Before I left for work yesterday, it began to downpour. Because I never think very far ahead, I kicked off my shoes, grabbed the camera and ran outside with Chooch.
“I had a dream that you were taking me to my new classroom and you looked ugly,” Chooch said when we were on our way to buy him new clothes for school.
“Hey!” I yelled.
“What?! It was just a dream. God.” And then came a series of annoyed and exasperated grunts that he must have learned from Henry because I am never annoyed or exasperated.
Nearly every shirt he picked out has skulls on it. And he’s clearly not afraid to make bold statements by wearing purple. I wonder what scene-kid fashion will be like by the time he’s in high school. I wonder if there will be cool scene-ish four-year-olds in his pre-school class.
Henry came home from work during our photo shoot and proceeded to sit across the street in the parking lot like a creeper, probably finishing up his daily phone sex with his girlfriend. I didn’t even realize he was there until I came back inside and saw that he texted “you guys are idiots.” He’s just jealous that he’s too old to play in the rain; it’ll enrage his arthritis.
And then I had to leave for work, where I sat in air conditioning for the next five hours while squirming under wet hair and damp clothes. And when I get sick, of course I’ll act surprised.
My 19th birthday was the best ever! (Hola Corey, Big Sis is typing over here and you’re still talking; stop that.) It was FOUR DAYS LONG and different people came each night because that was back when people LOVED me! (And it had nothing to do with the fact that I was the only broad who had her own apartment and a mommy who kept the fridge fully stocked with beer & assorted alcohol).
It ran the gamut from good, light-hearted fun to Saudi Arabians teaching people how to roll pyramid-shaped joints to fist fights between brothers to reenactments of hissy fits to one guy wanting very badly to stick his dick in me in spite of my vehement turn-downs to me leaving on the fourth night, completely drunk and in tears, and driving to nowhere really while blasting Foo Fighter’s “Everlong.”
A week prior to my birthday, I had broken up with my boyfriend Erik. There was no real good reason other than as long as I had the title of “Girlfriend,” I couldn’t help all the neighborhood boys use up their condoms.
He came to my apartment on the third day of birthday bacchanalia to give me back my stuff, and with him was his ex-girlfriend who had stalked him the entire year they were broken up. He had apparently gotten back together with her after I dumped him. Also with them was our friend Sergio, who I eventually ended up winning custody of since Erik no longer was allowed to have friends, having gotten back together with his crazy asshole ex.
Erik seemed genuinely sad that day on my front porch. He started to wish me a happy birthday, when the ex-girlfriend snapped and started screaming, “You fucking whore! You dumb fucking cunt! I’ll kill you!” And then she broke away from Sergio’s grip and charged after me. Erik clothes-lined her and dragged her back to his car, shrugging an apology along the way. My friend Heather didn’t even bother to put her shoes before running out the front door, ready to fight this temperamental nutjob who had just threatened me on my birthday. That was the awesome thing about my friend Heather. She was always ready to throw down.
For years, Erik was the “one who got away.” I kicked myself for dumping him. It was stupid and impulsive (though, so was the way we hooked up to begin with, but that’s a non-Blogathon story). Sergio told me years later that Erik had married that broad and had succumbed to a life of emasculation. It was settling at its finest. For awhile, I tried to find him. Searched for him online. I never could find him.
Then I met Henry and forgot about my hunt to get him back. But I still think of him, and that fourth night of my birthday party marathon, every time I hear “Everlong.”
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.
This is probably the best – not to mention the worst – idea that I have ever had.
Mel couldn’t take the pain of his broken heart any longer so he gouged a hole into his chest with a melon baller and pulled that bleeding sucker right the hell out. Now he’ll never have to feel that breaking torment next time a favorite ice cream flavor is retired. On the flipside though, he’ll never again feel the swell of hope and love when his girlfriend comes over. But how often does that really happen? She’s a cheating slutbroad.
Sometimes I wish I didn’t have a heart, too. But I would rather suffer through the lows so that I may have the highs, rather than not feel anything at all. I love you, Craigery.
Corey and I had time to kill before the show started, which was a good thing because our breakfast and lunch consisted of sharing a bag of Munchos in the car. Driving down the main drag of whatever shit hole we were in, we passed strip clubs and adult video stores, liquor stores and dance studios (the exotic kind) on every block. Every couple of intersections, I would start to pull into a parking lot, and then say, “Oh, never mind, that’s just a bait shop” or “Oops, I thought that was an IHOP, but it’s just another whore house.” Holy shit, New Jersey is made with a crust of perversion, filled with a gooey center of booze and g-strings. No wonder Christina is so sleazy — she was BORN in the center of it all.
