This is Our Time

That’s what Governor Andy Beshear told me today.

What a blessing he has been in this season when America learned to its dismay that “corona” was not something you could drive or smoke, but something that could truncate your season basketball tickets, or hose down your spring beach hormones, or free up your Sunday mornings (but not to play golf), ……or kill you……or kill those you love……or kill what you love.

I do not want to disappoint Governor Andy…or endanger my mom, or Janie, or my friends, or total strangers for that matter. I will stay healthy at home.

But I do miss baseball.

I’m loving the free streaming from the Metropolitan Opera and looking forward to the National Theatre’s stream of “One Man Two Guvnors” this Thursday evening.

Continuing my dubious literary journey though the tawdry Edgar Wallace canon is amusing.

Walking the dog 18 times a day is fulfilling.

Janie’s cooking is jes’ fine.

But I do miss baseball.

That explains the giddiness I’m feeling over the “Baseball’s Greatest Games” series on the MLB Network. Bob Costa zips though highlights of the greatest baseball games in the last 50 years with commentary from participating players. Then the network shows practically the entire game with the original play-by-play.

So…

Tonight I’m watching the first game of the 1988 World Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers (formerly of Brooklyn) and the Oakland Athletics (formerly of Kansas City and Philadelphia). This is the Kirk Gibson game; a cherished moment for any baseball fan. Mr. Gibson’s one-legged homerun in the bottom of the ninth for a walk-off (hop-off?) victory for the Dodgers. I know it sounds like a Monte Python routine but it’s actually quite thrilling.

The play-by-play is by Vin Scully and Joe Garagiola, similarly cherish-able; “He was about three minutes late on that fast ball” or “The ball didn’t get up. It didn’t get down. It just got out.”

I got yer analytics right here. Vin and Joe didn’t need no stinkin’ stats.

Also cherish-able for this baseball nerd is getting to watch Lexingtonian John Shelby play center field for Los Angeles.

An interesting aspect of the rebroadcast is the elimination of 90% of the replays and 100% of the strolling time between pitches. It turns baseball into a rhythmic action sport. It’s gripping. You can’t take your eyes off of it.

“You can’t take your eyes off of it.”

Not even for a second.

Not even to take a bite outta yer hotdog, or turn to the friend (or stranger) next to you to discuss in complete sentences and grunts what shoulda been done on that last play or what should be done on the next, or who’s a bum and who’s not, or whether the so-called poetry of Rod McKuen was simply a long-range pre-publicity campaign for Clint Eastwood’s Play Misty for Me (that’s a close call).

In these re-broadcasts, as much as I’m enjoying them, time has been extracted from the timeless game.

Time for important stuff.

And it’s our time.

Our time for important stuff…

…like staying home…

…being healthy…

…being together…

…protecting what we love…

…protecting ourselves…

…not being part of the problem……

……waiting for the next real pitch.

I do miss baseball.

Quarantine Casserole

I’m a lucky guy.

If you’ve spent more than a half an hour with me, you’ve probably heard that phrase and you know I’m talkin’ ‘bout Janie. The eye doctors in Central Kentucky owe me a moiety of their prosperity for all of the eye-rolling I’ve inspired with that phrase, but it’s undeniable. The day I tricked her into thinking she tricked me into marriage was the best day of my life.

First of all, she’s a pole dancer…for real. We even have a pole installed at the house…for real. How many guys do you know that live in a house with a library (with thousands of books, movies, and music discs), and a pole (with a resident dancer)?

I rest my case right there. I’m a lucky guy.

But wait! There’s more!! And it has nuthin’ to do with Ginsu knives.

Said pole dancer is also one sharp cookie.

Janie went hunting and gathering today at Kroger. She slapped on her pith helmet and sallied forth, sans grocery list (that means “without” – apologies to Groucho Marx). She was spurred to action after hearing about lockdowns in Italy and Spain, and Walter Tunis’ trophy-hunter selfie with the last can of tuna from Kroger.

She returned, sporting a grimly triumphal look.

“I hunted. I gathered. You bring ‘em in.”

“What’cha get?”

“Bags of random crap.”

That’s BORC to the I-can’t-be-bothered-to-spell generation (ICBBTS’s).

She was off to wash her hands while I toted in the nine BORC.

What a treasure hunt! What a jumble sale!

There was evaporated milk, clam strips, blueberry muffins, calamari, two cans of tuna (take that Mr. Tunis), a bag of oddly curled pasta (the last in the free world I’m told), one can of spam, and one tiny tin of anchovies. That last sentence was un-exaggerated and unexpurgated.

There was more, of course, but these were the items that dazzled me.

Anchovies.

I have never owned an anchovy in my life. I’m not sure I even know what one is. We are truly living in historic times.

I asked the Great Red-Headed Hunter, gently mind you, about the anchovies.

“I think I have a recipe.”

