Stumpy, Lumpy and Dumpy … But No Grumpy!

January17/ 2000

.. In the midst of a society hell-bent on the obliteration of all vestiges of civility, I recently rediscovered a pocket of pleasantness, courtesy, and general all-around “gee, isn’t this nice!”  Be warned this island of smiles and politeness is not populated by “pretty people” of the magazine cover variety.  BobLee shares his secret but you have to promise not to tell anyone.  If “they” find out about it “they” will ruin it too.

    Why don’t I go more often?  Why don’t I go every day or at least once a week, once a month?  Probably because its on the other side of town and “outta sight, outta mind”.  So I continue to visit the same hustle bustle impersonal impolite places everyone else does.  Meanwhile it just sits over there on the south side of Raleigh next to Dix Hill.  It being The North Carolina State Farmers Market.


    My special appreciation for The Farmers Market must be seen in the context that I HATE GROCERY STORES.  I would rather go to a nearsighted dentist for a tax audit than go to any grocery store with a list of 5 simple  “easy to find” items.  Krogers, Harris Teeter, Food Lion it doesn’t matter they all conspire against me … but not The Farmers Market.

    What delights me so is the mix of happy vendors and happy shoppers.  I’m not sure “shoppers” is a correct sobriquet for someone ambling along the broad aisles of The Farmers Market pavilions.  Lets call them fellow happy people enjoying a delightful respite from 21st century hurley burley.  

    “Grumpy people” aren’t allowed there … it’s a law!

    The first thing you notice is that everyone is relaxed both in countenance and couture.  There must be an unwritten rule that “nobody dresses up” or spends 30 minutes primping for a visit to The Farmers Market.  Women don’t worry about make-up and guys don’t worry about sucking their gut in.  The fashion level is one notch above “go get the morning paper at the end of the driveway”.  That total indifference to trying to make a statement by one’s appearance works at The Farmers Market.

    Yes, it bears a cosmetic semblance to that bar scene in Star Wars.  You will see every combination of human face and form (Stumpy, Lumpy & Dumpy) imaginable.  Jug ears, bulbous noses, cross eyes, bow legs, knobby knees, et al (and the men look funny too) but all of’em with smiles on their faces.  Give me a pavilion full of happy Farmers Market folks any day to a runway of vapid anorexic supermodels or puckered butt academic squirrels.

    You see all ranges of demographics although it does skew adult versus the packs of roaming mall rats you encounter elsewhere.  T-shirts and ballcaps cover all the local sports teams.  Don’t be fooled that the agricultural aspect of the place favors those of the Wolfpack persuasion.  To paraphrase His Airness … Tar Heels eat peaches and rutabegas too. You see lots of UNC blue (LOTS more since the recent national championship) and proportional representation of other schools.  Major farm equipment and supply firms have their wearable merchandise represented too.  

    The place just smells happy.  A summer Saturday morning under the shaded pavilions mixes the smell of seasonal produce with the flowers and plants and the jams, jellies, cakes, and various “samples” on display.

    At times it gets “crowded” but another unwritten rule is no one is in a hurry.  Who would want to leave such a place for the alternative “real world”?  If you have to wait a few minutes to get the vendors attention to ask what is “crackleberry preserves” or a “double dutch strawberry lemon surprise valentine cake” then you simply wait your turn.  “Waiting your turn” is another “lost art” still alive and kicking at The Farmers Market.  

    That the vendors are “real farmers” is cool.  That grandma in the sun bonnet and gingham dress in the Kornegay Farms stall is not from central casting … that really is Grandma Kornegay from Kenansville.  Conditioned to theme park wardrobed “associates” you might be shocked here.  That couple in the middle of that stack of watermelons actually grew those watermelons, loaded them on the truck earlier that morning and unloaded them and have a vested interest in selling them to you rather than trucking them back home.

