Sunday, June 28, 2009

To the Dude In My Apartment, Part 2!

Sorry to leave everyone in such suspense. I can see now the error of my ways. Apparently I never told my mother this story so she called me in a little bit of a panic. Don't worry... I refused to tell her what happened. I told her she needed to wait just like everyone else. She scoffed - I said something along the lines of "you better check yourself before you wreck yourself"- she exclaimed "don't hate the player, hate the game"- and then we hung up. I'm sorry Mom. I think we should squash this beef. I forgive you. In honor of this forgiveness I will refrain from typing the next line I was thinking (it was something like "bitches be crazy") and go on with the story.
The hallway where it all went down
So, where did we leave off? Oh yes, I was pissed that there was someone in my apartment. I could hear them in the hallway and I was about to turn the corner to face them. So I turned the corner...
Keep in mind that I am not afraid of whomever I'm about to confront. My adrenaline was pumping big time. In fact, I think I instinctively flexed my muscles or something. Kind of like when dogs and cats get that little stripe on there back when ornery. Either way, I felt somewhat scary although the reality of situation was probably quite different.
...and there he was. He wasn't a big dude. In fact, he wasn't initially threatening at all. He was wearing what I call "Summer Jeans" (baggy khaki cargo shorts), flip flops and a backwards hat. If he was there to kill/rob/rape me he was wearing the absolute best disguise ever. As soon as I took a good look at him I yelled (in my deepest voice (which is sadly not deep at all)) "Get The Fuck Out Of Here!" and he was obviously freaked out. Considering it was pitch dark inside the apartment and his eyes weren't likely adjusted I would suspect he couldn't see me. He gave a little startled jump and then immediately started towards the door. I took a step towards him and he said, "Oh, I'm sorry man... I'm sorry!" and ran out, closing the door behind him. I followed him to the door and locked it now fully aware of the absurdity that just had occurred.
I walked back down the hallway and looked around my apartment for any other prowlers that might be ready for me to yell at them and noticed Oscar sleeping in bed. Yep, that little punk who was so nice to have alerted me to the situation didn't think it was important enough to come be a badass with me. Imagine my young intruder's fright if a mostly naked man yelling at him was accompanied by a medium-sized, slightly intimidating dog who's only wish was to jump on him and awkwardly smell his crotch. Wait, I made it clear there that it would be Oscar doing the crotch smelling, right? Anyway, I can't say I blame Oscar for sleeping through the confrontation. He could probably smell the Hollister cologne on the dude from a mile away.
At first I thought there was no way I could get to sleep again after the excitement, but due to the non-scary nature of what went down it really only took me 15 minutes of figuring out how he got in. There were only two options... Either I didn't lock the door or he had a key. I got the locks changed the next day of course.
For a while I thought that the key thing was the likely scenario, but it wasn't a week later, still cautious about the whole person in my house thing, that I was headed to bed and thought it would be smart to check the front door for proper lockage. I even almost disregarded my better judgement, but finally relented and checked the door. To my shock it was unlocked. I couldn't even imagine a reason why I wouldn't have locked it the last time I walked Oscar but there it was. While I felt like a complete idiot it also left me a bit comforted. It was a stupid mistake on my part that allowed this to happen. I could live with that.
And now, a message to my very first intruder if he should ever find this blog:
Hi! I hope this post finds you well. I just wanted to say thank you for the great story you left me with. I honestly don't know what you were doing in my apartment but I have a few guesses. The most popular guess seems to be that you were drunk and went into the wrong door. The other guesses usually start with you looking for a place to crash and end with "wouldn't it be funny if you woke up in the morning and the dude was on your couch." I usually say, "yes that's funny", but secretly don't think so. My personal theory is that you were here looking for the suburbs. They're that way, buddy. If you're ever back in Soulard please don't hesitate to knock. I'll likely be much more clothed and hospitable.
Your Possible Friend,
Jim Barnthouse
Arch Observer

Monday, June 22, 2009

To The Dude In My Apartment, Part 1!

