Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Aides to the Ex President 5: Croc's

[that old coot would have to shoot himself right before the climax of this story, wouldn't he? I swear, this is how it happened.]

The calories present in one can of Budweiser beer were sufficient for me to get one man out of bed, all of our gear packed, and Jim installed in the driver's seat. Shortly afterward, we arrived at one of those plastic breakfast places--the kind we generally got thrown out of at 2 in the morning, back home. Maybe that would have been the case in Dallas, except the sun was already shining and the whole place was covered with Lollapalooza rejects.

I had intended to spend some time taking notes, with the eventual goal of maybe writing about the events of the weekend (oh, to find those notes now). At the time, this proceeded as far as me bringing in a couple of pads of yellow legal paper, which did nothing more than burn my eyes and make me think of urine and canaries. I doodled aimlessly.

Jim, on the other hand, was chipper--after all, he'd had a four or five hour nap. We ordered food, and he began flirting with a couple of girls seated behind us.

They were kind of an odd pair, in my LSD-fugued brain. In retrospect, they reminded me of a Jim Morrison poem about meeting two women on a beach, blonde (Freedom) and dark (Enterprise). At the time, though, the blonde reminded me of Janis from the Muppet Show, and the other of a rather chubby Valerie Bertinelli. Like I said, a rather odd pair.

They had plainly been up most of the night as well, although from Janis' post nasal drip it wasn't the same type of night. Jim's enthusiasm was infectious, and soon all four of us were talking over the back of our booth.

Jim, of course, led in those conversations, as he still does. It's hard for me to reign in someone who so plainly loves to bullshit people, and my brain wasn't working too well. I stayed mostly in the background and concentrated on my sausage and eggs, until the girls asked where we were from.

"San Clemente, California," Jim replied (which was kind of true-he'd only recently returned from a visit to our friend Ed who was living out there).

Now, most of you kids don't know this, but the most famous resident of San Clemente back in the early 90's (and even the 70's and 80's, come to think of it) was Richard Nixon. Jim has a bit of a Nixon fetish, so Ed had shown him the walls of the estate (complete, as legend has it, with a spiked fence 100 yards out into the ocean). I knew this, and I knew what was next.

"California," the girls breathed, wide eyed. "Like, wow! What do you do out there?"

"Aides to the Ex President," I barked. "Why do you ask?"

The girls were confused and aroused--they had no idea what I was talking about, but it sure beat going home to Denton. Jim took it and ran, as I got up to visit the bathroom.

"Well, see, Jefe's been driving a long time, so he's kinda touchy. We're part of the advance team for Richard Nixon, who's thinking about running for Governor of Texas. It's all very hush-hush--he shouldn't have said anything."

They were still nodding sagely as I slid back into my side of the booth.

"You girls know where we can get a beer in this town? The last place we stopped at didn't have any. What's this 'dry county' business, anyway?"

They giggled nervously, and Valerie looked around for a clock. Or a cop. "West End," they said.

I softened my demeanor--there were serious dealings afoot, but none of them precluded having a couple of hipster chicks along for the ride. And this Ex-President thing could turn into something worthwhile (it never did, and he died two years later).

Jim, however, didn't ask them to come along--apparently he'd caught the whiff of a lunchtime beer, or was beginning to obsess on the football game that night, but after a bit more confused dialogue and nervous glances in my direction, they paid their tab and left.

Jim was beginning to be concerned about our money situation, recognizing that we barely had enough money to get home, much less get into a damn Dallas Cowboys football game. I knew what we were going to do, but convincing him that we'd be better off watching the game on television in some sports bar (which was, itself, a compromise for me--the BEST place I could think of to watch it would be in my own living room) was a task far beyond my mental capacity at the time. Besides, a dark place was something I needed--consequently, I coaxed him into finding a bar, and we split for downtown Dallas shortly thereafter.

West End Dallas is a hellhole of malls, boutiques, and restaurants. It's like Bricktown in OKC, 6th Street in Austin, and the Riverwalk in San Antonio. For those of you not familiar with the above, imagine the love child of the East Village and McDonalds, or the Waterfront in SF and, say, Gap Clothing. It's horrifying to me now, but when we finally found the place, I looked on it as a prime place to fuck with people. Maybe create our own Temporary Autonomous Zone--or at least get our drinks for free. The Aides to the Ex President line had given me an idea, and I was intent on finding out how far we could go before I crashed, or we were arrested.

The restaurant we chose was a place called "Croc's," or some variant thereof. We chose it simply because it was the only one that had a dining area on the roof. This would give us a stellar view of the whole West End, which was pretty packed due to the game in a few hours, and the events of the preceding nights. We sat down at the bar with $25.00 between us, about half of which was needed to fill my gas tank. Time to put up or shut up, I thought, Thompson would demand TOTAL COVERAGE, which meant a rooftop seat. And there was a red velvet rope across the staircase. The rope, I noted, was dusty.


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