Chooch is going to be in for a shock when it comes time for school portraits and the photographer doesn’t pull out an animal mask or a tube of fake blood.
In other awesome parenting news, I spent a whopping two hours with him at the playground today. If this isn’t your first time reading this shitty blog, you should know how amazing and unusual that statement is. Being an anti-mom, I try to avoid any situation which is going to potentially pit me against other moms.
Playground Moms. They are Massengill-filled sausages, I fucking swear to god. I can’t stand them. They are all sit around in snobby cliques looking down their noses at the other moms who aren’t cooze-y and granola enough to be included, like me and this other broad who was also sitting alone. And I have to say, if I was forced to interact with ANY of them, it would have been her.
Meanwhile, as the twatty hens were clucking away about apple sauce (I’m not lying), not one of them was watching their children and I had to go and herd a bunch of them away from the parking lot, all the while scowling at their asshole birth vessels on the way back.
Henry and I don’t get out very often, but we had tickets to the Where’s the Band? show on Saturday night and I was really looking forward to it. The tour showcases the solo efforts of Anthony Raneri (Bayside), Chris Conley (Saves the Day), Matt Pryor (The Get Up Kids, New Amsterdam, et al) and Dustin Kensrue (Thrice) and if you know me at all, you can guess that I was spittling all over myself when I heard it was coming to town.
We ditched Chooch with Henry’s mom and left for Mr. Small’s. I kept insinuating that it was a date, and I think it made Henry nervous, like he was worried he’d have to put out later or, God forbid, hold a door open for me. He at least knew he wouldn’t be expected to hold my hand during the show, because, you know, ew.
Arriving thirty minutes before the show was set to start, Henry pointed out that the marquee said the show was sold out. “I fucking told you it would sell out, you idiot!” I spat. I started getting really heated, tugging at my collar like a coal miner about to whale on his wife for not having dinner ready at 6:05pm, until Henry reminded me that we already had our tickets. “Yeah, thanks to me!” I yelled. And then I realized that it was ok to calm down and savor yet another moment of righteousness.
Inside, I was pleased to see that it was an older crowd. We stood behind a couple and when the guy put his arm around the girl’s back, I motioned to his wedding band and quipped, “You don’t see that very often at the shows we’re accustomed to, ha-ha” (and that’s how I laughed too–a staccato “ha” followed by another staccato “ha”), but Henry didn’t get it. “You know, because the people at most shows we go to aren’t legal for marriage” I explained, but he wasn’t paying attention to me ON OUR DATE so I don’t give a fuck if he ever gets another joke in his life.
We’re waiting for the show to start, and it’s a little delayed. So Henry, he tries to make small talk and suggests that he show probably sold out because the tickets were cheap. “Oh right, and it wouldn’t have anything to do with the lineup” I sassed. But he had the audacity to laugh and say, “Yeah, it’s the cheap tickets” which made me rant about how these guys that were about to bleed their hearts on stage are likely going to be legends by the time they die.
That only made Henry laugh even harder. But Henry, he’s old; he quit understanding music sometime right after the arrival of Quiet Riot.
The show finally started around 7:30, and I loved it because there was no frilly, flouncy bullshit. There was no waiting twenty to thirty minutes between sets, waiting for the next one to come out. One left, the next walked on. Just each dude and his guitar, so fucking vulnerable, but at the same time it made them look even bigger. I also liked how, sans band, their individual stage personalities were showcased alongside of their songwriting brilliance. It was interesting to see how they varied from each other, and while I was musing about this, and also the fact that I bet their mommies are so proud of them, I realized, “Yes, I’m officially old. I’m analyzing their showmanship and not wondering how big their weeners are.”
First up was Anthony Raneri. I’m not the biggest Bayside fan, so he was the act I was least looking forward to. Well, from the first pluck at his guitar, he had me eating out of his. I bought a ticket primarily for Dustin Kensrue, but Anthony Raneri may have won my heart that night. Besides Dustin, he’d the only one who made me weep openly, and that was when sang the Bayside song “Don’t Call Me Peanut.”
This isn’t from the Pittsburgh show, but it’s the best quality video I could find on YouTube. When the song was over, I hoarsely whispered to Henry, “I want to kill myself. I want to fucking kill myself,” and he was like, “Yay! Please do!” While Anthony engaged in light banter now and then — like when he informed up that the next song he was going to play was political and that it’s such an exciting time in the country which predictably led to some heavy grumbling over in Henry’s corner– his set was fairly straightforward. He played the songs he came to play, and left. With my heart. There, I said it.
Chris Conley was next and brought with him a set that was heavy in crowd participation. He took requests for each song, which turned into a screaming free-for-all. Henry’s musical memory sucks, and he kept asking me a million questions about Chris (I think he thought he was hot, I don’t know) and I kept saying, “He’s the guy from Saves the Day, you idiot. I have all their albums. You’re not going to like him.” And predictably, as soon as Chris sung the first estrogen-laced note, Henry’s balls were sucked up into his bowels.
Again, not from the Pittsburgh show.
Chris told us a story about some crazy guy they saw that day, pushing a broken down car, who got angry when Chris and the rest of the guys asked if he needed help. “Yeah, you can get the fuck out of the way” and then apologized, saying it had been a rough day. So Chris goes, “I guess you’re just naturally sweet, right?” which apparently greatly offended the dude, because you just don’t go around telling guys in Cleveland that they’re sweet unless you want to get shot. It wasn’t that funny of a story really, but the fact that it was Chris Conley telling it made it so. It was right around that time that Henry got a call from his mom, saying that Chooch wouldn’t stop screaming and had apparently wedged himself in a corner and she wasn’t sure if maybe he was dying or what, so Henry took that as his cue to leave. “I’ll come back for you later,” were the parting words that drifted back to me in his anxious wake. Honestly, he booked out of there so fast, it was like a fucking echo. You lucked out this time, Henry J. Robbins, but next time you won’t be so lucky.
Chris ended his set by bringing out Matt Pryor to sing “At Your Funeral” with him. It was beautiful.
