Here we have a photo snapped with my new mobile, a silver-bullet flip phone with a “smart camera” circa 2003. But the year is 2011 and in Austin last weekend, I reverted to 16-year-old drunk and lost my lackadaisical Android. That phone and I were never meant to stay together. Regardless, I was feeling pretty awful about the course of my life (phone left in cab. didn’t know the address of where i was going. walked two hours in the dark to the address i could recall. i scared myself. which never happens.) until I decided to go for a walk and then decided to eat a salami sandwich at Dolce Vita. There, I met Michael, a 21-year old local with a great love for cats, anything French, and alchemy.
He asked if he could share my table and I complied. Within three minutes of sitting down he had polished off a burrito and confessed that he steals just about everything he owns. Or he used to. “I’m a recovering clepto.” His button-down had a large hole near the hem from where he had cut-out a security ink tag. He said he’s had 22 jobs in a year and has never been fired. He was so smart that at the end of a 10-minute explanation of the Free Masons, all I could respond with was “that sounds noble”. I felt like an idiot. But an accommodating, earnest idiot nonetheless.
Soon, we were drinking Pernod (on the house) with a collection of other locals: a lawyer, a massage therapist, an architect designing a recording studio for a building in New Orleans, a programmer who couldn’t remember any of the answers to the questions he asked. The lawyer was having girlfriend problems; she was pissed he didn’t call her when he woke up. It was 6pm and he was on wine glass #5. His dog was being patient. Michael said he wanted to grow a thin mustache and move to France to live at a monastary. He is (or um, was) working as a surveyor for a company called Green Monster, going door-to-door and asking residents questions about the environment. He loves talking to the housewives, he thinks they are the most beautiful women in the world.
We all had a good thing going. And when someone was ready to leave, they left. There were no clingy goodbyes. In the end, the locals had all left and I was left with a watery glass of Pernod and a sxsw-er from Japan.
I told all of my Austin friends of the evening that I would not encourage people to move there. They wanted me to relay that it’s an awful place; it smells terrible, the food is tragic, the weather in unbearable, and they charge $15 per minute for public access to Facebook.