

Alyson and I decided that it could be an adventure to go inside while Henry was all NO NO NO NO, but majority rules, sweetheart.

“The air conditioner broke, so that’s why no one is here!” the hostess explained very Edie McClurg-y. “BUT WE HAVE FANS!! I CAN SEAT YOU BENEATH A FAN!!!”

Red flag #3: OMG no a/c.

It didn’t feel bad in there though, and it was already cooling down outside anyway, so we followed her to a table near the window, so that other people could walk by and wonder why only 4 people were eating at this weird restaurant.

“Are you ready?” the hostess called out to a young waitress sitting in a booth with a busboy. But the way she said it, it made me feel like, wait—ready for what? Was she going to sing us a song? Get the cameras rolling because this is actually an episode of Kitchen Nightmares? Did the hostess want her to alert the devil in the kitchen that his sacrificial lambs had arrived? Prepare the arsenic?


And then of course as soon as we were seated, I started talking shit about how weird she was only to find that she was standing right behind me still. But she was too busy doting on Chooch to notice I think. God, Chooch gets ALL OF THE DOTING.

The waitress, who I guess was ready, came over to take our orders and let us know that they were out of French fries so there would be a no-charge substitution for sweet potato fries instead. I was glad for this, because I like sweet potato fries. So I ordered that and fried clams, Henry copied me, Alyson chose clam chowder and boiled clams and Chooch got something plain. Probably chicken strips which he didn’t eat.

When the waitress came back with our drinks, I noticed that she brought Henry water instead of iced tea. Henry either didn’t notice or didn’t care, and I chose not to say anything because I enjoy watching things play out on their own. But of course he noticed and waited until she came back with Alyson’s chowder to point at his water glass and ask simply, “Iced tea?” in a tone subtly tinged with ice. Do not fuck up Henry’s drink order, bitches.

Before our food arrived, Henry ran out to the parking lot to feed the meter. The waitress chose that moment to regretfully inform us that the kitchen was also out of sweet potato fries and offered to substitute HOME MADE tortilla chips and artichoke dip instead. At this point, I just wanted SOMETHING TO EATTM so I said that was fine.

“And him….?” she asked, motioning to Henry’s vacant chair.

“Oh, he’ll be fine with that too!” I lied, and after she retreated I said to Alyson, “Oh, Henry is going to be so pissed!” and we burst out in laughter.

Red flag #5: A restaurant that has not served any patrons all day SUPPOSEDLY is out of potato products. WHY?


But, despite all of the red flags, I found my clams to be just fine! And Alyson enjoyed hers too, and the Summer Wind had given us so many LOL-moments that the red flags only made it better. Plus, no one became violently ill afterward. Although I’m not entirely ruling out the theory that the old Whale’s Tail owner is now a life-sized Popsicle in a basement freezer.


Henry, upon returning to a plateful of HOMEMADE TORTILLA CHIPS and artichoke dip. Surprise, motherfucker!!


Henry, still displeased with the experience.

Right as we were leaving, some hungry people came in wanting a table and were turned away. “We’re closing early tonight,” I heard some waitress call out to them from inside the bowels of the restaurant. It was only 8:30, and they had been complaining about how no one had come in all day! Maybe they ran out of HOMEMADE TORTILLA CHIPS too.


Afterward, we stopped by the shooting gallery, and I don’t know what this old woman whispered into Henry’s furry ear, but it sure cheered him right up! Alyson swears this woman has been a shooting gallery icon even back when her mom was a kid, and I can believe it. I was watching this babushka’d woman the whole time as she leaned back and watched everyone shoot away, and I could tell that this was her happy place. But I’m fairly certain that when the gallery closes for the night, she links arms with the Sheriff in the corner and returns to her original mannequin form.


She even taught Chooch how to take his time and aim. It was a real Christmas miracle. Typically, as soon as Henry feeds quarters into the slot, Chooch kicks into rapid-fire shooting-mode and wastes all of his shots in the span of 5 seconds.



Made Henry pause for another photo-op on the way back.

One last stop for ice cream and it was sadly time to leave. I’m not much a beach person & usually opt to take several small weekend trips over the course of the summer, doing amusement park-y and concert-y things because I need constant action. The last time we went to one was Ocracoke in 2006 (and it was one of the worst vacations of my life), but spending the day at Hampton Beach brought back so many good childhood memories of summers in Wildwood, NJ with my Pappap and now my mind is made up that we are going to Wildwood next summer and staying in one of the same hotels that I used to stay in with my family. So have fun planning that, Henry. Don’t fuck it up.

During the car ride back to Nashua, Alyson sat in the back with Chooch and told him more stories of her Massachusetts-tongued co-workers and delivery drivers she encounters daily, and we were all laughing until our stomachs hurt. Even Henry twisted his mustache a few times, which means he is currently finding mirth in something but trying to fight it. Alyson would be in the middle of some deep, burly Bostonian improv when she would smoothly transition into dulcet tones in order to give Henry directions, which made me crack up even harder. I only half-joked that she should be a GPS voice.

Then Chooch realized he had my old iPhone with him and made Alyson start over so that he could record her. He then proceeded to watch these videos ad nauseum for the rest of our vacation. It was all fun and games until it occurred to me that Alyson had taught Chooch to mock the Boston accent when we’d be spending the next day there. I hoped he wouldn’t openly mimic anyone in public because I wasn’t sure if I’d be willing to take a punch for him.

Back at Alyson’s house, we said goodbye for what hopefully will not be another 5 years. Thank you, Alyson, for a weekend of pure happiness and many Tolhurst-moments!