I really like the Get Up Kids, but never had the opportunity to see them live when they were still together, so Matt Pryor is kind of this mythical character to me. Out of all four performers, he lit up the stage most of all. In fact, I admit to being more entertained by his rapport with the crowd than by his actual songs (most of which were super short. He summoned Chris from the wings to play the tambourine during one song. “Do you even know how to play the tambourine?” he dourly asked Chris, who turned toward us and pumped his arms in an exasperated “Are you fucking kidding me?” motion. Afterward, when Chris left the stage, Matt goes, “Chris Conley makes me so happy. Did you see him, all blissed out, playing the tambourine with his eyes closed? That dude is so weird.”
Pittsburgh people, put your fucking videos on YouTube already, shit.
Matt was wearing a newsboy cap at the Pittsburgh show, and he complained that it was his first time wearing a hat while on stage and he kept bumping it off the mic. “But I’ve been wearing it all day, and you know, once you commit to wearing a hat, you have to follow through.” Then he paused and realized, “Wow, I’ve been such a whiny bitch up here. They’re going to have to change the name of this t our to Diva Camp.” And I laughed so hard, you’d have thought it was my first time finding out about motherfucking Dave Chapelle or some shit; like if Matt had been closer, I’d have slapped him and maniacally shouted “OH MATT YOU CARD HAHAHAHA.”
Then he goes, and this is where I get all somber again, he goes, “Anyone here on a date? Well, these last two songs are LOVE SONGS. Just think of me as your BALLADEER for the evening.” But of course, what I heard was, “Erin Appledale is a loser and here by herself because she’s not awesome enough to go out on dates” and then a bucket of pig’s blood overturned and painted me pathetic.
Thank you, Matt Pryor.
DUSTIN KENSRUE DUSTIN KENSRUE DUSTIN KENSRUE!!! Fucking Dustin Kensrue!!! I do not have enough superlatives in my pea-sized, fan-girl vocabulary for him. His presence is very god-like. He picks up his guitar and you hold your breath. That’s just how it is, unless you just don’t love music. His main gig is with Thrice and while they’re a powerful, unmistakably intelligent post-hardcore outfit, he is just as big and powerful and intelligent on his own. His solo style is alt-country and he even brings out his harmonica, complete with the around-the-head contraption, and I’m not like some raging harmonihomo, but good goddamn that man amazes me.
I was super pleased when he christened his set with an acoustic version of the title track from “The Artist In the Ambulance.” Stripped down, it just takes on a brand new meaning; it’s so raw and moving. That album is so personal to me because I associate it with Henry, when our relationship was still new and we were learning about each other. I remember driving around one Sunday, ending up in West Virginia with no destination in sight, and listening to that album. It was one of the first times Henry admitted to sharing somewhat of a partiality to a band I liked. So Thrice always makes me feel bonded to him, in some intrinsic way, because music is the biggest way I bond with people. I never told Henry this, so he’ll probably read this and be all “awww gosh darnit” but then he will act like it didn’t faze him. You know, the Henry Way.
So I’m standing there, by myself, next to a girl with her boyfriend who slurs, “Oh wow, [Dustin Kensrue] is so hot” and then proceeds to spend the entire set texting. And down a few heads from her is this gaggle of peacoated sorority whores who never stopped loudly conversing in their twatty faux-Valley Girl cadence . I mean, it was a goddamn ACOUSTIC SHOW, how loud do you really need to shout? That is when I realized that perhaps I prefer shows with a younger crowd, because those kids are there for the music. They show respect for the artists that have sacrificed so much just to be able to get up on a stage and play for us. Those kids, they don’t go to shows and stand with their backs to the stage, giggling with their tactless posse.
And that is also when I realized I didn’t mind the guy standing slightly behind me, who had taken on the role of Dustin’s backup singer and LOUDLY sang along to each and every song, even the covers, and in between pauses, he would shout little pieces of trivia about Dustin and Thrice to his very tall and curly-haired friend who evidently didn’t know much. Anyway, Dustin the Second and I were the only two people in our area who screamed loudly and applauded furiously after each song.
It’s fucking Dustin Kensrue, ya’ll. His drummer is my fucking son’s namesake.
Out of all the guys that night, Dustin was the one who meant serious business. Instead of telling us stories about crazy tweakin’ men pushing cars or trying to egg the crowd into heckling him (seriously, someone said, “screw you” to Matt Pryor after he begged to be heckled, prompting Matt to take a swig of beer and dryly retort, “Ooooh, screw you. Good one.”), Dustin went off on fucking brilliant tangents about faith and spirituality and accepting the fact that he will never know everything there is to know, and it was so articulate that I won’t even try to paraphrase it, because we all know I’m practically illiterate. But here is the profound statement that Obsessive Texter’s boyfriend made about it: “He is like, so smart.” Word.
And then he played this song about his wife, wherein I lost my shit and gave myself Tammy Faye Bakker eyes.
Dustin ended his set, devoid of any bells and whistles, with the most heart-wrenching cover of “Round Here.” Now, I like the Counting Crows; I won’t try and act like I’m too elite to appreciate radio-friendly alternative. (Plus Jennifer Aniston dated Adam Durwitz and hello, she’s my fucking homegirl, whut.) But there was something very moving about Dustin’s rendition of it, that my heart felt constricted in my ribcage and I sobbed the whole way through it.
Encore: Dustin and Matt re-staged and attempted to do a duet of Ryan Adams’ “Sweet Carolina,” but Matt was having tuning problems and had to run off stage to grab a new guitar, shouting, “I’m so fucking prepared for this” as he disappeared. When he came back, he mentioned that someone had told him he looked like a ’30s gangster in that hat, so he proceeded to talk out of one side of his mouth in this creepy Dick Tracy-esque drawl. It was nice, much-needed moment of levity after Dustin’s amazingly sovereign set. And when they finally sang the song, it was sweeping and gorgeous and gave me chills up my spine.
Afterward, Chris and Anthony joined them for aJawbreaker cover, and thenNOFX’s “Linoleum” which I felt was a perfect note to end on.
I’m very grateful that I got to be there for such a wonderfully gut-wrenching night of music from some of the most revered men in today’s scene. I just wish I had been able to share it with someone, because the only thing worse than post-show depression is not having anyone to ruminate with. (Not that Henry is wildly known for his post-show ruminations, but you know what I mean.)
Fucking music, man.
