Country road, take me home.

My dad calls me about two weeks ago. “Hey, what are you doing on the 11th?”

“What day is that?”

“A Saturday.”

I think for a moment. “Nothing.”

“You want to go down to West Virginia with me for a family picnic?”

“Don’t do that,” I say.

“Do what?”

“Use ‘West Virginia’ and ‘family’ in the same sentence.”

He laughs. “Do you want to go or not?”

“Yes.”

I enjoy going to see my family in West Virginia, in particular my Aunt Pat and cousin Johnny. While certainly I get along with my other relatives, I get on with Pat and Johnny splendidly because they don’t get mad at my sarcasm and even roll with it. They are good people.

Saturday came and pops and I rolled on down to the big picnic. My aunt and uncle had managed to score a pavilion at the amazing Lost River State Park (where Robert E. Lee had a cabin! I saw it!) which worked out extremely well due to the brief on and off again rain showers passing through.

My dad was in charge of bringing the soda and chips and I was in charge of bringing myself, but I was damn sorry that I didn’t bring a little notebook to write down the fantastically funny things I heard that day. Things like:

“Do you even own a gun?” — This was said to me by my uncle, and it was said in a mocking tone. I think my reply of, “No, but I support your right to own one,” was smart and safe.

I asked my cousin about the little Direct TV satellite attached to a ginormous satellite last used in 1983, and why they attached the little satellite to the big one, instead of just removing that monstrosity.  “That is the West Virginia State Flag. You can’t take that down.” We both laughed at that one.

Or maybe, when talking about food:

“You’ve never had hotdog gravy and pancakes?!?” — My cousin Johnny was a little shocked at my inexperience of such fine cuisine. I explained to him that, no, I’ve never had pancakes with any sort of gravy, much less hotdog gravy. I wasn’t in any sort of hurry to taste that fine delicacy, either. Especially after I learned it’s not even hotdogs in the hotdog gravy, but rather Vienna sausages.

“What about squirrel brain? You ever eat that?” — Again, by cousin Johnny. I told him I have had squirrel stew, but not squirrel brain. He told me I was missing out. I take him on his word.

My uncle referred to Obama as “that black Jesus”, to which I replied, “Up in the big city, we call him the Messiah.” He laughed because I think he thought I was joking. I was. Kinda.

My aunt was telling me how her sister-in-law (my uncle’s brother’s wife, not really related to me) does everything for her husband, including carrying his guns behind him when he hunts. She went on to say that she — my aunt — tells the wife she’s crazy for doing it. She pauses after telling this story, thinks for a second, then says, “Yeah, my brother-in-law doesn’t like me very much.”

“I know why,” I said. “You’re mouthy.”

“What?!?”

“You’re mouthy, Pat. You don’t know your role. His wife knows her role. You’re one of those uppity women.”

She looked at me for a beat, then realized I was shining her. “Well he’s an asshole.”

It was really an awesome time. I imagine they are blogging about me and my dad, too. “They have a truck, and it doesn’t even have a gun rack!” “I bet they never even skinned a deer.” That sort of thing. I don’t mind, because we both live in different worlds, and gives us all something to poke fun at the other for. And that’s what family is all about.

Abe Lincoln’s boner.

So a few months ago my buddy James tells me he’s going to be DC in July, and if I was interested in meeting up. Saying yes was a nobrainer. While I had never met James in real life, we had done enough bullshitting on AIM and forums for me to consider him a friend.

Yes, I am aware how dorky that is. Completely aware. But I have met some solid people on the internets, and it’s surprisingly getting less embarrassing to explain how I know someone.  😆

Anywho, Friday was the big day, and via text messages (I hate talking on the phone to people I know in real life, so talking to someone I’d not yet met was pretty much out of the question — I have a feeling James felt the same way) we arranged a time in a place to meet — The Museum of American History. More text messages were required once we arrived there, though, as apparently the museum has multiple entrances. Go figure.

I generally don’t like meeting new people, especially people I generally talk to online because many times their real life persona is completely different from their online persona. Fortunately, James was pretty much the same in person as he was online, and his fiance, Monica, was as much as smart ass him, which made for a pretty pleasant day of making fun of everyone and everything we saw.

As mentioned, the first stop today was the museum (which was a minor disappointment as they opened earlier than planned after their remodeling, and many of their exhibits aren’t up yet — including one James specifically wanted to see). I think Lincoln’s boner made it up for it a little, though. I can’t remember if it was James or Monica that pointed it out.

BigAbeLincoln

You see that? No?

BigAbeLincolnClose

Yeah. Something tell me old Abe is chopping wood for his new “special room” for the ladies he kidnaps and getting a little excited about it.

One of the cooler exhibits in the museum (since their pop culture exhibit is currently So Lame) is the old propaganda posters they have on display, including:

ShinyLove

I like how the flash placement in that one. It’s as if Hitler is full of sunshine and happiness, and him being your co-pilot wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing.

Remember the old Indian that cried when you littered? We saw his pet eagle:

LikeThatIndian

Yeah. Pretty fucking tacky.

