Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Surprising Septuagenarians in the South West (or "Eating Like An Asshole Week: Day 6")

The following morning was a bit hectic. My sister's car had been having trouble for a couple of days and had symptoms of a bad battery. We'd had to jump the car off after returning from Artz the night before and it only grudgingly started again afterward. So this was of great concern to the parents when they phoned at 8:30 in the morning, because they were afraid they might have to give us a ride to a battery place and they didn't have a lot of time on their hands--at least, according to them.

See, on their way to Austin from Dallas, days before, they'd very nearly missed their plane. They said they'd left their hotel in plenty of time, but with a side trip or so and rental car return they'd arrived for check-in so late that they were advised by the airline agent not to take the time to check their bag or they'd miss the flight for sure. They arrived at their gate in the nick of time, and were told that they should have missed the flight as the plane was past time for shutting its doors. (I have a theory as to why that was the case, which we'll get to in another entry.) The previous night, after helping us jump the sister's car, dad had announced they would be turning in early so they could arise in time to get to the airport early in order to avoid a repeat. It was heavily implied that if we wanted to eat breakfast with them or get a potential life to a battery place, we'd need to arise early too.

Eight thirty may not seem very early, but for those of us who stayed up til all hours drinking White Russians, not to mention those of us needing to sleep off our food benders, it was. Now, the previous evening, while drinking the White Russians, my sister and I had already determined what the parents would want for breakfast, there in the capital city for not only Texas but also of the very concept of Amazing Breakfast itself: yep, McDonalds.

And, surprise surprise, when dad called at 8:30, he said that in order to help facilitate their rapid escape to the airport in plenty of time, he was suggesting we all stop off at McDonalds. Now, my family has a long and storied history of loving McDonalds and, these days, the parents eat there nearly every morning. But there was no way in hell we kids were settling for Mickey Greeze when there were ginger-bread pancakes to be found elsewhere. Still, we agreed to accompany them there in order to spend time with them before they had to leave--which was actually the other thing we were amused by. Despite the fact that my sister lives ten minutes from the Austin airport, and despite the fact that there are plenty of great breakfast places in the neighborhood, the parents wanted to scarf down their McMuffins and be at the airport by 10 a.m. so they could get to the airport in plenty of time for their 11:30 flight.

We had to jump off the sister's car in order to get to McDonalds, and again after breakfast in order to get to Auto Zone, but we saw the parents off by 10 and got a new battery installed shortly with no real problem. Then, as the parents were no doubt settling into their seats at the gate for a nice long 90 minute wait, we settled into a booth at Kerbey Lane for heaping breakfast tacos and pancakes. Our waiter seemed just a little bit annoyed by something. We couldn't tell if it was us or any of the five other tables he was responsible for, but he didn't have a lot of the standard customer service beaming-attitude. (Kerbey Lane wait staff tends to be drawn from multiply-pierced and tattooed Indie Music scene day-job types.) It was kind of refreshing, really, as he seemed very much like a real person and not a plastic servant to our needs. And as a former waiter myself, he proved to be my hero in that department in how he dealt with a table full of granola neo-hippie types who were seated near us mid-way through our meal. From the moment they sat down, they began plying the waiter for what sort of food the place served without bothering to open their menus or even pause for him to take their drink orders. After about three such questions on pancake flavor options, or vegan content, all of which could have been answered far more efficiently by the document in front of them, the waiter said, "You know, you could just try looking at the menu." There was a pause as it seemed to dawn on them that they could indeed do that and that it wouldn't violate their free-spirited nature to do so, and gave him their drink orders. We couldn't help but laugh out loud.

By 5, we weren't hungry, but were starting to think about it. Especially since our dinner destination was going to be a bit of a drive. We were headed, as I might have mentioned before, to the Salt Lick.


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