**NOTE: This is a LONG post. I just want to say that up front so you know what you’re getting into. I PROMISE you though, it’s worth a read. A lot of really, truly weird stuff happened to us in 2003.**

**Oh AND, I curse a LOT in this blog. It’s just what naturally happened in the writing. Hopefully you’ll just say, “Language, language!” and keep reading. Thank you for your patience and toleration of my potty mouth.**

When we finally left Florida, it was probably like 3 or 4pm. We drove for like twelve hours. We took turns and drove up through Florida, though Alabama and onto Mississippi. Regina’s parents live in Wiggins, Mississippi which is about an hour or so outside of New Orleans.

We got there around 2 or 3am. IDK, it was LATE. When we got there, there was initially some talk of meeting up with Regina’s brother at a party but I don’t remember if the plan fell apart or if I did due to exhaustion. Either way, we went to Regina’s parents house where we would be staying. I was flabbergasted to find that we could walk in the house without benefit of a key. The door was just…open. Coming from NJ, that is absolutly unheard of unless you’re running some kind of insurance scam and WANT someone to take all your shit and burn it. (So I’ve heard alright?) Anyway, we walked inside this very, very adorable home in the woods! Regina’s mother shuffled out of her room after a couple of minutes. No sense of alarm, no worries. My mother would have either been so dead asleep that baying wolves would not have woken her or so scared that she’d be blowing into her bagpipes with all her might to summon help. No, she just said, “Oh hi Regina. Hello girls. You hungry? No? Okay, night then, see you in the morning.” So polite, so nonchalant, I loved it.

The next morning we woke up to the smell of breakfast. Regina got us up out of bed to find that Regina’s ENTIRE FAMILY was there and a breakfast of eggs with cheese, grits and biscuits had been prepared for us! So sweet!!!! And SO GOOOOOD…Oh my God! All in one fell swoop we met Regina’s Brother, Sister-in-Law, Kids, Mother, Father, I think an Uncle or two were in the mix…And we didn’t even meet her other brother yet! Everyone was so damn nice and welcoming!

The funny thing about being there too is that you really never saw the TV on. People came, people went. No one ever seemed to be in a rush. And Regina was funny as hell because she didn’t watch TV at all. She didn’t know what “Friends” was (and this was in it’s absolute HEIGHT of popularity). Just so different from how we live in NJ. Everyone’s always rushing somewhere, the TV is on no matter if anyone’s watching it or not, just for noise and stimulation…

So we tooled around Mississippi. Met Regina’s other brother and friends. We saw Regina’s father like once or twice the whole time we were there. They live on a coupla acres of land and he hunted constantly the entire time we were there. At one point we went off into the woods looking for him and Regina told us that we had to make a lot of noise so that he didn’t shoot us thinking we were game. Haha…It was so awesome. Here we think we’re “woodsy” because we “camp” in a trailer that has a stove, an oven, a bathroom and a shower. Here I think my Dad “hunts” because he has a bb gun and aims at squirrels and misses. Such babies we are up North.

This is one of my favorite pictures of me and Kristyn. Not because we look especially good in it but because we’re so free here. It’s our first time really far away from home, on an adventure. Whenever I thought of moving to LA, I thought of this picture for strength and inspiration because I remember what I felt like in that moment.

Us in the backseat of the convertible.

We went to a coupla bars. We went to a biker bar straight out of Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. All the bikes were lined up in a row outside. We walked in and it was like a record screeched to a halt. We sat down and got some beers to relax but realized we should get out of dodge sooner rather than later. We finished our beers and went into the bathroom. The stall was so small that there was actually a hole in the door so you can stick your head out in order to hover over the seat. You KNOW some broad drunkenly punched a hole in that shit and the bar owners were like, “Okay” and made it legit. I love Mississippi.

We also saw the “World’s Largest Confederate Flag”. And on Sunday, we asked Regina’s Mom what there was to do on a Sunday night for fun. She laughed and said, “Sweethearts, you’re in the Bible Belt now” as a response. What she meant to say was, “There ain’t shit to do on Sundays fools” but she was too nice, polite and Southern for that which we also appreciated. We DID manage to find a Mexican restaurant that was the bomb though. We had to go to Biloxi (or Gulfport?) to find it though, which was a little more South and closer to the Gulf of Mexico. It was cute over there like Wildwood or Seaside. I really liked it.

We also went to a casino on a boat! It was awesome! We didn’t have any money to gamble or drink but we had fun wandering around and goofing off. I distinctly remember some drunk lady roping me into a conversation in the bathroom. I think I was in that conversation for so long that Regina and Kristyn left me for dead, haha.

