As we walked from the car to the restaurant tonight I was trying to be extra observant.
"Try to see Sixth street as if you didn't grow up here," I thought."See downtown through the eyes of a visitor." Because you do get kind of jaded, living here.
"Ugh, sixth street--Hell no!" We have said, again and again. No matter what is going on downtown it's never enticing enough to convince us to actually go there.
"Sixth street" is actually an area about 10 blocks square, encompassing fourth street and Congress-we call the whole thing Sixth the way Southerners call any soda "Coke".
"I'll have a Coke" you say to your waitress.
"What kind?" she asks.
"Dr. Pepper." you say.
Wednesday through Sunday, this area of town is packed, the sidewalks so full of kids who just turned twenty one, hippies selling hand blown glass pipes, girls dressed up like whores, bachelorette parties and motorcycle gangs that it is hard to walk more than ten blocks without wanting to slap someone. The fraternities and sororities are empty and every AA meeting is full of sad, empty chairs because everyone is partying on Sixth street. The entire world is a vacant, whistling void, bereft of douchebags as they jostle and mingle and shout "Bee-atch!" to one another over your head as you try to walk down Sixth street.
So, yeah, I'm kind of over it. But, because I am trying to write about South by Southwest-which means I have to actually go to South by Southwest, I was trying to see my town with new eyes.
"I will try to have the quintessential Austin experience tonight." I thought. Would it be 'weird'? It would be.
God must have heard me, because as we started walking my nose began to burn. Strange, I thought. was it exhaust fumes, from the many cars who had slowed to a crawl, desperate to find a parking space or an affordable whore?
No. After a few more minutes of walking my throat began to feel like I'd swallowed a swarm of bees and then I was gripped by a hurricane of sneezes, seven, eight nine in a row.
Here you go, said God. Here is your "Austin" experience.
For those of you who don't live in Austin, allergies are what the God of the Religious Right that dominates the rest of Texas has afflicted on us to get even for the fact that we are so much smarter than his chosen people.
"Mock my loyal flock, will you?" says God."Run around using 'logic' and 'birth control'will you? Your sins will be revealed through your runny noses!"
And they are. This is no joke. Imagine going out for a nice dinner and suddenly, right before dessert-with no warning- it feels like you have severe bronchitis. Dinner, fine. Dessert, pneumonia. Highest allergen concentration of any major city in the entire world.
"AGHHH!" I yelled at Jeff after my tenth back to back sneeze in a row, snot flowing down my lip as I searched for a tissue."Find me some Allegra!"
I asked the hostess, who asked the bartender, who asked the kitchen staff. Nothing.
meanwhile, I just kept sneezing and blowing my nose. People were starting to stare.
"Claritin? It doesn't even have to be the 'D'!" Nope.
I ordered some awful drink. It had red bull in it, so I thought it might help.
"Your drink tastes like cough medicine," said Jeff, grimacing.
"I wish it was a cocktail of whatever it is that they make you show ID for now-that stuff they make meth out of-"
"You might need to go home," he said, eyeing me.
"Do. I have to go dotice some stuff for Stephen Moser." I coughed.
What is the look on the spectrum as far away from lust that a man can go to? I was a few seconds away from just rolling the napkin up into balls and sticking it into my nostrils when we decided to leave.
As we were leaving I grabbed the hostesses arm.
"Singulaire?" I pleaded."Vicodin?"
She shook her head sadly and watched us go.
We walked past some drug dealers.
"You know, man, if you want that shit I just put some lip gloss on and get it for you."
"Excuse me," I said, ignoring Jeff as he pulled my arm in the other direction."Do you have any benadryl?"
They just laughed. They probably did have some, I just didn't know the right I'm-not-a-cop codeword.
We passed some lesbians all arrayed in matching T shirts stretching too tightly across their large backsides. Jeans with huge flares,white socks with tennis shoes and denim overalls, one of them had the signature flannel shirt tied around the waist-
A Side message to my lovely lady lesbians-
I love you guys. You are funny and great to have around during a crisis. You don't get all whiny and passive aggressive like straight girls do, there is no hidden subtext. I always know where I stand with a Girl.
But can you step it up on the fashion just a little? TRY not to be a cliche of yourself. Look at Ellen-she's not dancing with the president in a pink floral onesie, you never see Ellen's cleavage, she's not overly feminine but she still looks good. Ellen would never wear denim overalls -Step it up a notch, Sisterhood.
Sadly, the lesbians had no allergy medicine. I was surprised, because they were carrying giant backpacks, but that must have been where the mule skinning equipment was kept, because another No for me.
At the club there were a lot of people standing in front of the stage, nodding their heads and watching some other people jump around on stage. It was cold.It was loud. I kept sneezing.
We found some of Jeff's friends. They had all been out the night before to the Flaming Lips show.
"That was the most rockin show, man!" they kept saying that, and high fiving each other. Apparently the band had passed out those little red laser lights people use in power point presentations and one guy, Andy, still had his.
Andy is one of Jeff's more entertaining friends, better even than the guy who attacks stopsigns yelling racial slurs. It's not Aandy's full Hobo beard, or even his classic Unabomber taste in clothes that make me love him. It's the wild eyed crazytalk that jumps out at inappropriate moments, like last week when he got up on a table and tried to strip at a friends birthday yelling something about how we should go find some dude's ferret and drown it for fun.
Andy thought it was really funny to point the laser at people's butts, right at the bottom.
"Butthole," he giggled, as he aimed it at everyone who passed.
I nodded. Like a toddler, the game never got old. About ten minutes in he turned to me, wildy proclaiming
"You gotta check out this website, man! You can get glasses for eight bucks a pair!"
"I'm too vain-I never wear mine." I told him, watching the little red dot dance over the ass crack of a very large man."Do you get assaulted often?"
"It's funny you should ask that," he mused."It's been happening a lot lately."
"Seriously, eight dollars."
I turned to jeff and shouted."I have to go. NOW."
Safely home, two benadryl,some theraflu and an ambien later-the geyser of snot in my nose has died down to a trickle and my sneezing has stopped. I may never know what I was allergic to downtown. It could have been the hippies-patchouli is a trigger. Perhaps it was the Massengill wafting over the fumes of the street from so many ladies freshening up their hoo hoos for an upcoming, drunken one night stand. Ah youth-those were the days.Maybe it was psychosomatic, and I am allergic to music and joy and revelry-in which case you really should feel sorry for me.
Whatever the mystery allergen was, one thing I do know. Austin is busy keeping itself weird out there. It needs no help from me.In fact, i think that Austin would rather I stay home so it can be weird in private, without my interference. And I will. I won't bother weird austin again.
Unless it has some Allegra-the kind with the D.
Me and the internet
1 day ago