Jul 022013

I’m so glad we got up bright and early on a Sunday morning to eat a sad hotel breakfast. But sometimes sad hotel breakfasts are a must because the money you save can often equal A REALLY AWESOME PRESENT for you later on. (Spoiler alert: this never happened. Thanks, Tight Wad Hank.)


Really. This dumb bitch. What grade are you even in, like, 4th? Save the weird spandex ensemble for when you’re 16 working the street, REALLY. She’ll probably be in all of the other street walkers way too! I was about to queue up Ludicris’s seminal hit “Move Bitch” and hold it up to her face while screaming “GET OUT DA WAY.” Bitch was hovering over the toaster like your basic hobo trying to keep warm.

Maybe I wanted a fucking bagel, you don’t know! YOU WEREN’T THERE.

(I didn’t really want a bagel. But mayhaps I’d have wanted to peruse my stale options.)

And then I went over to get some orange juice but some motherfucker in a polo beat me there. He poured himself some orange juice and then was all,” Hey buddy, you want some OJ too?” and then poured some for Chooch. So I held out my cup too, blatantly, and Polo Dick put the pitcher back and walked away.

I was so offended and proceeded to complain about this back at the table.

“He probably didn’t know that you’re not an adult,” Henry mumbled around a hearty mouthful of disgusting biscuits and congealed gravy. Hhhhhrrrrk.

Then we lounged around the Fireside Inn’s kidney-shaped pool after a quick trip to Target because we can’t go more than a week without going to Target.


Later, we picked up Alyson from her house and she gave us some suggestions for New England-y things to do. One was to have lunch at Parker’s Maple Barn, which sounded fine by me because I like maple, barns and Parkers. The drive to Parker’s from Alyson’s house was quite scenic and became more and more rural the longer we drove. Parker’s seemed to be in the middle of nowhere, but Alyson warned us that it usually drew a large crowd from neighboring Massachusetts.


However, we were greeted with a sparsely-populated restaurant and I was extremely happy about this because crowded restaurants make me anxious! I already decided on the way there that I was going to get a grilled cheese, because I’m on vacation and I haven’t had a grilled cheese since right before I started Weight Watchers, in December. Do you know how much this pains me? Grilled cheeses are my favorite foods ever! And I’m glad I chose Parker’s to break my grilled cheese abstinance, because it was delightful! The bread can make or break a grilled cheese, and the whole grain bread that I selected was so whole and grainy!

I also got a side of maple baked beans and maple coffee. WHAT. Maple coffee is fucking incredible and I’m kicking myself for not buying a bag in the gift shop. And you know, since we skimped on breakfast, we could have “afforded” it. Shit, I’m the worst shopper ever.


Thanks, Henry’s head, for ruining this picture.20130630-114258.jpg

Chooch is unfortunately still in that age bracket of hating restaurants because being in a restaurant means that we’re not out somewhere playing. So he was pretty much like, “I don’t know. Give me a pancake I guess.” And then proceeded to complain that it was bad-tasting but this was after he drowned it in a tub of (maple) syrup like an unwanted baby*, so maybe he’s just averse to syrup-sogged pancakes? MAYBE HE DOESN’T LIKE MAPLE?

*(Of course, I was sitting next to him so the rising levels of syrup became MY problem, and Henry yelled things across the table at my face, like, “TILT THE PLATE! OH FOR CHRIST’S SAKE, MOVE!” and then finally handled it himself, thank god.)


Henry asked Alyson questions about a lot of the ads on the placemat. I guess so when he moves to New Hampshire, he knows who to call when he’s ready to have his gutters drained.

I didn’t notice any ads for brothels, though. Sorry big guy.


My maple baked beans, which were very good but I could not finish them. I tried to pass them off on Henry, but he was already full from polishing off his BLT and fries and also Chooch’s syrup sponge.



Henry, deducing that there is “nothing wrong with these pancakes, boy!” I think Chooch even wrote about his dislike of Parker’s pancakes on one of the postcards he sent out. It tasted just like a pancake, I don’t get it!!

Alyson even got Henry to speak of the infamous Ted Nugent concert where he pushed over some broad in a wheelchair but now totally tries to deny it every time someone asks him! Usually if the topic is broached, he will shut down and peace out of the conversation, sometimes even going for hours without speaking. He HATES being asked about Ted Nugent and hates that I supposedly made it into “something more than it ever was.” (His words.) But Alyson asked him questions in a soothing voice which tricked him into answering! And by answering, I mean strumming his fingertips together and saying, “I don’t know, I can’t remember.” But he said it in pleasant tones and that is way different than how he responds to me!

She’s a real Henry whisperer. I wish I had studied this more intensely so that I can know how to trick him into thinking I’m genuinely imterested in his past. (I mean, I am genuinely interested, but for all the wrong reasons.)

Chooch was in such a hurry to get out of there, but had no problem loitering in the cat-laden gift shop while I bought postcards of Parker himself from the 1970s to send to people not aware of how maple-y New Hampshire is. Chooch, meanwhile, did not throw a tantrum or run through the store with a real ax like he did once in Tennessee two years ago.

I really enjoyed Parker’s and can see why it pulls in such a large touristy crowd. I would eat there a lot if I lived nearby (thus making Weight Watchers a real bust).