One night we went to a bar in Hattiesburg. They had penny beers and quarter pitchers. We could not and still could not believe it. How in the world do they make money? To say the least, we had a good time that night, haha.

Penny beers, quarter pitchers.

One night, Regina and her friends took us to New Orleans so we could get blind drunk on Bourbon Street and not have to drive home. How sweet!

We started off the night getting food at this awesome restaurant. I think, if I’m not mistaken, that it was on the water but at the foot of Bourbon Street? I’m not entirely sure a) because I’m not familiar with New Orleans geography and b) I had a Vanilla Vodka drink at the restaurant that would have been ENOUGH for me for the night. Me and Kristyn wanted a sampling of everything so we had Crawfish Etouffe, Seafood Gumbo and Blackened Alligator. All of them were so damn good. The restaurant was cool as hell. There was live jazz and everyone was up and dancing. It was a great first impression of New Orleans!

Kristyn, Crawfish Etouffe, Gumbo, Blackened Alligator

We then walked up Bourbon Street to Pat O’Brien’s. I’d been to Pat O’Brien’s in Cancun and been knocked off my feet on their Hurricanes already. BUT, when in Rome ya know?

Regina, Kristyn, Me and Regina's two best friends.

The Hurricane alone would have been all I needed but combined with the Vanilla Vodka drink? It was a LOT more than I needed.

So with a little bit of liquor in (most of) us, we started wandering around on Bourbon Street. We came upon a biker crew (I know they were everywhere) who immediately began whispering sweet nothings in our ears until a limo-full of MILFS pulled to a stop in front of us. The MILFS were hanging out of the sunroof and all like, “WHOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! WHY YA WANNA PLAY WITH KITTENS WHEN YOU CAN HAVE REAL FUN WITH COUGARS!!!” or something to that effect. The bikers politely and firmly dropped us on the spot. “Sorry gals, they’re more our speed.” We weren’t heartbroken.

Then we happened upon a dude who stopped us in the street so he could grace us with his a capella version of Otis Redding’s “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay”. It was lovely actually. A lot of gladhanding and back patting resulted from this little performance but it’s not what he wanted. “Ya know, I work on tips…” “Oh snap, here’s two dollars?” “God bless you folks, god bless you.”

THEN the penultimate New Orleans experience happened to yours truly. I know I’ve told you this story before but STFU and like it. Anyway, we’re staggering down the street (which by the way is less like a “street” than it is a carnival, more on that later) when we happen upon the most interesting vision. It is a woman, the largest woman I have ever seen (both in height and in sheer volume). She has her head thrown back and is ROARING. What is more curious, however, is her handling of her massive belly. She has her shirt pulled up to reveal a generous abdomen that she is SHAKING back and forth with her hands. Now if you know me, you know I love nothing more than when someone loves themselves warts and all and that includes roaring and shaking your gut out in the middle of the street for all of tarnation to view. Fresh off my Otis Redding performance, I am eager to interact with some more locals. I approach the woman and ask her if I might take a picture either of her or with her. “DOLLAR!” she demurely says. “Okay, no problem” say I. “DOLLAR!!!! DOOOLLER!!!!” she girlishly continues. “Alright here it is, hold your horses” I grumble. I ask her what her name is and she shyly says, “PROFESSOR LONGHAIR!!! PROFESSOR LONGHAIR!!! PROFESSOR LONGHAIR!!!” “Oh shit!” I say. “Okay, Professor Longhair you said? Okay let’s take the picture now.” “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. NOOOOO PIIIIICTURE! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” “WTF Professor Longhair. Don’t get all Indian Giver on my ass. I thought we had a deal.” “NOOOO! NOOOOO! NOOOOO! NOOOO PICTURE!” “Then give me my dollar back.” “NO DOLLAR!” “Give it back, that’s fucked up.” “NO GIVE DOLLAR BACK!” “Ugh Professor Longhair, you’re being a pain in my ass.” The next thing you know, Professor Longhair encircles her arms around my ass. She lifts me skyward. I’m cradled in her arms and being shaken around violently. I begin to laugh heartily and LOUD. I think the intended effect was to threaten but I’m really too stupid for this at the moment. I’m drunk and I’m 22 and I’m on vacation. This is fun for me right now and I couldn’t have planned it better if I tried. After shaking me around a bit, she set me back down on the ground, a mixture of befuddlement, batshit craziness and amusement warring on her features. She like, literally patted me on the back and bid me adieu. That shit was WORTH a dollar any day of the fucking week. I didn’t get a picture though. Bitch was a straight up Indian Giver and proud of it. Ah well.

