Friday, July 17, 2015
Megan and Dan came to town and we went out and had a ball. Bill Boyle appeared on the scene and we drove out to Water Valley to a place called the Crawdad Hole. Somehow Megan knew about it. Dr. Theresa and I had never heard of it. As Dan pointed out, a restaurant has to have a well-placed sense of confidence to put "Hole" in its name. It was great! Great enough for "hole." I'm kind of sorry to tell you about it, because they only serve food until they run out of whatever is fresh that day, and I don't want you to eat it before I get there next time. We had so much stuff spread over the checkered oilcloth (was it checkered? It should have been!) - crab legs and sausages and corn on the cob and Mississippi tamales - that's a famous thing, if you didn't know! - and oysters, both sweetly raw and succulently grilled, all superb, and all washed down with a pitcher of ice-cold beer that went perfectly with the food. No crawfish because they were out. Megan said they told her it wasn't crawfish season. But we didn't even miss the crawfish. Then we were supposed to meet Ace at a "secret bar" but we went to the "secret bar" and it wasn't a "secret bar," it was the shabby back room you have to walk through to use the toilet at a local pizza restaurant of small repute. So we were like, "THIS IS ACE'S SECRET BAR?" But the story hasn't ended. MORE LATER. Because we had made a basic mistake about the "secret bar" and it wasn't Ace's fault! Now I'm going to start looking at whatever I jotted down last night on scraps of paper in my wallet and on bar napkins. As I recall, some of it might be bawdy and shocking! You know I don't like to "go there." Blame the liquor and high spirits of rekindled camaraderie. The first note I see just says, "Remember the Night." I'm like, hmm, this isn't as scintillating as I recalled. Was I just telling myself to remember the night? Then it occurred to me. It's the name of a Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck movie that Megan thinks Dr. Theresa and I would like. A nice sentiment, but a disappointment in the realm of fevered inspirations scrawled on tattered scraps from bars. Muttering, we left the (temporary) debacle of "secret bar" and went up to City Grocery. There we encountered Randy Yates, owner of Ajax, who was talking about his former fez collection. That seemed bar-napkin worthy. I wrote down what happened to Randy's fez collection: "I lived in such a [crappy] house all my fezzes melted." That didn't seem like a sentence I had heard before. Oh yes, I have noted here on the back of a postal receipt that Bill Boyle claimed, "If you were stranded on a desert island, all you'd need was Guinness and breast milk." I told you you'd be scandalized! Ace came to CG and took us back to the secret bar. We had lost Megan and Dan by now, but Angela had appeared, a delightful and special treat! And the bar really was different all of a sudden. It was darker and there was a fancy man to make Bill Boyle take off his baseball cap! When we sat down, the server asked if we'd like a complimentary shot, and unless I am crazy, the shots were being offered in empty shotgun shell casings. You know, the way they do in a secret bar. Bill was the only one who drank one and - still miffed about his forcefully doffed baseball cap - said, "That was terrible!" But he said it in a gruffly charming way that made even the server laugh. And when they brought out ice water, they offered to put drops of rosewater in it. Which we accepted! Now, rosewater was popular in Cairo, Egypt, when Dr. Theresa was growing up there, but I believe in the U.S. I have witnessed only her little brother Hesham (he's a full grown man, not a "little brother"!) spiking anything with it. Bill had gotten himself into a rare mood I enjoy seeing him in on those spare occasions when it happens - a touch of lovable surliness that comes over him with just the right amount of fluid help. Surliness isn't the right word. Sweet irascibility? Acting the wiseacre? I don't know any good words. Anyway, he didn't seem to care much for the rosewater. He said - and I was afraid this didn't even show up on the napkin! It was so dark and the server gave me a pen that wrote in PALE ORANGE INK, and I couldn't tell whether words were falling upon the napkin at all - "They're serving us old lady sweat and we're drinking it like we got nothing better to do." Then he said, "It's like you're licking your grandmother's armpit." And then I THINK he said (I didn't write it down) "Don't get me wrong, I'd lick my grandmother's armpit, she's a great lady!" But I may have made that part up. I'm afraid I haven't done justice to the secret bar, which was very pleasant and conducive to much convivial talk and served excellent grilled cheese sandwiches.