Sunday, July 24, 2011

Post-holiday Slump, No Berries (Robot Parades, Astounding Top Skills, Cake)

The last day of Art Fair I refrained from wandering. On Saturdays, I usually volunteer for a couple hours at Liberty St. Robot Supply & Repair; and this Saturday I had taken on 11-4. Working in the store during Art Fair is as close as it gets to *feeling* like one is back in retail.'re volunteering in A STORE, right? Well, true. But it's dual purpose: we serve the robot needs of the MidWest AND we defray the costs for 826 Michigan's literacy programs.

So, I feel like my primary role there is of an organization evangelist, who happens to occasionally ring up merchandise. Not everyone wants to hear it. Some people concertedly avoid eye contact. Others start nodding prematurely, as if this will somehow alter time a bit and shorten your exchange. But there are always enough whose excitement blooms across their faces, who ask follow up questions, who either wish to volunteer or sign up kids for workshops.

And then there are people who are delightfully off-kilter, with whom you can volley jokes and bits of randomness. And then, of course, there are people for whom the ties to sanity are just a bit too tenuous. Be careful. Retreat from friendliness. Do not convey that you are withholding gleaming robotic secrets, or can understand what the neighborhood birds are talking about.

During Art Fair, you need to keep in mind that this may be a one-shot deal to connect person A with 826 National. There are opportunities here! And true, a couple individuals did donate money to us after we had talked for a bit yesterday. But on the whole? It seems to me that the out-of-town browsers are a lot less inclined to listen. Lots of fanny packs (still! really!), trudging combined with grimly set faces; the kids tend to be a little more wacked out, due to the combination of too much heat + people+ head-sized funnel cake+hours of wandering; and more people who don't answer you when you say hi. For this last part -- folks, I'm from the East Coast, I didn't grow up talking to people at bus stops, or in grocery lines, etc. But here? I just said,"Hello!" An easy and polite reply is this:"Hi."

So, I guess what I'm saying is that it was little bit of a slog-through. Kind of like this post: sorry Reader. Perhaps it's time for


The simple solution is often the best solution! The white-wheat flour is mildly odd, but the buttermilk saves it. and the chocolate chips are a nice boost. More coffee: okay.

So, bright spots in the shift:

A family entered, all dressed in tie dyed shirts. Three (or four) younger boys, a solemn girl with glasses, and stolid, solid parental figures. Baseball caps abounded. The oldest boy was desperate for his younger siblings' audience. Over and over, he tried to organize their behavior into a little sibling team, with him naturally at the head.

He stood at the wind-up toy table, which they all had access to: "Okay!! WHO wants to see this monkey FLIP?? Who? Do you want to see him flip?"

His hands were cupped loosely around the monkey, so no one else could touch. The younger tie dyes leaned against the table rim.

"Are you READY?? Because he's going to FLIP!" The tie dyes were paused, but somewhat listless. In the manner of a freaky child preacher, Eldest thrust a pointed hand at the monkey moments before the flip. The monkey flipped, but also fell over, due to his oversized price tag. The tie dyes began to filter away.

Eldest: "I have been here SEVERAL TIMES before!" This was also repeated several times, during their stay. Was he really the eldest? Had some older children refused the tie dye or shunned the fair? His need for attention certainly spoke to being a middle child. We shall never know, most likely.

Within the next five minutes, he called out, "Hey! Let's have a ROBOT PARADE!!" This call to organize was much more successful. The parade was also conducted at the windup testing table, with each sibling clutching a robot windup and singing a song.

The song, in almost-piercing (but really, nice) pipsqueak voices, went like this:


at some point this mysteriously morphed into

Popcorn! POP! CORN! We can eat it OURSELVES! 
POPCORN! All by ourselves!
  Which, honestly could morph into

Chocolate Cake! Chocolate Caaaaaaake! 
For breakfast!

Here, because that never goes out of style.

Back in the store, a polished and sculpted family quietly entered. They were all beautiful and reserved; were dressed demurely and expensively. The girl child was tall, maybe 8 years old? with delicate features. She trailed the room and lightly tapped her index finger on the tops of boxes. She arrived at the testing table and set one of the many tops to spinning.

Within the group, one woman cooed to another, with a note of awe in her voice: "She's so ...intuitive!!!" I almost shot a disbelieving look their way, but thankfully did not. The second woman murmured back in sage agreement. They were impressed by her spinning a top? Had she been sequestered from tops up until now? Did they house her in a tower that shunned quotidian playthings? To be fair, I had not interacted with her much. Maybe she had deficits that did not easily come across. Or maybe they had set the bar sadly low for this one, and they would be always issuing gross praise over nothings; and she would be resentful and bored. Or maybe I was sick of being at the counter. Very odd.

Well, Art Fair may be over, but I collected scads of cards and took a bunch of photos, so in case people are curious to check some other folks out online, I'm going to post about more artists in the coming week. With the hope of more photos, less blather! Happy Sunday. Soon, am off to pull some new prints...


  1. ".. Which, honestly could morph into

    Chocolate Cake! Chocolate Caaaaaaake!
    For breakfast!"

    Reminiscent of Bill Cosby's "Dad is great... he brings us chocolate cake " (for breakfast)

    Good stuff: "Or maybe they had set the bar sadly low for this one, and they would be always issuing gross praise over nothings; and she would be resentful and bored. Or maybe I was sick of being at the counter."

  2. I almost included a link to the Cosby skit! I always think of that whenever I have chocolate cake for breakfast.

    Thanks, Stone Bridge!