The Best of Missouri, the botanical garden’s annual fall show is one part art fair and one part farmers market. This show is one of the few times that we have to pay to enter the gardens. We’re members and we just re-upped this month, so it was with some disappointment that I noticed that they were offering free tickets to new or renewing members. Figuring that it doesn’t hurt to ask, I explained that we had just rejoined and asked it that qualified us for free entry. It did. My mother would have been so proud of me.
Anne and I biked to the gardens, in the end threading our way through a truly monstrous traffic jam. Our destination was competing with two other nearby events, an art fair in the Shaw neighborhood and another festival in the Grove. In the end, bicycle parking was no problem. This festival has expanded since last I visited it. Four huge tents now stood instead of the previous two, doubling the number of vendors. Its name is misleading, since easily half of the vendors were from out-of-state. Taking deep breaths, we waded into the throng.
We tried to forage enough free food, to make lunch, but between long lines and miniscule serving sizes that was not to be. We did discover lots of interesting stuff though. One of my favorites was Bright Beam Goods, from Austin (Keeping it Weird). They were selling a series of coasters with so-called mistaken lyrics laser etched into them. A couple of the best were, “Hold me closet Tony Danza.” And “Hit me with your pet shark.” We ended up buying a somewhat similar product from another vendor (i.e. funny sayings on a common household product), as a gift. I was enticed to buy a jar of Chai Spiced Carmel Sauce by the slickest fast talking salesman that we met.
Wading through the crowd, Anne overheard two couples talking about the Soo. One couple had just visited it and was telling the other all about their vacation there. Ms. Butt-in-Ski had to interject. The couple that had visited plans to go back, so we were all over them with helpful suggestions. By this time the other couple had moved on and I was able to anticipate this other Mark’s most Saint Louis stereotypical question, with “We both went to Pioneer High School.” Which is always a conversation stopper. In Saint Louis what high school you went to is shorthand for what is your social-economic, racial and religious class. It turns out that Mark went to U City High and he graduated the same year as Joanie. He didn’t remember her. It was a big school. But as soon as he got home, he planned on looking her up in his year book. He was the school photographer.
We saw all four tents, but rain was moving in, both on the radar and in the darkening sky. We beat feet, pedaling hard. We got to within half-a-mile of home, when the first few rain drops were felt. Redoubling our effort, we sprinted home and wheeled the bikes into the basement, as the dam broke.