What follows is a true story.
It's 3:30 a.m. on a Friday morning. I hope I don't ruin the story by telling you I'm usually sleeping at that time. Because I was - and very soundly at that. Oscar is usually sleeping right next to me randomly kicking me in his sleep and tonight was no exception. The nice thing about Oscar is that he isn't a barker. I have very little patience for yappy dogs and it's one of the fine qualities of 'Scar that make us such dear friends. My Mother breeds Papillons. They're those little tiny dogs with flowing ear hair that always need to be carried. Not really my type of dog to say the least. They're also, perhaps, one of the most yappy dogs in history. It has fortified my distaste for them. I'll just say it - I sorta hate them.
Papillon: French For Annoying
But not Oscar. Nope, he only barks when either someone knocks on the door or gives a single, quick, little bark when he hears someone outside. I equate it to a warning bark. It's like he's saying to the passing stranger, "Hey Douchebag, you know there's a dog in here right?" And at 3:30 a.m. on a Friday morning, that's the bark I heard.

Oscar: French For Awesome
Naturally, as I awoke from the bark, I assumed there were some people walking past the apartment being too loud. I mumbled something to the effect of, "shub up Oskber", gave him a slight nudge and closed my eyes. Then, right as I began to drift back to sleep, I swore I heard what sounded like my front door opening. This caught my attention. A few possibilities began to sweep through my mind; 1. Is my neighbor getting home right now? I look at the clock. It's 3:30... No way. 2. Did I somehow leave the door ajar and the wind is slowly blowing it open? (Keep in mind my apartment door opens to the sidewalks of Soulard, not a hallway) No, there's no way I left the door ajar. I've been closing doors my entire life. I have experience. 3. Is someone in my apartment?
At first, that thought seemed unreasonable. I'm an avid locker of doors. I don't even think of it, really. It's like putting on a seatbelt to me... Just habit. Even when people come over, as I let them enter the door, I close it and subsequently lock it. So there was just no way someone was coming in without making a huge noise. Yet, as I sat up in my bed listening more carefully, I heard the distinct loud creaking my heavy front door makes when being opened. Yes, it was my door and it was being opened!
I immediately jumped out of bed and my first thought was to put on some pants. Nope, no time for that. I know what you're thinking... Luckily it was blue boxers day. Pink boxers day is Monday, everyone know that. I took the long walk from my bedroom door, through the kitchen and dining room, past the living room and approached the long hallway my door sits at the end of. On my way there I'm becoming more and more aware that there is indeed someone inside my apartment. I can hear his feet shuffling quietly. I'm barefoot and quite Ninja like in my light steps.
I have no idea what awaits for me as I'm about to turn the corner to face my first intruder, but for some crazy reason, I have no fear. I'm effing pissed. Never in a million years would I have even pretended that I'd be like that in a situation like this, but that's what was happening. For the first time in my life my "Fight" reflex was firing on all cylinders. It didn't matter who it was or that I was in my boxers... I was about to do something to the effect of ripping them apart.
So I take the corner and there he is...

Wow! This is exciting huh? This post is turning out so good I've decided to end it on a cliffhanger. Tune in later this week to find out what happens unless the box office receipts come back disappointing.

[Spoiler] - I don't die.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

You Should See The Bontanicles On This Garden

I know what you're thinking... "Jim, you blew it. A whole week went by and no post." Well, you're right to be angry. You should know that I do feel extraordinarily bad about missing posts, but that doesn't mean I haven't been "Observing" (I promise to never call it that again). It's the lamest and most overused excuse in the book that for some reason everyone just excepts when you say it, but I was busy. And I was visiting Chicago for a couple days which also counts as busy. No matter, I'm back to my (at least) weekly schedule of tying St Louis experiences to pop culture references and personal anecdotes. That's all there is to my style of blogging, by the way. It's simple chemistry. You could easily try this at home but I recommend parental supervision or at least safety goggles. I keep an emergency eye washing sink right next to my laptop for errant Blue Vitriol splashes. That precaution is taken from experience. True 7th grade story. Anywaaaays...
Children at a Pond
Guess what I did the weekend before last? I finally fulfilled my promise to go back to the Missouri Botanical Gardens when it actually was the season for plant-life to show itself. For all my children readers, plants are a lot like bears in that they kind of hibernate in the winter. Except, with bears, you need to be careful when coming across one in the forest. If it ever happens, DO NOT RUN. You're either supposed to make a lot of noise and try to scare it off, back away slowly, or offer it a fist bump in accordance with man-bear law #47. If it fist bumps you back be sure to "blow it up" when pulling your hand back. To not do so is a great bear insult. Anywaaaays...
This Lady is doing it wrong and will obviously be eaten
I have to commend the Botanical Gardens. This visit was much more enjoyable and, dare I say, beautiful. This place is made for bringing your camera. Well, probably not originally considering it opened in 1859 (Hey, it's the 150 year anniversary! I think that's your moon rock anniversary if I'm not mistaken). I hadn't been so inclined to take pictures in years. And it's not just the plants the are so picturesque. The historical buildings and sculptures also force you to capture the moment as the light hits them in certain ways. It's inescapable with all that they have there and it's hard not to find yourself looking at something with an artful eye. Now, I don't fancy myself a photographer, but it even made me feel like I took some quality images. Oh good news! The Terrordome doesn't look so terrifying in the Summer. And it's actually called the Climatron which is just about as cool of a name. And decidedly Transformer-like, no? Anywaaaays...

