- What memories do you have of an old-fashioned general store? The one in Leisenring near Meri and Nolan’s house, by the post office and Divito Park. It was a straight-up old coal-mining-patch general store. I only remember going once, despite spending a lot of time nearby as a kid and up through college, but I do remember getting slushies. It closed at some point, and then in college, they reopened it and its reopening was one of my assignments when I was a stringer for HeraldStandard.com. My article on it is still accessible online, but you’ll need a subscription to the site/paper to read it. I know for current news articles, you can sign up and read so many articles for free, but I believe that since this one is four years old already, you need to be a paying subscriber.
- What’s something people think incorrectly of your home state (or country) but still contains a kernel of truth? I decided to Google Pennsylvania stereotypes. I’ll be addressing some from this list, so here we go. So, no, the state’s not full of Amish people, but there are a good bit, especially as you get to the more eastern part of the state. People don’t hit deer all the time–I mean, I haven’t hit one–but it is common. My mom’s hit a few, my dad’s hit at least one, a friend’s mom hit one taking us home from dance class once, and at certain times of the year, the highways are full of blood and corpses. Everything doesn’t stop for hunting season, but in Fayette County, where I grew up, we always had the Monday after Thanksgiving off because of hunting season. As far as I know, that doesn’t even happen in some neighboring counties. Not everyone loves sports–I’m not a football fan, let alone a Steelers fan–but a lot of people do really love it and jerseys are acceptable attire basically anywhere and I’ve known priests to mention games and kickoff times in sermons and consider that when it comes to length of sermon. And the best time to grocery shop or do just about anything that doesn’t involve a sports bar is in the middle of a Steelers game. Not everyone’s father worked in a coal mine or steel mill, but enough of that heritage is still around to hear stories. That general store I mentioned was from a coal-mining patch town, as was the nearby post office, and you can still see the coke ovens behind Divito Park across the street. And people around here have very strong feelings about the fate of the coal industry, in part because they’ve seen the economic impact from when the steel industry left the area. We don’t put ketchup on everything, but by God, give me Heinz or give me death. The Pennsyltucky stereotype isn’t too far off. Conservatism and redneck culture is huge here, and Paul describes his mom as a typical “patch hunky” who has to know everybody’s business and then tells everybody else everybody’s business.
- What are the major differences between you and your best (non-romantic) friend? All right, we’re gonna go with Terra for this. So, she’s much more passive-aggressive than I am. I mean, I’ve been accused of being passive-aggressive before, but I at least do try to address problems when I’m upset with someone. She doesn’t–she’ll give you attitude and hope you figure it out. Yet strangely, at the same time, she’s much more willing to call people out on, say, Facebook when they’re being shitty, and she’s somehow more assertive than I am. I’ll gently tell you to depart and fornicate with yourself, she’ll tell you you’re a piece of shit who should’ve been drowned years ago and to go fuck yourself. She’s also craftier and a bit more spontaneous, borderline irrational–she once wanted to take in a stray cat in our pet-free dorm in college, despite her numerous allergies and health issues and nowhere to keep a cat in a dorm. Like, she actually was trying to figure out how to take the screen out of our window to smuggle this cat past our RAs until Scott and I were like, “NO FUCKING WAY.”
- What’s something you were the captain of? Hahaha nothing.
- What’s the story of your first private moment with a high-school romantic interest? Oh no. Okay, so, I didn’t really get any private moments with guys I was actually interested in. One day, I’ll tell the story of my fucking terrible first kiss with a guy I wasn’t interested in. It’s too long a tale for now. Anyway, in retrospect, this worked out kind of great because I liked shitty dudes as a teenager, so I dodged some bullets there, and my first real private moments that I valued were with Paul. Also tales for another day. But the one exception would be Brandon’s friend Ian, and although there was on and off interest and such between us (but never at the same time), I don’t remember having any private moments. But I DO remember when we went to see Green Day on their 2005 American Idiot tour–and I still have and wear that tour shirt, and Stephanie noticed it the last time I saw her–and I remember during “Are We the Waiting,” which is a bit of a slower song where everyone had cellphones and lighters out, he was standing behind me and wrapped his arms around me and we kind of swayed with the music. And that was basically the closest Ian and I ever came to anything remotely romantic ever.