Hi! It's R. Eric Thomas. From the internet?
Yesterday, I went down to Baltimore to sit on a panel and, as I was coming from the train station to the museum where the panel was being held, I passed an outdoor event called The Big Dill, which is billed as the "world's largest pickle party." (These are not euphemisms I'm using here and how dare you accuse me of such!) According to the website, it's an outdoor festival dedicated to different kinds of pickles, foods made with pickles (pickle donuts, pickle ice cream), drinks that use pickle juice, and entertainment like a brine chug challenge and a pickle eating contest. Okay.
The event was at Power Plant Live, a huge block of nightclubs and bars in downtown Baltimore. Power Plant Live is also where, years ago, I had my first serving job at the Baltimore Improv comedy club. It's adjacent to a lot where I worked for a summer as a tour guide in a tethered balloon ride. The balloon company didn't give me any training or guidance on my tour guide duties so I just told people facts and anecdotes that I'd heard from my mother. Folks paid about $20 for this experience, which is a bargain. My mother knows a lot of stuff! After I left the balloon, the carnival barkers who ran it kind of let it go to disrepair and once, during a windy day, the balloon crashed into the police headquarters (which is next door to the balloon, sandwiched between a tower where they made musket shot during the Revolutionary War and a present day strip club). I don't think anyone was hurt on that balloon ride but they did decide that sending people 200 feet in the air in a metal cage to be monologued at by a college student who was in the middle of a life crisis was maybe not a great business plan. Ah, tourism!
Anyway, the pickles! This place was packed, which is incomprehensible to me as a non-pickle person. Don't yell at me about this! I appreciate the pickle as a form. I eat plenty of pickle-y stuff. I relish a relish. But in general I don't like pickles. And all of you pickle lovers need people like me because when we go out to lunch at a diner and I get a reuben and it comes with a pickle, who's giving you that pickle? Me! My sacrifice! My generosity! My tax write-off! The pickle-fan/non-pickle-person symbiotic relationship is the bedrock of our society.
People were pouring in. They seemed very excited to spend their whole afternoons with vaguely salty breath. You know what? God bless! I support! I'm a pickle ally!
Look at these people! These people are in Pickle Heaven.
What I thought was odd (besides the very fact of a pickle festival to begin with) was that the entrance had 5 full body metal detectors and a phalanx of security guards in black pants and black shirts that read "SECURITY" across the back. We're talking 10 guards at the least, all crowded around the entrance, arms folded, talking into ear pieces. What was the reason? Was the pickle president coming?
I can't get over how much protection the pickle party had! I mean, look, I know we are living in Times and so you never know what may occur, but this seemed extreme to me. You had to get through customs just to eat a fried gherkin! Had they received a threat from the CucumberBum, the supervillain arch nemesis of the pickle party? Were they afraid someone was going to take up a life of brine? Steal all of their bread and butter? Start a cornishonzi scheme?
I had to continue on my way to get to my panel, but I've spent days thinking about how these people weren't just on guard, they were on vineguard. (IT DOESN'T WORK BUT I REFUSE TO ACKNOWLEDGE THAT. SEND ME TO PICKLE JAIL!).
On Previously On...
A Nora Ephron-tinged fall to you and yours
Let's hang out!
Upcoming events and pickle crises
October 15th - Speaking at the Evolving Faith Conference in Atlanta (to be broadcast online)
October 20th - Having lunch with my friend Philip Ellis, whose book Love and Other Scams is available for preorder! (This is a private event, but I thought you should know)
Random thing on the internet
Was the pickle president coming?,