But that maple coffee…oh man. Even Andrea was like, “THAT SOUNDS AMAZING!” when I texted her about it, so that’s how I knew maple coffee was a thing that is probably enjoyed universally because she is usually like, “That sounds disgusting” when I tell her about all the things I ate and liked, like rambutan and Henry’s pride. (To be fair, I do enjoy weird flavors. I like to think it’s because I have such a sophisticated palate, but probably it’s more like something in there is broke.)

I bet if I told Andrea I drank maple coffee while sitting on a music box*, she would have had a different opinion, though.

*(Andrea is a music box racist.)


We hadn’t actually planned on going to Hampton Beach that day and no one had their bathing suits with them, but I remembered that Alyson mentioned in an email that going to this old-fashioned arcade on the beach could be a possibility of something to do, and that sounded like something fun to do on a 95-degree day while wearing black skinny jeans. So we drove about an hour while Alyson told us stories about the delivery drivers she encounters every day at work in Boston and Chooch was cracking up so bad, totally mesmerized by Alyson’s impressions of the Boston accent and begging her to tell us more. I’m going to venture to say Chooch was pretty smitten. (He likes older chicks!)



Henry von Standsalone. With purses.


When we first got to the beach, Alyson mentioned that her Pep used to bring her here a lot when she was a kid which really took it from “a beach” to something more special. One of the things Alyson and I first bonded over all those years ago on LiveJournal was our unwavering devotion to our grandfathers. I was really happy to get to see one of the places she spent time at as a kid. I know that I would much rather take out-of-town friends to Blue Flame rather than the more obvious Food Network-beloved Primantis, because Primantis doesn’t mean shit to me. And maybe Blue Flame doesn’t have a “claim to fame,” but it’s someplace that has special meaning to me and I like to share that with people. So I really loved when Alyson pointed out the place we needed to get fried dough and where we’d have to stop for salt water taffy and the best place to get t-shirts because her excitement was contagious!

There. I met my “sentimental” quota for the week.


That time Henry and another man caught crabs together on the beach. (It’s always a huge deal when we catch Henry chatting with other men in his demographic. There should be a National Geographic show about him.)


Chooch made friends with some boy who coincidentally is also from Pittsburgh.


And that boy had no fear touching crabs, that’s for sure. Me? I was like, “OMG DON’T TOUCCCCCHHHH IT EWWWWW IT’S GOING TO KILL US ALL!”


What a nice, peaceful afternoon, walking leisurely along the beach, not having anywhere we needed to be, and not being surrounded by assholes! There was literally no one who pissed me off at the beach! OMG I LOVE THE BEACH.


But I love the BOARDWALK even more!

(To be continued, of course.)

Jul 022013



Continuing the theme of the day—Spin ’til We Barf—Chooch, Alyson and I were drawn to the Psychodrome, which is essentially a Scrambler cocooned within a geometrically-challenging steel dome. It was probably the longest line we stood in all day, which made me laugh because usually the Scrambler is one of those rides that people usually skip in favor of more extreme coasters and death traps, but I guess when you plant it beneath a strobe-lit octagonal (maybe? I didn’t do so well in Geometry) structure and blast pop music, people are more than happy to stand lifeless for 45 minutes listening to the faraway, tinny screams of each current round of Psychodrome riders.

There was a pre-teen girl in front of us and I noticed in my periphery her silently watching everything the three of us were doing: Chooch taking what he thought was clandestine videos of me (deleted in his sleep), Alyson and I speaking lovingly of our favorite TV workout hosts, Chooch doing everything in his power to bring he attention back to himself. I wanted to scold her for being nebby (Pittsburghese for “nosy” — there, I taught you something; rejoice), but that would entail me speaking to strangers and the only thing worse than speaking to strangers is when the stranger is a KID.

I shudder to think!

It seemed for awhile there that the line wasn’t moving.

“Do you think it’s closed?” Girl Stranger asked, breaking the small talk barrier.

I think I shrugged in response.

“Have you ever been on this before?” she asked.

We all mumbled no.

And then she would go quiet, searching the line for friendlier park patrons.


Girl Stranger looms in the background, and yes, she is watching me take this picture, the sole purpose of which was to capture her for posterity anyway, so look on, Girl Stranger. Look on.

“She’s alone and totally doesn’t know how to be by herself,” Alyson observed, which made me feel bad for my original judgments of “holy shit is this mini-broad annoying.”

Eventually, she found other people to interrogate, who told her that the ride lasted seven minutes and that’s why the line was moving so slow (and I know this because it was my turn to be nebby), so then I was starting to panic internally — I wasn’t sure exactly how stoked I was to be whipped around in a bevy of changing directions while strobe lights struggled to turn me into a temporary epileptic.

Meanwhile, Chooch was using the queue railings as makeshift monkey bars. I kept warning him that he was going to fall and die, but he’s a 7-year-old boy and knows everything, has published books on amusement park line gymnastics, what does some bitch mom know. Tiring of me nagging him, he moved from the top rail to the bottom, which I still wasn’t on board with but whatever — at least he was closer to the ground.

A few minutes passed and I saw it happen in veritable slo-mo: the slip of the hands, balance pulled out like a rug from beneath him, and then he was tilting back, back, back, until he had spun 180 degrees backward and kissing the asphalt with the back of his head.


Chooch, pre-head trauma. Also, I want that chair.

A 2 out of 10 as far as landings go.

Pretty sure the entire contents of the Psychodrome line ceased their conversations, put down their phones, turned off their One Direction daydreams in order to be ALL EYES ON CHOOCH.

Who, by the way, was red-faced and very openly weeping.

And that is when the lump in my throat informed me that I was going to have to….parent.

