Juliet Escoria & Scott McClanahan’s Honeymoon Tour Diary (Part 3)

Read the entire Juliet & Scott honeymoon saga here.

 

FRIDAY, JULY 11 2014 (CONTINUED)
CHICAGO

JULIET: We got to Kelly & Jacob Knabb’s around 5pm. They have a really cute baby. They also have two really cute dogs but the dogs barked and the baby didn’t so I think I like the baby more. Kelly and Jacob were both reading with us that night.

We were running very late. (Kelly & Jacob live about an hour outside of Chicago and there was a lot of traffic.) It was making me nervous. I tried to not care about running super late and it was hard. I kept on telling myself that readings never start on time and no one would care if we were late. I didn’t entirely believe myself.

When we were a block away from the reading, Scott pointed out the window and said, “Is that Sam?” I looked where he was pointing. It was Sam Pink. He was walking in the opposite direction of the reading. I rolled down the window and yelled “Hello” in an unintentionally funny voice. We kept on driving.

Rachel Pattycake Bell met us outside, along with Nathan Masserang, Brooks Sterritt, Austin Islam and some other people who I am possibly friends with on Facebook. Rachel gave us Hello Kitty marshmallows and a chocolate phone as a wedding present. No one cared that we were late. We made some jokes about not being able to make phone calls because your phone had melted because it was made out of chocolate. Scott took off his shirt and changed into a new one outside the building because the one he was wearing had gotten sweaty during the drive. I tried to block him so people didn’t see his fat stomach or his weird tan. I thought it was strange that he wasn’t ashamed to change his shirt in the middle of the street in front of a bunch of people, but he’s a lot less fat now than he used to be so maybe he was excited to show off his hot bod.

(Let me explain Scott’s weird tan thing. He thinks it makes him more attractive to have a tan face. To get a tan face, Scott goes to the tanning booth. He ignores the fact that he is Irish and pale and stays in the booth for twelve minutes. He places a towel on his back while he is tanning so that he doesn’t get sunburned. Except the towel only covers part of his back, since he is so big and fat. The result is a very bad sunburn with weird towel-shaped patches of white. After a few days the sunburn peels in large sheets. In his mind, this makes him more attractive.)

(Let me also explain that I don’t actually think Scott is fat. It is just really fun to call him fat because he is extremely self-conscious about it.)

The reading was in some weird space with Subway sandwich banners hanging all over it. We joked that the reading was sponsored by Subway, which was funny because the people on the Real Pain Future Dead Friends tour had also joked that their reading was sponsored by Subway, and this reading featured 2/6 Future Dead Friends. Jacob seemed disappointed when he found out that the sponsorship was a joke, and that we would not actually be getting free six inch Subway sandwiches like I had told him.

Subway-sponsored reading, as photographed by Nathan Masserang.
Subway-sponsored reading, as photographed by Nathan Masserang.

Rachel read first. Her reading was very funny. Kelly read next. Her reading was very funny. Jacob went next. He didn’t read anything, he just told a story that was very funny. We took a break. Sam read next. His reading was very funny. I read after that. My reading was not funny. Scott read last. He incorporated Kelly and Jacob’s baby into the reading. The baby was afraid. After the reading was over, Scott changed his shirt again because he was covered in sweat because he is so fat. He said something about going to the doctor to get this sweating thing checked out. I laughed because you don’t need a doctor to tell you that you’re sweating because you’re really fucking fat.

Scott and a frightened baby.
Scott and a frightened baby.

We all decided to eat Mexican food afterward. I was dubious about the Mexican food, which is something that happens if you are from California and people ask you to eat Mexican food in other states. Jacob and Kelly drove because of the baby. Scott, Sam, Nathan Masserang, Rachel, my friend Laura, and I walked. On the way, I said that my chocolate phone had melted. Sam told me to break him off a piece. I said something like “Haha” in response. But he said he was serious, he hadn’t eaten all day, and that I should give him a big piece of the phone. I gave him a big piece of the phone.

Kelly, Laura, and Sam, who is creeping up on that hairnet.
Kelly, Laura, and Sam, who is creeping up on that hairnet.