ClimatronflowersShadows at the Botanical Garden
I'm about to blow your mind. Ready? Don't worry, I'm exaggerating. Ready now? The Botanical Gardens appeal to all 6 of your senses. I know, it sounds crazy! Let me expand on this.
Vision: The Japanese Garden. This was absolutely my favorite place to be in. The pond and rock gardens give it a very tranquil feel as I would assume they were designed for. There are also lots of small paths to go exploring along with a gigantic mass of gigantic Carp with gigantic mouths to feed. The kids love that. This is the perfect area for a picnic or a wedding for that matter... One was taking place there that day.
Japanese GardenJapanese TreeThrough the Leaves
Touch and Smell: Early on in the walk of the gardens, near the Eastern wall there is the Sensory Garden. As soon as I came across this little stopped at gem I knew it was going to be an awesome day. The problem is that the area doesn't look like much. There are some small plants and a little path, but nothing that's eye-catching. Most people were walking right by it. Well they blew it. True to it's name, the Sensory Garden contains herbs and plants that either smell wonderful or are strange to the touch. Plants of note were the one that, once touched, smelled of chocolate (I can't remember the name... damn it) and the Lamb's Ear which felt exactly like what you would guess an actual lamb's ear would feel like. I love interactive exhibits!
Sound: Sweet lord there are tons of birds living in this place. You could hear chirps and songs from every direction. Add that to the sounds of the fountains and babbling streams. Then multiply all of that to the sound of trees in the breeze. Now double it. Yep. Music to my ears.
Taste: I can't say I partook in any eating while I was there, but The Missouri Botanical Gardens claims fame as being the home to the state's first Green restaurant. Sassafras reduces energy consumed and waste as it's green tag might suggest. It also has a cool name. Sassafras. I may eat there sometime just to get a Chicken and Black Bean Quesadilla which sounds deliciously awesome.
Creepiness: Yes, the sixth sense is creepiness. As noted in the Tornado post, history can be creepy and the Botanical Gardens is no exception. Enter one Henry Shaw. By all accounts, Henry Shaw was a good man albeit a slave owner. Tower Grove Park and the surrounding community were once all his land that he had donated to the city before his death. The Botanical Gardens itself was his property that he developed and opened to the public. His home still stands there to this day and, if you are so inclined, you are invited to take a walk through it to learn of the history of Shaw and the Botanical Gardens. There are pictures of St Louisans visiting through the years as well as former employees of Shaw's. The old pictures are great and really give you a sense of times past, but man is that creepy. Creepier still, they set the house up like Shaw still lives there. It's educational and all to see how people lived back then - but still. Weird. Oh, not creepy enough for you? How about the fact that Shaw is buried at the Botanical Gardens?
Henry Shaw Tomb
Yeah, you can go visit him at his creepy mausoleum where a marble statue of him lying there dead (Let's just pretend he's sleeping) is surrounded by glass. Also, you are welcome to sit down at a bench nearby where his ghostly statue welcomes you to rest. I chose to use this as a chance to make friends with him.
Henry Shaw Statue
Anywaaaays... I highly recommend a nice little Sunday trip with the fam or a loved one. Or even better, go during the week. They have free concerts there on Wednesday nights and Chuck Berry is playing on July 24th. Those Wednesday night shows in particular look pretty awesome. You're even allowed to bring your own picnic! I can't say this about too many places but I'm excited to go back. I feel like I probably missed a ton of cool stuff and, since I wrote about that Quesadilla, I've been craving one big time. Plus I miss Henry. He makes the best gardens.