I don't know if my left eye will ever be the same after a strand of evergreen garland fell off the entrance to my living room and slapped me on the eyeball. Eeewwwouch
Regardless, I'm still filled with holiday cheer. And I apologize for taking a week to share my tales of my trip home for Thanksgiving. I knew it would be blog worthy, so I carried a notebook around for most of my visit.
Aunt Sheila, not in the mood for Angie's "crap"
My Aunt Sheila picked me up the day before Thanksgiving at the Amtrak station in Mendota, Illinois, a one horse town and the village of my birth.
"What are you wearing?" she asked, eyebrow raised as I hopped in her car. "What is up with that hat?"
"I wasn't aware there was a dress code." I was sporting sweats, a denim jacket, baseball hat, scarf, and probably some eye boogers as I had gotten up at 5:30 to catch the early train. I didn't expect any flack from her of all people--a woman who shops at a place called the Underseller and has never stopped wearing legwarmers. However, she is hands down my favorite relative outside of my immediate family and is allowed to make fun of me. I gave her a playful shove, and we were on our way south for the 15 minute drive to my hometown.
Acting as an unsolicited tour guide of sorts, Sheila began to regale me with the latest busines news of the Illinois Valley. And oddly she had adopted some sort of twang as she spoke.
"Yeah, we're supposed to get an Olive Garden, and I went to the Super Center in Ottawa. I walked the whole thing! It sure is big." Then she paused a bit and said, "We're really growin' here ya know ."
"Why are you talking like that?" I asked.
"With that Southern accent? Where in the hell did that come from?" I asked, no demanded of her.
"Oh, shut up Angie. I don't want any of your crap today," she said.
My crap? I wasn't aware I had "crap" that would upset a person so. Anyway, we had a good laugh and went to my brother's job to hit him up for money. Chad's new place of employment is located right next door to a massage parlor called "The Spa" and appropriately housed in a trailer. Later that weekend, Chad would point to a Spa employee taking her cigarette break on the back steps and say, "Now there, there's something for your blog."
Stroll down memory lane
I got to my mom's apartment and had my fill of day time TV by the end of The View, so I bid her farewell, grabbed my iPod and went out for a walk. It was unseasonably warm, beautiful even, so I was a bit surprised to see so many townsfolk stare at me from their cars as they passed me. Like Los Angeles, people in my hometown love their cars. They drive (frequently drunk) everywhere. So it's weird to see someone on foot, I guess. I wondered if the freaky guy I saw whizz by me on a bike with a cross and a sign that said "Jesus Saves" on the back got as many looks. Anyway, they probably just thought I got a DUI.
I passed what used to be a liquor store--a place where I bought six cases of beer along with a classmate at the age of 16. I had the biggest boobs, and he had a full beard since the age of like 10 so we were the chosen ones. We used to drink outside in the woods--a place called the G-spot--and the six cases of cheap beer, if I remember correctly, was for a summer party there.
I ended up near the downtown area and decided to walk by the house where I grew up. My family moved from there about 10 years ago--so I'm way beyond the nostaligia thing. But it was a little sad to see our neighbors house where two of the nicest people on the planet had lived. Frank and Rose, and elderly married couple had never had children and were de facto grandparents to the neighborhood kids (something I never shared with my real, crazy, quasi-agoraphobe of a grandmother.) Frank even knew about my early obsession with politics and said he was amazed how a junior high girl could blab and blab about it (it was my inner-50-year-old woman talking.) Poor Frank, may he rest in peace, told me about the Congressional Page program and urged me to give it a whirl. It's probably a good thing that I never realized that dream Frank had for me.
Also of note, I walked by the Catholic Church were I had cheated on my confirmation test and then showed up hungover for said sacrament (I had been out the night before at a community college keg party. I had THE biggest crush on this gangly basketball player.)
Does God hold grudges?
Chad, Zach, and I went for lunch Friday afternoon and took a little spin out by this new resort called Big Bear, or Grand Bear. Something like that. Illinois, for the most part is pretty flat and boring, but where I grew up there are rivers and bluffs and state parks where folks hike and fish and fall to their deaths if they have too much to drink and do stupid shit.
We ate in an even smaller town called Utica, at bar where an old cronie of mine--Pork Chop, or Chops if you're familiar--tends bar. I never liked that name for him, because I assumed some local jerks gave it to him. Thus, I always make a point to call him by his real name, Kevin.
"Hi Kevin, what's up?" I asked him. "Oh, same old same old, Ang." He sighed, washing glasses.
I knew the feeling. A few years back I ran into a guy I knew down there and he asked me what "I was up to." I told him, and he kind of stood there silently, frowned, and then said, "Nothing changes with you, still the same thing everytime I see you." Besides the fact that this guy was and is an unmitigated asshole, in some circles if you're not reporting marriages, new babies, or home purchases, you might as well use Chop's reply of "Same old, same old (insert name)." It saves everyone time and the energy spent on feigning interest.
That night I had dinner with several friends at a local place called the Right Spice, a restaurant whose name I have problem with. It reminds me of deodorant. Like, "Honey, can you pick me up some Right Spice at the store?" Or "I just took a whore bath--you know a little Right Spice under each arm, a spray of perfume and out the door!"
Anyway, we were all at the bar having some pre-dinner drinks when someone pointed out a guy that looks an awful lot like Ogre from Revenge of the Nerds. Older, grayer, fatter, but it was him. It turns out Ogre married a local girl and was home for the holidays. Ogre also owns a Wrigleyville bar, fyi.
After dinner we made our way to the local watering holes, of which, let me tell ya, there are several. My favorite--a place called Elle's is run by the newly svelte (and single) bartender nicknamed Slubba (pronounced sloo-ba.) On happening holiday weekends past, the bar (what Chicago yuppies would call a dive) would be packed. Slubba would be slinging drinks with a dollar bill stuck to his sweaty forehead. On this night it was quieter and Slubba doesn't sweat as much. Slubba and I have this crass, flirty back and forth going on. I remembered this episode of Seinfeld where George gets his bald head oiled up and rubs it on some chick. Slubba and I decide (jokingly and hypothetically, of course) that we'll do the same, except I say we should use non-stick Pam.
You know, less calories. He's slimmer now. Get it?