Old and Long Ago

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It was years ago, but seeing the building brought back a memory from long ago. For one thing, I can’t believe I ever thought the place was a suitable venue for lunch. It was a hole-in-the-wall kind of restaurant that no unsuspecting soul would ever venture into on their own initiative. The restaurant must have come recommended by a friend or I’d never have darkened the door. I mean, even forty plus years ago, it looked bad. It really doesn’t look any different today except that it is no longer a restaurant. Seeing it in my peripheral vision as I drove south on South Congress near Ben White took me back in time.


Of course, as you might suspect, the restaurant was Tex-Mex with just the right amount of grease. A group of us from the office ate there at least once a week. Sometimes if I played my cards right, I could find a colleague willing to eat there twice in a week. I was always game.


At the time, the General and I lived in the Castlewood addition off of Manchaca Road just south of Davis Lane. It was a Saturday. I don’t remember where we were headed, but I do remember I was wearing a new shiny silk-blend casual shirt that looked sharp. I had never worn the shirt before. What was I thinking? I’d no more wear a shirt like that today than I’d go to a restaurant without one. You know what they say: “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Service”. I thought from a fashion perspective that I was the cat’s meow. Shiny and sleek – it was the new style and I was on the cutting edge.


It was a short-lived fantasy. One of the waitresses in the restaurant inadvertently dropped a plate of cheese enchiladas down the back of my silk blend shirt. Actually, it was really only the right shoulder and sleeve and a portion of the back, but why underplay it? It was messy. As I recall, she didn’t announce that it was a “Hot Plate”, but worse than that, it was a greasy plate. It didn’t blend well with the look I was hoping to achieve.


The waitress was like a storm trooper in an immediate attempt to eradicate the damage and wipe it away. I mostly sat there speechless while she used one of the dishtowels used to bus a table to wipe away the misplaced plate of enchiladas. She couldn’t have been more apologetic and I couldn’t have been more surprised. I can’t say that I looked as good as new when she was finished, but I have to give her a hand for giving me a hand.


In case you’re wondering, it wasn’t my order that she dropped. As I recall, we had not yet been served and the misplaced enchiladas didn’t squelch my appetite.   I don’t remember if Craig made any comment to the waitress or not. He was probably in preschool at the time and always had a knack of saying just the right thing to make people feel better. He was a positive kid. For that matter, he still is.


I remember that he and I were sitting in the car in a parking lot waiting for Treva once when the guy next to us bumped into the side of our car with his door. Our windows were down and the guy couldn’t have been more apologetic. Craig assured him that it was okay because: “It was nothing but a trash truck anyway”.


I wonder where he heard an expression like that? I bet you can guess. One thing about the General’s persona is that she has always been predictably consistent. If anything is out of place, immediately it falls into the category of unacceptable.


The trash truck that Craig was referring to was a 1973 Oldsmobile Cutlass – 2-door hardtop. It was green with a beige vinyl roof. Never ever did it resemble a trash truck and it always stayed in pristine condition. It was like new the day we traded it in for another car. In fact, I wish I still had it. I guess it was a coming of age car for me because I traded it for a full-size Oldsmobile in 1976 .  The full size Olds carried with it a “middle aged married feel”. It was not a good look.


Out of curiosity, I checked Google for the 15 Best Hole In The Wall restaurants in Austin. At least two or three of them are located on William Cannon Street. Back in the day when I was sporting around town in my shiny silk-blend casual shirt and 1973 Cutlass, everything on William Cannon Drive was brand spanking new.


Have you ever stopped to wonder how some things carry the feel of old and dated while others seem timeless? That is particularly true of neighborhoods. Maybe it has something to do with landscaping, fresh paint and pride of ownership, but you know what I mean. You can instantly tell the difference.


So my request of you is simply to respond to the today’s posting by sharing your hole-in-the-wall dining experience. If you’ve ever had a plate of enchiladas spilled on you, I’d like to know that as well.


Truthfully, the experience didn’t spoil my affinity for the place. We ate there regularly until we moved to Dripping Springs. Of course, back in the day, Drippin’ didn’t have much to offer in way of restaurants. Somehow across the years things have a way of changing, but still remaining the same. Someone recently asked me for the name of my favorite restaurant in Dripping Springs. I was speechless. It doesn’t exist.


All My Best!