In Which Mary Takes a Trip

I try to make a habit of trusting the people I love. So when Rawle said, “Let’s go to Cincinnati for New Year’s,” I said, “Great, where do I sign.”

So to Cincy, we went! Confetti in tow.

Plus, I should say, some wariness on my part. In all of my years, my few glimpses into the Midwest have mostly come from the “Get Me a Whopper” commercial and evangelical Christian videos where they play with snakes. And Hoosiers of course.

But it seems my sources were wrong! Cincinnati is long on charm and short on Bible-thumpers.

But perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself.

This is a story about a guy:



And a girl:

Pish with her turkey dinner

Pish with her turkey dinner

…who went to Cincinnati to visit some friends of the guy’s. He used to live there when he managed a band called Homunculus, whose live shows I’m told were off the hizzy.

First thing about Cincinnati: Spend-thriftiness-wise, it’s almost impossible to fly there from Philly, so we flew to Columbus Airport and rented a car. Not just any car!


Yeaaaah, booooy!

As we were driving from the Columbus Airport to Cincinnati, Rawle woke me up (I’m a selfish passenger) and pointed out a sign on the side of the road. “Welcome to the Midwest,” he said.

"If you died today, how would you spend eternity?"

"If you died today where would you spend eternity?"

Good question! Followed in short order by this guy:


So, some invisible Bible-thumpers exist. And they always will!

Another thing about Cincy: You can buy booze in the grocery store.

Booze in the grocery store

Booze in the grocery store

The grocer (called Kroger’s which, aside from the East Coast, monopolizes all of America) also specializes in cologne bearing the name of middle-American celebrities:


Tim McGraw and Tom Brady in smell-form

So we got to our temporary residence, the house owned by Rawle’s friends Ben and Sarah, who were away for the holidays. No sooner had we arrived and each downed a Chipotle burrito than Rawle said, “Oh shit. I gotta…uh…”

And with that, he bolted to the bathroom. And then to bed, and then to the bathroom, and then to bed. Where he stayed for the next two days.

Over that period, I watched the following: Seinfeld (2x), The Office (2x), Jeopardy (2x), The Da Vinci Code, The Cosby Show (4x), Sex and the City (2x), The Making of Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours (2x) and 15 and Pregnant (1/2x). I also got drunk by myself and generally kicked it.

Finally, Rawle rid himself of his bug. I was so happy, I played him a song!


I hope you’re still following along. Cause this is when it gets great!

We packed it up and said, Shit, time for a beer. We sought said beer at a little joint called Habits Café:


We got a couple Bell’s on draft, much to Rawle’s delight. Here’s Mr. Blue Eyes himself:


Then we took a minute to get a photo opp with Kentucky in the background (there it is to the left of my dome!):



And drive by Rawle’s old house:


All of this throwing up and day-tripping left us with about 6 hours until 2009. So we drove to the Schoen residence, quickly got dolled up and a little shit-canned, and 3-2-1, Happy New Year!

"Here we go again," says Rawle.

"Here we go again," says Rawle.

"Gimme somebody to kiss!" says Mary.

"Somebody gimme a kiss!" says Mary.

As is tradition, we felt like the dickens the next day. Luckily, 3 things immediately made us feel better:


Pop'ems for Marky

Phoenix the Dog

Phoenix the Dog



No amount of nausea was keeping Rawle and me from everyone’s favorite resolution: lose the gut. So off we went on a nice, light run.


That’s before. This is after:


Another notable thing about Cincinnati: There’s a ton of ethnic food, reportedly because of the nearby Proctor & Gamble international headquarters.

But I don’t need to know why! Just get me to an Indian buffet!

Bliss-ful and and food-full at Baba

Bliss-ful and and food-full at Baba

I tell you what — I’m glad we went to Baba and not the s***-house next door:


Next up: To Cincinnati’s Northside neighborhood, popular amongst homosexuals, washed-up hipsters and… me! I love the Northside!

Mostly because of this place:


Shake It Records

I love Shake It Records! They’ve got no shortage of great albums (Springsteen, whu whu!) and McSweeney’s anthologies (yes! books!) plus just the sort of architectural/editorial enthusiasm to make you want to buy everything you see.