It’s so fucking awkward when your kid gets injured in public because no matter what, you’re going to feel like an asshole parent. Sure, I had put on the “You’re going to get hurt!” broken record, but no one else knew that. For all they knew, I had neglected him, forgot he was even there with me, or maybe I kicked him off the rail myself. WHO KNOWS?! You weren’t there! You don’t know!

There are several stages of emotions involved with being a parent seconds after your kid bites it:



3. Nausea: Usually only happens when blood is involved. Most commonly paired with Jello-legs.

4. Anger: I FUCKING TOLD THIS KID TO STOP [insert Jackassery here] BEFORE HE GETS HURT!


6. Denial: NO I CAN’T DO THIS. SOMEONE ELSE HANDLE PLEASE. (Also known as “Worthlessness.”)

So he’s crying and burying his face into my stomach and I’m going through the “there there” motions, but I can FEEL THE EYES ON ME AND I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO! I felt for blood. None.

I looked at his pupils.

Seemed OK? I don’t know!


I couldn’t get him to calm down. Couldn’t find asshole Henry on any of the benches near the ride, further solidifying my hypothesis that he sneaks off to ride the helicopters in kiddie land every time we get in line for something too dangerous for his precious cargo. (I don’t know what that would be. His weener? Probably something he would consider precious.)

So I texted Henry “WHERE ARE YOU ASSHOLE” because god forbid I should be expected to handle something on my own. I was half-aware of Girl Stranger plucking some sort of tree dropping that Chooch had acquired during the grand finale of his klutz routine.

“Aw, that’s sweet of her,” I thought. But then she ruined the moment by asking me, “How many people do you think can ride this at one time?”

OH I DON’T KNOW, let me think about that after I make sure my kid remembers his name. God!

I asked Chooch if he wanted to go sit down, all the while praying that he says no, that he still wants to ride the Psychodrome, because lord knows we had invested enough time rotting away with all the other mouth-breathers in this motherfucking god forsaken line. And I briefly worried that people would judge me, like, “I can’t believe that woman is going to take her child on a ride like this when he clearly concussed according to the Google search I just performed because I have nothing better to do than criticize other parents instead of tending to the needs of my own children who I think I may have left in the car.”


But a cursory glance told me that most of the people in the line were other teenagers who had probably moved on to other things, like sexting, once they realized that no one was bleeding. And then I briefly made the situation bad again by telling Chooch that the bump on the back of his head was only going to get larger until it eventually hatched and he would probably feel much better once all the baby spiders exited.

And if he was concussed, I think a fling on the Psychodrome would have diagnosed it for us, and luckily he didn’t come staggering out of the other side vomiting up thick yellow digestive juices and wondering why everyone was suddenly speaking in ringing bells. (Although I was pretty close to it, so maybe I have a concussion? HENRY WHAT DID YOU DO?!)

 photo 20130622_183622.jpg

A rare photo of the Oh Honestlys.

Pretty much my only memory of the ride was Chooch chastising me for not recognizing the Ke$ha song pinging off the steel dome, and then the lights went out and everyone screamed for an unlimited collection of minutes and then I was stumbling out into the sunlight. Amazing what dumping the Scrambler into a makeshift discoteque can do to ones nervous system. Never have I ridden a ride with such an apropos name. I later learned that this was Stephen King’s runner-up subject for “Under the Dome.” (Please don’t fact check that, thanks.)


And then just in case Chooch didn’t do enough damage during his tumble, I took him on the Turkish Twist, a quick-spinning cylindric room with a dropping floor, to further scramble his brains. That’s just being a good parent.

 photo 20130622_151159.jpg



Canobie Po-Po!


Toward the end of the day, Alyson and I strong-armed Chooch into riding the Untamed (pictured above). That first 90 degree drop was right next to the line, so we had a good 30 minutes of listening to people scream like murder victims, which didn’t do much to reassure Chooch.

When it was our turn, the ride operator asked him if he was OK, because his face was blanched and his eyes were deadened. “He’s fine!” I lied with a nervous laugh.


I mean, that looks like the face of someone who’s fine, right?

When we pulled back into the ride platform, the ride operator asked Chooch if he liked it.

“NO!” he screamed, and that’s when I realized that not only was he scared, he was PISSED. “I kept hitting my head! And then HER purse hit me in the face!” he spat, pointing to Alyson.

Chooch right now just said to me, “Don’t even write anything about me crying because I never cried!!” even though he totally did.

Later, I asked him what his favorite ride was and he said the Untamed. Makes sense.


Metal, even on the Tea Cups.


We laughed our asses off on the Tea Cups, while Henry frowned from a distance.



And if I had to sum the day up in one picture, it would be this one. So stoked for Canobie. Thank you, Alyson, for taking us there! Give me a good, old-fashioned amusement park over Six Flags ANY day!


Jul 012013


I’m going to veer off schedule here for a  minute and share the pictures from our tour of the Lizzie Borden house in Fall River, MA. After an entertaining breakfast at AlMac’s Diner where I had Portuguese bolo and will consequently never be satisfied with a regular old English Muffin ever again, we stopped here on our last full day of vacation.

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Chooch was pretty fucking stoked to say the least. The kid has grown up in a house where serial killer greeting cards are made, what do you expect?

Henry and I stayed over night here back in 2002, but it was worth the return trip for us, too. Mostly to experience it all over again with Chooch, who knows the legendary story and has watched countless YouTube videos about the house. However, when we walked into the gift shop to pay for a tour, the tour guide behind the register looked a little skeptical at these two assholes toting a 7-year-old child to a murder house.