Kelly and Jacob and their baby were waiting for us at a big table in the middle of the restaurant. There were big plastic containers filled with pickled jalepenos and carrots on the tables, and this made me feel less dubious about the Mexican food. The food was very cheap and delicious and my dubiousness was wholly unnecessary. People from California are assholes about Mexican food and I am no exception. Rachel and Sam made a lot of good jokes but I don’t remember what any of them were so they couldn’t have been that good. I do remember Sam saying he had two new kitties and they didn’t have names, so people were suggesting names for the kitties. Most of the names were silly. My suggestion was Carls and Junior. Sam seemed to get upset about the suggestions, yelling something about how they were actual living things and deserved real names. It was hard to tell if he was joking or serious. I’m pretty sure he was serious. The only other conversation I remember from dinner had to do with fingerbanging and I don’t think it would be nice to repeat it here.

Scott and I walked back to the car alone. It was a nice walk. I held his hand and felt a little bit unworthy of the whole evening—that I was lucky enough to be in love with and married to someone like Scott, that we could go to a city where I’d never really been before and spend time around a bunch of people who all felt like old friends, that people wanted to listen to me read the things I wrote and give me money so they could later read the things I wrote alone. I felt content and happy and this made me uneasy, because contentedness and happiness are flimsy. It was a warm night and there were a lot of people on the streets and I thought that Chicago seemed like a really great place to live. But then I remembered what Laura had told me about this past winter, which was that she had stayed home twice from work not because of the snow but because it was 40 degrees below zero. Winter was ahead and behind us but that night it was summer and it was warm and beautiful.

We got to the car and no one had broken into it and stolen all my stuff, which is what I had imagined, so we drove back to Kelly and Jacob’s and they told us funny stories about Kelly’s family until it got late and then we went to bed.

SCOTT: Yes. It is true. I am a fat man. I sweat a lot and I go to tanning beds. This is who I am. This is what I do. Before I tell you what I remember about the reading on Friday I want to tell you about how my weight issues and sweatiness and how my tanning bed addiction has impacted my life with Juliet.

    1. One time I was asking Juliet if she thought I was handsome and she said this: “Of course I think you’re handsome. You look like a young Orson Welles.” I didn’t realize this was a joke.
    2. One time I was talking about buying a new suit and she said, “I bet there’s a men’s Big and Tall store around here somewhere.” I didn’t realize this was a joke.
    3. A few months ago I was feeling bad about my body so I decided to buy a giant bag of cotton candy and eat the whole bag in order to cope with my curves. Juliet took secret footage of me eating the cotton candy and then she laughed a hah hah hah after she posted it on her Instagram page.
    4. I started going to tanning beds because I thought since Juliet was from California she would dig guys who were tan (I figured her own “goth” paleness was just a social critique of her own California upbringing).

My tanning bed addiction got to the point that last summer I burned myself really bad just a few days before Juliet came to West Virginia for a visit. I was freaking out because my skin was peeling in large sheets. When she saw how much I was peeling she just laughed and made me put the pieces of skin up for sale on the internet as an opportunity to “own a piece of literary history.” Selling your own literary skin as a souvenir didn’t catch on with the general reading public though.

SO NOW THIS IS WHAT I REMEMBER FROM THE READING (WITH APOLOGIES TO JOE BRAINARD)

I remember driving to Chicago and laughing at the video Rachel Pattycake Bell made about directions on how to find the reading.

I remember getting to the reading and being really sweaty so I took off my shirt off and changed into another shirt in front of everybody. I tried making jokes that I was like Cher or Elton John and always changed costumes multiple times but no one laughed.

I remember how Rachel told me, “Nice accent” and how it made me feel good because she said it reminded her of home.

I remember talking to Jacob about how much I liked the Bill Hillman book Curbside Splendor put out and how much I loved Hillman’s readings. Then we talked about how Bill Hillman got gored by a bull a few days before and I got paranoid thinking maybe he did it just for the press. I started getting jealous and thinking “I wish I knew a bull so it could gore ME.”

I remember laughing a bunch during Rachel and Kelly and Jacob’s reading. I remember thinking it was one of the best readings I’d ever been to. I remember feeling nervous for Kelly because it was the first time she read in public and she kicked ass.