After we left the museum, we aimlessly wandered from one monument to another, partly bullshitting, partly sightseeing. I didn’t take a bunch of pictures (I mean, really, I work in this city), but this guy was begging for one:

AttentionWhore

I still can’t figure out if the guy is an annoying douche, or a genius. I don’t know what people did to entertain him that day, but I do know a couple of girls were dancing with him when we left, so I have to give him some credit.

We ended up walking around for a couple hours, eventually ending up in the cafeteria of The Museum of Natural History to wind down. Over all, a pretty damn good time. I am a little sad that I didn’t where my Shakespeare threadless t-shirt like James did, but that might have been a little gay.

James&I

That there is James and I. The first thing he said to me when he saw me was (in reference to a text message), “Yeah, that hat is pretty stupid.” I love that damn hat, stupid or not. 😡

UsThree

That there is James, Monica and myself. When I asked Monica if she minded if I put this pic on my blog, she replied with the funniest thing I heard all day. I cannot repeat it here, but I have since repeated it to three of my friends, all of which had the same reaction I did: Shock, then laughter.

Good times.

Open Arms was too played at proms.

So Joy has this co-worker and friend Dolly. Dolly is a cool cat, especially since the first night I met her I got pretty damn hammered and she still invited me to her luau after I had tied one on. (In my defense, though, not only am I lovable sober, I am apparently even more lovable drunk. I’m just a lovable guy.)

So anywho, we’re at this bar down where Joy lives that night and the bar was D-E-A-D dead. The DJ, obviously tired of finding shit to play, started coming to me asking what we wanted to hear — which was no doubt brought on by me being the only one asking him to play songs.

Now Dolly being the youngest in our party of four — myself, Joy, Earl and her — had not heard a lot of songs I was throwing out there. It got to the point where I said in mock frustration, “That’s it. I’m making you a goddamn mix tape.”

Which I did. Four, actually. Two were already put together in the form of the CCRG Mix Tapes, one was a driving tunes mix of stuff she most likely hadn’t heard and one was an ’80s Prom mix.

The ’80s Prom mix consisted of:

  • Can’t Fight This Feeling – Reo Speedwagon
  • Faithfully – Journey
  • Every Rose Has Its Thorn – Poison
  • Time After Time – Cyndi Lauper
  • Love Walks In – Van Halen
  • Fly To The Angels – Slaughter
  • Is This Love – Whitesnake
  • When The Children Cry – White Lion
  • Sister Christian – Night Ranger
  • Headed For A Heartbreak – Winger
  • Heaven – Warrant
  • Toy Soldiers – Martika
  • The Ballad Of Jayne – L.A. Guns
  • Love Bites – Def Leppard
  • Carrie – Europe
  • Fly High Michelle – Enuff Z’nuff
  • Never Say Goodbye – Bon Jovi
  • Edie (Ciao Baby) – The Cult
  • Open Arms – Journey

Now, in order salvage what little man points I have left, note that there’s no Chicago or Air Supply on there. I’ll give you Cyndi Lauper, though. I tried to stick mostly with the power ballads from ROCKERS. But, yeah, I will concede the man points because I didn’t have to go hunting for any of those. They are all in my collection. I HAVE SOME SLAYER, TOO, DAMMIT!

A few days after I gave Dolly the CDs, I get a call from Joy.

“Can you hear that?” She puts the phone up in the air (obviously).

“You listening to my awesome mixes?” I asked.

“Yeah. That prom one is really good. I remember some of those from my prom. But you shouldn’t have put ‘Open Arms’ on there.”

“Why not?” I’m thinking that’s one of the quintessential prom songs.

“Because that wasn’t played at any prom.”

“Are you fucking high? Of course it was.”

“No it wasn’t! It’s about SEX! They wouldn’t play a song about sex at prom, dumb ass. You didn’t even go to prom, so you wouldn’t even know. Loser.”

“You’re insane. That is sure as hell a prom song.”

“No it isn’t.”

“Yes it is.”

“Whatever. You’re retarded. I gotta go.”

We were still arguing about it this past weekend. Over a month later.

The TV in my bedroom is bigger than the TV in my living room.

“So what do you have to trade?”

That’s the first thing Earl, my brother-in-law twice removed said to me when I answered the phone. (Note, like Joy, Earl is not his real name. But keeping with the whole “My Name is Earl” dynamic, that’s what he is called. If you don’t know that dynamic, read back or keep reading, it will come eventually.)

“What? Trade what? What the hell are you talking about?” I asked.

“For that TV. What do you want to trade for that TV?”

I thought about it. I’ve been wanting a bigger TV in my room for months, and I’ve been trying to buy my nieces, as it’s too big for her room and she never uses it anyway.

“I don’t know,” I said. “What do you want for it?”

“What TVs you have lying around?” He asked.

“I have that 27″ in my bedroom. That’s about it.”

“Okay. Give me that and give your niece $40. When do you want to pick it up?”

“I’ll be down this weekend.”

With that, ladies and gentlemen, is how I scored a 50″ LCD for a 27″ Trinitron. And I still owe my niece $40 because I forgot to pay her. Uncle of the year award goes to me.