[Note: Chooch was fine, just being a drama king because mommy and daddy left him with his grandmother, oh the horror. And for the record? If Chooch had been hurt, and not just overreacting to the fact that we weren’t home, I totally would not have stayed at that show. I’m not THAT terrible of a mother, no matter what you’ve heard.]
This year, Henry had the pleasure of taking his two favorite kids to Warped Tour: his son Blake, and, well…me. I kept ducking while we were stuck in concert traffic because I didn’t want the surrounding carfuls of scene kids to laugh and say, “Oh god, that girl is going with her dad, how gay.” When we entered the parking lot, we drove past the drop-off area and Henry said, “God, those parents are so lucky that they don’t have to go in.” Then he tried to murder me with a look of disgust and resentment.
It was nearly noon by the time we managed to park the car. Blake didn’t have a ticket yet so he and I stood around idly outside the entrance to Post Gazette Pavilion while Henry went and bought his ticket. We were approached by the singer and guitarist of Uh-Oh Explosion, who were toting around a box of their CDs. Making small talk, the singer asked if Blake and I were “together.” Instinctively, we both took a step apart and emphatically answered “NO.” Trying to figure it out, he squinted his eyes and guessed, “Brother and sister?” We shook our heads. I saw Henry lingering a few yards away, knowing better than to walk over and lame-up the convo. I pointed to Henry and said, “OK, see that guy? That’s his dad, and my boyfriend.”
This kid (he was only 17) thought this was so fucking fantastico for some reason. “That’s so awesome! Like, talk about closeness. And you guys all came to Warped together!” He paused for a second, before sending my stomach to the meat grinder. “So do you guys have threesomes too?”
I was ready to whistle for the cement mixer to come and seal up my sex organs for real. So disturbing and awkward. I still bought their CD though, because what I heard sounded good and proceeds went to the animals. And what’s a little quasi-incest discourse in the name of stray cats, am I right.
Once we got inside, I was like a kid on Christmas. My eyes had a veritable scene kid feast as we weaved our way to the main stage, where Sky Eats Airplane was playing. Blake and I have the same taste in music — the more scream-y the better. Henry, however, shits himself when he hears hateful bellows, so he took this as an opportunity to go and find a set schedule and then conveniently lose us. Sky Eats Airplane was a good way to start the day.
In between bands, I got to ogle more scene kids. I was wondering why I was so fascinated with them when it dawned on me: If that scene was around when I was a teen, I’d totally have been the first on board. I used to make fun of them, but now I want to like, write a book about them or something. I’ll start with Blake.
Averting the Hare Krishnas, we went to the Highway 1 Stage to catch From First To Last. Henry was all, “I’m perfectly fine standing all the way back here” and sent Blake and I into the crowd to get pummeled without adult supervision. Anyway, FFTL’s singer Sonny left two years ago and it was a little strange watching them perform without him. Their new material is a little too easy-to-digest and mainstream for my liking, but they ended the set with “Ride the Wings of Pestilence” which always makes me want to sacrifice a shack of Mexican prostitutes. And drink some of Henry’s blood.
Not interested in any bands playing right after FFTL, we walked around and looked at t-shirts and other merch for awhile. Henry, who had bragged on the way there that he NEVER gets sunburned, started complaining about his nose getting burnt. He kept trying to sneak away and pose under trees in his signature old man-stance. Blake and I would pause and hunker down over the schedule, trying to determine which bands were must-sees and which ones we could skip without losing sleep that night. I kept trying to include Henry, but he would grumble, “I don’t know, does that band actually SING? Then NO, I don’t want to see them.” Perhaps Henry should have just went to that twanged-out Jamboree with Tina instead. Fuck.
The Bronx: I almost got trampled trying to push my way to the stage to see them, only to leave after ten minutes to run to another stage far away to see Alesana. They were really good and made me want to continually punch Henry in the balls. I always forget how much aggression I have until I go to shows like this. I just found out that they’re going on a tour of LA Mexican restaurants as a mariachi band and oh, who I wouldn’t kill to see that.
Alesana: They were playing on the main stage, and Henry was like, “Thank god, now I can sit my weary bones down!” So Blake and I begrudgingly sat down too. I realize that I enjoy bands less when I’m sitting, because I become too distracted with people-watching. Because of this, I don’t remember if I liked Alesana live or not. All I remember is that Blake picked up an Underoath CD release poster from the ground and gave it to me, making me think he wanted me to keep it, so I ended up lugging it around all day in my backpack only to wind up throwing it away the next day.
Human Abstract: Another main stage band, but at least this time Henry allowed himself to be dragged down to the floor by the stage. I had never heard their music before, only seen the ads in Alternative Press for their new CD, so I really wasn’t sure if I was going to like them. Even aside from the immediate crush I developed on the keyboard player, I ended up liking them a lot. They were nice and heavy, but had an interesting melodic side as well. Blake thought they were just alright and stayed sitting down next to his old man for their entire set. This was also around the time that I considered slamming my camera to the pavement because it was taking such shitty pictures, but after Henry inspected it for three seconds, he deduced it was because I had a giant finger print on the lens. I didn’t hate my camera after that.
After the Human Abstract, it was nearly time for Pierce the Veil. They were the main reason I was there and all day it felt like butterflies were fornicating in my belly. It was either Pierce the Veil anticipation or the residual side effects of being asked if my vagina is friendly with both generations of Robbins. Henry once again stood in the sidelines, but I weaved my way as close to the stage as I could get. Which was fairly close since they were still sound-checking.
To show his unwavering adoration, Vic vowed to wear his Jaws shirt every day for the duration of Shark Week. He kept going on and on about sharks and I know this is going to make me look bad but I’m going to be honest: all I could think about was Tina’s vagina, gnashing against flailing legs. Thank God they started playing right after thhat because fuck — my mind disgusts me sometimes. And holy shit, their set was fucking fantastic. It was so good, that I didn’t even mind the heat or having two bitches dropped on me (thank God for Blake, else they’d have hit the pavement). They basically just play a blend of alternative rock, with some screamo-lite thrown in for scene cred, but what makes them stand apart for me is their lyrics. They’re smart, morbid, sad, and just overall clever. At the end of one of their songs, they segued right into a thirty second cover of “Bleeding Love” which was a million times better than the original we’re guaranteed to hear every time we walk into a grocery store. They also threw in a cover “Beat It” which was energenic and really fun to watch, and they ended the set with “Party Like a Rock Star” gone metal.
