Wednesday, December 30, 2009

You Can Never Go Home Again Oatman! But I Guess You Can Shop There.

Look, I don't mean to sit around trash talking my hometown, but Cleveland has a way of being a soul-crushing vortex of despair even when you are having a good time.

Saturday I embarked on a trip to Cleveland that I have not made in years, after a tag team attack from Mrs. Sizemore and my stepmother - apparently my father and brother continue to live in a magical fantasy land where I am not only a valuable member of the family but also fun to be around and therefore they miss me. I know right? Inexplicable. Regardless, Saturday I flew to Cleveland so they could see me.

The trip itself probably deserves its own story. I was up at the ass-crack of dawn so that I could catch an orange line train down to Midway in time for a pre 9:00 a.m. flight. The bartender, fresh off a Christmas night shift at the bar, tells me that this is ridiculous and as long as he's up he'll just give me a ride. Which seemed like a nice gesture until I realized that this meant a half an hour of driving through snow to the south side, all the while listening to him complain about how he fucking hates going to Midway and that it would take him forever to get back home in all that snow because every other driver on the road had turned stupid. So sorry to have inconvenienced him with my not asking him to take me anywhere at all. This has the added effect of getting me there fully three hours in advance of my 50 minute long flight.

The earliness of my arrival actually turned out to be a good thing, as I tried to go through security with red and white striped hair and a shirt that read "All Bets on Death" on the day after some douche tried to blow up a plane in Detroit (seriously Detroit? WHO DID HE THINK WOULD CARE?). On top of that I had one of Mrs. Sizemore's Christmas gifts in my bag - a Magic Cheezburger, which I unbelievably forgot had a tiny amount of liquid sealed inside it so the little phrase thingy could float around. I can't really blame them: it would have been obvious to anyone that I was a terrorist, what with my attention calling hair, fake sandwich/bomb that I didn't even try to hide and the announcing of my intention to die on my shirt. Besides, I'd be lying if I said the attentions of the TSA screener who felt me up didn't leave me feeling a bit frisky. You caught me. I liked it.

While waiting (and waiting and waiting) for it to be time for my flight, my attention was caught by the recently updated automated announcement system, which now includes instructions on basic hygiene such as: Cover you face with a tissue if you cough or sneeze! and Wash your hands...with soap! They actually said that "with soap". And I started having the thought that geez, do people REALLY need to be told to use so- ...and then cut myself off as I realized that yes, sadly, they really do.

The flight itself was pretty uneventful, except for my realization that despite knowing intellectually that I live next to a cluster of some of the largest fresh water lakes on the entire planet, I fail to grasp their vastness until I am in a plane flying over them and I still can't see the shore on any side. Fuckers are just absolutely massive.

Cleveland Hopkins International Airport smells like cinnamon rolls and mediocrity. It has been perpetually under construction since before I was born and despite this, looks exactly the same as it did 30 years ago. Oh, with the exception of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Store they have in there now. I laughed out loud like the crazy woman I am when I saw it. The concept is brilliant: buy souvenirs for your friends and relatives from the one and only interesting thing worth seeing in the entire city without ever having to actually go there and see it! It's fucking genius and underscores my longstanding argument that American ingenuity does not stem from the question "How can we make the world better?" but from the question "How can we make it so that we can be as lazy as possible and put no effort into anything, ever?" IMMD.

The triumphant return of the prodigal daughter was just as I expected. My dad cried, I ate pie, and mysteries were solved. Apparently Mrs. Sizemore and RLC didn't plan their ruse for getting me very well, and Cap was highly confused when Mrs. Sizemore started panicking that she and RLC were not ready at 11:00 to "go get doughnuts". Following that, as is traditional in my family, everyone settled into their own room doing their own activities by themselves, thereby negating the entire point of "getting together". It was quietly hilarious.

Later we drove out to visit Simmy and a very surprised and confused Kelly (I'd called and left her a message that Cap and I wanted to get together on Mrs. Sizemore's assertion that Kelly knew I was in town. She didn't). The highlight was my little niece who not only knows that a screwdriver will remove the panel on her cash register so the batteries can be changed, but can tell a Flathead screw from a Phillips-head and select the appropriate tool. She's two years old.

After a dinner out with my parents where I made a complete ass of myself trying to order a bowl of soup, we retired to the house where Cap, Mrs. Sizemore and my dad engaged me in several rounds of Smart Ass, one of which I won. This was a really huge deal: Mrs. Sizemore and her giant brain packed full of crap had apparently won every single round of Smart Ass that had been played since Thanksgiving. I was the hero of the day. They threw me a ticker tape parade and had my name written in the sky by an airplane (OK, really they just said "haha" and pointed at Mrs. Sizemore and I poured myself a glass of Amaretto).

The fun continued when us three kids met up with Kelly, her beau and some other graduates of our high school at a bar. Of this I have little memory, but the photos in my camera assure me that I had an excellent time. Per usual, I took notes that turned out to be mostly useless:
  • "R.T. Story" - I know what this one means. R.T. stands for "rubber twat" and is indeed a great story, however it is not my story so if you want to hear it, you'll have to pester Cap.
  • "White supremacist ass crack" - I also remember this one. While we were merrily drinking at the bar a short, fat man with a shaved head and white supremacist tattoos all over it walked in and bellied up to the bar. We noticed him and were afraid, but as we were all white and out of his line of sight we soon forgot he was there. Until someone (Kelly?) happened to glance over and notice that his pants were falling off. Like, a lot falling off. His jeans were nearly to his knees and his gray boxer briefs were just above balls level. I can't believe he wouldn't have noticed a breeze across such a large amount of exposed ham hock. Being very drunk by then, we fumbled conspicuously for cameras and may have been talking about it much louder than we intended, but we manged to get our shots without being shot by him or his friend.
  • "Tai's face (the photos that are the same)" - In my camera is a series of photos where various people are holding their hand out in front of their face and appear to be either angry or singing opera. I am assuming these are the photos this note refers to, but I fail to recall what the fuck I was talking about.
  • "Jenny, how do you make it happen?" and "cap & cow (ask Kelly)" - These are some of the last notes I wrote and I haven't got any idea what the could possibly mean, though I seemed to place a great deal of importance on remembering the second one because I've written it very carefully in even better handwriting than I have when I'm sober.
There is another separate set of notes from when I polled everyone at the table about what my next hair cut and/or color should be. Most of the suggestions are as would be expected for my head: "Jet black with platinum and Burgundy highlights cut to the chin", "Burgundy or eggplant", "Pink and black/ jagged", "Green and rich yellow", "Black with silver, jagged (not curly)", except for my brother's vote which says far more about the speaker than it does about me. I quoted him directly: "Put it back to the color it's supposed to be. I want you to look like Ann Coulter is your friend."

All in all, I had a really great time, including watching the Browns win their third game in a row (the hell?) before going to the airport on Sunday. Which is why I was so startled by the overwhelming sense of joy and relief I had upon landing back in Chicago. I can only conclude that it is the flat and colorless expanse of Cleveland itself that produces the feelings of hopelessness and despair I get every time I go there.

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