I remember Sam was really tired at the reading. He sat in the back on a chair and everyone turned around and listened to him read. I remember a story I told Juliet about the first time I got drunk with Sam in an alley in Chicago in probably 2008. We were sitting in the alley and this dog passed by. We didn’t say anything, but Sam waved hello at the dog. The dog stopped and acknowledged Sam’s existence as well. Sam wasn’t doing it to be funny. He was doing it because they were both alive.

I remember seeing Juliet in the half light of the reading room and watching her glow.
I remember holding a baby and realizing he peed through his diaper and then this thought. We all pee through our diapers if we live long enough.

I remember walking through the streets of Chicago and watching kids play baseball.

I remember sitting at a table in the Mexican restaurant and looking around at everyone like Nathan and Austin and Rachel and Iggy and Jacob and Juliet’s friend Laura from home and how weird life is and how no one knows what’s going to happen to any of us except the forlorn rags of growing old. And how none of us knew one another just a few years before, but now here we were and we had found one another. And it was all just an accident.

Or perhaps it wasn’t an accident. Perhaps there were invisible magnets inside each of us and we were being drawn together. It was pulling us then and it is pulling us now. Together. And there we were. And we were all together.

And we were all ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… SMILING.

JULIET: I had told Scott to make this entry stupid and funny and to not try so hard to make it all pretty like the others but he ignored me.

 

 

SATURDAY, JULY 12, 2014
CHICAGO TO LAFAYETTE, INDIANA
SONG OF THE DAY: LEONARD COHEN “LOVER LOVER LOVER”

SCOTT: It was now a week since the wedding and everything had started melting together.

We sleep late. Red Lobster. Rain. Traffic. Chicago. Take this exit. This exit. Keep left. Keep right. No. No. This Exit. NOW. Jokes. Slim Jims. Red Bull. Yum. Some place called Lula. Jealousy. Bearded jam bands. Jealousy. Memories of Mike Bushnell and eating in the same neighborhood years before. Juliet in an orange dress. ORANGE. DRESS.

ORANGE. DRESS.
ORANGE. DRESS.

Waiters with more beards and fancy tattoos. Caesar Salads. Yellow soup. Squash. Calls to Mom and Dad. Are the kids ok? Is everything going well? Can I talk to them? City Lit Bookstore. Somebody has body odor. P. U. Books on the counter. Hill William. Black Cloud. Skinny people. People from last night. 33 and 1/3 books. I need to piss. Jac Jemc. Cell phone pictures. Irony. Irony. Characters in stories who listen to the Smiths. Thoughts like Only characters in stories actually listen to the Smiths. Cab drivers. Shane MacGowan. Juliet in the orange dress. Pictures of Juliet reading. ME. Sweating. Sweating. Sweating. Sweating. People who won’t sing. Talking and talking and talking and talking and talking. Children’s books for Iris. And Juliet driving. Rain. Traffic. Chicago. Take this exit. This exit. Keep left. Keep right. No. No. This Exit. NOW. Jokes. Slim Jims. Red Bull. Yum. Indiana. Darkness is coming. WHAT EXIT? WHAT EXIT? If we believe enough, I’ll remember what exit. FUCK. FUCK. FUCK. Cracker Barrel. We’ve lost another hour. Time change. Open. Roast Beef. 5 diet cokes. 4 bags. My book bag. THE MOON BIGGER THAN I’VE EVER SEEN IT BEFORE. LOOK. LOOK. THE MOON. CAN YOU SEE IT? The room. Kissing. Kissing. An orange dress on the floor. And falling and falling. Murder shows. Murder shows. Sleep and then this. I love you. Meds kicking in now. Say it one last time before the eyes get heavy. The words mush together. I LURFFVVVVVVBBBBBB BBBBBBBKJFKFJEJEMDDKIFNJDJEEMED. And now this: Dreams.

JULIET: Seems accurate.

EXCEPT

Driving through Indiana needs to be slowed down a little bit.

Everything is green green green. Green and flat. There are lightning bugs on the sides of the interstate, tiny green lights glowing around in swirls. Lightning bugs on the windshield of my car turning into smeared glowing guts. Windmills unmoving in the lack of wind, red lights on the tips, red lights all the way to the horizon. And the moon is big and orange and peeking through the clouds like it’s afraid to look at us.

