This is a Mountain Cookie.
Don’t be scared. Actually, no, be scared. Be awed. Be amazed at this cookie for many reasons (it’s the size of my hands clasped together, all the stuff in it, etc.), but mostly be amazed at its deliciousness. I should apologize to my non-St. Louis friends, as none of them can get the Mountain Cookie. This Mountain Cookie is sold only at Soulard Bakery in the Soulard Farmer’s Market. I have no idea when the bakery is open but I only go on Saturday mornings. If I had one of these every day, I’d die of excitement.
The Mountain Cookie is what Graham asks me to get for him every time I go to the market. He doesn’t get off work until around 2am, and I learned from experience that I’d rather go alone that go with a slow-moving, still asleep Graham. I can walk aimlessly around a regular grocery store, but at the market, I’m like a produce-seeking missile. I know what I need, I know who the good vendors are, and I don’t have time for you to think about it or stop in the middle of things to wonder if you should go back to where you came from.
Graham doesn’t stop in the middle of things; that’s a specialty of tourists and the people who go with no agenda, oblivious to those of us who are actually there to get our groceries. These are the people who gawk at blood oranges but refuse to try them, who buy only the “safe” meat from the butcher cases (granted, the bacon and sage sausage are good, but today I bought oxtails! No idea how to make them yet but I highly recommend buying them from the woman who hates – and rightfully so – when people come back and complain to her about rind on bacon, like, bitches, she told you what you were buying!).
The tourists also avoid the homeless vets who panhandle at the market, going so far as to cross the street nearly half a block away because one of them stands at the crosswalk (and presses the button for you, which they’d never know because they’re assholes). I’m usually skeptical of Regular Bums. I mean, if you can show up at the same spot every day for roughly the same amount of time and interact with the public, what’s stopping you from being employed? But really, that’s only the runaway white kid bums, and that one guy near my house who’s a fucking asshole all the time. In real life, a lot is stopping some of these people from being employed, and it’s none of my business what but I imagine that some of their reasons are things I cannot begin to wrap my head around.
Joe* is at Soulard Market every Saturday. He’s always standing on the east side of Broadway (or 7th, depends on how long you’ve lived here) at the main crosswalk going to the north end of the market. He has a “Homeless Vet” sign around his neck with his military ID card in a plastic sleeve and he carries a Styrofoam cup for change. He likes my tattoos (when they’re showing) and calls me “Sweetie.” Like I said, he’ll press the crosswalk button for you and watch out for traffic you might not see, and he’ll always ask you how your day is going and get surprised when you reciprocate.
This morning, I said good morning and asked him how he was doing.
“A little cold,” he said.
“Little bit,” I said, “but remember, it’s gonna get colder.”
“Oh, I know it. This morning, though, I did not want to get out of that sleeping bag.”
I mean, oh my god. Sleeping bag. How are these people at the market just ignoring this? How are they tossing dollar bills into the musicians’ buckets (nothing wrong with that, but these dudes can afford saxophones and banjos and Joe can’t) and avoiding the homeless guy at the crosswalk? What are these people teaching their kids, the same ones who trail along like idiot bombs of reckless movement, these kids who are conditioned to ignore those less fortunate than them? Okay, family, let’s trundle over to the farmer’s market in our expensive shoes and warm fleece and refuse to buy anything we don’t recognize as shrink-wrapped at Wal-Mart and DON’T GO NEAR THE HOMELESS MAN BECAUSE HE’S BAD.
Guhhhhhhhhh. People are such dicks. Seriously, five dollars? Like you’re going to miss five dollars. You were probably going to buy some chai peppermint pumpkin abomination from Starbucks with it, and that’s hardly as necessary to you as the money would be to someone like Joe. You may have made better choices in life than he did, or maybe your luck was better, but nevertheless, he’s still a person and it’s getting cold out.
*Joe is not his real name. I was going to use his real name but then felt weird about it, so if you want to say hello, go to the market and meet him yourself. Bring money.