02 November 2005
Always wear your helmet
I went to visit my sister down in Metropolitan St. Louis last weekend. She'll be mad at me for saying that she lives in metro St. Louis. She lives 45 minutes up I-55 from the city, in Illinois, and gets annoyed when people think of her as being from St. Louis.
Technically, she lives smack dab in the middle between Springfield IL and St. Louis, pretty much in the middle of nowhere. I'd give you exact latitude and longitude if I were very much concerned about it, but alas, I'm not.
My sister is also upset with me for not including her among the people that I was happy for last week when the White Sox won the World Series. I had said that while I was eating my heart out as a Cubs fan, I was happy for the few people I had known in my life whom I considered long time, rabid Sox fans.
My sister only fits one of the qualifications. She's been a Sox fan for many years (hence the term "long time") but I cannot quantify her as rabid. First, she became a Sox fan because everyone else in the house we grew up in was a Cubs fan. Sis has always been a feisty little number. She will deny the reasoning I give for her being a Sox fan, which is her right, but I've never been convinced otherwise. Still, I give her credit for maintaining her Sox bravado lo these many years. At least she did not forge her allegiance to Chicago and cross over to the dark side which is the St. Louis Cardinals. Sadly, not everyone in my family was able to avoid that fate . . .
I do not consider my sister to be a die hard Sox fan because she can't tell you five players who are on the team. She might still think Carlton Fisk is playing. I'm throwing myself to the sharks here, I realize, and I am not trying to mock her, but I just feel that there are different levels of fandom. My good will towards the White Sox extends only to those who live and die by them, because that is how I am about the Cubs. Only someone who has kept up a ridiculous amount of allegiance throughout their life can understand what I mean.
Anyway, live it up, sis. Get yourself a few T-shirts, a mug, and maybe one of those pennants that has the roster on it, so that you can always remember those that brought this championship to you. And don't be mad at me. I'm not changing my mind, and I know that you will never agree with me. I'm not calling you artificial or hypocritical. I accept that you are a Sox fan, have been for a while, and as such, it must be nice to finally see them win, but there are others who I think deserve this feeling just a bit more, and since I have only a limited amount of happiness for Sox fans, you get to go towards the middle of the line. But you'll still get a nice Christmas present from me.
Back to St. Louis: On Friday I tried, for the third time, to get up to the top of the St. Louis Arch. I have a funky relationship with the Arch. First, up until the time I saw it in person for the first time (1999, I think), I thought it spanned the Mississippi River. I was a little disappointed to see that it did not. And no, I am not ashamed to admit this; I've been wrong on a lot of obvious things before.
I was placated by the fact that you can go to the top of the Arch and look out over the city and the river. I love going to the highest observation points of cities and gazing out at the neighborhoods. Unfortunately, the first time I visited the Arch was shortly after a fire had rendered the transport system inoperable. A year or so later, we went to the Arch in the middle of summer. The transport was working this time, but the air conditioning was not. You could go to the top, but it was over 120 degrees. I passed. Had I gone up, I would have passed out.
This past Friday happened to be the 40th anniversary of the dedication of the St. Louis Arch, and in the late afternoon we made our way over from the north side of town, where we had eaten in a throw back ice cream parlor. After seeing a great movie about the Lewis and Clark expedition in the early 19th Century, we made our way over to the line to go to the top of the Arch.
It's quite an interesting system they use to get you to the top of the Arch. It's an enclosed roller coaster that goes very slow and only takes 40 people up at a time, five people in eight cars. It's not for the claustrophobic; there is only a small window in a small door to see out of, and an average sized adult feels their head scrape the top of the car as you move along. It's like riding in an egg.
When I got in for our trip up, I hit my head on the curved top as soon as I sat down. It got my attention. The trip up took about three minutes, and it was amazing to be up at the top of the Arch. To see out the small windows that look East and West, you have to lie prone a bit on your stomach. You can look down ninety degrees and see nothing beneath you except Earth. I don't recommend this if you have ever had a spell of vertigo. One person in our party was at the top for a grand total of two minutes.
We were the last group allowed up that day, so we got to see the sun setting low in the western sky, a great look at downtown St. Louis (memo to the Cardinals, though, the new baseball stadium looks a lot like every other that has been built in the last decade. And I think the folks who built SBC park in San Fran might want to see if their blueprints are still locked up) and a long look at the Mississippi. I loved it. It was worth the wait to finally get to the top of the Arch.
I would suggest one improvement, though. They should either cover the walls of the capsule that takes you up and down with padding, or pass out helmets before you first get on. I managed to crack my head about ten times harder on the way down than I did on the way up. I was a little loopy(er?) for the rest of the night.
I do enjoy St. Louis. Too bad I don't know anyone who lives there...