So… Anyway… About this whole “Turning Japanese” thing…
A few weeks back the Missouri Botanical Garden, sometimes called Shaw’s Garden – (After Henry Shaw, the man who created the garden and donated the property upon which is resides) – but these days affectionately referred to as MoBot… Not to be confused with MoDoT (Missouri Department of Transportation)… hosted its annual “Japanese Festival.”
Basically, the garden showcases native Japanese plants, flowers, sculptures, music, culture, food, and the whole nine yards. This is something they have been doing for a little slice of forever. Just to give you a frame of reference, back when the Evil Redhead and I were merely dating – not even cohabitating yet – we spent a Saturday at MoBot for the Japanese Fest. It was a great time… We walked around, looked at flowers, drank a couple of Kirins, gnawed on some Teryaki (Yeah, they say traditional Japanese food, but let’s face it – it’s Japanese American food), and lounged on the grass while listening to the syncopated pop jazz stylings of the band, Hiroshima. We even did silly stuff like holding hands and stealing kisses while in the shadows of the Japanese Maple trees… You know, that stuff you do when you are young and in lust…
So, anyway, that tells you right there that this event is better than 20 years old, so it’s been around for a while…
And, since we are on the nostalgia portion of this missive, the above description is pretty much what you saw back then. Maybe… And I do mean maybe… you saw a few (very few) folks in traditional kimonos and the like, and they were most definitely in the employ of the Garden. But generally, it was just folks walking around enjoying the flowers and ambience. (BTW – The picture on the right is from this recent trip. I was much prettier when I was younger. E K, of course, was smoking hot when she was younger, and is now so smoking hot as to burn out the elements in the digital camera’s CCD because she just keeps getting prettier and prettier every single day…)
Several years have passed – obviously – and while I have attended the festival on a variety of occasions since the days of Evil Redhead Courtship, 2009 was the first time in several years since I’ve actually NOT been on tour during the fest. So, we went. E K, the O-spring, and yours truly…
My how times have changed…
Before we ever made it into MoBot proper, I was confronted by 37 twenty-something girls in Sailor Moon outfits. At first I thought they were an actual group of Japanese school children visiting as a part of the cultural aspect of the fest. However, upon closer inspection – not, you know, really close inspection… I’m NOT that kind of a perv ya’know – it became apparent that I was actually dealing with a whole raft of Caucasian, midwestern, late-teen to early-twenty-somethings in schoolgirl costumes and wigs.
Okay… Fair enough. Anime is kind of a big thing, so I figured they were hired to be some manner of hostesses or something. Although, I have to admit, the blue, lemon yellow, and magenta hair scared me a bit.
But then I ended up in line behind them as they bought tickets. So… Obviously they didn’t work there. They were just… Well… fond of dressing up like cartoon schoolgirls I guess…
Then I turned around… Coming at me, flanked by a Sailor Moon knockoff and a Goth Lolita, was a Dalek. Now, some of you may not know what a Dalek is. Well, by way of explanation, it’s an evil robot from a British Sci-Fi TV show called Doctor Who. It basically looks like a giant salt shaker on wheels carrying a plunger, but it’s definitely not out to unplug your toilet. It pretty much runs around screaming in a mechanical voice, “EXTERMINATE! EXTERMINATE!”
Think low budget, salt shaker shaped terminators.
So, anyway, I kind of understood the anime thing, but now I was truly confused. What was a robot from a British SF series doing at the Japanese Festival.
I took out my cell phone and texted my good friend Anastasia – “I’m surrounded by Sailor Moons, Samurai’s with Superman Capes and Playboy Bunny ears, and Lolitas”
A moment later she texted back. “Bring me one home with you.”
That’s Anastasia for you. Always with the unexpected comebacks.
I texted her again. “There’s a Dalek too.”
I waited. Before long my phone chimed, gave a little shimmy, and I looked at the screen. “A Dalek? WTF?”
Those were my sentiments exactly.
We continued around the garden, enjoying the scenery – and I mean the flora and fauna type scenery here – as we attempted to escape the Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Anime convention that had crashed into the festival.
Around the corner we went and I ran smack dab into one of those Oxymoron’s from that commercial – An Asian Scottish Schoolgirl in a corset, tartan mini-kilt-skirt thing, knee socks, heels, a cape, dog ears on a headband, and she was carrying a wooden sword.
She rolled her eyes.
I went the opposite direction as fast as I could.
Eventually we made the circuit. The O-spring went inside the children’s activities area with E K so she could do some arts and crafts. She’s all about that kind of stuff. Me, I sat outside, drank my water, and watched an ice sculpture melting in the bright sun while John Belushi clones tried to do the old Samurai Night Fever routine from SNL (Back when SNL was worth watching.) Some incredibly orange hair walked by and I averted my eyes before being blinded.
I pulled out my phone and texted Anastasia again. I mean, after all, she was at a family BBQ so she had nothing better to do than text back and forth with me, correct?
I sent her, “Magenta, Blue, Yellow, and Orange hair. Scary.”
Seconds later my phone did the vibro-dance and the screen read, “You feel like you dropped a hit of acid without knowing it, don’t you?”
Yeah. I did. I began to wonder if E K had slipped something into my water and was now hiding around the corner laughing at me.
It wasn’t long before we made our way back to the front and it was time to leave. I sat in the shade for a moment, waiting while E K and the O-spring did a quick pass through the vendors in search of a parasol for the munchkin. As I sat watching, confident that nothing could top anything I’d seen so far today, a gorgeous young woman in a bright red, mini-tunic type dress, stiletto heels, and chopsticks protruding from her hair sauntered by, looking every bit like the kind of Asian hookers you see portrayed in bad movies.
But, that wasn’t the one that made my eyes roll back in my head…
Just before E K and the O-spring returned, the crown jewel of the strangeness walked by. Unfortunately I was so stunned I didn’t snap a picture, but I did manage to hack out a text to Anastasia as soon as my retinas settled down…
“Just walked by: Camouflage shorts, red high heels, bright yellow legwarmers, black tank top, fluorescent blue hair, and a huge raccoon tail hanging off her ass. WTF?” I typed.
Her return text was a simple, rhetorical question. “This is going to be a blog, isn’t it? ”
Next year I think I’ll forgo MoBot and throw my own Japanese Festival. There’s a great little Sushi Bar about 5 miles from my house. If you’re looking for me, that’s where I’ll be. Just do me a favor and leave your cape and Fluorescent Crayola hair at home. I’d like to enjoy my sushi without burning out my retinas again…
More to come…