    Are these “professional salespeople?  Damn right and no apologies necessary.  They lure you over with toothpicked samples and plastic spoons containing a taste of their wares.  They know the proof is in the tasting and they also know those other two dozen vendors in the pavilions ain’t rookies at this.  No one wants to return home with whatever they brung … a pocketful of dead presidents will do just fine instead.

    DO NOT confuse The Farmers Markets with a flea market or the State Fair midway.  Yes, there is some crossover among the rural-base community.  Much more civility at The Farmers Market.  “Fleas” skew a tad towards the Deliverance bunch.  Serial Killers R Us and Skinhead Militia have recruiting booths at Flea Markets. I’ll go to a flea market to get $10 sunglasses on sale for $2 or to look for an antique doorknob that Renovation would sell for $40 that a flea will sell for $15, but that’s about it.  And as for a State Fair Midway … that’s what you’d get if you yelled “Fire” in a crowded theater showing Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

    On your upcoming visit to The Farmers Market inspired by this column, watch for the new Cary residents.  This particular breed of loon is soooo predictable and stands out like John Stockton in an NBA shower room.  It’s that oh so lovable species known as “the relocated Yankee”.  They have been flocking to The Triangle in droves for going on 40 years now.  The “killer bees” never arrived but we got these arrogant jackasses instead.  The She-Yankee is the one wearing shorts, pantyhose and a Rehoboth Beach t-shirt.  Her mate has black socks and sandals and some vestige of either Yankee, Mets, or Red Sox gear.  They strut and elbow their way down the aisles making endlessly inane Mayberry references.  (That one is a going away present for my yankee pal Maureen D-W!)

    Yep, those “dumb farmers” from the sticks just fell off of their turnip truck, but will smilingly tack on a 20% “yankee jackass” tax anytime they hear the words Aunt Bea, Gomer, or Barney.

    On our recent Saturday morning excursion to The Farmers Market we made a side trip to our local Whole Foods grocery one of the several “organically grown free range” places.  Raleigh has two … Chapel Hill has 147 of’em.  I love the innovative and delightful selections these stores offer.  I don’t mind paying the premium price.  And I get tons of material for my BobLee ALIVE show.  The primary clientele in these places tend to be a bit “frisky”.

    Walking thru their parking lot several weeks ago I noticed a hybrid Hyundai with the bumpersticker “I Hate Bush, Rush, and Jesus”.  Couldn’t help thinking what a sheer delight that constipated sumbitch would be at a 4th of July picnic.  

    One of these day I swear I’m gonna get a buddy to follow me thru one of those groceries with a video camera and me carrying an AM radio and wearing a “Rush Is Right” t-shirt.  It’d be like flatulating in church where everybody backs off, looks at the flatulator and goes “ewwwwwww”.  To hell with’em.

    Make definite plans to visit The Farmers Market if you’re in the capital city or your local version.  Don’t dress up.  Just bring a smile and buy lots of really cool stuff that you can’t buy anywhere else.  Tell’em BobLee sent you.  I’ll get a free jar of artichoke pickles.

   Better hurry though … I hear Farmers Markets are on the ACLU’s hit list for 2006 … something about Government should not permit nice people to congregate without throwing F-bombs.


 Swagger’s Stumper

His Dad was Henry, his best friend was Joey 

and his “girl friend” was Margaret …

Who was he?


    “It’s not Heaven … it’s Iowa”.  This website has a very high % of Field of Dreams aficionados (and Lonesome Dove too!).  I already use FofD and Lonesome Dove as “are you worth my time” determinants.  I think I’ll add “are you a Farmers Market kinda person?” too.  Life’s way too short to waste time with the constipated puckered butts.

    Wednesday the BobLee ALIVE train pulls into Wilson for a 2nd time (actually 3rd time … Kiwanis – Rotary and now Kiwanis again) … Jo-Lee’s BBQ at noon … Good Eastern NC folks … hard to beat that most amiable variety of the human species.  Heck, might even see a few PDEWs while I’m on “the other side of I-95”.

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