After this is where events become extremely, extremely hazy and addled.

We shlepped over to Fat Tuesday’s. Again, I’d already had a flavored daquiri at Fat Tuesday’s in Cancun but Momma likes her some flavored daquiris. I think it was a mudslide…or maybe banana. I don’t know, but I CAN tell you that the bouncer was seven…feet…tall. Incredible.

At this point, the word “hammered” does not even apply to my situation. I am, without a doubt, probably the drunkest I have been in my life and I’ve been drunk a lot of times.

Regina’s friend told me that you can’t simply come to New Orleans and NOT try a Hand Grenade. Never one to immediately buckle under peer pressure, I naturally immediately buckled under peer pressure and got me a Hand Grenade. In order to purchase a Hand Grenade, you have to wander up to a little window in the side of a bulding. They give you your mystery beverage (a closely guarded New Orleans secret that you can find in a snap on the Internets) in a Grenade-shaped cup. It tasted like Fruit Punch flavored swill if I remember correctly but that kind of is my last memory. It was at this point, I lost total consciousness. I mean I was walking and talking but none of it made a lick of sense. There is rumor that I insisted on standing and talking to two bouncers in front of the Hustler strip club for an hour. I made friends with a gaggle of New Yorkers and made detailed extensive plans to “definitely hang out”. There are pictures of me taking shots at bars. Pictures of me hanging out with various people. It was bananas. I don’t remember leaving. I don’t remember getting in the car. I don’t remember the drive. I don’t remember getting home. I don’t remember going to bed. It was bad and thank god that it was just that one night and I had a designated driver to help a bitch. Man of La Mancha was that a crazy night. Never. Again.

Me and my bittersweet Lover, the Hand Grenade.

So the next day, we came to, got ready and went to an IHOP on the Gulf of Mexico haha. Ate some pancakey and we hurried straight back into the belly of the beast: New Orleans. We wanted to do some shopping and some French Quarter snooping. SO, we wandered around the shops. We bought some stuff, looked at a ton of stuff and then wandered into Marie Laveau’s shop. I had my video camera out and we were taping shit everywhere (I must find those tapes!). We got in SO. MUCH. TROUBLE. at that shop though. Apparently if you video tape inside a voodoo shop, you will carry home an evil entity that will destroy your life. It’s possible, a lot of freak things happen to me that don’t seem to happen to anyone else. (Have you ever lived in two separate apartments only to have two different upstairs neighbors violently kill themselves? I didn’t think so.) So we kind of beat it out of there fast because it was scary and we were in trouble. Fin.

But we DID find an inordinate amount of dried alligator feet. Keychains, back scratchers. To this day I remain PISSED that I didn’t buy an alligator foot back scratcher. What could be a more disgusting souvenir than that to freak your houseguests out with? “Oh your back is itchy? Let me…”

Why? "Why not?" they say.

We went to the uber-tourist destination, Cafe du Monde. It was alright. We have cafe con leche and donuts, I mean beignets, in NJ too. Seriously they were good but essentially I think it was a lighter version of a zeppole. And you know I love me a zeppole. Can I get a high five?!

Regina, Let's call him Pierre, Me and Kristyn

We also walked around in the French Market and bought some cool trinkets. Kristyn bought a little print of people dancing to jazz music and I bought a little metal necklace with a giant metal box attached to it. It’s cuter than it sounds and it’s hanging on my lamp. I also bought a buncha keychains to bring home to our famblies.

It was starting to get dark and we wanted to get back to the car. We decided to walk through Jackson Square. A LOOOOOT of homeless people live at Jackson Square at night. Most of them were friendly, saying hello and wishing us a good night. They were like feel-good musical vagabonds in comparison to New York’s homeless who either ignore you or jump out and scare you. But that’s not to say we weren’t nervous. Regina, living here all her life, was a little more reassured than we were I’ll bet. But we were still all like 22 and in a big city. And not for nothing, and this just might be my totally erroneous knee-jerk reaction, but I was more scared in New Orleans than I have ever been in another city in my life. I’m sure reading all those Poppy Z. Brite novels in high school didn’t help but still. I just got a creepy vibe off of everything there and I’ve been to a lot of cities. I didn’t feel like I’d get like car-jacked per se but more like I would go home with that evil spirit that Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo promised.

Weird palm reader and moi.

