Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Trip to Austin, Texas. Pt. 3

Yawn. Two hours isn't much of a time difference, but being two hours closer to the Prime Meridian means that when Mrs Elliott got up at 7am this morning so she could get over to the Hilton in time for the freebie breakfast, it was 5am by our bio-clocks.

I know there's no reason why I need to get up when she does, but it just seems piggish to slumber when she can't. Early mornings are not easy for her, not so bad for me. So I arise out of sympathy.

Fortunately, the nice funky little coffeehouse I found yesterday is open early and makes fine espresso, so I got out of the dreary little hotel room with little delay.

They must soften the water hereabouts. Soap doesn't rinse off my skin, it stays slippery. I reckon I was about 13 when Mom and Dad drove my two brothers and me across the desert from Santa Barbara to visit Grandma and Grandpa in Fairland, Oklahoma. That was my first experience with soft water and its effect on soap. I guess it makes sense that Austin would have the same situation vis a vis water. It was also my first experience with the misery of a long, hot drive across the desert crammed between two brothers in the back of a car without air-conditioning. I hated it.

When my kids were old enough I made sure to take them on long mid-summer drives across the desert with no air-conditioning, too. What's the fun of having kids if you can't plant memories like that in their heads?

My reader may be thinking at this point, "Is he going anywhere with this story?" The answer is no. No, I am not. It's still early, okay? I'm still waking up, the part of my mighty brain responsible for the compelling narratives I've recorded on these pages seems to be concerning itself mainly with this hangnail I've got right here (holds finger up to the screen) -- see?

Last night, Mrs Elliott and I took the 1M bus across the river to South Congress street. What river? Lemme open up Google Earth and find out . . . well, I'll be hornswoggled: it's not a river at all, but Lady Bird Lake. Longest, skinniest damn lake I've ever seen! Named after President Johnson's wife. I believe that Mrs. Johnson led an effort to take down billboards and thereby beautify America. I don't think that Clear Channel let that idea stand in the courts. She wasn't counting on commerce being so much more powerful than beauty. Billboards are still the eyesores they were she and her husband's big ol' droopy ears were in the White House.

Anyway, as I was saying, we went across the lake to S. Congress because we were told there was a greater variety of restaurants than downtown. Downtown's fare is limited to Tex-Mex, pizza by the slice, and pub fare. When I say "limited" I mean that Mrs Elliott, who seeks healthful food, finds little to commend itself downtown.

S. Congress is a different scene. It reminds me of SoCal beach towns, the touristy parts. Here we found outdoor patio dining, fish taco stands, Italian restaurants, antique stores, and, of course, tex-mex and pub fare. It's dustier but cheerier overall than downtown. Fewer splashes of dried vomit on the sidewalk. There is a beer garden (I suppose you could call it, as long as you broaden the concept to mean a tree-shaded patio with a small booth selling tacos and Corona beer, and if your definition of beer garden is sufficiently open-minded to include music provided by three pre- and peripubescent boys playing cheesy mid-'60's music on guitar, drums, and a Farfisa organ); across the street there is an open lot peppered with little tents where one can sample fish tacos, Corona beers, and get a tattoo if one has a hankering. A number of small Airstream trailers replete with clotheslines clustering on one corner gives the place a nice middle-class trailer-park touch.

After a perfectly-acceptable meal (salmon for Mrs Elliott, portabella tacos for me) I was towed back to the Hilton for the evening's entertainment. Several production companies responsible for providing musical shows for television had rented hospitality suites and trucked in their respective artists to put on shows for the gathered broadcast representatives there

This wasn't my music.

We were given performances by fresh-faced -- adorable! -- young boys from Ireland ("Celtic Thunder," their CD has only one traditional song that might have Irish origin, the rest being karaoke fare of the corniest sort including "Bad Bad Leroy Brown," a song I have despised since my days of playing clubs). They sang with great enthusiasm.

There was a quartet of three men and a woman -- troops from Afghan or Iraq -- who sang patriotic songs with great enthusiasm. I'm told they are very popular, so I know from nothing, I am a curmudgeon, a traitor.

Anyway, in another room was another four man singing group (singers are big, musicians not so big with this crowd) doing, uh, let me see that CD . . . "Songs of Delight," it says. Right. Some Canadian Tenors might have been roped in to give a show, too. Just in case there weren't enough fresh-faced singing groups.

And performing on piano was a mere lad, a child prodigy of seven -- adorable! -- and possibly singing, too, I didn't see the boy. I expect he performed with great enthusiasm and was just as cute as cute can be.

Which is more cute than Jack can take. Such sweetness, I felt cavities developing in my teeth just watching these enthusiastic kids.

Mrs Elliott tolerated my eye-rolling and grousing as long as she could, then removed us back to our hotel. I don't know why she doesn't smother me in my sleep, I honestly don't.

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