Adventure is out there

Today is my birthday. In an effort to make the four-day weekend grand, I visited some of St. Louis’ most beloved attractions and St. Charles’ least known holes in the wall.

Friday night, an accomplice and I took a risk and visited a coffeehouse that we frequently pass, but had never entered, The Crooked Tree on First Capitol. I spent close to five hours there with my pal, sipping on a Reeses’ Peanut Butter Cup “Chilla,” which is similar to a Frappe-type-of-dealy. Essentially, it was the perfect blend of chocolate, peanut butter, coffee, and whipped cream, all combined in a delicious and practical smoothie format.

Accompanying this wonderful flavor experience was enough eclectic decor to furnish the homes of at least four elderly women. Everywhere you look there is something to be discovered, from retro works of art and classic novels to board games that have stood the test of time, all stacked around an upright piano, just begging for someone to play it.

Ironically, the appeal of The Crooked Tree is the laid back atmosphere and “Central Perk,” everybody knows everybody feel. From the time we walked in to the second we shut the door on our way out, there was almost no influx or exodus of customers. The same nine people who were there when we walked in remained after we took our leave. Comfort and constancy are key components of The Crooked Tree’s appeal, and I invite anyone who is looking to escape the oppression of their bedroom but avoid the oppression of other people to give it a visit.

My Labor Day was spent at the Saint Louis Zoo. The zoo and I have a unique relationship. Only about 50 percent of my visits are spent ogling at penguin and elephants. The other half I spend examining the real animals, the visitors. At the zoo, you can learn more about human nature than you can about any other animal, regardless of how many times you watch the sea lions get fed, or how long you spend observing the behavior of the sun bear (who seldom does more than pace back and forth).

I am not a parent. The closest thing I have to a child are my four hermit crabs whom, while I love dearly, look nothing like me and rarely give me back sass. Therefore, I am by no means qualified to make judgments on the parenting of others. I can, however, laugh at them and their children when they verbally abuse the camels and, I know this is shocking, get served a face full of spit.

There is an unbelievable pressure to make your children behave when you take them on an outing to a highly populated park. Tensions are high, as are volume levels and temperature. Some grow aggravated by the constant screaming, the crying, the “buy me this” and the “I won’t budge” For me, getting a look into the life of a child or the behavior of a different culture only enhances the experience.

The zoo is one of the greatest amalgamations of culture available to us St. Louisans, landlocked in the center of the country. I watched an Indian man let go of the stroller that his son was riding in for a thrilling journey down a hill which, to the surprise of no one, resulted in a toppling toddler and a profusely apologetic father. I was complimented on my outfit by a squad of four glamorous African American gentlemen adorning bandanas and false eyelashes. I was ordered to “Look at that monkey!!” four times at an inhuman decibel level by a chubby, red-haired little girl. Like the great Kanye West said in a Tweet this weekend, “THE ONLY RACE IS THE HUMAN RACE, WE ARE ONE.” We all do stupid things, regardless of the color of our skin or what language we speak. It’s important to be able to laugh at yourself.

Each time I visit the zoo, no matter what specific acts of defiance I see by children, or moments of weakness I witness by their parents, I reach the same conclusion.

Life is so very comical.