When the going gets tough, the tough call Henry.
“We need you to find us somewhere to eat, somewhere that’s not too far from our motel, and somewhere that has grilled cheese,” I ordered, skipping the salutations.
“I AM IN PITTSBURGH,” Henry growled. “Find your own damn restaurant, you’re capable. USE YOUR FUCKING BLACKBERRY.”
“Yeah, OK. So, we passed a sign for Camden, if that helps. Find us food establishments, thanks.”
Henry, probably realizing that I was just going to keep calling him until he fulfilled my wishes, found us some family restaurant back in Gloucester. I followed his directions part-way until I grew tired and nervous that he was leading us straight into a river or over a cliff with dynamite in our mouths, so when we came upon Pat’s Pizzeria, Corey and I both agreed that it’d do.
Despite the neon “Open” sign, Pat’s didn’t appear very inviting. There were no other cars in the lot and a large section of the entrance was cordoned off with yellow Caution tape. We were hungry and running out of time, so we dropped the spoiled siblings act and went inside. But I mean, we REALLY had our hearts set on grilled cheese, just so you know.
We must have missed Pat’s hey day by a few years. It looked like it could have been a decent establishment at some point, but then maybe the owners stopped caring because it’s probably just a drug front anyway. Who cares if the vinyl booths have switchblade slashes in them and the floor hasn’t been mopped in weeks when you’re hustling kilos and illegal arms out the back of the storeroom.
A shifty guy named Yianni waited on us, never once making eye contact. He seemed surprised that we opted to dine in because apparently the locals eschew Pat’s disheveled dining room for their own. I ordered cheese ravioli and I won’t lie — I was excited to try the edible delights of Gloucester’s famed pizzeria (there’s an advertisement for it on the underpass leading into town, so you know it’s good).
Somewhere in between spying a shirtless fat man sitting down with a beer in his house across the street and sending pictures of Corey looking scared and miserable to our mom, an older woman who appeared to be a few food stamps safe from vagabondism sat down behind me with a double stroller. Her frizzy red hair was streaked with gray and she was wearing a billowing man’s overcoat; her lips were unable to meet past her buck teeth. We paid no attention to her, and then halfway through our meal, she set her sights on us. She was undeterred by the fact that, moments earlier, Corey loudly postulated, “I feel like this town is swimming in AIDS” and proceeded to solicit us with small talk.
“What is tomorrow? I feel like tomorrow is something special,” she asked aloud, looking directly at our table. I turned slightly and told her it was Mother’s Day, but apparently the proper reaction would have been to box up our food and finish eating in the car, because once we took her bait, she refused to throw us back to sea. There was a vibe about her, I can’t put my finger on it, but she seemed slightly unstable. Her eyes seemed unfocused, glazed; and I mean, I’ve been known to pick up hitchhikers without a second thought, so my feeling nervous about someone speaks volumes. Corey was unnerved by her too.
She asked Corey and I what we were getting our mothers, and I explained that we’re siblings and have the same mom, and that my present to our mom was getting Corey out of her hair for the weekend, that this was our first sibling road trip and we were there to see the Cure.
“The Cure?” she repeated, brows furrowed. “No, I ain’t heard of it.” Feigning incredulity, I told her that they weren’t a new band, they’ve been around since the late seventies.
“Oh, that’s before my time. I wasn’t around all that long ago.” I was hoping she was being facetious, but something told me she was a little off-kilter. This was around the point where Corey started kicking me under the table.
“Let’s get the fuck away from the crazy broad, plz.”
She began bragging about her older kids. One daughter, who is 21, is in charge of three WaWas. THREE WAWAS, you guys. I wasn’t aware that this was a huge accomplishment, but her face fell a little when I didn’t applaud, so I hurried up and said, “Oh wow! That’s great.”
“Oh yeah, I know! And she just graduated high school last year.” She smiled and shook her head proudly. “My other daughter is nineteen. She just graduated this year. You probably know her,” she said to Corey. “Crystal?”
Corey, who refused to engage her, continued staring in the other direction, so I reminded her that we weren’t townies. Every time I caught Corey’s eye, he widened them into angry and impatient saucers, imploring me to stop talking to her. He finally took matters into his own hands and went to the counter to get takeout boxes off of Yianni.
