John Heaton (jheaton) wrote,
John Heaton
jheaton

  • Music:

Answering a question I forgot I asked

So the other day I was looking back at old journal entries, trying to find something I'd written about Draco Malfoy around the time Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was released, and I ran across an Art on Sunday post in which I asked the following question:

several years ago I read a novel set in that city in which one of the characters used the phrase "stem people" to describe Yuppie couples who would bring fancy picnic dinners, complete with real stemware, to free concerts at Pioneer Courthouse Square. Two questions: has any real Portlander (I know I have at least one who reads my journal) ever heard this phrase used in real life? And does anyone recognize the book? I remember it was a YA novel, but I'll be dipped if I can remember the title or, for that matter, anything about it other than what I wrote in this very paragraph.

The one Portlander on my friends list at the time expressed doubt that "stem people" was something anyone in Portland had ever said. And no one seemed to recognize the book. But I realized as I read the post again that we are all now living in the future, which means I had access to a tool I hadn't had back in 2005: Google Books. I typed "stem people" into the search engine, and there it was:

In Pioneer Square, the audience sits up above the players. It's like a Greek theater.... Some of the Stem People were staring at him. Those are the people who bring picnics to concerts and wine or champagne or something, and they bring real glasses from their cupboards, one that have stems. They pay a lot of attention to their glasses not falling; they're very protective of the stems.

The book in question turned out to be The Mozart Season by Virginia Euwer Wolff. Mystery solved! Not that it's been keeping me up nights, but still.

Tags: halcyon days of yore, or, reading: books
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