Anyway, Jackson Square. We were walking when we saw a man named Jerrick (Kristyn that’s his name right?) sitting in a bright patch at a table. He looked like a storybook wizard. He beckoned us to come closer to him and offered to read our palms for twenty dollars apiece. Now I don’t know if you know this about me or not but I’m sure you can assume based on my moronicity (a word?) but I LOVES ME SOME PSYCHIC SHIT. So when a real-life wizard in Jackson Square offers a bitch to read her palm, she forks over the dough and sits the f down. We all got our palms read and I’m sorry to say that I don’t remember a lick of it. That information has been replaced forever by the events that took place next.

So we’re sitting with Jerrick and some youts are passing to and fro, waving hello. He smiles and says they’re his children. Alright, maybe he had kids late in life. Then more kids come waddling past. “I love you!” “I love you back!” “More kids?” “They’re all my children.” “Oh.” At this point, we realized that we may have been being groomed to be his “children” so we made our farewells and kept our smiles frozen on our faces hoping to get to the car before the children could bludgeon us with stray limbs they have lying around.

We pass a guy and a girl and they call out to us. “Hey, wanna sip?” “Hi, no thanks!” “It’s Mountain Dew and Vodka!” “Just had some, g’night!” “Come over here!” So, sigh, we approach them hoping they don’t have poison darts on them. From this vantage point, we can see that the gent has a pretty generous laceration on his hand. It had, at one point in the recent future been bleedingly freely but had settled into a nice coagulated mess covered with strips of cloth. “I got bit by a dog today.” “Oh, we noticed. Sorry to hear it. Get well soon! See ya later!” “Shake it.” “What?” “Shake my hand.” “Um, oh, uh, I don’t shake hands.” “Don’t be a baby, just shake it.” So I ever so gingerly took my thumb and index finger of my right hand and shook the cleanest part of his hand. “See? Not so bad. Sure you don’t want some Mountain Dew and Vodka?” “Nope, I’m full.” “More for us!” and then they descended into jags of laughter and high fives (with their functioning hands). It was terrifying and we wasted no time almost flat running to the car. Now THAT was a mace situation. If I ever go to New Orleans again (which I’d actually really like to do under more sober and daylight-infused circumstances) I would definitely be packing heat in the form of pepper spray. New Orleans, I love you but you scared the shit out of me.

Eventually our time in Mississippi was up. Actually I forgot that we’d made our plane tickets TWO weeks later than we were supposed to for some reason. So we spent a week in Mississippi/New Orleans and then we wanted a little time on the road to drive back to Orlando because that’s where our flight left from. It happened to be Elvis Presley’s birthday on the day we left. We had no idea until Regina’s Mom pointed it out. This is pertinent because we happened to be heading to Memphis.

Leaving Wiggins, on our way to Memphis.

It took a few hours and was dark by the time we got there. No Graceland tours for us. Thankfully there is an actual “Heartbreak Hotel” that is next door to Graceland though. We staggered inside and were thrilled to find that there was an Elvis impersonator there! Apparently he was a GOOD one too because there were a LOT of women there almost fainting at the sight of him. We walked right up and got our pictures taken with him.

Me, Elvis, Kristyn

What we missed though was that the women standing were not just aimlessly standing there. They were in LINE. We cut off a line of rabid Elvis fans on his BIRTHDAY at the HEARTBREAK HOTEL to carelessly get our picture taken with their favorite impersonator. If daggers truly shot out of eyeballs, we’d be lunch meat.

Considering that I had worked at a lot of hotels, we realized that any hotel will allow give you the keys to a room and let you take a lil looksee if you really want to. Armed with that knowledge, we brazenly asked if we could see a room. We made it seem like we were discerning customers but really we just wanted to go into a room and squeal because there was no way in hound dog hell that we were going to be able to afford a room up in this bitch. So we went upstairs, squealed as intended, did a little snooping and then went back downstairs to let the front desk know we’d “think about it.”

We were starved and crazed at this point so when we saw a little divey diner, we did a donut into their lot. I don’t remember what Kristyn ordered and I’m pretty sure she didn’t either because it doesn’t live up to the majesty of what I ordered. I got me a Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich that should have been found hanging in some hall of honors. We took pictures of that shit. We applauded. We were so goddamn rowdy over it that the people in the restaurant started laughing at us. So good.

So good we took pictures. So good we applauded.

We left the restaurant completely enjoying life and needing to find a place to stay. We drove from place to place and found they were all out of our budget. We found this one little place that seemed alright and was in our price range and settled in. We had wanted to go to Beale Street, Memphis’ own Bourbon Street. But when we got in the room, we were too fuckocked with exhaustion. We decided that we’d do some walking around on Beale Street the following day. There was some kind of Peanuts gang museum or exhibit and I was DYING to go see it. More than Psychics, I love Charlie Brown and all his friends though surprisingly I’m not much of a Snoopy fan meself. So good, day planned.

