There they were, waiting for me as I landed in Dallas from La Guardia, the good ‘ol boys. I had just come back on a flight with a guy from Midland, born and raised in the dusty desolate town that's had its share of desperados.
This ‘ol boy, he luuuvvved Midland. But his lady friend lived in New York. So he had to haul his tail up there to get whatever he thought he needed from his gal in Gotham.
One thing he said, and he said a lot of things, ‘cause he was about two days too many away from Texas, he said, “There’s too much concrete and not enough sunsets.” I couldn’t disagree. Something about living in the West that just gets under your skin. To make matters worse, he pulled out the latest copy of Texas Farm and Ranch magazine, and he asked me if I wanted a look-see. Damn him.
They got me with that little Hill Country spread in Bandera County. Real nice.
Meanwhile, giant mosquitoes are attacking me in my bed and it's just March. I’ll never get out of here. Cadillac fever’ll get me.
At the Dallas airport, the old man was waiting by the car, lighting up another cigarette. He looked like he just came from a funeral.
It was 12:30, time for a late lunch. All that NY pizza and vegetarian food ‘like to mess up my regimen of steak and ribs. That was about to get rectified.
At the chop house, the usual table was waiting. Liquor was ordered, not wine. Time was slowing down, and something was about to fall from the sky, I felt an impending message coming on. Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. Better just 'buck up and face it, sooner than later.
“Son,” he said, “do you see what I’m holding in my hand?” I replied that it looked like whisky. “Damn right! And you want to know why we’re drinking it?” I figured he liked the stuff. Sometimes on airplanes, the whiskey was better than most wines offered. He clarified our position. “Son, this whiskey keeps the lights on. If these folks pull the plug, we can all go home. Now, if one of these here whiskey fellers brings us a wine to sell, don’t go into a big song and dance about how smart y'all wine folks are and how ignorant them spirits boys are, ya hiyrr me?”
Yes sir, don’t want the lights to go all blooey on us.
“And when you and your boy head out to Ittly next week, don’t be finding any more wine to fill up the warehouses with. We got enough, and tell them there Eyetalians so. Tell ‘em to make less and make it better and charge less for it. That’s what’ll work here in the lower midsection of America, down heeya in the crotch.”
And with that, juicy steaks arrived with baked potatoes and lots of farm fresh butter and chives and sour cream and fresh pepper. It wasn’t cold outside, and the landscape wasn’t littered with dirty grey-black snow. It was 68°F, and bright and clear.
Afterwards I set out to find Beatrice Russo. It seems some of my old wines had been depleted. I noticed a bottle of some ancient Barolo in the trash bin, along with a Champagne bottle or two, a Roederer and a Pol Roger. And a bottle of La Chapelle Hermitage 1985.
Oh yeah, and my bottle of Gran Gala that I had sitting there to take to the newspaper, so they could photograph it for an article; it was 2/3rds empty.
I better go find that young lady.
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