I may be a proud resident (and customer!) of St. Louis City, but a part of me is amused weekly by Bob Rybarczyk's Suburban Fringe column. This week's column, West County's Great, As Long As You Don't Like Food, reads like a hilarious dispatch from the hell I've avoided (gladly, considering the rent) for all my years in St. Louis.
It's not just the rent that deters me from the county. It's the stultifying sameness of everything planted like daises alongside the interstate. There aren't any independent restaurants. No business that doesn't have a professionally-designed Web site. Unlike the proprietors of my favorite neighborhood pho joint or burrito takeout, no server at Applebee's could ever be expected to recognize my face and say hello without fear of a reprimand from the district office.
I get Mr. Rybarczyk (oh, hell, he seems like the kind of guy who would insist on Bob) when he complains about gas prices and the hourlong round trip drive for a meal made with integrity. I wouldn't fault him for being apprehensive about $3.09 a gallon for a decent plate of food. I may never be willing to submit to the suburbs, but in a show of appreciative solidarity, I'll gladly buy Bob a beer if I ever see him in my neighborhood.