Thursday, 13 September 2012 15:06

It's Like I Never Left

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When I left St. Louis for Hollywood almost 10 years ago, I thought I was already worldly.  I thought I had some sophistication and worldliness.  I thought I was, as they say, “like everybody else.” Man, I was wrong...

I have St. Louis in my blood so deep I’ve been away from town for almost a decade and still dream about Chuck-a-Burger.  For credibility’s sake, let me clarify that I am a 1987 graduate of Duchesne

High School in St. Charles and a 1992 BA Graduate from UMSL.  I drank Vess soda.  I’ve had to get out of Beatle Bob’s way at concerts.   I still have my Dierberg’s check cashing card in my wallet.  And, just like you, I used to shop at Northwest Plaza, but I don’t anymore.

What I discovered as I assimilated into the talent pool that is the LA Comedy Scene, is that there are certain quirks and behaviors unique to St. Louis which cause non-St. Louisans to look at you like they’re watching
the freak shows on TLC.  While the rest of the world is comfortable in their conformity and blandness, I have done my best to retain those lovely bits of St. Louis culture that I could carry with me.

What am I talking about?  Good question.  Here are a few examples:

Mike Shannon impressions.  Once you leave the greater St. Louis area, NOBODY gets it when you say things like “Heh heh heh... the schtanding room only crowd isch taking cher scheets, heh heh heh.”  While Mike
Shannon is a St. Louis institution and a fine broadcaster, few people outside Cardinal Nation have heard of him.  Now if you did a Harry Carray impression, EVERYBODY would be all over it, even though Harry’s been dead for almost 15 years.  Shannon just LOOKS like he’s been dead for 15 years.

Asking people, “What’s the Story Larry?”  Those of you old enough to remember Larry Lampert before he became a barbecue magnate, will recall he owned an auto parts shop that, in my memory, owned just about every commercial break Channel 11 had in the 70’s and 80’s.  The commercials started with an off-camera voice asking “What’s the Story, Larry?”  And Larry would respond with “You want it, I got it...” and then drone about
spark plugs and distributor caps.  Why Lampert Auto Parts was advertising during Popeye cartoons, I will never know, but there it is.

Pork Steaks:  It’s true.  In LA, you have to have pork steaks cut for you special at the butcher counter.  They don’t even THINK about putting them out with the rest of the pre-cut meat.  And they’re CHEAP!  $2.50 per pound!  It’s like a little hidden treasure.

Here’s a weird one that took me several years to adjust to:  You can’t get Budweiser in every single bar everywhere.  It’s weird.  The first time a waitress told me “We don’t have Budweiser,” I thought she was joking.  Especially when she said, “We only have Coor’s.”  Honest to goodness, I didn’t know anyone actually drank Coor’s beer.

As I write this I am preparing for my first pilgrimage back to my beloved homeland under the Arch in over 8 years.  If you see me be sure and point out any LA quirks I may unexpectedly carrying with me from LA.  Now, if
you'll excuse me, my triple chai half-caf low-fat soy vanilla latte is cooling by the pool.  I hate to let that $14 go to waste.

What about you?  What would you bring with you from St. Louis if you ever left?  What kinds of things would you want to keep?  What kinds of things do you think you would do which would befuddle your new friends?