After I graduated from High-school, there was a three-year period where I took community collage courses, worked for the Dallas Children’s Theatre, lived with my parents, and hung out with my friends at JoJo’s.

JoJo’s is one of those Denny’s/IHOP/Waffle House kind of places that you find near motels and truck stops. The coffee is cheap and the food is greasy. JoJo’s used to be HoJo’s used to be Howard Johnson so I’m sure you can see the connection. It’s like how "La Quinta" means "next to Denny’s" in Spanish.

It used to be that all the JoJo’s in Dallas were open 24 hours; but sometime in late ’93 early ’94, most of them started closing at 10 pm. The only JoJo’s we could find that was still 24-7 was off I-35 and Motor Street in front of Parkland Hospital. It made sense. Parkland is the public hospital so they’re busy at all hours; those doctors and interns have to eat somewhere.

At about the same time, a curfew law was passed in Dallas. It didn’t affect most of us; we were all over 17. The only person who could have been busted was my younger sister who was four years everyone’s junior. The waitress at the JoJo’s said she’d never bust us because we were polite, undemanding, bussed our own tables, and "I’d rather have you in here drinking your weight in coffee than out on the streets."

One night we drove up to our friendly neighborhood JoJo’s and the place was visibly packed. Visibly, like from the street visibly. I thought maybe someone had charted the place for the night (like a bus?). We asked one guy getting something out of his car if the JoJo’s was open to the public. He looked confused, but said yes, so we found a parking spot and walked in.

Have you ever walked into a room where you obviously didn’t belong? Well, that’s what it was like. The men wore dark suits, white shirts, and dark ties. The women wore similar colors and similar styles. Everyone was perfectly coiffed and everyone smelled the same (I’ll explain that one soon). Somer and I started making jokes about it.

"It’s like some kind of satanic marketing cult."

" ‘Have you ever considered the power of sales?’ "

And while we were standing there, yukking it up, our favorite waitress came to inform us, "Babes, I got Amway here. It’ll be an hour before I can seat you."

Somer and I laughed our asses off because were had been right, then everyone hopped back in the car to find another 24 hour JoJo’s.

Now, if you continue north on I-35 coming out of downtown Dallas, you’ll get to a split for highway 183 to Irving. There’s a hospital in Irving off Macarthur and in front of that hospital is another 24-hour JoJo’s.

That’s right...I drove to another town rather than go to a Denny’s.

While we were sitting in this other JoJo’s, drinking our weight in coffee, these two guys in suits came in. They had a lost look and one of them said to the other, "I don’t know; I’ll go call them."

Now, this guy had the Amway smell, so I figured he and his buddy were headed for the others JoJo’s. I thought I’d be mysterious about it. And also, I felt like a total git for driving to Irving just so I could get JoJo’s coffee.

"You’re at the wrong JoJo’s, in front of the wrong hospital, off the wrong highway. You want to continue south. You’ll find what you’re looking for there."

The guy was a little shaken and asked my how I knew. I stated I just knew and rolled my eyes back. Somer and Sylvia joined in and started an "ohm" chant.

By now, the guy’s friend had gotten off the phone and was coming back to the front to deliver the news. "Hey, we’re at the wrong one. It’s not this hospital."

"Yeah, we need to keep going south. There’s another hospital with a JoJo’s in front of it."

"How’d you find that out?"

The guy pointed at me. "She told me."

"How does she know?"

"She just does."

A year later, I got suckered into joining Amway. I’ll admit, it’s very nice soap, but it still creeps me out. Now, I’m going to explain that smell thing.

In order to make any money in Amway, you have to get other people into Amway; it’s a giant marketing pyramid. The real clincher is the Amway products. There’s a pretty wide variety to choose from, but eventually you’ve got all these people trying to make money by buying and using Amway products instead of anything else. Eventually, you wind up with a large group of people washing their clothes with Amway products, cleaning their house with Amway products, cleaning themselves with Amway products, and eating Amway food products. By the end of the whole process, you almost get a hive-smell. So when earlier when I mentioned being somewhere you’re not supposed to be, it had nothing to do with clothing or mannerisms. It had more to do with the lizard part of my brain saying, "Get out! You’re not one of them and they know it! They’re going to eat you!"

Anyway, I went to an Amway pep rally, or whatever they’re called, and I overheard this story told by a couple of guys who got lost on the highway during a blizzard. Apparently, they had pulled into a truck stop where a traveling circus had stopped for the night. There, they met a side-show psychic and two circus freaks who told them they were lost and gave them directions on how to get where they were going.

Now, first of all: it doesn’t blizzard in Dallas, and it certainly doesn’t blizzard in the summer, which is when this story had really taken place (remember? My younger sister wasn’t 17 yet and so she was still in school).

I’ve been accused of plenty of things, but psychic ain’t one of them.

It wasn’t a truck stop; it was a JoJo’s.

And Somer is pissed as hell for being called a circus freak.

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