I did NOT want that set to end. Even Blake admitted that he was surprised how good they were live, and Henry was like, “Yes, fine, I liked what I heard all the back there in Parent Alley.” It was one of those moments where you want to call everyone you know and give them a hyper review in a shrill voice, but you know no one will give a shit. So then you’re just depressed.
We had a lot of time to kill after Pierce the Veil, so I bought a five dollar soft pretzel while wishing for once I ate meat so I could get a corn dog for $3.50 — the cheapest foodstuff there. Henry got nachos which looked like slop. Henry’s demeanor seemed to uncurdle a bit while he was coating his ‘stache with cheese sauce. He even smiled a few times and I think he laughed once.
While we were chilling out at the picnic table, Blake proposed that he move in with us. Maybe it was just the contact high of being with someone who actually gave a shit about music, but I declared that this was the best idea I had ever heard in all of my life, even better than my idea to direct porn, so now he might be moving in with us. It would make my scene kid research easier, for sure.
Blake was so sad that we missed Katy Perry while we were foraging for discounted sustenance. He even pulled his hat down low to hide the tears. But maybe it was because he saw kids he knew and was embarrassed of Henry.
Evergreen Terrace: I liked them alright but there was nothing mind-blowing that made me want to scour Ebay for rare memorabilia. However, during one of their songs, they chanted “I want you dead” and maybe there’s something wrong with me, but I thought that would be such a romantic sentiment to have engraved on wedding bands.
Classic Crime: Another band that sounds good in stereo, but didn’t hold my attention live. Instead, I stared at this really surly girl who was like an overweight scene Sami Brady from Days of Our LIves. She was climbing over rows of seats and even though she was struggling to swing her trunk-legs over, she didn’t let it deter her from scaling the next row, until eventually she lost her momentum and wound up clotheslining her crotch. It brought me joy, lots of joy.
3OH!3: I wouldn’t have sought this band out normally, but we wanted to see the band that was coming on right after them, so we hung out for their set. I thought I was going to hate them at first, because that wave of white boy rap-rock-electronica kind of annoys me. But they ended up being so fucking fun and there was a really hot blond chick dancing on the side of the stage, so they kept my attention for sure. During their last song, it basically turned into a chaotic dance party on stage, and even Blake’s girlfriend Katy Perry was up there dancing with her man Travis from Gym Class Heroes (who I walked past earlier and wanted to say, “Your gf is a gaybo” but I wasn’t feeling assholey enough. Plus, I like Travis.). Anyway, I’m going to have 3Oh!3 play at my Sweet Thirtieth Birthday Orgy Masquerade. It’s gonna be tight.
Bring Me the Horizon: Blake ran into some of his friends right as they came on, so we were officially ditched. Henry and I hung around for a few songs, but Henry looked like he wanted to call out for his mommy, so I spared him. I really liked BMTH though — they made me want to fillet a cop.
The Devil Wears Prada: Sans Blake, things were pretty gay. I wanted to get closer to the stage but Henry was all OH HELL NAH so I was like, “Fuck this then” and went to buy a shirt instead. Henry, you pussy.
The day was coming to an end by this point, and Blake had re-joined us in time for Dr. Manhattan. I was torn, because they were playing at the same time as Norma Jean, side-by-side. And I love Norma Jean. Norma Jean blocked out Eleanore’s nerve-prickling coupon-cutting many a night for me. But I chose Dr. Manhattan, along with fifteen other people. It was sad! But you know a band is good when there are OTHER bands in the crowd watching them. And they were good — they were quirky and fun and energenic and they made me laugh out loud a few times. Unfortunately, Norma Jean was one stage over, luring people into their crowd. They had gigantic black beach balls and I won’t lie — I’m a sucker for a beach ball. At one point, I yelled to Henry, “Hey, do you want to go over and watch Norma Jean for the rest of their set?” but right then, two people left Dr. Manhattan’s crowd and the singer — in the middle of a song — stopped and yelled, “Hey! Where are you guys going??” It was so sad/cute/scary that I looked at Henry and said, “Never mind!”
At the end of their show, some of the bands in the crowd started chanting, “One more song!” but they weren’t allowed because of time constraints. So the singer started chanting back, “One more crowd!”, the retardedness of which made me laugh. I was also dehydrated, though. Overall, I was glad I stayed loyal to Dr. Manhattan, because their set was rewarding.
And that was it. We walked back to the car and already I started to feel the body-dragging effects of post-show depression. Then I thought about how all day long I had been talking about all the bands I wanted to see, but by the end of the night, all I wanted to see was Chooch.
Henry wanted to get his son Blake out of the house on Sunday, so we decided what better way to be all familial for free than to go to the fucking flea market.
I had no coffee in my system; my head was thumping and a sour scowl was perma-etched on my face. Henry was all, “OK, this shit ain’t gon’ fly” so he went to one of the snack bars for a remedy, commanding Blake, Chooch, and myself to stay put where we were. As soon as he turned his back, we did what any other miscreants would and wandered off into the abyss of redneck unwantables.
“Who the fuck would buy this shit?” Blake mumbled as we pushed Chooch’s stroller past a table of romance novels and metal scraps.
“That guy,” I answered, as some loser handed over a fan of bills.
We continued strolling along, taking turns complaining about how gay everything was. Then we talked about Chiodos for awhile, which briefly lighted both of our faces, until it occured to me that we had been led too far astray and Henry was probably walking in circles, crying into a Styrofoam cup of coffee. So we hurried back to where Henry left us, but he wasn’t there. We then made the mistake of leaving the Abandoned Child Depot in order to find Henry, which was fruitless since he was doggy-paddling in the sea of beer tee’d bargain hunters, hoping to find us.
Fuck you, assholes!
We made it back to our spot right as Henry called Blake’s cell phone. When he finally made his way back to us, we were all, “What the fuck, we were here the whole time, asshole!” Henry looked dumbfounded.
“I walked right past here and didn’t see you. Didn’t you see me?” he asked, eyes squinted with confusion.