Every time Rawle came down my aisle, I ran away because I didn’t want to leave (I love stores in which I resort to my 4 year-old self). Finally I agreed to purchase some stuff and leave the rest for a wish list (I almost bought an album by a French actress, but finding that too impulsive, instead bought a book called Animals of the Ocean, In Particular the Giant Squid).

Here’s a nice parting shot of the Northside:


Later on, we went to see Slumdog Millionaire at the Esquire Theater. Great theater, even better movie. Even if Adam hated the Bollywood ending.


We then met up with Ben (from the first house!) at a little coffee shop called Sitwell’s. If I’d gone to college in Cincinnati, I’d’ve been here all the time.


Much like the grocery store, Sitwell’s has a liquor license. So I got some boozed-up coffee concoction that made me seriously freak out. Nevertheless, a wonderful place.

The next day, let’s see. If memory serves, we went running again, kicked it, ate a steak dinner (during which the Homunculus boys were celebrity-spotted by the waiter), got ice cream at UDF (featuring a real, live Adam Schoen Freak-Out when they ran out of Peanut Butter Chip), and my very first comedy club experience ever, at the ill-titled Go Bananas.

And suddenly, it was Rawle and Mary’s Last Day in Cincinnati. We commemorated the occasion by getting tofu pad thai from Rawle’s Favorite Restaurant Ever, Thai Express.

Rawle enjoys his Thai Express

Rawle enjoys his Thai Express

We blissfully devoured the pad thai in Ault Park, a Gatsby-esque public space overlooking the Ohio River.

Ault Park

Ault Park

Here I am at Ault Park (if you can find me!):


By then, it was time to head on back to Columbus for our flight home. But wait! Look at this ridiculous mushroom house!


Okay, then it was time to go home. (But not before I realized I’d lost an earring while going through security and, while a brattily tearful Mary stood there in her Uggs, Rawle spotted the rogue earring by the ticketing desk from 50 yards away. Ferris Bueller, you’re my hero!)

Poncho takes over the airport

Poncho takes over the airport

Well, that’s the tale of Rawle and Mary in Cincinnati. We shared some laughs, endured some vomiting and bought some useless stuff. The way I see it, Cincinnati is a lot like Philly — random, full of food and largely misunderstood. Difference is: In Cincy, you can booze pretty much everywhere. Good on ’em.

Next up: Our nation’s capital! We’ll be taking on Señor Obama’s new digs for Valentine’s Day Weekend. Stay tuned.


Orange Boats

Please re-read the title of this post. What does the phrase “orange boats” mean to you? Probably this, right?

Boats that are orange.

Boats that are orange.

To me, it means a delicious, citrusy treat to be enjoyed at halftime.

As a wee jock-ette, I would parade into the kitchen in my kinderkickers (pee wee soccer) uniform, and my mom would say, “I made some orange boats for your team!” And I’d say, “Yessssss” and do a couple of those Kirk Gibson arm pumps.

It was the greatest! At halftime, we’d all sit in a circle and discuss soccer strategy (including the coach explaining to me that I couldn’t just stand by the goal, a tactic I would later employ to great effect in my lacrosse career). Then my mom would place a circular Tupperware container in the middle of our circle, lift the lid, and there would be orange boats looking juicy and sweet!

And fun! You could put them in your mouth (“hey look, i have a boat in my mouth”) and look like you had an orange mouth, just like Marlon Brando in The Godfather right before he bit it (the dust, that is).

Orange boats.

Orange boats.

And so, orange boats became a big part of my youth. My mom would bring them as a special treat to most of my field hockey, basketball and lacrosse games, right on up through my senior year of high school. Everybody was wild about them!

But then…I went to college. And things were different.

“Hey guys,” I said one day to my lacrosse teammates, “My mom’s bringing orange boats to our game on Saturday!” My parents only lived 45 minutes away, so they could come to every game. Great news right?

“What the hell are orange boats.”

“You know,” I said, “triangular orange slices, you eat them at halftime? Look like boats?”

“Oh, orange slices! Yeah word, tell your mom thanks.”

Orange slices?! How boring is that. Isn’t it a lot more fun to think of them as boats?

But no. As of today – November 18, 2008 – I haven’t met another person, jock or no, who’s ever had “orange boats.” Plenty of orange slices! But no boats. I think it’s stupid.

And so I ask, have you ever enjoyed orange boats as halftime treats? Or am I alone in this?

My youth depends on your answer.