I am not the sort of person that instinctively takes photographs, possibly because I am not currently the sort of person who has a phone that takes decent photographs. For most of my life my chosen method of archiving events has been to write about them. For instance, I have few photos of my children when they were very young, but I wrote humor columns about them regularly for posterity, and so when my body was found people would understand what had killed me.
I therefore have very few photos of my own to share from the trip this past weekend to Austin, Texas for the Texas Book Festival. (I’ll share what I have.) But I do have some stories to tell, and this may take more than one blog post.
While I was en route to Austin I was contacted by fellow TWCS writer S L Scott asking if I was interested in joining her and some of the other writers while the staff dinner was going on.
This presented a few problems because,
- I did not know there was a staff dinner
- I did not know what night the staff dinner was and therefore what night Susie Scott was talking about
- I wasn’t even going to be on the ground until 7:30, provided she was even talking about Friday night at all.
So I bought a couple of hours of Wifi on the flight to sort this all out. I learned it was indeed Friday being discussed; the restaurant in question was to be a place called “Chuy’s”; the restaurant was “near the hotel”; Everyone was meeting there at 8 PM.
There was no way I was going to be there by 8 PM given my arrival time and the distance between the airport and the hotel, but since the hotel didn’t have a restaurant it was still my best opportunity to obtain some manner of food, so I told her I would be late and that I’d go to the hotel and then walk to the restaurant.
“You can’t walk to the restaurant”, she responded.
Evidently, “near the hotel”, in Texas, means, “not near the hotel” in every other place in the world aside from possibly Los Angeles, which may consider itself “near Texas” for all I know.
She offered to drive me to the hotel if I took the cab directly to the restaurant, and that seemed like an okay idea.
And then I had to tell the cab driver where I was going, and all sorts of wrong happened.
Okay, so you probably aren’t me, and you probably see the word “chuy’s” and know how to pronounce it so that other people know what you’re talking about. I see that word and pronounce it as follows:
The cab driver had never heard of choy’s. He called his dispatcher, who had likewise never heard of it. They called another person, and took the spelling I had given them, spoke in whatever language they were all speaking for a while, and then he hung up, turned and looked at me, and said:
That he’d heard of.
Next problem: Chuy’s is a chain, so I needed to tell him which one I was going to. “The one near this hotel,” giving him the address of the hotel.
“Which one?” he repeated.
“The one a mile away from the hotel.”
There is more than one Chuy’s within a mile of the hotel. Because again, it’s a chain.
He decided he was sure he knew which one they’d be at, and took me to that one, and promised to wait for me to go inside and find them, and if they weren’t there he’d just take me to the other one.
Next problem: I didn’t know what anyone I was meeting looked like. So I walked around this incredibly busy restaurant hoping someone at a table somewhere would stand up and identify me.
This did not happen. And Susie Scott had not responded with a reply to my texted request for the restaurant address, so I was ready to give up and head back to the hotel, and maybe find a pizza place that delivered. And then, six blocks from the hotel, she sent the address.
“That’s where we just were,” the cab driver informed me.
So anyway, it all worked out. She came outside and greeted the only person getting out of a cab on the assumption that it was me. (It was.) And I got to meet Lissa Bryan, T M Franklin, Suzy Duffy, and Ally Jean, and there was tequila and gigantic burritos and all was good.
And somewhere in Austin is a cab driver who will never stop telling the story of the guy who didn’t know how to pronounce Chuy’s.