You can tell just about all there is to know about a city based on the goods it sells roadside. Forget the country-wide offerings at seasonal fruit and vegetable stands. Never mind sleeves of multicolored roses, Good Humor umbrellas, or metal carts stuffed with Falafel or street meat. Philly with its cheesesteaks. Aside from pashminas, jewelry, and knockoff everything, the city corners of New York are home to dirty water dogs, jumbo pretzels, and roasted chestnuts (they always smell better than they taste). But beyond its city, “side of the road” doesn’t exist in New York until you wind through bucolic settings that you’ll never associate with New York anyway.
In Austin, on the side of an expressway, there’s a man with teeth as yellow as margarine who sells jerky under a tent. That says it all, no? No? Okay, I’ll play along. Know what else they sell roadside in Austin? CROSSES. No, not fatal accident memorial offerings but decorative crosses for the home, plus an extensive line of ornamental ironworks, including, but not limited to, Lone Stars, metal chickens, and longhorns. Fear not, also for sale: cow hide mirrors and place mats. But if metal and moo aren’t your thang, head north a few miles and you can haggle over Mexican Talavera pottery.
In South Florida, you can pull off to the shoulder and buy oysters and stone crabs out of the back of a man’s truck. This, I can live with. Only in lieu of Texan Fire Ants, Florida has a shitload of Great Aunts. Though, I’m guessing most of them you won’t find roadside.
Know what else? The Costco in Boca has an enormous KOSHER section, something you won’t find in any part of Texas. Another thing you don’t find often in Texas but can’t keep from finding here in Boca: New Yorkers. Big time.
In New York, we had The Screening Room. In Austin, Alamo Drafthouse and Gold Class Cinemas. In South Florida, we have Cinemark Palace 20–which, to my delight, offers a flat rate fee of $9.00 per child for 4, count them FOUR, hours of babysitting. I will be living at this theater.
Next week, I’m back in NY for the week, where I’ll likely be too tired to make (un)sexy city comparisons. Now, for the next two weeks of full-time me, I’m playing the part of Montessori Mama. Sandpaper letters, odds and evens, scissor work, tracing, stencils, and lots of reading. We could spend days at the bookstore and library… in any city (though we especially love reading in a fort, with a rain stick and flashlights–something I see us doing a lot in this Tropical Storm Warning town). Also, I fell in head-over-heels love with Library Lion the other day. It makes me think of childhood, exploring, and security… that sense that nothing bad could happen on a pollywog, and especially not in a library. Just love it.