One peculiarity of moving to a city most people never think to leave is..... well....its peculiarity. St. Louis is chock-a-block with weird traditions and cultural flotsam that most St. Louis residents (who by and large seem to be kind, straightforward lovers of bad cheese) don't seem to realize are theirs and theirs alone.
Take Halloween. Unlike other places I've lived, in which, to procure candy, the only requirement is that you waddle or bounce or demand to be carried up to a door, here in St. Louis, you must joke.
That's right, as in knock knock. Or why did the chicken? Or a guy walked into a (candy) bar....
When the first kid did it, I thought it was funny. When the 30th kid's eyes rolled back in his head in an attempt to dredge up, from the depths of his candy-addled brain, the punchline, I realized I'd crossed into an alien land.
It was like waking up in the twilight zone. Here I was, drinking the dregs of white middle class cultural specificity, poised atop one of the few heaps of Anglo-American tradition not yet flattened by the inexorable glacier of T.V.
It was only October.
I had yet to witness the rise of the Christmas inflatables.
You may think you know Christmas inflatables. Unless you live in St. Louis, you are mistaken. When I say Christmas inflatables I mean Christmas inflatables on a scale you have not yet dreamed possible- Christmas inflatables more numerous, more varied, more sizable, more artfully positioned and more turgid than your most wildly inflated dreams.
I mean Christmas inflatables possessed of moving parts, Christmas inflatables that gibber and yawp, Christmas inflatables tumescent with light. When I say Christmas inflatables I mean that you will see things inflated that you had not conceived were within the power of human endeavor to inflate.
I admit it is taking me a while to acclimate. I have not yet crossed over; there is nothing inflated about my yard save for my lawn-care-related shame. But someday, if I stay in St. Louis, I know I will eyeball a spot on my lawn and mutter- here.
And on that day, when the air rushes out of my lungs and gently, yet inexorably, into a moderately sized accordion-playing Santa - on that day, I will be home.