“Oh right!” she said, remembering. “You guys are musical. I forgot.” I don’t know what she meant by that, but Corey had returned to the table with takeout boxes, which we sloppily scraped the rest of our food in. Before I left, she pummeled me with sweet sentiments, asking God to bless me and urging me to take care of myself. “Please tell your mother I said Happy Mother’s Day!” she shouted as I shirked quickly through the door. Hey Mom, some crazy fisherwoman from New Jersey might die if you don’t have a blessed Mother’s Day.
I feel like if I had been any closer, she would have stuck me with a pin to have a drop of my blood to keep as a memento.
When we got out to the car, Corey breathed an exaggerated sigh of relief. “What the fuck was wrong with her? She didn’t even order any food. She was just SITTING there the whole time, like she was lost.”
As we pulled back into the motel’s lot, I theorized that she was probably there to get her weekly fix. The guy who was fighting earlier with his girlfriend no longer was wearing a shirt, and was staring at us from the door of his room. As we got ready to leave for the show, we reminisced of past European vacations. “And look at us now!” I shouted cheerfully, waiting for the bathroom light to warm up.
The night before we left, I had Henry look up lodging for Corey and me while I was at work, since I am helpless and had more important things to do. My only criteria was: close to venue and cheap.
He sent me info for Red Carpet Inn, which had rooms for $49+tax. It was located in New Jersey, and it was only 3.5 miles away from the Wachovia Spectrum, where the Cure was playing Saturday night.
I quickly emailed him and said I’d take it.
“You realize this place isn’t going to be nice,” Henry chided in his reply. The user ratings all said, “You get what you pay for,” and I was OK with that because the more money I saved, the more shit I could buy throughout the trip, like Slim Jims and crack.
“Don’t you dare even think about calling and complaining,” Henry said the next morning, as he armed me with directions and SoyJoy bars.
Corey arrived at my house at 10:00 and, between filling up the gas tank with liquid gold and taking out some cash for the turnpike, etc., I managed to spend $71 before we even left Brookline.
For the 300+ miles on the Pennsylvania turnpike, Corey and I mainly reminisced about past displays of family dysfunction, which included Corey’s favorite Father-Daughter fight in which I screamed in my step-dad’s face that I wish he’d get his head cut off by the log splitter we had in our backyard. Corey was laughing, and I was too but the whole time I was thinking, “Yeah, but this was a stepping stone in the rickety path of dropping out of high school.”
I forced Corey to listen to a special mixed CD I made just for the trip, and he sarcastically cheered every time Chiodos came on. However, he is now obsessed with Dance Gavin Dance, which is more than I could have hoped for. However, I ridiculed him every time he disagreed with my musical tastes, you know, like every other obnoxious music snob does.
My favorite moment was when Corey told me he was going through my step-dad’s cell phone and discovered naked pictures of my step-dad’s girlfriend all bent over the back of the couch. Ten minutes later and it was all, “Remember when you found naked pictures of Daddy’s girlfriend?” and then we laughed all over again.
I’m not used to being the responsible one in these trips. My role is usually to wedge my fat ass in the passenger seat, armed with my vacation journal, beverage and snacks, switching up the music like it’s my destiny. Also, flirting with truckers and being Annoying: Road Trip Edition. But this time, I had to pay attention to shit, like how the car was doing on gas, if all the tires were intact, all while keeping a general sense of where the fuck we were. Oh, the pressure. Corey was in charge of the directions, but every time I would ask him where we were, he’d stare ambivalently at the map and kind of shrug. So then I would call Henry and ask, “Hey, how much farther do we have?” and he’d get all mad because I wouldn’t be able to tell him where we were since I can’t read a map and then he’d have to go and turn the computer on (he was letting it rest while I was away) and by that time I’d be all, “Oooh we’re going through a tunnel! Bubbye!”
Directions-wise, it was smooth sailing until we made it to the Philly exits and had to get off the turnpike. Corey would play with my emotions by saying things like, “We need this next exit, No wait, next one. No wait this one!!” leaving me mere seconds to swerve onto the ramp. I screamed the whole way across the Ben Franklin bridge and somehow managed to take the wrong exit, which dumped us blindly into some small town called Gloucester.
We stopped at Coastal to get gas and when I started to get out of the car, an elderly employee came over and started pumping it for me. I learned later that night that it’s like, some weird law that all New Jersey gas stations are full service, and you would think that with me being such a fucking princess, I’d have really embraced this small display of pampering, but instead I panicked because I didn’t know the protocol — was I supposed to tip him? Cheer him on? Wait silently in the car and pretend it’s not making me feel like an entitled White Person to have a Mexican work for me? I kept asking Corey but he was all, “I don’t know, this is weird and I think he hates us and I want to go” so we sped away when he was through.