We laid down and went to sleep around midnight.

2am, I am awoken by stabbing pains in my abdomen. “Kristyn, wake up, it’s happening.” “What? What’s happening?” “You know how I’ve been afraid that Aliens might harvest in my stomach someday?” “Yes why?” “I think that day has come. BLUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGH!”* (*That was yak you were hearing.) I. Have never been so sick. In my entire life. And it was all. That fucking cheesesteak’s. Goddamn fault.

Soooooooooooooooooo siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiick.

You know when you’re so sick that you cannot even possibly conceive what it felt like to ever feel well? It was world’s worse than that. From 2am until 2pm, I could not leave the bathroom. If it wasn’t the front end causing trouble, it was, you know, the other end. I just remember laying on the cold bathroom floor thinking, “There are THOUSANDS of miles between here and home. We only have a car. We have to drive to Orlando. How can that be true?”

Kristyn tried to do a bitch a solid and went and got us some breakfast. She did not bring it in the door for one split second before I screeched, “WHATEVER DEAD BODY YOU HAVE BROUGHT INTO THIS ROOM MUST LEAVE IMMEDIATELY BLLLLUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGH RIGHT NOW DO IT RIGHT NOW, GET IT OUT OF HER RIGHT BLLLLLUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGH NOW!” Haha, poor Kristyn. She was like, “It’s just eggs and toast.” I was like, “HOW CAN YOU TALK ABOUT E- BLUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGH – GGS AND BLUUUUUUUUUUUUUGH TOAST AT A TIME LIKE THIS?!” I wouldn’t even let her bring her own inside the room.

We extended checkout until there was no more time left. We got our shit together and Kristyn asked me what it is I wanted to do. I believe I eloquently and politely stated, “I DON’T GIVE A SHIT ABOUT ANY OF THAT. I NEED ICE CHIPS. AND I NEED GATORADE. AND I NEED A LOAF OF BREAD. AND SALTINES. AND GINGER ALE. AND PEPTO BISMAL. AND WATER. AND ROLAIDS. AND TUMS. OH AND POSTCARDS FROM GRACELAND.” So we rolled into a 7-11 and bought literally ALL of the items listed above and then some. If someone’s Grandma at one point listed it as a way to feel better during a stomach crisis, we bought it. We filled one of those giant big gulps with ice alone. And then, for no damn reason, we galavanted back to Graceland and bought us some postcards. Because that’s important in a crisis like this. *Sigh*

Kristyn drove us stright out of Tennessee, into Alabama (where I was feeling well enough to eat a bagel from Dunkin Donuts) and into Georgia. Now like I said, we were having a “Gone with the Wind” situation and had been looking forward to spending some quality time footootsying around on Peachtree Street. Thanks to that godforsaken delicious cheesesteak, our wanderlust was rather dampened. We got to Atlanta and did a lot of high-fiving but all we could think of to do was go to CVS to replenish our illness supplies (Kristyn, for some reason, did not suffer the wrath although it’s probably because she only had a little bit). So we went to a CVS on Peachtree Street and then immediately took off again. We wanted to get over the border into Florida at the very least. We did and stopped at the very first hotel we layed eyeballs on. Inside the room, the comforter was literally COVERED with tiny hair like someone had been shaving thier face…or something else directly over it. At this point, I was just glad to be in a bed. I pulled that human hair-coated blanket up to my chin and went straight to sleep. If Kristyn ever leaves me, mark my words, this event WILL come up as a main reason I’ve given her no choice but to leave. And, of course, she’d be right.

The next day, we drove straight into Orlando. We got pulled over at the last minute because we were playing with Kristyn’s Beaker doll.  She’d just gotten it and for some reason we became obsessed with this doll.  We referred to it as Kristyn’s “Son” and she really cared for him as if he were her own flesh and blood, as evidenced below.

Kristyn's taking her son Beaker for his first driving lesson.

We didn’t realize that we were just over the speed limit in a construction zone.  We got pulled over, I believe were let off with a warning, were late to drop off the car and got fined.  All because we’re idiots.

Beaker is free as a bird.

When we got back to Florida, we spent a day or two at Bear-nice’s house to regroup before the flight.  We were so happy to get back to NJ but the glow lasted two weeks and we were bored again and wondering why we rushed back to NJ in January.

Now all of that, guys, was one week into 2003.  Haha. 

