I have spent a good part of my life in St. Louis due to work needs, but have never felt comfortable in this rather strange town. To those unfamiliar with St. Louis, it is a city which never figured out whether it was a northern industrial center or simply a quaint part of the Old South. If you encounter native born St. Louisians they immediately judge anyone on the basis of which high school they attended in St. Louis or in which community they lived. They must rank among the most provincial, parochial individuals in America and the result is a massive destruction of the inner city and inept, corrupt proliferation of municipalities replicating services at great cost to the community. I once, when single, dated a native born St. Louis woman and told her goodbye after attending God knows how many parties where people sat around talking about their high schools.
Another characteristic of native born St. Louisians is maintaining a grudge for years. I am New York born, we shout, curse one another, and then go out for a drink and forget the argument. If you ever have an encounter with a St. Louisian, just remember never to make fun of them, be witty, or be outrageous because they have the emotional IQ of a five year old to any “foreigner.” To them, one is a “Foreigner” if you were born outside the limits of St. Louis.
I recently attended a group of elderly men who met in the Kirkwood, Missouri Einstein Bagel shop on Wednesday mornings. As a joke, I wrote a satirical poem about one of them and the roof fell in. In St. Louis, one does not joke with people unless you attended the same high school. I was told to remove my carcass from the premises. My punishment is not being allowed to listen to their lame jokes about life in St. Louis. How could I explain to these gentlemen the torture I experienced listening to Gerry go on and on about municipal affairs in Kirkwood! You have to understand, to St. Louisians talking about how the garbage is or is not collected, is a key issue of their lives. I once had to endure an hour lecture by Gerry about a bike path in some damn park. But, to the others, it was a fascinating topic.
There is a sadness living in St. Louis and witnessing the destruction of a major metropolis by business interests who do not seek anything to do with an area containing black skinned people. I was working in downtown St. Louis last spring and when I left my class about 9:00 p.m. there was not a human in sight. Everyone disappears from Downtown about 6:00 p.m. I assume St. Louis is a southern version of Detroit. I feel particularly sorry for poor people in St. Louis due to complete lack of interest in their lives on the part of the business community.
Please don’t get me wrong, there are many nice people in St. Louis, but it will never rank high as a center of humor or satire. Mark Twain is dead and satire to his heirs is like George Bush telling the truth. Well, the economic crisis has led me to be trapped in St. Louis with St. Louisians and their dull and boring lives. For me, the only saving grace are the wonderful students I teach in college and a few terrific colleagues at work.In all honesty, I don’t know how I could survive without the wonderful students and the outstanding people I work with at my college. I often wonder how such neat young people could have been born in St. Louis.
Anyone know any interesting people in St. Louis who do not talk about their high schools?