I had to call Henry once again so he could get us to our motel (at this point, I didn’t even know the name of it) and our conversation went something like this:
Henry: What are you near?
Me: A black lady in really high boots.
Henry, sighing angrily: What are you near?
Me: A chocolate covered pretzel store.
While Henry was busy trying to find out where we were, I pulled over and Corey ran into the chocolate-covered pretzel place to ask a local for help. Henry kept asking me for street names, and I would answer him with very important information, like:
“Ew that guy just looked at me!” and “I hope Corey buys some delicious confections while he’s in there. The sign says they’re the best.”
Corey returned with directions at the same time Henry found us on a map. To keep Henry’s ego from deflating, I chose his directions and proceeded to doubt him the entire time, saying that I should have listened to the pretzel lady’s directions instead, which caused him to yell back and say things like, “I AM NOT THERE. I AM IN PITTSBURGH. I CANNOT SEE WHAT YOU ARE SEEING.” Then he was all, “Fuck you, find it yourself,” and hung up on me.
Both sets of directions ended up being right. The pretzel lady said we’d know we were there when we saw the Pennant night club and Weber’s burger stand, and by golly she was right.
II : Red (from blood stains) Carpet Inn
“It looks like a concentration camp,” Corey groaned as we pulled into the Red Carpet Inn. It was the kind of place that people retreated to after their slum lords evicted them; the kind of place where people crept off to have lunch break affairs; the kind of place that had mattresses broken enough for people to appropriately OD on. Corey and I just may have been the only legitimate travelers staying there.
If you can, try to remember back to the last time you emptied fifty-eight ash trays in the center of your living room and then steeped it with Pine-Sol and the musty stench of your Aunt Mary’s baby doll collection. Yeah, you remember? Well, that’s what it smelled like it in the closet-sized check-in office.
We had to wait for a man in front of us to check in, which provided us with the idle time necessary for a complete giggle breakdown. It started with Corey, who had to bring a fist to his mouth to stifle the laughter. The old woman on the other side of the bullet-proof windows shot us dirty scowls and I tried to bury myself in a Chinese take-out menu that I lifted from the counter. Corey tried to hide his laughter by turning to look out the window, nearly knocking over the “Free Use for Guests” 1980’s-model microwave off it’s shaky stand.
After receiving no pleasantries from the clerk, not even a nicotine-ravaged “Welcome to New Jersey,” we had our key handed to us and found that our room was the last one in the row, and luckily for us the door wasn’t visible from the lot. A small vestibule with a flickering overhead light had to be entered to find our door. It was the perfect setting for a late night mugging, stabbing, gang rape, tranny hooker wardrobe change.
Once inside, I was relieved to find that the room itself wasn’t too bad. It seemed to be clean, as promised by the hand-written note left on the desk, declaring that some broad named Lillian cleaned it with her own bare hands. There were some stains on the towels and sheets, along with the standard array of cigarette burns dotting the shower curtain.
The lone window in the room gave us a view of the lustrous grounds behind the motel. I looked out and, oh good, saw two shacks — just perfect for stowing murder victims, a troupe of Romanian sex slaves, and bricks of cocaine. Personally, I liked to hope that the Holy Grail was in there somewhere, shoved in the anus of a drug mule.
The bathroom light seemed a little short-winded, so I walked back to the front desk to request a new bulb. On my way there, one of the residents — a young guy in a brown t-shirt — emerged and sat in front of the door, lighting up a cigarette and staring me down. Probably he was trying to gauge if I was a potential client, maybe trying to size me up for my preference — coke, pot, meth, grande-cocked Mexicans. Hopefully he was checking out my boobs, too.
Back in the office, I had to ring the bell multiple times, praying that I wasn’t interrupting some underground cock fight or sex party, before the no-nonsense old desk clerk came out of the back room. When I told her the bathroom light wasn’t working very well, she impatiently shook her head and said, “No, it works. You gotta leave it on for about five minutes, let it warm up.” I started to thank her, but she had already turned her back on me.
“I don’t think that old lady in the office likes me,” I whined to Corey, chaining the door shut behind me.
“Well no shit. We were practically laughing in her face when you were checking in.”
A few minutes later, a domestic dispute broke out in the parking lot.