One in a Million

One morning late in 2020 ( ’tis strange to speak of 2020 in the past tense) Jo and I woke up thinking about Juan in a Million. We hadn’t been there in years, hadn’t spoken about it, and here were our separate thoughts returning to this place on exactly the same morning. So we gathered the kids and went over for breakfast.

The Don Juan breakfast taco is a culinary masterpiece. I had my first taste of it in the late 80’s. Robert introduced me to the place and we’d drive up in his art car, a massive 70’s behemoth hand-painted all over in what could have been scenes from Dead’s Terrapin Station. It was my dad’s favorite breakfast joint when he was in Austin. And Arjun’s too. Jo and I ate here almost weekly before her childbirth induced egg allergy. Vivian nibbled her first Don Juan on the hip of a waitress in the kitchen. Michelle almost got her photo on the Wall for putting away one and half Don Juan tacos a couple of decades ago.

Juan was a young man with a hearty handshake when I first met him. I tried to convince him to run for Mayor. His kids were teenagers when they started behind the counter, greeting guests shyly in the shadow of their dad. Juan walked around every table and asked if the everything came out okay. He enquired about family and how everyone was doing. For two bucks you got the biggest baddest breakfast taco along with the firmest handshake in town and a heaping of friendly chatter.

Juan wasn’t behind the counter when we went there last month. He owns most of the block now so he’s hopefully enjoying life somewhere. One of his sons was running the cash machine, his own man now. He asks why we haven’t been by in a decade. The waitress is our waitress from 20 years ago. She remembers Vivian as a baby. Nothing has changed in 20 years.

Except everything has.

Jo and I aren’t holding hands and kissing between bites of breakfast tacos anymore : – ). There isn’t a line of hungry gringos snaking around the one story nondescript building waiting to get in. Everyone inside who isn’t eating is wearing a mask. Oh, and the country is presided over by a pyschopath. It’s been a few days since the Capitol coup. And Trump isn’t behind bars. He was asked to freely swear to do one fucking thing, just one fucking thing. Defend the constitution. He scorched the earth that the constitution was written on. He pissed on the graves of the founding fathers. He really really fucked up. And he did it without any consequences (a second impeachment is a badge of honor for the moron).

His cult of zombies follow his every word looking for a deeper grander message. Wake the fuck up. He’s lying to you. You have been radicalized. Get some perspective. Get out of the hell where you’ve locked yourself for the last five years. Outside, you’ll find a more joyful, truthful, caring, and diverse world of opinions and people. And facts. We need you. Unless the country is split up and we never have to see each other again, we have to live together. You and I mostly want the same things. There isn’t a socialist pedophile elitist election-fraudifying pandemic-peddling conspiracy out there. Just others like you and me.

As for the other Republicans who aren’t programmed zombies, you got your deal. The Supreme Court is conservative for the imaginable future and in return the devil has your soul for eternity. You’re hell is looking at yourself in the mirror every morning. Remember when you asked American muslims after 9/11 to denounce the crazy Islamists loudly and publicly? Unless they did that, you said they were traitors and jihadists. You are them now. Get out and distance yourself from the madman. May be they will forgive you even if you didn’t forgive them.

The Don Juan is everything I remember. I guess some things stayed the same.

Alt Year

A couple of weeks before Christmas we went to see the holiday lights at the Wildflower Center. We walked down a beautiful path lined with carefully spaced and elegantly lit luminaria, the kids running ahead holding their hot chocolates while the adults ambled with our beers. It was a pleasant warmer-than-usual Texas fall night, and we were with friends which is a special treat these days. But by the time we arrived to where the kids were eerily dangling from swings in a grove of ancient live oaks bathed in a piercing blue light, we were distinctly uneasy. Social distancing and staggered entry times designed to spread the groups out meant that we were all alone. Hidden speakers played spooky disjoint music that sounded distant and intrusive at the same time. We made some weak jokes about accidentally stumbling on to a Halloween set-up.

But after a few dozen more steps and around a turn in the path we came up to a “WILDFLOWER” sign bathed in warm yellow light. Swing and jazz played from hidden speakers. We breathed more easily. Further down the path we came across a grassy circle of glowing six foot neon rings suspended a couple of feet off the ground, inviting us to lay in/on them uncomfortably till we found ourselves in surprisingly relaxed positions, soothed by quiet acoustic guitar sounds. We realize that we are experiencing Art. Each of these vignettes are individual art installations with their own curated illumination and music, meant to create certain ambiances. We end the evening on a high note.

The courtyard in the Wildflower Center was where we got married. Now here we are, back in the same courtyard sixteen years later. With masks.

Funny year, this 2020.

That was me writing two weeks ago. I never did finish the post. Then came the new year, new beginnings, a fresh hope, blah blah, blah. Today is the afternoon of the 6th of January. More people are now dying of Covid than before. The virus, the vaccine, and the disinformation about each of them are spreading through our communities, trying to outrun each other. So far the vaccine isn’t winning, but that is understandable. The virus and the disinformation are designed to spread efficiently. The vaccine on the other hand is work – like pushing a boulder uphill. Is 2021 already off to a bad start? Wait. I’m still willing to be hopeful.

Now it is the evening of the 6th of January. Earlier today Trump egged his mob to attempt a coup. Yesterday we could have thought of his supporters as mere misguided assholes or gullible jerks of low intelligence and lower morals putting their selfish fears and desires ahead of their country. But not anymore. Anyone who is still in the Trump mob is a criminal. It’s time to fess up. Otherwise We The People Do Establish that We Are Fucked.