But then Chooch sprawled out on the couch in the waiting area, mimicking the crime scene photo of dead Andrew Borden, and the tour guide widenened her eyes a bit. “Do you wanna help me out when we get in the house?” At first she suggested that he play the role of Abby Borden, but Chooch quickly said, “No. I want to be the dead dad.”

“How old is he?” one of the three old people in our group asked. I could tell that they too were leery of taking an hour long tour with some brat, but I’d like to think they were pleasantly surprised by the tour’s end.


I mean, come on guys. You know I’m the first person to call my kid out for being a dick. But he was actually super well-behaved and genuinely enrapt in touring the house. I was so proud of my gruesome little brat!


Floral patterns suit him.


The house has changed owners since we were last there. To be honest, I don’t rememeber much of the original tour we got in 2002, other than being a served a plate of cheese and Oreos to snack on while watching some made-for-TV movie about Lizzie Borden, so a lot of what I saw on this day was basically brand new to me. I also feel that the guide we had this time was more knowledgeable.

(Side Note: The guide we had in 2002 was also the summer caretaker and ended up being the only other person sleeping in the house with us that night. He was pretty creepy, but affable at the same time. I posted a picture of him on my blog a few years ago and someone commented, informing me that he had perished in a house fire. So sad! I mentioned this to our tour guide last week—I shamefully can’t remember her name but she was really wonderful—and she said that when the new owners bought the Borden house, they had a really hard time getting him to leave.)


The house was replicated as best as possible, considering they only had black and white photos to go on.


In the dining room, we learned that this is where Abby Borden’s autopsy was done. The guide had pictures of their mutilated bodies and said to me, “It’s up to you if you want your son to see these.”

I asked Chooch if he wanted to see, and he shrugged and said, “Yeah, sure.”

I found out later that I probably should have asked him if he knew what “autopsy” meant first.

While the guide was demonstrating ironing handkerchiefs (one of Lizzie’s alleged alibis), Chooch was chomping at the bit to go into the next room because he recognized the couch immediately. You’d have thought he waited all his life for this one short moment of impersonating some dead dude with a crushed skull and dangling eyeball.


Chooch’s Shining Moment.

The old people on the tour with us laughed uncomfortably during his performance.


We were all clustered in the foyer listening about Andrew Borden’s final moments on Earth; I was standing at the foot of the steps — the top of which was where Abby Borden’s dead body was first spotted prostrate on the other side of the bed in the guest room–with my back to the front door when the mailman began shoving circulars and bills through the mailslot. The new gray hairs I must have amassed in that moment has got to be a staggering number.


Chooch volunteered me to play the butchered Abby Borden, which required me to sprawl ass-up on the floor while Chooch giggled devilishly. Thank god there are no pictures. My ass is much wider than the last time I was photographed in this pose.


This lady knows her shit! We definitely got our money’s worth.

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Borden spirits all up in Henry’s shit!

J/K. I was just really bored in the car. Best use of a bokeh app!


In the corner of the guest room, the actual dress Elizabeth Montgomery wore in the final scene of the Lizzie Borden movie in the 80s is on display. When the guide mentioned Elizabeth’s name, Chooch put his hand up to his mouth and whispered, “Witch!” to me, giving me this faux-serious look. At first I couldn’t figure out why he said that, but then I remembered that the day before, we took him to the Salem Witch Museum and there was a wall of photos of famous witches throughout history, and of course “Bewitched” was one of them.

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The guide we had that day pointed out each picture and gave a brief explanation, and I guess that little jerk was actually paying attention (because I know I barely was).  Yay for money not wasted for once!


Actual books that belonged to Lizzie. Check out “With Edged Tools.” LOL right!?

Chooch was really into all the vintage cat figures he spotted throughout the house, and also the creepy trunk of toys that the owner keeps in one of the attic bedroom that is supposedly haunted by random children. Chooch said that’s the room he wants to sleep in when we go back and I was like, “That’s cool, bro. But have fun staying up there by yourself.”



Haunted or not, there is something to be said about standing in a house where one of the most sensationalized double-murders in this country’s history were carried out.  I was definitely on edge the entire time while Henry just looked bored (or probably confused because the only way he understands anything is if the cast of Criminal Minds is acting it out on TV for him). Chooch would get fidgety here and there, but thankfully he didn’t do anything overtly dickish to draw attention to himself. For the most part, he honestly seemed like he was interested in what the tour guide was saying, officially making “7” my favorite Chooch age thus far.

When I went back to the gift shop afterward to buy souvenirs, the guide admitted to me that she was a little worried when she saw us walk in with Chooch, and how pleasantly surprised she was at how he conducted himself. I’m so glad she told me that, because as a parent, I’m sure there are times when I think my kid is acting normal but everyone else is thinking, “TAKE THAT BASTARD BACK TO THE ZOO, MY GOD!” My fear is that we’re going to take him somewhere like this and he’s going to break something or cause a general scene by throwing a tantrum out of boredom.

I remember the time when I was a kid, just a little bit older than him, on vacation with my grandparents in Europe. I think we had stopped in Assisi, Italy and, right befor walking into a shop filled to the brim with breakables, my grandma gripped me by the upper arm and hissed, “DO NOT TOUCH ANYTHING!”

Aaaaand guess who knocked over an entire display of glass figurines with her purse? GOOD OLD GRANDMA JEAN.

