For the first 13 years of my life I lived in New Orleans, Louisiana, where I enjoyed a childhood of Mardi Gras parades and my mother covering my eyes as she shuffled me past certain shops in the French Quarter. New Orleans is a lively community with amazing food and talented street performers. It’s a creative person’s paradise. When I was 13, a hurricane that you might remember (Katrina) made landfall and somehow I ended up in Austin, Texas, a place that is home to things like famous cross dressers named Leslie, giant natural public swimming pools, and an endless supply of live music. And then a few years ago I moved to concrete Dallas, and ever since, I’ve been thirsty for some culture. I’ve been told that I came to the wrong place, that Dallas is as vanilla as the Blue Bell ice cream we all had to do without. I say those people are wrong. I’ve met too many great people in this city to write it off so quickly as boring. In fact, I think it’s full of colorful things if you just know where to look.
So begins my quest to find the quirky in Dallas. Along the way, I’ll share with you some of the interesting and fun places and people in D-town.
First up: shopping.
My friend, Ali, and I took an afternoon off from our adult lives and decided to explore places in Dallas that we’d never been before. The first place we went is a vintage store called Dolly Python. When we opened the door, we were pleasantly surprised to find two dogs looking up at us. I can’t really think of anything more excellent than being greeted by a couple of pups before you shop.
How do I begin to explain this place? We've all had those days when you think to yourself, “I really need a pair of vintage cowboy boots, a new kids on the block sweater, and a some random doll parts… but I only have time to go to one store!”
OK, so maybe you haven’t experienced that exact dilemma, BUT if you ever do there is absolutely no reason to stress because Dolly Python’s got you covered.
Along with the vintage sweaters and admittedly creepy doll parts, there was also no shortage of vinyl records, taxidermy deer heads, giant plastic clown shoes (unfortunately a little big for me), vintage children’s toys, a mug that said “The Old Lady’s,” and a live bird (didn’t realize it was real until I got a little too close).
There was also a large bowl of old family photos, and Ali remarked that it would be so strange if you were to find a picture of your own family. She then picked up a completely average looking family photograph from around the 1930s and said, “This one is probably mine. I just feel like it is.”
This is why I like vintage stores. They’re like museums of stuff that nobody cares enough about to put in an actual museum. All these things that made up the everyday lives of real people are here now in a jumbled mess for me to sift through. It’s the closest we’ll probably ever come to time travel.
Next up, we made our way down to Deep Ellum to check out Rocket Fizz, a new candy store that opened up a few months ago. The second I walked in I decided there was a distinct possibility I was hallucinating. It was just that fun. You should definitely check it out if you want to take a slightly trippy afternoon stroll down memory lane or find some exotic candy from around the world.
My purchases? Some candy cigarettes (which I then “smoked” while walking down the street dressed in all black wondering if anyone was going to mistake me for a member of the Grease cast) and giant chewy sweat tarts (my regular purchase anytime I went to blockbuster to rent an Olsen twins movie circa 2001).
If I hadn’t been in the mood for candy that would have been fine as there seemed to be an endless array of options. Some of the things I found include ranch dressing-flavored soda (this is America, so no one should be surprised), a giant rubber horse head (good to have because you never know when you might need to go incognito), an emergency bow-tie (SO important to be prepared for when a black tie opportunity presents itself), and fake mustaches for boys AND girls (with clever, fun names such as “lip liner”).
So basically if you are avoiding adulthood and determined to cling to your fleeting youth then THIS IS THE PLACE FOR YOU.
To finish off our afternoon, we threw caution to the wind and ignored those articles circulating Facebook about the dangers of processed meat and indulged in a quick snack at Wild About Harry’s. The colorful custard and hot dog shop has been a Dallas staple since 1996. We each got a frozen treat (and I also had a Chicago-style hot dog) because if you’re going to clog your arteries, you might as well do it the right way, the Dallas way.
Hayley Waring is a level 5 improv student at the Dallas Comedy House training center. If the world was a perfect place she would spend her days writing poetry with Alexander Hamilton while sharing an ahi tuna tower.