Arts & Culture

A Nice Jewish Boy Returns To New York #4

Our hero continues to be deep in the heart of Texas. Will he ever leave? Read More

By / August 11, 2011
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Day 7: Austin, TX.

I like Austin. More specifically, I like a girl that I met in Austin. She’s medium-sized and a real smart alec.

The couple I stayed with in LA told me I should hang out with this girl when I got to Austin so, as is my reflex, I asked if she would want to make out with me. With their “maybe” in my back pocket, when I finally meet her, I act both overly familiar and anxiously distant. I do an all right impression of an at-ease human male and we hit it off, or at least I think we do.

For strangers, we have a natural banter like when Anderson Cooper used to fill in on Live with Regis and Kelly. We joke lovingly about our perfectly coupled mutual friends and their grown-up apartment. The conversation eventually homes in on professional basketball, celebrity iconography, and Friday Night Lights.

Every single Texan I meet wants to talk about Friday Night Lights. I don’t think there is anything I hoped for more when I decided to spend such a great portion of my trip here. Regardless of the dissimilarity between their lives and those of the Taylors/Howards/Riggens, they share the same pride in calling Texas their home. I’m jealous.

Day 8: Austin & Lockhart

9:30 AM: She meets me at the new “best” BBQ place in town, despite no intention of eating and the weather being laughably awful. Hands down it’s the most uncomfortable day of the trip with a forecast of 105 with 98% humidity.

I compliment her eyebrows and instantly wish I hadn’t.  It feels too intimate.

11:30 AM: I have already eaten BBQ and she has already had an endearing panic attack. It is my idea to go for a walk to help digest both.

Staring triteness in the face, we literally run through a fountain. We are joined by one of those admirable couples that still manage to remain hipster despite having babies.

We leave and discuss meeting again at our friends’ wedding and falling in love forever and ever.

11:31 AM: “Well, I don’t believe in marriage, anyway.”

“That just makes me want to marry you harder,” I say jokingly, though it’s not a joke.

We laugh but those damn eyebrows of hers know the truth.

12:15: I determine there is a 70% chance she would be accepting of my advances. With mutual friends involved, this isn’t good enough, so I resign myself to an afternoon of frustration and not making out.

1:30 PM: After calling her anorexic for four hours she agrees to get a slice of pizza. While I’m anticipating her first pizza bite — confirming she didn’t have an actual eating disorder and that I’m not an asshole for claiming so—she grabs my face and kisses me.

We pause and retrace our steps. She nervously apologizes, “sorry, I just had to.”

I tthink this is the coolest thing that ever happened to me so I tell her, “That was the coolest thing that ever happened to me.” She shrinks back slightly so I try to save the moment, “No, it’s just that, I didn’t think we were allowed to kiss each other. Um, can we kiss each other more?” Somehow, that works.

2:30 PM: Stting in her convertible, the weather is unavoidable and we’re gross. I fear I’ll slip from the sweat on our faces and headbutt her in the boob.

The sweat is not from the heat of passion but the heat of Texas. Still, when my hand notices the perspiration on her back, I feel like one of Kerouac’s “wild ones.”  She apologizes but I tell her I like it, because I do. I’m like one of those free spirit people.

I think about the last girl I kissed. It was my last night in San Francisco and she was a friendly acquaintance. We too joked about the bad timing, and meeting again and getting married. There is a clichéd romanticism that comes from leaving town forever. I’m a soldier constantly going to war, proposing to all my high school sweethearts.

3:00 PM: I kiss her goodbye three times. It’s a bit awkward and a lot frustrating, but not sad. I consider staying but that’s not how journeys work. I have a date with a lot of BBQ.

4:00 PM: I arrive in Lockhart. It’s drenched in a rich smell of smoke—it must be a maddening town to be a fireman. This small city is the capitol of Texas BBQ and I intend to breathe it all in.

4:05 PM: Kreutz Market possesses the best BBQ I’ve ever had. It’s just brisket, salt and pepper, and smoke. No sauce, no forks—just meat. It’s a masterpiece of minimalist art—it should be displayed in Marfa. I spend my fifteen minutes there eating and looking for someone whom I can talk to about it.

4:35PM

The fourth BBQ restaurant of the day is Black’s. It’s the oldest family ran BBQ restaurant in Texas and I’m pretty certain their food is awful. Maybe it’s because I’ve already eaten about two pounds of cow today but I can barely finish any of it.

The manager asks, “How was everything?” I’m too fatigued and meat-filled to do anything but tell him the truth. I leave feeling boorish, like some fancy pants New Yorker (Jew) who thinks he knows BBQ because he’s had great pastrami. To further this stereotype, I immediately walk to Walgreen’s to buy the trip’s second box of store-brand chewable Pepto and eleventh Red Bull.

8:00PM: I arrive in Houston exhausted, unimaginably full, and with my old friend an antacid and caffeine induced black tongue. I fall asleep as soon as I can find a bed. For the first time, it’s easy to remember why I decided to do this stupid trip.