Sunday, December 18, 2005

beta back in tx

That's a "Tasty Animal Collective" tee-shirt, thank you very much.

Of all the airports to be purgatorial in, being grounded at Memphis International Airport for a good six hours may be the most tolerable. Watching the FedEx planes lift against the newspaper-gray skies, or else staring into the beige cubicle barriers surrounding the secretive security table, I continually remove my headphones so as to better hear the stacks of Stax hits continually being piped into the terminals. You can buy Elvis tees or the Sun emblem emblazoned on all sorts of gee-gaws, or peruse those weird German tins that house the greatest hits of James Brown and Bob Marley, all the while listening to Aretha Franklin, Sam & Dave, Clarence Carter, Booker T. and the MGs. Best of all is that some mighty fine BBQ from Interstate is served, and so I help myself to the pulled pork platter with slaw and brown-sugar beans while I wait for the next flight to Texas. Bummed that they are out of sweet potato pie, I console myself instead with "Sock it to Me" cake, an unholy marriage of poundcake with a swirl of maple syrup inside, all of it smothered in thick white icing.

This is by far the most scattered trip I have ever undertaken. I'm back not even a month later for yet another wedding, this time in Pleasanton, Texas, and having made all sorts of plans to see family and friends last time, I make zero plans now. Shoot, I don't even know how to get to the chapel in Pleasanton, much less the town itself. I rent a car, but for the life of me, can't figure which company I used. It starts with an A, so maybe Alamo? Nope. Advantage? No reservation under that name. Having spent a total of twelve hours in airports and planes, my mind is deranged enough that I just skip the car debacle so as to be out of the terminal. Stepping outside, I realize I didn't even check the weather forecast before I left, and South Texas is as chilly as New York, hovering about in the low 30s. Of course, I neglected to pack a coat or warm jacket, so I'm freezing right away.

The wedding is a hoot though, the only kind of wedding that I know and truly enjoy. It stirs my earliest memories of such community affairs. Everyone from all the small towns that my family comes from: Gillett, Falls City, Kennedy, Poth, all converge on the festivities, which are held in a giant showbarn. A parade of the seldom-seen members of my extended elderly family are brought up to me by my mother, who re-introduces me to kin who last saw me when I was "this high." I'm almost in tears when I see my godparents again. "Gawddang, you came all the way down from New York City?" they all ask, shocked.

This is how I want my own wedding to be catered: barbecue brisket and sausage with all the fixin's, served with sweet tea and plates of pickles, jalapenos, and white onions, not to mention slices of Mrs. Baird's. Shots of Hot Damn and Pucker Up are peddled about, while my other cousins whip out fresh bottles of Crown they bootlegged in to the festivities. Once properly loaded on BBQ and cheap liquor, the dancing starts, and I get to partake in the Grand March, and follow it up with the Cotton-Eyed Joe and the notorious Chicken Dance. My littlest cousin, not yet five, keeps pulling out ridiculous breakdance moves all night, popping his arms and dropping to the floor to do the Worm with little spurring on and despite the shuffling boots and high heels teetering in dance above him.


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