A coupla months later, we were missing Mandy and in need of a road trip.  Greyhound tickets were hella cheap so we thought, “Why not?”  Mandy lives in Akron, Ohio so we booked a Newark-Akron trip.  I don’t know if it’s because we’re stupid and didn’t look at what we were booking or if this is how all Greyhound trips just ARE but we stopped like EVERYWHERE.  There were like eight stops on the way to Akron!  What should have been an eight hour ride was a fourteen hour ride.  It was miserable.  Tiny, tiny shabby seats that don’t lean back.  Angry, sweaty people muttering swear words under their breath.  And the terminals you stop at are no resort destination either.  They are filthy, antsy places, even when you’re in a nice city. 

At one point, Kristyn was asleep.  I moved my legs and nudged the seat in front of me accidentally.  The duo in front of me had, up until this point, provided a lot of “LOL’s” to me.  The gal was a tough-talking macho homegirl who took herself and everything else VERY seriously.  The dude was an excitable gay man who just worshipped this girl.  The FUNNY part is that they didn’t know each other at all.  They met ON the Greyhound.  She was constantly telling him stories of “how shit IS” and he was lapping the drama of it all the f UP.  I loved them.  But then.

In the middle of the night, ravaged by leg cramps, I moved my leg ever so slightly and nudged the seat in front of me.  Homegirl wasn’t HAVIN none of that shit!  She started muttering all sorts of thinly veiled threats under her breath, “I KNOW you didn’t just kick my seat.  ANYONE who kicks a bitch’s seat is LOOKIN to get knocked the fuck OUT.”  And on and on and on ad nauseaum.  Finally I was like, “Excuse me is there something you’d like to say?”  And she said, “In fact there is.  If you don’t tell your BITCH friend to quit kicking my chair, she’s gonna be sorry.”  I said, “Oh really.  IIIIIIIII am the one who ACCIDENTALLY kicked your chair.”  She said, “You BETTER cut it the fuck OUT.”  I said, “*Sigh* or WHAT?  You’re going to kick my ass?  Well I’ve got news for you, it’s the middle of the night and everyone’s sleeping and you’re acting like a bitch and no one cares.  I’m getting kicked in the back and the guy kicking me is getting kicked in the back and the guy kicking him is getting kicked in the back.  So shut up, turn around and go to sleep or YOU are going to be sorry.”  And she did. Bitch please. You don’t know me…I was taught how to properly execute a Glasgow Kiss from a young age. You don’t wanna tangle with this broad.

Anyway, we FINALLY got to Akron.  We were so happy to see Mandy and meet her family!!!  Mandy’s sister is an artist and I will always remember getting in their car and saying, “Wow, it smells so good in here, like really, really strong coffee.”  Turns out, that for a project, Mandy’s sister had taken a coffee table and glued a thousand sixty four actual coffee beans to it and the table was in the back of the car, haha, so awesome.

Mandy’s family was so welcoming and kind to us as well.  Mandy brought us around to the college bars in Akron and we were SO damn impressed.  Akron is a college town so there is a healthy night life.  And every bar we went into was perfection.  So classy, so clean.  And EVERYONE there was gorgeous which we took to mean that they were EVIL.  Because in NY/NJ, if you are close to gorgeous or not even gorgeous but just slightly well-dressed, there is a 98% chance you act like an asshole on a regular basis.  It’s just how peeps roll.  Not everyone, mind you but you can certainly hedge a bet and come up Aces a lot of the time.  A coupla Mandy’s friends came up to us and I was waiting to be called “a fat bitch” and Kristyn was holding her breath waiting to be called “a dyke” but it never came.  Her kindly friend shook our hands, talked very nicely to us and wished us well.  MANNERS, NJ, they’re called MANNERS and I love Akron, Ohio for this.  Oh, what else I love Ohio for is because no matter where you are, if you scream out, “OH!”  Someone else will definitely scream out, “IO!”  How can you not love that?

So Mandy suggested we go visit an island on Lake Eerie called Put-in-Bay.  That morning we went to Mandy’s friend’s house.  Mandy’s friend’s mother made us all breakfast!!!  WHAT?!  It was awesome!  Such nice people!  Here we are on the ferry to Put-in Bay:

Mandy, Me, Kristyn

Oh my God this island is the bomb!  SUCH a great atmosphere!  There are tons of boats in the harbor with people throwing little parties.  There is a row of bars and restaurants filled with jolly people of all ages.  We went into one and there was an older man playing a banjo.  He had absolutely EVERYONE’S attention.  No one was being rude, no one was talking or heckling.   Everyon’e’s rapt attention was on this guy and he was FUNNY!  And when he was done the crowd roared with appreciation!  It was a lot of families, all different age people, not just like frat kids like the bars at home.  It was a very light, fun atmosphere.


