In my continual quest to 1) get out of my house and 2) eat tasty things, I went to a local fest-type thing ... not a county fair, not a party, not a wine tasting thing, but sorta a combination of all of the above, but small rather than big and overwhelming like the Gilroy Garlic Festival. (ooh, I've just reminded myself of that festival's existence. I totally should go. Must look it up.)
It was a lovely day and I got to eat lots of Greek food and people watch. The lines were a bit more well-run this year but I was still in the food line for maybe 30 minutes. Last year I went with friends and we got into a conversation/altercation about flaming cheese. It is my assertion that, if flaming cheese is not in fact a staple food of Greece, it was sold to me as such at a big Greek restaurant outside of LA. The people in front of us in line were actual Greek-Americans and had never heard of such a silly thing. I should point out however that they were not dressed as thin voluptuous belly dancers, nor did they dance while lifting a table in their mouths, both of which happened so frequently at the Greek restaurant I visited that we were assured it was a mark of their complete authenticity. Or something like that. Anyway.
The lack of flaming cheese and belly dancers aside, I really love this annual event, especially since I have to drive quite a way to find a Greek restaurant otherwise. I had their "special plate," which had those grape-leaf-wrapped tasty rice things (dolmas ---sp?), spanikopita, and a roast chicken the size of a small horse. Mmm tasty. I walked around and looked at all the tchotchkies for sale and then drowsed on a bench until I was hungry enough again for dessert: baklava, sweet, decadent baklava.
(no, that picture's not mine! It would take me at least two meals to eat that much baklava!)
While I waited on the bench, two people with tiny dogs proceeded to sit on the far ends of my bench and have a conversation around my head. (If the dogs' leads had been any longer I would have been ground zero for a fight or at least a butt-sniffing contest.) I would have to lean forward, then back, like we were all playing dodgeball but were too lazy to get up and run. Then the guy with the itty-bitty poodle ran into someone he vaguely knew from the hiking club and they started chatting about hikes. The new woman kept drawing me into the conversation (which had that odd, awkward quality: "You know X hike?" "Yep, went up there two weeks ago." "...You been on Y hike?" "No, I don't think so..." ... long awkward pauses all around.). Being as I'm not really good at, or fond of, polite conversation with complete strangers, I looked very confused and did a lot of smiling and nodding. Eventually it came out that she thought we knew each other. No, no, we're just complete strangers sitting on a bench. I decided this was an opportune moment to get the baklava. This whole we're-so-friendly-we-talk-to-strangers thing throws me off. Like the elderly people who say hi and then proceed to chat me up as I take a walk. Theoretically I'm all for community over the soul-sucking separateness of suburbs and gated communities, but I don't know.
On the plus side (baklava!) the people-watching is so fun at these local community events because a lot of them look like real people, and not skinny bleached betanned beplucked and beBotoxed within an inch of their lives Stepfordians. (To be fair, although body construction is the number one hobby of Southern California, to be overtly plastic and fake is So. L.A. and makes a huge class statement in this town, where most people pride themselves on having "work done" on themselves that is very subtle and hard to distinguish.) It was nice to see people who were old, or visibly middle-aged, or fat, or homely, or were wearing their pants directly under their armpits, or had a t-shirt with appliques of animals and wildflowers on them. There were also a surprising number of people with physical and mental disabilities in the crowd; I think there are some special half-way houses around here. There were also a sprinkling of the aforementioned Goldie Hawn lookalikes, but they were suitably outnumbered by us normal looking types. And when you're watching some 90-year-old grandmother with her wig askew babbling delightedly at her infant grandchild while next to her a couple of college-age girls chatter in Korean, the Stepfordians don't seem all that cool or important. It takes special days like this 'cause a regular day out on the main drag can make you think this town has no pudgy people, or poor people, that it's not 40% Latino, and that I am singlehandedly the worst dressed person in the world. But like I said, on certain days you can look normal and feel totally the richer for it.
And, like I said: baklava. Kalinichta!