Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Surprising Septuagenarians in the South West (or "Eating Like An Asshole Week: Day 2")

Our game plan was to leave Borderland on the day before Dad's birthday, stay the night in Charlotte, and then fly out the following morning for Austin. Dad wasn't scheduled to arrive there until the day after his birthday, so we'd have a full day of hanging out with the sister and eating glorious, fantastic Austin food. And that we did. We even managed to keep our yaps shut when Dad called the sister that afternoon, no doubt snooping to see if he could hear us in the background. We made not a peep. And I phoned him later on to wish him a happy birthday, but waited until I knew he was at his F-8 pilot reunion, so we'd show up on his phone as having called without having to say anything untruthful about our whereabouts.

Our next item on the agenda was to crap on Dad's expectation that we were indeed in Austin to give us at least a small surprise buffer for all our sneaky planning effort. It wouldn't do for the sister to pick the `rents up from the airport and bring them back to her place to find us waiting there. It would be much better for there to be no evidence of our presence at all and for us to be elsewhere entirely. She could let them relax around her place for a good couple of hours, then take them out to dinner that night, where they would find us waiting at the restaurant. Not having a car, and not being willing to rent one to pull off that gag, we'd toyed with the idea of simply whiling the time away at the shopping center near our chosen restaurant, the Cheesecake Factory. Something about this plan seemed frought with potential to go awry, though. It would be just like Dad to suddenly develop an aversion to cheesecake or a stomach concern that would not allow for the consumption of tasty food. We'd have to reveal the "surprise" and then the joke would be on us.

Instead, the wife and I decided to go swimming in her apartment's pool, figuring we could work off some of our Kerbey Lane brunch and while away a couple hours. The sister could pick them up, bring them back, lull them into a false sense of our nonpresence for a while (our luggage well hidden) and then offer to take them on a tour of the complex that would end at the pool, where we would be waiting.

The plan worked like a charm, though the ultimate execution was not without some flaws. The biggest of these came from my love of swimming underwater and my lack of swimming goggles. I know that doing this will usually result in some hazy vision due to the chlorine, but mine started going hazy within half an hour of being in the water. And by the time we got out to lounge and read while we waited, it was pretty hazy indeed.

After an hour and a half, I got a text from my sister that they were headed our way for the "tour" so the wife and I got back in the water and hid behind the lip of the pool until we heard them approach some minutes later. Then we popped up from the water and surprised Dad but good. We later were able to get him to admit that he suspected we would be there, but that he'd had second thoughts when we weren't waiting at the apartment.

On the way to dinner, my vision seemed to be getting worse. Usually chlorine haze begins to fade after an hour or two, but mine was increasing to the point that I could barely see due to the haze halos I saw around streetlights. (Fortunately I was not driving.) This didn't stop me from having a fantastic meal at the Cheesecake Factory, of course. I'd never been to one before, though I have eaten cheesecake from there. The food can be pricy, depending on what you order, but is of great quality and satisfying quantity. After all, there's little I hate more than paying a lot of money for an entree and getting two French fries with it. Glad to report that my Fish & Chips had q&q in both the fish and chip departments, and the proportions of everyone else's meals seemed as good.

Before our dessert arrived, I left the table to track down our waiter to let him know that when it came time to bring the bill it was to be given only to me. There were two other men at the table, both known for politely swiping the bill and I wasn't taking any chances on them doing it. Not long after I returned to the table, the waiter brought out our cheesecakes and my dad's had whipped cream and a candle. The wait staff did the traditional Happy Birthday and we dug in. I immediately asked the wife and the sister if they'd told the waiter about the birthday, because I hadn't mentioned it. They'd assumed I had. Now, we must have mentioned it aloud at some point during the meal for the waiter to have overheard it but it was an impressive pull all the same.

When it came time for the bill, the waiter brought it to me as ordered. I took a look at it and realized I couldn't see the numbers very well. It was very dim in the Cheesecake Factory and that combined with my still worsening vision made the figure difficult to see without getting comically close to the bill. I didn't want to pass it to anyone else for confirmation, so I finally squinted until I was pretty sure I had it.

The fact that my vision wasn't getting any better disturbed me. The wife suggested that the extra-chlorinated pool might have stripped away some of the essential oils from my eyes, causing them to dry out in the air and not function properly. My dad suggested I smear some Vaseline in them, and in a pinch I might have, but the wife pointed out it wasn't sterile. Instead we popped by Wally World and picked up some medicated ointment, which felt soothing pretty quickly and had reestablished my vision by the time I briefly woke around 2 a.m.


Breakfast: Casa Maria's Migas platter with extra thick home-baked tortillas. Holy crap this was an amazing meal and the best tortillas I've had stateside. We ordered extra just to sit and inhale their heavenly aroma.

Lunch: Quick light lunch of pastries we bought at Casa Maria's bakery.

Dinner: Cheesecake Factory fish & chips platter, Adam's Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake

Beer Journal Day Two: Blue Moon from Cheesecake Factory, with a slice of lemon, chosen because a friend of the sister's told me to always bet on Belgian when it came to beer. He was right. Delish. Bought a six-pack of it later.

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