We DID have one weird situation though.  We showed our ID’s and got into a bar.  We had a drink and hung out for a while.  We were ready to leave and walked toward the bathroom for a quick pit stop.  We all left the bathroom and were ID’d again walking TOWARD the exit.  We were befuddled but complied.  Because mine and Kristyn’s ID’s were from NJ and not Ohio, the guy thought they were fakes.  We assured him they were not and he began to INSIST they were.  He got out a giant book of pictures of state ID’s and began thumbing through it like hellbent on proving that we were liars.  He got to NJ and it matched.  He proclaimed they were “good fakes” but fakes nonetheless.  I said, “Okay but I don’t know why any of this matters since we are LEAVING the bar.  Why are you checking our ID’s at the bathroom anyway?”  Apparently the bathroom, while in the same building was NOT a part of the bar although I have no idea what else it could be a part of, *sigh*.  A long, boring nonsensical argument ensued where I tried to explain how illogical it was to ID now after we’d been ID’d at the front door, ID’d at the bar, bought a drink and a shot and were not EXITING the bar.  He had some whole theory involving us sneaking in, claimed he had no “proof” that our version of events happened, blahblahblah.  I was like, “ASK THE BARTENDER!  ASK THE DOORMAN!  OR WHY DON’T YOU JUST ESCORT US THE F OUT!  WE JUST WANT TO LEAVE!!!!”  Oh my God the drama!  Can you imagine being held hostage INSIDE a bar by a bouncer haha…He’s like, “AND stay out!”  “Yeah NO problem dude.”  Hahahaha…

So ANYWAY, we were feeling pretty good when we decided to rent a golf cart and a moped.  Why they let us, I’ll never know.  WHY we rented the vehicles was to go to a winery.  I know.  So crazy.  Here we are on the way there.  By the by, there are no cars on the road, everyone just drives these little vehicles around SO’S one can drink and drive.  Nice little setup they have going there.

Kristyn is to Moped as Coleen is to Golf Cart.

We got to the winery and had SUCH a good time.  I have no idea how many bottles of wine we drank although I think our favorite was the Pink Catawba.  We also got a plate of cheese which was delightful.

Me is to Kristyn as Cheese is to Wine

On the way back from the winery, it was my turn to drive the moped.  What a seriously bad and hilarious idea.  Did you know that mopeds drive about 30 miles an hour?  Did you know that I have zero experience on a moped or a motorcycle?  I was in so much danger it was nuts.  I had little to no control over the bike.  I remember accidentally driving up a grass hill while Kristyn and Mandy were driving in the total opposite direction on the street.  But incredibly, I got back to the rental place just fine.  It wasn’t until I STOPPED the bike that trouble came.  And trouble came in the form of Kristyn running at me.  While I was still on the bike, she dove onto me, causing me, her and the bike to fall straight to the ground, the bike landing on top of me.  I remember being vaguely injured but not really minding.  I don’t know why the rental guys didn’t strangle us to death on the spot considering we were already down on the ground.  Even when destroying someone’s private property, everyone was generous and kind.  “It’s okay.  Are you hurt?”

Mandy's in the Golf Cart and I am on the Moped...after many, many bottles of wine.

When we first moved back to NJ (prior to Ohio), I initially moved in with my Dad and Kristyn with her parents. Before long, Kristyn’s parents started giving her the “Hey why dontcha move out of here?” suggestions and me and my father were close to Patricide/Daughtercide. So we got an apartment in Kearny with my sister and her friend. From jumpstart I was wary of this apartment a little because the landlords said this, and I quote, “No need to sign lease! Have tons of parties! Move in as many people as you want to! People before you had so many people living here that the living room and dining room had bunkbeds along both walls!”. And this was a three bedroom apartment. If you have three bedrooms and still need to line the walls of your apartments with bunkbeds, something in the milk ain’t clean. But it was huge and pretty and we were young and stupid and we took it. We really didn’t have any parties. We really didn’t make much noise. We all worked full-time and were all in school too so it was rare that we WERE home to cook up any trouble.