I surveyed the expanse of the BORC and pondered.

What kind of casserole could involve clam strips, calamari, tuna, spam, and anchovies? Do I wanna know?

The pondering swirled away (as pondering often will) into a stray remembrance of when I collected baseball cards as a child. I recall one summer when every pack of baseball cards I bought had a Marv Throneberry card in it. I didn’t know Marvelous Marv personally. He may have been a charming fellow, but I hated him that summer. What I really wanted that year was Pete Rose’s rookie card. I never got one. At one point, I offered to trade six Marv Throneberry cards for one Pete Rose. No takers.

Today, as I move the grocery piles to the pantry under the avaricious eyes of the dog (hoping for droppage), I am offering one tiny tin of anchovies for six Marv Throneberry cards…plus a few Ginsu knives thrown in.

Thus far, no takers.

I’m gonna go wash my hands.

Honestly…Puzzling It Out

I have some thoughts about something Mr. Trump said this week;

“Honestly, we have all the material.”

Something struck me as curious when I heard it.

There’s the obvious; his use of the word “honestly.”

To tell the truth — I can honestly say — Believe me…

In my life experience any statement that begins with one of these three phrases is inaccurate (or a flat-out guess), a deliberate lie, and/or is trying to do something unpleasant to someone…often me.

Also, I can’t recall ever hearing Mr. Trump use the word “material.” For sure, it’s not a difficult word, but Mr. Trump uses so few words and repeats his favorites so many times, it’s arresting when a new one creeps in.

Thus, my attention was caught and my curiosity piqued. To whom was his statement meant? To exactly what material was he referring? Why?

I’ve heard two explanations proffered by the press;

  1. He was responding to a question about his impeachment and reassuring his supporters of the inevitability of the impeachment failing since he had control of all the witnesses and the documents. Sounds reasonable.

Of course, that would be a public confession of the very obstruction of which he’s been accused. But as long as he can completely corral the Republicans in the Senate…

  1. Ms. Maddow’s blog suggests another theory. She posits Mr. Trump was referring to material as the general strength of the case on his side and the good job his defenders were doing…in his opinion.

Of course, that’s simply and glaringly not true. But that hasn’t stopped him in the past.

I wonder though…might there be another, albeit more sinister explanation?

Suppose he’s not messaging the press, his base, or his supporters. Suppose the message is intended for Republican senators suspected of possibly wavering in their Trumpian devotion who might be firmed up, or even Democratic senators who might be swayed by the “materials” in Mr. Trump’s control.

Suppose those materials have nothing to do with the Ukrainian fiasco.

It is rumored that J. Edgar Hoover had compromising files on many important people and used his possession of those files to maintain his intelligence empire for decades.

Mr. Trump now has all the resources of the Justice Department and the intelligence community in his control. He has demonstrated that he will reach around the world, imperil other countries’ security, and bandy about billions of dollars to get dirt on his political opponents. How much easier might it be to obtain “kompromat” from just down the street, from someone you appointed, from a department you rule?

Who knows how many “Steele Dossiers” are out there…waiting to be released……or not.

It’s not a happy surmise, but it would go far to explain the curious total capitulation of the Republican members of Congress.

Curious.

I am completely open to the thought that this is all just a morbid speculation on my part, but what if it’s not? And after a week of increasingly erratic tweets from Mr. Trump, hearing his voice urging the firing of a US diplomat with the phrase “Take her out”, the implied threat to Rep. Schiff, the threat against republican senators (heads on pikes?), and the juvenile name-calling, who knows the limits of what’s possible with this president?

It is curious, isn’t it?

Unfortunately, the track record of this administration has been such that “curious” usually suggests “spurious.”

Honestly…

Quicksand Fever

I fret.

It’s my medium.

I work with fret like potters work with clay.

It’s my gift.

I can fret about anything. If you give me a stack of $100 bills, I will fret about which way the bills are turned. What if they stick together? What if a strong wind blows? How am I gonna get change?

I’ve learned to live with it and laugh at it…and that’s good because I’ve fretted since my childhood. I was a fret savant.

I was raised on 50’s and 60’s TV. I fretted when Spin and Marty went to summer camp. I fretted when skinny Frankie Avalon tried to keep up with all those big surfers when it was clear that Annette coulda taken him two falls outta three. I even fretted about Mr. Peabody’s “Way-Back Machine.” That thing didn’t look safe.

As I grew older, such “objets du angst” proved silly.

Quicksand, for example, has not proven to be near the ubiquitous hazard that TV westerns predicted it would be. It’s good to know Chloe the Pup and I can wander the neighborhood with impunity.

One of the most worrisome fears of my youth was falling into the hands of the Communists. I had read accounts of how the Soviet government snatched their innocent citizens off the streets, held sham investigations and trials, and whisked the hapless victims off to insane asylums or Siberia…or both. My dad and my teachers and Walter Cronkite assured me it was so.

