I not only sang, hummed, and whistled the cheery tune from the Judy Garland film by the same name, I even made up part of a new rendition of it, one that more adequately describes my focus on any vacation:
Feed me in St. Louis, Louis
Feed me all the time.
Don’t tell me that the place is closed
Or I have to wait in line.
I will get a S’mores martini.
It will be so rich and creamy.
If you will feed me in St. Louis, Louis,
Feed me all the time!
Okay, so I just talk about a drink in the song, but do you have any idea how hard it is to rhyme something with Cuban sandwich? Or breakfast crepe? Really hard. Almost as hard as it was to get over the disappointment that St. Louis doesn’t have any real trolleys on which I could sing the Trolley Song.
I’ve been away from the blog for almost a week because my girlfriend and I traveled to St. Louis so I could meet her family after almost a year of being together. This was the first time I’ve ever really “met the parents” of someone I was dating, and I was a little nervous. I mean, they’ve met her past girlfriends. How would I measure up? What would they think of me? Is my shirt too low-cut? My hair looks dumb. I should probably wear jeans. Somebody help!
All that nervousness was for nothing, though, and I had a really lovely time. I’ve compiled a few photos of the trip to note some highlights of my experience.
I thought I had never seen the Mississippi River before, but I do stand corrected: my mom says that on a trip we took to Memphis once, the exhibit we went to was in a museum that looked out over the Mississippi River. The only thing I remember from that trip was the hotel swimming pool, going to Graceland, and then going to see Elvis’s boyhood home. No river. So this was the first time I actually remember seeing the river that is so grounded in Southern identity; it is perhaps funny that I’m seeing it in the Midwest rather than down south.
Until this trip, I had never shot a gun before. I had wanted to. My mom is rather proud of her license to carry, and I’m from Georgia: I grew up with the knowledge that we always had a gun in the car, and my mom takes one with her whenever she travels on car trips. She always worries about me when I make the drive down to Georgia, reminding me that I “don’t even own a gun,” something that she would find more reassuring about my driving long distances. But in St. Louis, Amanda’s dad took us out back to go target shooting, and I shot my first rifle (pictured), a handgun (which I didn’t like), and a shotgun, which left me with a bruised, sore shoulder and quite the sense of achievement. Once my ear stops ringing, I’ll feel 100% gratified at having gone shooting and held my own with hitting targets.
From now on, all of my breakfast should be accompanied by a drizzle of raspberry sauce. We found this restaurant about thirty minutes after we landed, and we went back every day for breakfast. It was delicious.
I didn’t create the divide between Southerners and Northerners. I’m not responsible for making it, but I do fall into its traps. When travelling north of the Mason Dixon line, the first time someone runs into me (as if I’m not there), rudely jostles me out of the way, or bolts into an elevator I’m attempting to exit before I can get out of it, I just let out a low “mm-hmm” that Amanda has started to call “Southern judgment.” It’s the sound that says, “They were clearly raised by wolves,” or “All tea should be sweet. It’s a damn shame that truth doesn’t exist here in [insert name of northern city, and sometimes even Norfolk].”
But these Parmesan fries changed me. We went to Monty’s, a sandwich shop down the street from our hotel, after we had been walking around town, getting sweaty and tired. We ordered a Cuban sandwich and Parmesan fries. “Oh, we’re out of those,” the cashier said, and I guess our faces fell. What can I say? When a girl wants fries, she wants fries. We settled for chips, got our drinks, and sat down without giving the fries a second thought. In a few minutes, a man approached the table. “You girls wanted the Parmesan fries or regular fries?” he asked. We told him we went ahead and got chips and it was fine, but he insisted. “She said you wanted the fries, so I’m making you fries. Parmesan or regular?” We told him Parmesan, and I let go of my Southern judgment just long enough to seriously enjoy devouring those fries. They were delicious.
(Side note: Before people start biting my head off and railing against me for being rude, intolerant, or otherwise regionally prejudiced, I realize that there are a good plenty of Southerners who are rude and have questionable taste in tea.)
I didn’t. I brought flip flops, which are just a bit too big, and I therefore spend extra energy curling my toes, trying to keep them on my feet. Finally, I had enough, and Amanda and I went shopping. After trekking around the mall, after defeat settled over us, we went into Journey (Journeys?) and I bought my first pair of Keds since I was probably eleven years old. And I love them.
They were warm and soft, fresh out of the oven, and made the perfect appetizer for the cocktails.
Cocktails that should always be sipped through a chocolate straw. We followed up with a Fiesta Martini, which is a margarita made with lime sorbet, which was, in a word, a revelation. Did I photograph it? No. Why not? Because I was already buzzed after munching on cookies and sucking down a S’mores Martini. I don’t know how writers ever got anything done drunk.
And in the end, after a fantastic trip, meeting family, eating yummy food, having new experiences, getting a little tipsy, buying shoes, and seeing a new city, Otis was glad to have us back home with him. He’s rewarded us by biting Amanda and sitting on me whenever I stop moving.