“Probably, but everyone here looks like you,” I said. I don’t think he heard me, but Blake did, and as soon as Henry turned his back, we laughed like children.
We walked past one table weighted down with incredibly worthless junk, just as a very manly woman with the roughest smoker’s voice barked, “How much you want for that bottle of Eternity?” It seriously sounded like a knife-fight was happening in her throat. Her interest in a bottle of perfume tickled me so greatly that I was falling into Henry’s back from laughing so hard. She was with some social reject who had a lipstick print tattooed to his neck. God, what an asshole.
Just when I didn’t think anything could top those two, some broad petrified in makeup from 1975 began advertising loudly for the shitty cat nip mats she was shilling. “They make extraordinary gifts!” she called out jovially and I lost my shit all over again.
“Oh, they’re fucking extraodinary alright. I hope I get fifteen of them for my birthday. Motherfucker.” Then I thought about how much hate I had boiling in my belly, and I smiled.
Around the bend, some dumb ass colostomy bag of a broad was selling CDs and at the very top of one of the stacks was The Cure’s “Disintegration”. Henry pointed this out, probably thinking I’d go all Pollyanna and realize that the flea market really was a place for extraodinary gifts, but instead I grew angry. I mean, I was practically roiling.
“You don’t re-sell a Cure CD!” I bitched loudly. “WHO DOES THAT? An asshole, that’s who.” And I know that shitty old lady heard me too. SUCK IT, bitch.
It wasn’t until we fell upon some old dude slinging the mother lode of incense and natural soap that my edges began to soften a bit. I wasn’t too interested at first, until he stood up from the perch he had on his van and started teaching us of the miraculous healing properties of some shitty soap that sounded like “doo-doo” but was really something else that I just didn’t give a shit about. That was when I realized he was awesome. At first, it was because I thought he had a British accent, but then I think he was just slurring really bad from prolonged use of psychedelics. How nice of him to come to Trader Jack’s flea market straight from Woodstock.
“Buy some of this shit,” I hissed at Henry.
“Why?” he asked.
“Because that is one cool asshole.”
And so Henry bought some shit, that scared little bitch. He bought a whole heap of incense and found out later it makes him sneeze.
“This stuff is made in India. This ova’ here is from New Yorkkkkkkzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzsnore.”
Normally, I would try to be a little covert with my mean-spirited picture taking, but by this point I had adopted the “fuck a bitch, suck a dick” attitude and began walking RIGHT UP TO PEOPLE, stopping in the middle of the aisles, and holding my phone all the way out at arm’s length. Henry was not pleased. Especially when, afterward, I would justify my actions by shouting, “What? That person’s an asshole. They deserve this, and worse.”
Yeah, you count that cash, you cock sucker. Bet it’s going straight into some yeasty g-strings, you sex addict. SUCK A DICK.”
Speaking of sex addiction (a very serious plight not to be taken lightly), there seemed to be a LOT of porn there this time. Large cardboard boxes marked ADULT DVDS XXX in thick black marker were nestled smack in the middle of baby clothes and Care Bears. I desperately felt the urge to rummage and pilfer, but felt strange doing so with Blake with us. I’d like him to not speculate upon my sex life with his father.
Apropos placement if you ask me.
I saw a produce-hawker go apeshit on a pile of empty banana boxes. I don’t know what got all up inside his puckered sphincter, but he was hurling the boxes out of the back of his truck and plowdriving them into the gravel. His face was red and his fat lips were a’quake with obscenities. I stopped to gawk for awhile, savoring the terror that was arresting my heart. Violence makes me wet.
More flea market assholes, plus Chooch and Blake.
There was some girl there who was clinging onto her youth even more desperately than me. Quite possibly the oldest scene kid ever, and ridiculously so. As she pushed a stroller past us, she giggled and very coquettishly said, “I like your piercings!” to Blake. After she walked away, Blake mumbled, “Dumb bitch.” It was high-five worthy.
The only cool people there. Aside from Blake and me.
Sometimes, for no reason, I would growl. Say, for instance, someone in a Kenny Chesney shirt would push past me, in a huge fucking hurry to look at fake designer sunglasses, my arms would get all stiff and I’d just fucking growl. Ew, grr.
Henry wouldn’t buy me this awesome Jesus Loves Me hat. Now I’ll have to find something else to wear to the church fair. My garter belt and a Cannibal Corpse shirt, I guess.
Later that day, Henry was telling me that his mom asked him to take her to the flea market next weekend.
I laughed, it was an angry laugh, and said, “I think I’ll sit that one out.”
“You ain’t kidding,” he said. Supposedly I’m banned for life or something.
The weather forecast for Saturday was rain, rain and more rain. I asked Henry, “Do you still want to go on that fantastically awesome scenic train ride, even in the rain?” and he said yes. At this point, my memory forbade me to remember all the other scenic train rides I had been on in my life time, and how extremely boring they truly are. (Unless, you know, you’re into that scenery shit.)
Schenely, PA is about an hour away and I was sulking for the majority of the ride. Just part of my nature. But then Henry stopped at a Sunoco and returned with a bag of mint M&Ms. I acted all ambivalent about it, but still drank down half the bag. Mood instantly lifted.
As soon as we boarded the train, it began pouring. Like any other sensible person, I chose the open-sided car so we could be treated to a natural shower and then simultaneously bitch about it for the hour long ride. There were about twenty other people who had the same idea.
While we were waiting for the 2:00 departure time to roll around, someone pointed out that one of the cars in the lot had an open window. It was the car right next to us, so Henry shouted out to the woman who owned it and then was thanked profusely by her and her husband. He sat there with a smug grin on his face, like he was some kind of fucking hero. I bet he did heroic shit like that all the time when he was in The Service, helping hookers climb out of vats of penii.
Imagine how tickled I was when the train kicked into motion and a woman’s voice filled the car from a speaker. Wow, a scenic railroad excursion paired with a guide enlightening us with local flavored fun facts? What a treat. Unfortunately, there was so much commotion on the train that her commentary came off sounding like the teacher from Peanuts. Every time I asked Henry what she said, it was always the same: “Something about the river. I don’t know.”