 

 

SUNDAY, JULY 13 2014
LAFAYETTE, INDIANA TO BECKLEY, WV
SONG OF THE DAY: TOOTS AND THE MAYTALS “TAKE ME HOME, COUNTRY ROADS”

JULIET: When we crossed the state line from Ohio to West Virginia, I lit my West Virginia cigarette and thought about how I was in my new home state. We listened to John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” because it is about West Virginia and also because my dad demanded we listen to it during our wedding while he was very drunk. Scott tells me how John Denver knew nothing about West Virginia and that everything he is talking about in the song is actually in Virginia. Then we listened to the Toots and the Maytals version, which we also listened to at the wedding, where they sing, “Almost heaven, West Jamaica,” and Scott tells me that West Jamaica and West Virginia are basically the same thing.

Almost heaven.
Almost heaven.

We go through Charleston, the capital city, because Scott has to get his car, which has been sitting in the airport parking lot for the past week and a half. Right before we get to the airport we stop at a gas station to pee and get Red Bull. There is a drug deal going on in the parking lot and a guy with tattoos all over his hands and neck is talking to a clearly underage girl driving a beat-up car. The door knob in the bathroom is missing, and has been replaced with a large wad of paper towels. I might feel a little bit afraid or uncertain about my new home state, based on this gas station, if I hadn’t spent plenty of time in West Virginia already.

Scott leaves me and I am alone in my car for the first time in over a week. I feel nervous, the kind of nervous that you get when you’re a little kid and you’re about to jump off the high dive, or when you’re an adult and you’re about to get up in front of a room full of people to read something to them that you wrote. I put on an Eminem mix CD that Elizabeth Ellen’s daughter made me as a birthday present last summer.

The road from Charleston to Beckley is a windy two-lane interstate on high cliffs through the mountains. Semis are always crashing off of it because the roads are so steep and windy, and also because the drivers are all hopped up on bad speed. In the fall everything on the mountain is a blaze of orange and yellow. In the winter the trees look like sticks and the water running off the mountains freezes in icicles that look like they might break off and kill you. But it is summer now, and it is like the sign welcoming you to West Virginia says: Wild and Wonderful, full of life and fury bubbling out the cracks of the earth. I’ve been on this road plenty of times but every time before Scott has been driving and I have been a visitor. This time, I am a resident and I am driving and I am scared. I am gripping the steering wheel too tight and I am listening to Eminem for courage. I chew two pieces of Nicorette. I smoke a second West Virginia cigarette. My heart is pounding against my chest and I don’t know if it’s from fear or emotion or too much nicotine. I follow Siri’s directions off the interstate and pull up to my new apartment. This is the apartment that used to be nicknamed The Apartment of Death, because Scott and Chris Oxley moved in there after they both got divorced and they were having a bit of a rough time, if you want to put it mildly. But it’s not The Apartment of Death anymore. It’s our married home.

SCOTT: So this is the end of our tour diary.

If there be anything here that pleases you in our posts, you should thank our Lord Jesus Christ from whom proceeds all virtue and all wisdom. If there be anything in this honeymoon diary you dislike I beg you to ascribe the fault to our ignorance. We would have written better if we possessed the gift of eloquence, but we are full of sin. So we beseech you, for the mercy of God, to pray for us to Christ our Savior. We pray for forgiveness in writing these posts of worldly vanity. We now revoke and condemn Honeymoon Tour Diary Part 1, Honeymoon Tour Diary Part 2. We also now recant Honeymoon Tour Diary Part 3. In the merciful name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, king of kings and priest of priests, who redeemed the world with His precious blood, may we be saved on our day of doom. So we rose to our feet and walked back to our Toyota Yarus.

So Here ended the Honeymoon Tour Diary compiled by Juliet Escoria and Scott McClanahan, of whose soules Jhesu Crist have mercy, AMEN.

PS: This is a video of what the apartment looked like when it was The Apartment of Death. You should give us money now to help fix it up. Perhaps the wedding thing was just a scheme to get money to buy new stuff. Our Lord Jesus Christ, Buddha, and Steve Roggenbuck would want you to contribute. If you LOL’d once or twice while reading this, then you basically owe us at least $5. Please send Amazon gift cards to 309 Stanaford Road, Apt 1, Beckley WV 25801 or PayPal donations to julietescoria@gmail.com. LIEAM. Life is empty and meaningless. Thank you.