The landlords were party ANIMALS though. They blasted house music twenty four hours a day! But one day they knocked on our door asking us not to walk heavily. A little while after that, they knocked on the door and asked us not to wear shoes in the apartment. All of the sudden, the complaints were incessant. They started banging on thier ceiling, showing up at our apartment door at all hours, making all kinds of complaints. I mean we can’t FLOAT. One night, we had no tv on, no radio on and were making macaroni and cheese in the kitchen in our stocking feet when there’s a knock at the door. It’s the landlord and he is shaking with anger. “THAT’S IT! I WANT YOU OUT OF HERE! THREE MONTHS!” “Excuse me? I’m sorry, did something happen?” “TOO MUCH NOISE! YOU’VE UPSET MY WIFE FOR THE LAST TIME!” “Alright, fine.” And we shut the door in his face. I vowed, come hell or high water to be out within the month. We had only been there for three months. We’d finally gotten unpacked and finished painting all…three…bedrooms…purple. Haha. So like a madwoman I hunted down apartments like crazy. I finally found one with three bedrooms that seemed suitable.

On the day went to see the apartment, the landlord totally wasn’t there to meet us. So he called like a week later and asked why we never met him. Incredulously, I told him I had and waited for like an hour. Turns out he swears he got the date wrong. I wasn’t interested anymore but he begged me to come by. Well this time I stood him up bc I just really truly was not interested. He calls me a couple days after the fact and apologizes for not meeting up with me. I was like, “What?” because it was ME who stood him up this time. So he schedules another appointment and because we’d seen a TON of total clunkers (apartments advertised as three bedrooms but when you get there, there’s one bedroom, a walk-in closet and a dining room that would be “great” as a bedroom, bullshit), we decided to meet up with him. The apartment was great. It was smaller than our current one but everything was new and remodeled. It was on the FIRST FLOOR, we had access to the yard, driveway and basement as well as a washer and dryer. Perfectamundo. He drove to my JOB to give me the lease agreement. I had everyone sign it and gave it back to him. He tells me, “Oh I’m sorry, I rented that apartment to someone else.” I was like “WHAT?! We gave you a deposit and signed the lease…” So he was like, “Oh yeah. Okay I’ll tell those guys nevermind.” I had been telling my roommates that I thought this guy was a nutbomb but they were more interested in getting out of dodge so we went with it.

We moved in on the absolute hottest day of the year. He was very nice but has some weird quirks. He told us that he’d prefer it if we stuck to a very strict schedule of laundry days since we had to share the washer and dryer with him. He specifically told me he did not, under any circumstances, want to see our underwear. Okay…fine. Then a few days later, in the middle of August, he told me that we definitely cannot sleep with the windows open at all in our bedroom because he can totally see in when he’s leaving for work. But like you couldn’t see in unless you like really strained to look haha. And it’s not like we were in negligee’s, we were wearing like shorts and a t-shirt. Whatever.

Then he started re-doing the house. He took a couple of weeks off from work and started emptying out the basement. He was working endlessly on his apartment too, ripping out tiles in his bathroom, etc.

By the end of the summer, we’d finally unpacked. It was a friend’s birthday on Labor Day weekend and we all went out to a bar. We brought a bunch of people back from the bar to hang out afterwards and had a little party.

The next morning, we were woken up by an ambulance. While we were sleeping, he killed himself in the bedroom directly above where me and Kristyn were sleeping. OH. MA. FNG. GOD. So that was terrifying. We had to give statements to police officers, go to the funeral, all kinds of shit. We were locked into a year lease that we were only one month into. His brother took over his estate and would not let us out of the lease. So here we were, stuck living in a haunted house for another eleven months. At least we could play the music loud and do our laundry whenever we wanted to…

But Labor Day that year weekend that year fell on or around August 30th. My birthday is September 18th. So basically two weeks following this guy’s suicide, it’s party time! Oh my god. Here we are celebrating my birthday in the kitchen.

Amanda, Me, Kristyn, Our Eyeballs.

My roomates decided that we needed a little levity and threw me a birthday party. I thought we were were going out and was surprised to find all of my friends coming over. There was a knock at the door and I was told to go and get it. It was the man you see below. He told me that he’d heard that there had been a suicide here recently and he was a detective coming to investigate. I was confused and a chair was produced and I was told to sit in it. I did and what you see below started happening. I won’t post the rest of the pictures because they will make your eyes bleed out the pupils. Kristyn told him to give me “the delux”. Boy did he ever and he also spread the magic to the rest of the party as well. Oh vey.

I'll let you guess what happens next.

When he was done doing his um…job, he started yelling at us and accusing us of stealing his wallet. He looked for it alone and then enlisted all of our help to find it. We totally couldn’t find it and then he found it in his pants. Alright then.

The only other thing I remember about that party is working out. We all became intoxicated, then laid down on the floor and did crunches for some reason. It was awesome.

2003 was a crazy year.

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