Chooch was really great for most of the first leg of the trip. He sat on my lap to avoid the torrential downfall that was attacking us from the sides. But then he had the itch to roam, and it all unraveled from there. Once he had his feet on the floor, it was like an open invitation for the other children on the train to come out and play. Chooch procured the four cars he brought in his backpack, and suddenly I had a horde of small children surrounding me: a one-year-old, another two-year-old (Sioux, like the tribe!!!!) and her six-year-old sister (Cheyenne, like the tribe!!!!), whose grandma was wearing a Kermit t-shirt and would not stop chatting with me the entire time and I was so nervous that I was physically clenching. And you know, with kids come parents. I really hate socializing with parents. Chooch was doling out his cars, only to confiscate them at his will. He seemed to take an immediate liking to the six-year-old, and was adament on giving her all the cars.
The one-year-old’s dad was wearing a Penguins hat, and I couldn’t help but notice Henry didn’t scoff, “Hockey season’s over” to him, like he does to me anytime I mention them.
At this point, I was unable to take in any of the trees and shit that we were passing, because I had to fulfill Mom duty and make sure that my son didn’t come to blows with anyone over a couple of fucking plastic cars. I hate this part of parenting. And you know what else I hate? Having to acknowledge other people’s kids. That Cheyenne chick kept standing in front of me and flapping her arms like a bird. “Oh. Uh, pretty,” I would try to placate her, instead of shoving her off on another parent like I really wanted. Another mother, though, she heartily exclaimed, “WOW! What are you, a bird?? OH COOL! You are so COOL! I LOVE KIDS! HAHAHAHA ZOLOFT!” Who the fuck gives a shit? Not me. Flap all you want, little girl. I’ll continue looking through you like you’re invisible to me. Because you are.
Chooch made me especially nervous around the one-year-old boy. I kept praying he wouldn’t push him off the train or choke him. (I had just taught Chooch that morning how to pretend-choke himself and quickly started to realize that I might wind up seeing repercussions to that act real quick.)
This guy told me what his purpose was when we first sat down. Something about doing something with the brakes? Who the hell really cares what his purpose is when he’s wearing some hot-assed overalls, though? Basically, he mopped us all off with towels and repeatedly noted that, “There are a lot of kids playing on this car!” and thank God for that play-by-play, because I really hadn’t noticed that my crazy kid was dominating over a trio of weaker-willed children.
After about an hour, I was stoked to see the station looming ahead. My hope was dashed as we turned around though, and headed in another direction. Apparently, you just can’t visit Schenely and not teeter precariously on a railroad bridge for fifty thousand minutes while a guide gives you muffled commentary about trout. And who would want to miss out on that?
It all looks so pretty, but on closer inspection below and to the left, I noticed that the camp site was dotted with Deliverance cast offs, who brought their laundry lines, rusted out pick up trucks, and large jugs to use as yard ornamentation; I’m pretty sure I smelled some hot incest from behind the jagger bushes, too. I can only hope Henry takes me there one day on our honeymoon.
Finally we got to leave and now I’m determined to remind myself every day that train rides are boring as fuck. I’m just glad Chooch didn’t call anyone an asshole.
One of them there interview memes was going around on LiveJournal, so I got my friend Lauren to interrogate me. Because I really like talking about myself. Could do it all the livelong day.
1. Is there any one thing that you feel fostered your macabre-ness?
I think it’s inherent. My mom was majorly into Halloween when I was growing up and my family watched A LOT of horror movies. It’s still my favorite genre, so I guess that’s probably the main external influence that holds hands with my macabre gene.
Nightmares have plagued me for as long as I can remember, as well, so I probably subconsciously draw from that a lot.
2. Which serial killer would you love to kick back a few beers with and why?
If this a dead or alive question, then Dahmer. I bet he’d have some killer recipes that I might need someday (see #5).
No. Wait. I’m changing my answer. Ted Bundy. Beers lead to sex and Jesus Christ, Bundy is hot.
3. Are you planning to have more children?
4. If you had to choose only one CD (that wasn’t a mixed compilation) that you could listen to for an entire year, what would it be?
13 Ways to Bleed on Stage by Cold. That album reminds me of the beginning of my relationship with Henry. We road-tripped a lot that summer to see Cold, my favorite band at the time (and still in my Top 5 even though they’re now defunct). He knew how much they meant to me and I’ve always thought it was awesome of him to go out of his way to make sure I could see them as much as possible. So, if I had to be reminded of the same memories for an entire year, I’d want it to be those ones, and that album.
Plus, we were still getting to know each other and he hadn’t begun hating me yet. Oh haha. Good times.
5. Would you ever eat meat on a regular basis again? I mean, you’re not living with your Mom, so her pork chops aren’t part of the equation.
Not if the meat came from an animal. Though, I can see myself in a fit of rage, hacking off Henry’s weener and then engaging in some passion-eating. And if anything is a gateway into cannibilism, it’s got to be a nice boiled cock. In fact, I’m dining on a thick vegetarian sausage right now and pretending it’s a juicy wang. So yes, I could chow on a person. Possibly even on a regular basis.
10:00 I know this comes as a shock, but: 2-year-old + pet fish = what was I thinking? #
Other than that, I spent my weekend chasing my kid through a cemetery, getting all up in Henry’s hair, eating pizza, watching through my fingers as the Penguins lost, being treated to a good grilled cheese lunch by my friend Jess, wishing I was in Ohio, and getting lost in my own ‘hood.
Corey and I couldn’t think of a better way to cap off such an amazing concert than by returning to our luxury motel. Pulling into the lot at 11:30, we were greeted by several shifty denizen who chose to congregate outside their rooms with beer and cigarettes. Corey wanted to get a picture of the Pennant Night Club next door, because it was country night and this amused him to no end, but he made me go with him. It was at this point that I realized I was probably more suspicious than anyone else in that lot, what with the way I stopped dead in my tracks, hunkered over to suppress giggles, to stare at a couple across the lot.
Corey gave me this look that screamed, “What the fuck, are you crazy? You can’t just stop and STARE at the crazy townies having sex around their clothes out front of their room!”
I snapped out of it and followed him to the street.
“This place has wi-fi?” Corey asked in amazement after we reached the front of the motel. “How does a place like this have wi-fi?”
“They probably steal it,” I said, shrugging, and then we both laughed and couldn’t stop because the Giddy Sibling Bug had bit us.
