The girls of Austin have special powers. I'm convinced. I became convinced of this fact during our second day. A day which did not start out well at all.
In fact, it started with Shorty and I being woken up by the following conversation between two moron stoners early in the morning:
"Can you believe he asked me for five bucks bro?"
"No way dude. Did he really ask you for five bucks?"
"Yea bro, I was like 'You can't have five bucks bro.' "
"Yea, I would have been like 'you can't have five bucks bro'."
"Yea, that's what I said. I was all like 'you can't have five bucks bro.'"
The conversation went on like this for what felt like hours.
What's worse, neither Shorty and I could even get to the door to tell these kids to shut up because we were so completely hungover. I mean we were just destroyed as men. It hurt to even think, much less move.
It wasn't until around four in the afternoon that our collective misery subsided enough for us to get up and shower. This disappointed Shorty much more than me because by that time it was already too late to do half the things on his itinerary. He perked up though when he realized we could make it to the one event he really wanted to see. But only if we started walking immediately.
So there I was miserably shuffling my feet behind Shorty as we made our trek across town. I felt like I wanted to die.
And then something magical happened. A cute girl crossing our path looked at me and smiled. Not like in a come-hither way but in a sweet, friendly way. Now maybe it's because my time in Los Angeles has taught me that this kind of thing does not happen often, so to see it actually happen made me subconsciously give it supernatural powers. But that smile alleviated some of the pain in my head.
Two blocks later the same thing happened, another girl smiled at me. Then it happened again. And again. By the time we had walked across town I had received ten smiles from ten different girls. I swear to God. I know some guys like to lie about how many smiles they get from women, but I'm not that kind of guy.
Anyways, by the time we reached our destination I felt great. And you know why? Because the women of Austin are magical. And friendly. And they adore redheads, maybe.
Shorty saw me smiling while I was thinking about all this and asked me what I was so happy about. After I told him, he smiled too. But he smiled in that way that guys with girlfriends smile when they think their single friends are clueless.
"You can't get so enamored by a smile, Randy, otherwise you'll never get anything else."
"There's something else after smiles?" I said with heavy sarcasm. I followed this comment with a dismissive remark. "Let's ditch this and go back to town."
"Trust me dude," Shorty said. "We're not gonna want to miss out on the bat bridge, I hear it's an incredible sight."
Here is the sight.
Or rather, here is where the sight takes place. See, under this bridge there are thousands of sleeping bats. And, as Shorty explained it, on some nights these bats will suddenly decide that they've had enough of the bridge and fly out from under it.
"Just imagine." He said. "Thousands and thousands of bats just hightailing it over the water."
I had to admit that did sound pretty cool. But how long would we have to wait until we knew whether the bats would come out or not?
"Oh it's hard to say, really. According to my research, it could be another good two or three hours until they decide to fly, if they fly at all. "
Two or three hours? I looked back over at the city, the city filled with fun-loving magical women who were just waiting for me.
I felt the pain returning to my head.
It was at about the ninety minute mark that I became convinced that the bats were never gonna show. But I could see that Shorty was determined to see this to the end, so I held my tongue and continued to wait.
Fifteen minutes later, things became interesting. The bats still hadn't shown up, but she did. She was this beautiful dark haired girl who was leaning over the railing looking down at the water. She was by herself, no one around her. I never saw her walk up, I just turned away for a moment and when I turned back she was there.Like magic.
"There's no way she's really alone. She must be waiting for someone." I told myself. But no one came to her.
"I must go to her." I convinced myself. "If no one comes for her in five minutes then I will go to her."
A minute later I realized I was being stupid.
"This is stupid." I thought. "I'll just go to her now."
And so I went.
|That guy is not her. That is a guy. But I wasn't gonna be a creep and take a picure of her, so this is all you get.|
So I walked up next to this beautiful creature, trying to appear casual yet fearless, and leaned against the railing beside her. Acting as if I was just trying to find the best place to lean and hadn't even noticed her.
She noticed me and smiled.
"Waiting for the bats?" I asked her.
Not the best opening line, but it worked. It got a conversation started. Unfortunately, very soon into the conversation I realized that she might be taller than me. I couldn't be sure because she was leaning over the railing, but I knew it was something I needed to be wary of. Even if a man is only an inch shorter than a woman it cuts his chances with her in half. And considering this girl was way out of my league to begin with, that would make my chances quite small indeed.
But no sense of worrying about that now, I thought. Just focus on making her laugh.
"You know," I said, " I hear that there are no actual bats, its just a rumor spread by the locals to get the tourists out of town for the evening."
She laughed. "How do you know I'm not a local."
"Are you a local?"
"No, I'm actually from Los Angeles."