Meanwhile, as the guide was praising my kid’s good behavior, Chooch was in the process of pissing on his shorts in the customer rest room. So, you win some, you lose some.


Can’t leave Fall River without paying our respects at the cemetery!



Stoked for Lizzie!

I really was pleased with how we were able to sneak in educational bullshit on our vacation without it feeling like 5 days of war memorials and dry history lectures. I can’t wait for Chooch to go back to second grade and tell everyone about the shit he did, haha.

Jul 012013



In line for the Yankee Cannonball, I noticed the sign on the ride operator’s podium and started imagining Henry as the ride operator and a line full of Erin Rachelle Kellys distracting him. And with that, I am going to turn this over to Henry and let him tell the tale of what he was feeling in each photo, as I’m sure his thoughts and feelings are riveting. And I’m sure he’ll need some coaxing so this will probably turn into a Q&A session.

Me = italics

Henry = not italics


Asian Man Moustache Ornament.

Waiting in another line to feed the kids again.

Erin: “How much does it annoy you when Chooch and I scream our food orders at you and then leave you to carry everything on your own?”

Henry, muttering: “Oh Jesus Christ. It’s like having two 10-year-olds.”


I believe everyone else was done by the time I got my food.

Erin: “When you were in the SERVICE, did you go to any amusement parks?”

Henry: “Magic Mountain. I don’t recall being anywhere else.”

Erin: “Did you have fun?”

Henry, seriously thinking about it: “Yeah.”

Erin: “What did you wear?”

Henry, appalled: “WHAT? I don’t KNOW. It was like 20* years ago! I’m going to guess jeans and a t-shirt.”

*(Try THIRTY years, buddy.)

Erin: “A TED NUGENT shirt??”

Henry: “No I don’t know what it was.”


Henry: “Yeah, whatever rides they had back in 1984.”

Erin: “So, you rode rides and had FUN. What happened since then  to make you hate amusement parks then?!”

Henry: “I don’t HATE amusement parks. I just can’t ride rides without getting sick now.”

[Finally. The truth comes out. Henry was molested by another SERVICEMAN on a ride at Magic Mountain and now gets sick every time he goes to an amusement park. How did it take me so long to uncover this?!

I bet it happened on the Tilt-a-Whirl.]


Getting ready to finish Chooch’s food, and also the rest of Erin’s.


Thanks for winning me a Strawberry Shortcake, assholes.

Chooch and I wasting another $5 on rings.


Contemplating finding a bar to go to.


Best time of the day!

Erin: “Did you try to fuck that lady in front of you?”

Henry: “Yes.”


He learned this fancy hand-clasp in PANAMA.

All my minions follow behind.


Erin: “Did the Sky Ride bring back memories of BASIC TRAINING EXERCISES in the SERVICE? Like JUMPING OUT OF A PLANE?!?!”

Henry: “I didn’t jump out of airplanes.”


Erin: “What would it take to get you to ride the Tea Cups? Fill them with FAYGO?”

Henry: You’re so dumb.”


“I have an idea: let’s leave.”

Erin: “Did you have any fun at all? Like on a scale of Sitting in Your Underwear Watching Criminal Minds to Remarrying Your Ex-Wife, how terrible was your day?”

Henry: “I never said I didn’t have fun. Just because I don’t ride anything, doesn’t mean I don’t have fun.”

Erin: “Wow. What an Old Person response.”



Jun 292013


I had been studying Canobie Lake Park in the weeks prior to our trip. Already, I liked that it had rides that I hadn’t seen anywhere else, rides that are probably popular in gypsy-run carnivals in Eastern Europe that are probably not inspected but definitely have the best motherfucking pierogies you’re ever going to find this side of Hunky poker night in Pittsburgh. And it has three coasters and a darkride! Something for everyone and everything for me.

Canobie has the motherlode of spinny rides, the kinds with the brightly-colored flashing lights and German techno music and random murals of Marilyn Monroe standing on a beach. Alyson kept saying things like, “YES! LET’S RIDE THIS CENTRIFUGAL FORCE TORTURE DEVICE AND BARF ALL OVER OURSELVES!” to which I would cheer while silently hoping that no one actually barfed because HAVEN’T YOU SEEN PROBLEM CHILD!?


The Extreme Frisbee, are you fucking kidding me. When I first saw it, I gave it a million middle fingers with my eyes alone. Something has happened to me along the way where I’m less afraid of puking and more afraid of OMG THAT FUCKER GOES HIGH AS SHIT!! This is why I have refused to ride the SwingShot since my inaugural boarding in 2007, where I honestly though my bowels were going to liquify and seep out of my mouth. But this past trip to Kennywood, I had a change of heart, and ended up riding it THREE TIMES. And I LOVED it. I kept saying things like, “Why was I so afraid of it then?” and “I want to get married on this ride” and “TAKE ME TO PROM, SWINGSHOT! I’ll pretend to be a virgin!”

I applied this revelation to the case of Erin v. The Extreme Frisbee and asked Alyson if she’d ride it. (Chooch was so angry that he wasn’t tall enough, so he and Henry did lame stuff in the meantime.)

“Ohhh, this looks REAL barfy,” she said solemnly, and then headed straight for the entrance.

Alyson ain’t scared of shit, you guys. She is the model riding partner!


In line, I tried to distract myself by talking about Serious Things, like being stalked by CYS-reporting religious nuts and getting Single White Femaled once again, this time by a Married White Female. But soon it was our turn and I honestly almost ran of the ride. Especially when we were the last two to board and found that we weren’t even going to sit next to each other. I didn’t want to die alone!