Back inside our room, I called Christina to tell her that the state she was born in sucks. She was really hurt by it, and Corey shouting things like, “New Jersey is gay!” in the background only wrenched the knife further, because she actually is gay. I mean, she has a tattoo of New Jersey on her leg, that’s how proud of it she is.
“Where exactly in New Jersey are you?” she asked. I couldn’t remember the name of the town, other than the fact we got lost and ate at Pat’s Pizzeria in Gloucester, and that we saw a lot of signs for Camden.
“Um, no wonder you hate it. Camden??” That’s when I learned that Camden had replaced Detroit as the most dangerous city in the nation. “You should be OK as long as you’re not in a gang, though,” she reassured.
Meanwhile, Corey was debating whether or not he wanted to take a shower. “I mean, did you see the shower curtain? It has burn holes in it,” he whined. But he finally manned up and conquered the shower stall. He came out of the bathroom a walking cautionary tale.
“I don’t even want to think about all the dirty New Jersey sex that was in that shower before me,” he spat with disgust.
“And just so you know, the water smells like fish. Have fun with that in the morning.”
We got comfortable in our respective knife-slashed beds with the local Gloucester channel on TV. Backed with all the best soft rock hits were still-ads for the local cemetery, a middle school talent show, and a list of the honor roll students. It was a sweet surprise when the ads were pre-empted with some small-scale recording of a youth fishing competition. It was awesomely terrible and we couldn’t stop watching.
“This almost makes me want to live here,” I said. Then we laughed.
“I’m so afraid to close my eyes and sleep. This place scares me. Have you ever seen No Vacancy?” Thanks, Corey. Thanks for making that the last thought in my head before I fall asleep.
Around 1:30am, a nearby door slammed. “Oh goodie, our neighbor’s home!” Corey facetiously enthused. Then he got up and put his face up to the peep hole.
I was paranoid he was going to get shot, so with the covers pulled up to my chin, I hissed for him to get away from the door.
I woke up in the middle of the night, thinking I heard a car alarm. I wasn’t sure if I was dreaming or not, but I remember thinking I should probably check to see if my car was still in the lot but I was too afraid to go out there. (The window of our room overlooked the back of the property, not the lot.)
The next morning, we gladly turned in our key and Corey snatched a covert picture of the miserable desk clerk who hated us.
Aside from seeing the Cure (and eating at Pat’s Pizzeria), the only other thing I refused to leave before doing was getting breakfast at Cereality, located on U Penn’s campus in Philly. I was proud that I finally forwent using Henry as an atlas and tapped into my Blackberry’s resources to find the place, nary a wrong turn. But first, we filled up the gas tank in Gloucester. I tried to get it myself, thinking I could get away with it, but an older Mexican swooped in and grabbed the nozzle off me. Foiled.
As soon as we crossed the threshhold, I was in my happy place. “Rock Me Amadeus” was playing when we got there and Corey, who is in AP Euro and should maybe try acting like it, said, “Huh. We had to listen to this song in my history class. I think it’s supposed to be about someone historical?”
Siouxsie and the Banshees’ “Kiss Them For Me” came on just in time to aid me in tuning out the disgusting trucker-caliber sniffling and snot-suckering taking place behind me. Mmm, yummy — just what I want to hear while I’m trying to decide what I want to EAT. A nice bowl of bubbly snot? A mucous smoothie? There’s not enough froth on my coffee, would you mind blowing your nose in it?
At home, I have a healthy bowl of oatmeal every day, with a hearty handful of flax seed sprinkled in for good measure; so I decided to live large and ordered a bowl (it’s actually served in an over-sized Chinese take-out container) of The Devil Made Me Do It. Basically it was the most disgusting, stomach-turning house-blend on the menu and I was entirely too overwhelmed to come up with my own concoction without at least six months prior planning. Cereal is some serious shit.
One of the people working there was this awesome Goth chick with spiky blond hair and black lipstick. Corey and I simultaneously fanned ourselves.
“She’s like, so cool,” I enthused, and Corey concurred. It doesn’t take much to impress us. Evidently, just some bleach and a faceful of kohl.
After I paid for my container of diabetic shock, I went to the milk counter and, as if to apologize to my body for what I was about to funnel into it, I squirted skim milk onto the cavity-making mound.
Joining me at a small outside table, Corey blurted, “Guess what that Goth girl talked to me!
“Oh my God, LUCKY! What did she say??” Sadly, I really was jealous.
“She said, ‘Did you pay for that already?'” We squealed over that for a few seconds, and then he added, “And her name is SIMONE!”
My cereal consisted of Cocoa Puffs, Lucky Charms, malt balls, and chocolate syrup. I don’t even like malt balls, but goddamn all cereal should have them. It was the best ever, but after five spoonfuls, my belly tried to reject it. Of course I forced down almost the entire thing and got sick as soon as we hit the turnpike. Corey was smart (and boring) and got something healthy that was made of Life, strawberries and honey or some shit.
While we ate our cereal, “Just Like Heaven” played and we were like, “What the fuck, best breakfast ever.”
Five hours later, we were standing in my living room, blabbering on to Henry about our motel and the people we saw there, Pat’s Pizzeria, all the strip clubs, being lost, not understanding how to get gas.
“I feel like there should be a movie about this: When Well-To-Do Kids are Forced to Fend for Themselves.”
If there was one moment in my life I’d love to be able to re-watch with a bowl of popcorn, it would be that day in fifth grade when Mike Harrison called Mrs. Glumac — the obligatory meanest, nastiest, wartiest, tan-quilted-parka-in-the-winter wearingest lunch lady at our school — a bitch in the middle of a high stakes game of kickball, after she called him out unfairly. Before she even had a chance to threaten him with a paddle, he took that rubber ball and hurled it at her face with the might of a thousand scorned bipolar women, smashing and breaking her glasses against her face.
Glumac brought to tears in the cafeteria and every kid whose peaceful sleep was ever jarred into a fitful nightmare of hair nets and deadened eyes and Glumacian orders to line against the wall.
I remember how everyone just got really quiet, and Mrs. Glumac and Mike just stood there at a standstill, both in shock, we were all in shock. Mike was legendary in our eyes after that, having done what every kid thinks of doing, dreams of doing, wishes someone else would do to the cruel lunch lady who makes penises worldwide cower when she walks into a room. It was fucking awesome. I had a crush on him for real after that.
