Monday, April 17, 2006

Deep in the Heart of Texas

I'm coming to you wireless from the coffee shop at Book People in beautiful downtown Austin, Texas where it's hot as blazes already in April but also where even the grocery store is groovy. I know this because I just spent an hour at the grocery store and, honestly, I didn't want to leave. You just can't say that about Kroger. I bought perfume there called "Wet Garden" that smells for all the world like wet flowers. "Whole Foods", an Austin original, is one of Satan's and, I must now admit, my favorite places to hang out in these parts. There's a pizza bar, a cheese bar, a sushi bar, a raw food bar, cosmetics, clothes, and that's just for starters. Everything, it seems, is organic.

As I was checking out with my "wet flower" purchase, I responded to (what I thought was) the cashier's perfunctory "How are you?" with a, "Fine, how are you?" to which he paused and responded, "Tense." Heavily tattooed (like many people around here) and looking a bit like "flea" of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, he wasn't exactly the picture of stress. Still, I went ahead and asked him what the problem was, and he told me he has a "big job interview" scheduled for tomorrow.

As the other hapless patrons waited patiently in line behind me, "Flea" chatted about how important the job would be to him, etc. I suggested he be sure to write a follow-up letter and make certain, for god's sake, to spell the person's name correctly when he did. Looking grateful he--still unhurriedly--told me that was a piece of advice he hadn't received from anyone else and that he'd be sure and do that. And all that is to say that people are just mighty groovy around here.

Meanwhile, here at the Book People coffee shop, to my right is an emaciated older man reading a magazine article about Chicken Carbonara, straight ahead, a pretty, but self-conscious Japanese girl studies her open laptop (probably a UT Austin student), and to my left, an extremely tall, thin cowboy with a stetson and a gray soul patch writes in his journal. In the great tradition of what always happens when I come to Austin, Jane Fonda will be here THE DAY AFTER I LEAVE to sign her new book, "My Life so Far". Oy Vey. Last time, I just missed Daniel Quinn.

Still, I am having a wonderful vacation, I must say. Satan is behaving himself very well and seems to have depressurized from "work" to "vacation" mode with a minimum of fuss (surprisingly). We just spent the weekend with his family in San Antonio where I even managed to survive a maximum security family reunion. And by this I mean it was held in a fenced park with a security gate. When we arrived there and had to be admitted, I intoned, "Where family members check in, but they don't check out."

Happily, my apprehension was for naught, and Satan's extended (and close)family members turned out to be surprisingly normal. Nice and pleasant, even. I have wonderful pictures, which I've even managed to download, thanks to Satan, from camera to this here laptop. Posting them to the blog is something he assures me we'll be able to accomplish before it's over. [Note to Dad: Main course at the cook-out: BRISKET. It was tender and delicious, no kidding]

I had lunch today on the very stage where Janis Joplin got her start. No kidding. "Threadgill's", another Austin tradition, began life as a filling station back in the fifties that slung a little hash out back. Fifty years later, with Janis and, arguably, the best chicken fried steak in Texas to it's credit, is a "must-do" when we're in town.

As we drive around in our big, Buick LaCrosse rental, Satan and I sing:

Oh, the stars at night,

Are big and bright

Deep in the heart of Texas!

Because that's what you have to sing that when you're down here. It's the law.

(Back soon with pictures, I hope.)


WorriedinPaducah said...

Did Flea realize he had a shrm-certified trained professional giving him free advise? You absolutely must return to inquire if he got the job. If there is a return to whole foods bring home sea salt and grape seed oil. Remember Deep in the Heart of Texas bar-b-que does not ever under any circumstance involve pork, hot sauce is really salsa and those large beasts with huge horns are not cows. Their owners are offended if you indicate they are cows with horns.

Suz said...

"Worried in Paducah"--ha! Thanks for the heads up!!