But the nice ride assistant (they are so nice and super enthusiastic at Canobie, often times making all of the riders scream and cheer before sending them off to their uncertain death) made everyone next to me move down so that Alyson could take the seat next to me. What a gentleman. And then, in effort to mask my fear with humor, I pointed out that the ride was made in Germany.

Of course.

Germany! You motherfucker!


I actually am a 3 ring circus — how did they know!?

And then I just remember sheer terror, roaring gears, and SCREAMING. The kind of screaming that is usually followed shortly by a chainsaw in Texas.

Alyson laughed her ass off through the entire ride. I’m sitting next to her, eyelids clenched, fingers gripping the safety bar and chanting, “WHY WHY WHY WHY OMG OMH WHY WE’RE ALL GONNA DIEEEE” over and over while she’s laughing like she’s being tickled. And that made me laugh too.

But only for a second! Then it was back to motherfucking Germans and their sadistic carnival engineers.

SURPRISE! We didn’t die. And for some fucked up reason, about an hour later I admitted that I wanted to ride it again. And we did too, shortly before the park closed. And it was even scarier / more fun at night. THERE, I SAID IT. I like the stupid Frisbee.


I have found, though, that the secret to success of being a grown-up in an amusement park full of racing-light temptations is MODERATION. Ride a goddamn spinny ride, take a stroll, eat a fucking foodstuff. Then ride some more. And keep doing that.

This does not work for Henry or dummies. Sorry, suckers. Get a better sense of balance or something.

It’s tough when you’re at a place like this with a child though, because it seems that their least favorite things in the world are “taking a stroll and eating fucking foodstuff.” They want to have their brains scrambled and then get back in line to do it again.

Chooch was an impatient jerk when, after riding the Yankee Cannonball (a wooden coaster that may have truncated my spinal column a little bit but Alyson didn’t hear the sickening crack over top of her hysterical laughter), I vetoed his urgent pleas for moremoremore in favor of using the masticated dough of a personal pan pizza to weigh down my stomach lining like absorbant paperweights. A few days later, Chooch was looking at the map of Canobie we brought with us as a souvenir and said something about the Zero Gravity ride that he didn’t ride because of me.

“I didn’t even know they had one of those there!” I cried, because I totally would have rode it with him.

“Yeah, I asked you if you wanted to ride it but you said—” (and here he hires a nasal, whiny tone to mimic me) “—‘Not right now! I need to eat something and then ride something calm!'” And he also scrunched up his arms like a T-Rex and fluttered his fingers, because this is his Erin impression which is awesome to know.

At least he got to ride some spinny/bouncy ride by himself while the grown-ups were eating, god forbid.

Speaking of grand impersonators, a pseudo Justin Bieber took the stage next to us and treated us to a thrilling display of lip-synching and Martha’s Jazz Barn choreography. Alyson mentioned that she didn’t even know any Bieber songs, WELL NOW SHE DOES! And hopefully the next billion times she hears one in a grocery store, she will think of me!


Later, we were in line for another spinny ride called the Skater and were thoroughly entertained by this beefy sports fan who rejoiced in cries of “AWESOME!” and “YEAAAAH!” kind of like Lil Jon, which made Alyson and me crack up because he just did not seem like the kind of guy who would be so joyous on an oversized skateboard spinning up and down a ramp. But he was REALLY FUCKING FEELING IT and I looked over at Henry, who was standing off to the side of the Skater, eating a blue Italian ice, and thought, “Why can’t that asshole enjoy these rides too!?” Maybe if there was a SERVICE-themed amusement park.

When it was our turn, I wound up sitting next to a friendly but boundary-crossing guy and who was pretty much using the entire left side of my body as his afternoon nap apparatus. Dude was fucking heavy! Meanwhile, Alyson was teaching Chooch to hold up his hands, metal-style, and scream “Slayerrrrr!”

When we got off the ride, I started cracking up all over again because Skater’s #1 Fan & Afternoon Nap Guy belonged to each other!


(l to r) Skater’s #1 Fan & Afternoon Nap Guy.




I’m trying to keep this as condensed as possible, but the fact is, we never get to hang out with Alyson and I want to remember every thing that happened! I don’t want this to be all tl;dr (that means “too long; didn’t read,” BARB!) so I’m splitting it up into several parts. Sue me!





Jun 272013


We made it somewhere right outside of Connecticut by the end of Driving: Day One*, and crashed at some sketchy hotel in New York.

*(There were videos in that post that I don’t think were working when I initially published it, but I just embedded them from YouTube so now everyone can run right on over to watch them. No really. RUN! RUN LIKE SNOOKIE IS CHASING YOU WITH HER KOOKA ALL A’THRUST!)

Woke up super early the next morning—after barely sleeping at all thanks to my log-sawing travel compatriots—in order to drive the remaining four hours and make it to Alyson’s house at a reasonable hour, because hello — we had an amusement park to go to! I really enjoy road trips. I like sitting my fat ass in the passenger seat, complaining about being bored, fidgeting with the music, and regaling tales of shit that no one in the car cares about. Mostly, I like not being home and the anticipation of arriving somewhere new. This all goes out the window once we hit traffice. Which we did, for what seemed like HOURS. (But was apparently only about 30 minutes.)