I used to keep a little log of daily happenings back then, just a little miniature spiral-topped notebook that I would write things like, “Spring is wearing a ponytail today — she’s going to be mean!” and “Oops, I have to sharpen my pencil!” It wasn’t a private diary, it was pine green, and everyone knew about it; so when we came back in from recess, everyone was all, “Erin, did you write about it yet, let us read what you wrote about it!” I believe all it said was a very succint “Mike H. called Mrs. Glumac a bitch then broke her glasses!” and everyone cheered when they saw the word “bitch” in actual penciled handwriting.
Usually, when scouting the field for some good subjects, I employ the ‘shoot & run’ tactic, an effective choice if you don’t mind angry cries and blurred images.
But today, when I was skulking around Brookline in the spring-like weather, taking my new Diana+ camera out for a test drive, I saw a photographic opportunity that I just couldn’t pass up; to walk away would have plagued me with nightmares of regret. A man was leaning against the brick wall of Kribel’s Bakery, smoking a cigarette. He looked middle age with sandy hair — styled loosely in a rockabilly coif — and tattoos and he sported tube socks that would have made Christina swoon; he looked like he was trying to grasp on to the last few strands of punk mentality that life had alotted him, like maybe he had gotten married and his wife was trying to force him to "grow up" but they compromised on a few accessories.
As I approached, I recognized him as the baker from Kribel’s; I had seen him just a few weeks ago when I stopped in to buy a cake for Kim’s birthday and I remember promptly calling Henry to inform him of my new crush. I knew I needed his picture. But I didn’t hide behind a car or garbage can. I didn’t act like I was trying to "fix" something on the camera as I strolled past, looking skyward and murmuring "Tweedle dee dee." I didn’t pretend like I was taking a picture of the awesome brick wall next to him. I didn’t distract him by baring my breasts.
No, I walked up to him, caught his eye, and asked, "Do you mind if I take a picture of you?" I wanted a real photo of him; not streaks of his blue shirt, or the ground, or the sky, as I tried unsuccesfully to be covert.
His hand froze, cigarette midway to his mouth, and he repeated my request. "Can you take MY picture?" He looked around to see if anyone had heard. I didn’t make up a story about being a photography student. I didn’t pretend to be a tourist. I told the truth.
"I just got this toy camera, and I would really like to take your picture." OK, maybe I slipped in something about a fake portfolio. And that I wanted to fill it with faces of Brookline, a community that’s so dear to my heart. But for the most part, there was no nose-growing. He said yes, and two old men sitting nearby on a bench scurried away into a store, probably afraid they were next on my hit list.
Jesus Christ: enjoying Pixar movies, mending charred bridges, and now asking for permission to photograph someone in lieu of flat out stalking? What’s next — helping old bitches across the street? Don’t worry — I was terrorizing unsuspecting pedestrians with my Holga in another part of Pittsburgh earlier today, so it’s balanced.
So, Secret Santa — sorry, Holiday Gift Bag, how un-PC of me — festivities have been underway all week. I don’t know who picked me, but they’ve been doing a bang up job. On Monday, in a little red box with glittered snowflakes, sat a bejeweled beetle pin and let me just tell you that it’s practically hemorraging with awesome. I was really excited and yelled, "It has my name written all over it!" hoping my secret gift giver was within earshot. I immediately pinned it to my shirt (after sticking my flesh with it first).
Tuesday, I got a black candle burner with a fierce red dragon emblazoned on the front, the kind of angry dragon that perhaps a fan of Godsmack might have tattooed on their chest. I’m not a big fan of dragons (or Godsmack) normally, but I was pleased that they took note of the fact that I did not want anything with flowers or meat on it. I guess the opposite of flowers would be a dragon, to some people.
Yesterday, I got a really fancy-looking hot cocoa kit — a bottle filled with cocoa powder, a bottle filled with marshmallows, a whisk and a measuring spoon, and two big brown mugs. Unfortunately, it didn’t come with directions, which is a bad, bad thing for someone like me. I tried to wing it last night, but it tasted crappy so I sulked for awhile. Bob said it was probably bought at the dollar store and at first I was offended that he would make such biting accusations against my secret gift giver, but then I thought, "Who am I kidding? Bob’s probably right." Even Kim said, "That doesn’t even smell like it would be good." Still, I’m sure if it was made properly, and with milk instead of water, it would have tasted quite indulgent, like the kind of rich beverage a Queen would sip while watching thieving peasants get beheaded. The mugs are really nice, though.
I left a note on my desk before I left last night, thanking my secret gift giver. Today, there was a reply, in large typed font, in place of my note. I kind of felt a surge of excitement because it reminded me of the time I wrote a note to Santa when I was little and the next day he wrote back. On my own purple notebook paper, even! And I didn’t even find it suspicious a few days later when I watched my step-dad sign his name on a check. "Hey, you and Santa write your ‘D’s the same! Neat."
Today, I came in and found a large rectangular object all wrapped up in shiny red paper. Gum Cracker ran over and said, "Hurry up and open that! We’re all dying to know what it is!" (She thinks I’m her secret gift giver, which I was initially before I traded with Kim, so she’s been talking sweetly to me all week.)
It’s a sparkling gold fabric memo board. I was going to take it home, but then I decided it would be put to better use here. I pulled out some older photos of Chooch that I have in my desk and slid them underneath the ribbon.
"Please don’t put your serial killer friend in there—Oh, Erin, no!" Kim begged.
For the past week, I’ve been doing this really obnoxious thing where I brag about how awesome I am. Mostly this has been happening at work. Anytime I know the answer to something, trivial as it might be, I get all sore-winnerish and shout about how my innards are made of awesome.
"Did you just make coffee?"
"Uh, yes. Because I’m full of awesome."
I bet it’s really charming to be on the other side of that.
Tonight, I was telling Christina about how my son has been a little asshole lately. "He keeps grinding his teeth, and when I tell him to stop, he fixes his eyes on mine in a stubborn glare and does it harder," I complained.
"You know what they say," she schooled. "Your kids end up being two times what you are."
"So Chooch is double stuft with awesome?" I asked.