I suppose it's pretty silly to think that girls from a certain town are magical; but I ask you this: Is it more or less silly than this thought: "Holy shit, she's from LA, that means this was meant to be. We were meant to find each other, we probably soul mates. I mean she thinks I'm funny, I think she's gorgeous, we're from the same town, and we have an awesome story of how we met on the bat bridge in Austin. It's perfect... except she still might be taller than me, which definitely outweighs the whole soulmate thing... "
I don't know both are pretty stupid. In any case, I was so preoccupied by this new thought that it took me awhile to realize that I had had been rambling to this girl for sometime, and I wasn't even sure what I had been saying.
Fortunately I was saved from myself, as the rest of the bridge dwellers let out a hushed "oooh!" as they watched the bats suddenly appear from under the bridge spew out over the river.
It was a magnificent sight.
And while everyone else was admiring the sight I couldn't help but wonder what had been the deciding factor for the bats to leave tonight. Perhaps, I thought, just like I had grown sick of the two stoners' inane conversation outside my window, the bats had heard enough of my inane babble and decided to escape.
|The sight is much more impressive in person.|
If that was indeed the reasoning behind the bats leaving the bridge, then that is too bad for them. Because they missed the part where I got the girl's number. Boom! They also missed the part where I made a hasty retreat back to town while she was still leaning over the railing, staring at the bats, never knowing which of us was taller. Boom!
After we left the bat bridge, we headed back to town for a night of fun. And this time I was ready. I had my camera, I had my self-esteem thanks to the fact that I got the girl's digits (last time, boom!), and we had all night. There was only one problem....
It was a Monday night, and the town was dead. Of course, just my luck.
Shorty and I were far from throwing in the towel, though. Especially Shorty, which is one of the reasons I love the guy. If he's determined to do something, he's going to do it. In fact if it wasn't for him we might never have found the one place that was cracking on a Monday night. Any guesses of what kind of bar goes full speed on a monday night?
If you guessed a strip bar than you are way off. Way, way off.
That's right, a Coyote Ugly bar. I know, I thought it was just a movie too. But it's so much more than that.
But I'm not gonna lie; despite the aesthetic pleasure, this wasn't how I pictured my last night in Austin. But you know what? One great thing came out of it that made it all worth while.
Something that was as high on my list as the bat bridge was on Shorty's list.
I got to drink with an authentic Texas good ol' boy! That's always been on my bucket list, it just seemed like such a fun time. Sure a good ol' boy might have a reputation for being rowdy, ignorant and pigheaded but they also seemed like a type of person that would be a blast to drink with. At least to me. And let me tell you, I was right.
I can't remember who met him first, me or Shorty, but I can tell you that he was hilarious. As soon as he learned we were from California he just took us under his wing and started mocking our state with good-hearted fun. And we came back right at him with all the Texas slander we could think of. It was exactly how I thought it would be. And then it got better.
He challenged me to a game of Texas Shots. That's where two people both take a shot and whoever finishes their shot first gets to headbutt the other one. Unless the other one cheats and head butts first. To be honest I wasn't too clear on the rules. But I did get to head butt him three times. And people that know me know that I love a good headbutt. It's a lovely thing to do.
And just when I thought my Good Ol' Boy experience couldn't get any better, he shared this little gem with me:
"Hey California boy, ya wanna hear something that will blow yur mind? I have a gay brother. That's right, me, a Texas Republican Good Ol' Boy has a gay brother, and I love them. I love him to death. Can you wrap yur mind around that, California boy?"
It was truly a touching moment, and one of my favorites of the whole trip. Also, he may have headbutted me right after he said this, I'm not sure, my memory is a little fuzzy.
Going to Nawlins
The next day we were back on the road. We only had nine more hours to go before we made it to our destination: New Orleans, Louisiana.
I realized as we entered the Louisiana state that I hadn't thought much about returning to my old stomping grounds. Both my parents are from New Orleans and still have a lot of family over there, which is why I was able to spend several summers over there in my youth.
And yet, it wasn't until we entered the state that the memories of years past came flooding back to me.
"Jesus, Shorty. We're about to be in the Big Easy."
"Yeah I know." He said. But he didn't know. He didn't really know what was in store for him. But when he did, it would be glorious. The food, the nightlife, the music, the people. Just nine more hours of driving, and we would receive a hero's welcome like only the town of Nawlins can give.
We didn't reach the city until late that night. We were pretty tired after two straight days of partying and nine hours of driving, and we still had to find my Cousin's house, unload our stuff and retell our adventure thus far to my relatives.
But before we did any of that, there was something I wanted to do. Something I wanted to do since the first day of the trip, when Shorty mentioned he bought us both a present that we could enjoy at some point along the way.
That's when I added something new to the itinerary. Something we would do as soon as we crossed the finish line.
In my hand is a big ol' fancy cigar. And behind me is the great Mississippi river. And in front of me was possibly the best five days of my life. The future was wide open. I felt giddy, just like that first day, after we escaped the sprawl. There was so much to look forward to, so much to do. The French Quarter, Jazzfest, Arcade Fire.. the list went on and on. But for right now, in this moment, I just stood alongside the great river, savored the moment, and smoked my cigar .
Life was good.