I was nervously excited about seeing Alyson again. We met on LiveJournal back in 2005, introduced by her shitty then-boyfriend, and hit it off immediately. On the outside, we seem very different: she’s metal, I’m a scene kid. But we LOVE THE CURE and share an inside joke regarding that. We have the same ridiculous humor and we find the simplest, most mundane things to be HILARIOUS. Things that make most people (see: Henry) raise their eyebrows. (Or, in Henry’s case, frown.) Music touches our souls in ways that seem confusing and strange to others because, you know, we’re not 16 anymore and it is apparently bizarre that we will travel great distances and go to such lengths to see our favorites perform live.

We also get fucked over in a myriad of astonishing ways by a virtual conveyor belt of “friends,” but are actually just people obsessed with their own unhappiness. Alyson and I first met in person back in 2006 when she traveled to Pittsburgh to attend my baby shower. And the last time I saw her was in 2008 when she returned for our mutual friend Kara’s wedding. It has been a long time between visits and I wondered if she would decide that I was more annoying than she remembered or that Chooch was a brat (very real possibilities!). YOU NEVER KNOW! 

But no, we fell right into a groove, begging Henry to speak of the SERVICE and Ted Nugent; sharing stories of our favorite bands and the singers who have shat upon our hearts; and finding sheer delight in the small things all day at Canobie Lake Park, while having our stomachs churned and our brains scrambled. I have always felt that if we lived closer, we would be even better friends.

And I was so happy that she suggested we visit her local amusement park a few months ago in an email, because I’m always scouring the Darkride and Funhouse Enthusiasts website for parks to go to so I’ve known about Canobie and their darkride called Mine of the Lost Souls and was really hoping it would be a possibility to go there on our trip. And Alyson even seemed excited when I replied to her suggested itinerary and said, “CANOBIE!”

What a perfect way to spend our first day together! Laughing like little kids at some old, charming amusement park. What a perfect way to catch up: while standing in line for spinny rides, pausing here and there to point out shitty tattoos and eavesdrop on other conversations while taking pictures of Henry looking exhausted and totally put-upon.

And what a great way for her to bond with Chooch, who took to her immediately and helped himself to a self-guided tour of her home as soon as he walked through the door. The last time he saw her, he was about 2 and a half years old and somehow he actually remembers this. A few weeks ago, I tried to show him her picture on Facebook so that he would know who we were going to see, and he said, “I know who she is. We went to Eat n Park when she was here. I sat on a motorcycle.”


Anyway, we were only in her house for about a minute when I realized we had been pronouncing “Canobie” this whole time. It’s not actually like Obi Wan Kenobi! But CAN-uh-bee. Chooch and I kept catching ourselves beginning to say it wrong all weekend, but Henry flat out kept pronouncing it wrong, because when you’re a SERVICE veteran, you can get away with shit like that.

And then I pointed out that she has a Troy Polamalu bobblehead, to which she responded, “Yeah, YOU got it for me!” Even Henry remembered, but I completely drew a blank.

“Did I KNOW that I got it for you?” I asked jokingly, with a little bit of truth.

Yep, that’s me: That totally attentive friend whom everyone desires.

And we hadn’t even gone to the park yet so I couldn’t blame it on Canobie whiplash.















In typical Oh Honestly, Erin-form, this needs to be a multi-parter because I have a ton of photos to wade through and happy thoughts to sort out and hopefully an official Henry Interview to transcribe. Ciao for now!

(I actually never finished the 2013 Kennywood Chronicles, either. BLOGGING ANXIETY. Maybe I’ll make Chooch finish it for me.)


Jun 262013


We’re officially back in Pittsburgh and I’m so sad (but super happy to be back home with MARCY who I missed terribly and text-harassed Janna the entire time we were gone for Marcy status reports). This has been a really fast-paced, fulfilling and totally fun tour of terror (hello, we had Chooch with us). We did everything from amusement parks to New Hampshire beaches, Witchy Salem things to (quietly) mocking the Bruins in Boston, disrupting Lizzie Borden’s ghost to eating at Mystic Pizza in Connecticut.


But the best part was that we got to see friends we rarely get to see (and one we had NEVER seen in person!), and that was my favorite part of the whole trip.


Literally, the only lowlight was that I forgot my good camera at home and that we didn’t have quite enough time* to meet up with everyone we’d have liked to (Massachusetts Alyson & Amelia, I’m looking at you!). But New England rocks and I’m sure we will be back!


It is going to take weeks to memorialize in writing.

*(The whole trip was relatively poorly planned, but why should anything ever be easy with us?)

Jun 232013


some gas station god only knows where.

We said peace out to Pittsburgh on Friday for a New England road trip. Our first stop is New Hampshire, so we drove as long as possible and crashed at some hotel in New York.

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I got reaallllllly hyper when “Magic” by America came on the radio.

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This video cuts off right as Henry screamed at me to stop.

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There’s not much more to note about the first leg of our drive because Chooch spent most of the time reading in the backseat and Henry and I argued about who hates each other more.

sick curtains, bro

The Cure’s “Charlotte Sometimes” came on the new wave XM station just as we pulled into the sketchy Days Inn, which Henry bartered to get a lower rate—why can’t he do that at flea markets??—and then “Boys Don’t Cry” played as we checked out the next morning, so in spite of having a horrible night’s sleep thanks to my travel companions snoring like basic bears:

…I still took this as a sign that the day was going to be awesome. And I was right, because when we arrived at our friend Alyson Hell’s house in Nashua and gave her the first hugs since 2008, the day only proceeded to get better and better!

(P.S. there was a guy staying in the room next to us who resembled Jonny Craig kind of and Chooch and I both blurted it out at the same time. Henry told us to shut up.)