Gulp!

I was also assured by those same people that it couldn’t happen in America. Any nascent wanderlust in me was subdued a bit. But as long as I maintained my citizenship, voted like a banshee, and kept my feet in the Land-Where-We-Do-What’s-Right, there was no need to fret.

Whew!

But wait.

Wait……

…………………………………………………………………..…wait…………

Now we have a president who asks a former Soviet country to investigate American citizens.

I think I’ll be asking my grass-cutting guy to survey the back yard for quicksand next spring.

Steinbeck and Screens

When people I meet learn;

  • That at my mom’s urging, I was reading before I started school;
  • My first job was as a clerk in the Children’s Department of the Lexington Public Library;
  • I’ve collected books since I was fifteen;
  • With Janie’s permission, a loan from a friend, a thoughtful and caring set of plans from another friend, and a year of formidable building skills from yet another friend, I built a library. I built a library…pht-t-t-t. I wrote checks, said “GO,” kept out of the way, and admired the work – that’s what I did;

They get the point that books are uber-important to me.

Often, I will then get the question; “What’s your favorite book?”

Often I will cheat on the answer; “Today, my favorite book is actually two books by John Steinbeck; CANNERY ROW and SWEET THURSDAY.” It’s not really cheating. The two books tell one story about Steinbeck’s friend, Doc Ricketts. The books have all the basic food groups; Monterey, homeless men living a mostly gleeful life in abandoned corrugated tubes, a whorehouse, a frog hunt, a seer who inspires sunsets instead of the other way around, a Chinese storekeeper who cheats at chess, beer milk shakes, octopi, and Suzy driving a stick shift.

It also has a classic Steinbeck line that, to me, goes far to explain the current toxicity of our political life.

“Men seem to be born with a debt they can never pay no matter how hard they try. It piles up ahead of them. Man owes something to man. If he ignores the debt it poisons him…”

I wonder if our current addiction to screens and our hunger and demand for complete access to all things at all times for no sacrifice of effort and treasure, is simply a path to distraction…and perhaps eventual destruction. We distract ourselves constantly to keep from acknowledging our debt to our species and other species for that matter. We substitute knowing things quickly for knowing things well…and then we do the same for the people we meet.

I’m gonna do better…

…and perhaps slower.

I’m certainly gonna vote…

…and I’m gonna vote in a way that pays at least a little of that debt I owe to all species.

Now, if tomorrow I’m asked about my favorite book, my answer might be THE STORY OF DR. DOLITTLE by Hugh Lofting.

I can’t explain it.

It’s the way I roll.

Turn Yer Radio On

I was eleven years old when I first started falling asleep to the radio. I still do whenever possible.

<<<< “Post #1 — One o’clock and all is well.” The call rang out in the dark. A twenty-something Union prison guard in Western Kentucky was listening and questioning the wisdom of leaving New York for this blue uniform and a nocturnal duty of vigilance over tattered Southern wretches. Still, it was reassuring to hear of the continued existence and thriving of Post #1. He scanned his portion of the prison ground for anomalies and finding none answered; “Post #2 – One o’clock and all is well.” He assumed Post #3 would be similarly comforted…hell, those Southern boys might like to hear a pleasant word as well. >>>>

In 1962, when I was eleven, it was my battery-powered cigarette-pack-sized transistor radio tucked under my pillow, ideally tuned in to a late night baseball game from the West Coast between my hallowed Reds and the despised Dodgers or haughty Giants. To drift off to Waite Hoyt’s description of Frank Robinson and Vada Pinson battling Maury Wills and Sandy Koufax, or Willie Mays and Juan Marichal was bliss. If the Reds weren’t available, the local overnight disc jockey, Tom Kimball on WVLK touting “Nighthawk Specials” at Columbia Steakhouse and a mélange of pre-Beatles rock was a pretty good Plan B for a pretty good night’s sleep.

A half-century later, not much has changed.

<<<< About two miles from our home, a train whistle rewards our summer-open bedroom window with long, long moan that croons; “We’re out here travelin’, workin’, carryin’ on…don’t you worry none…we’re here…all’s well.” >>>>

Each night, I pessimistically set my clock radio to play the radio for two hours. Then I proceed to become comatose in about two minutes. I try to find a live sporting event first, then classical music or jazz, then settle for any music or live programming.

It has to be live programming.

Television won’t do the job. Television is visual and I find it hard to fall asleep when my eyes are open. Go figger.

Recorded music won’t do. There’s no currently awake mind behind.

Live programming…that’s the ticket.

Why?

<<<< Sirens pass, shrieking. Hospital helicopters wop and chop overhead. Each heralds an urgent problem. Each assures that responders are responding; “All’s not well, but we’re on it!” >>>>

I think my need goes back to 1962 and the Cuban Missile Crisis.

In the fall of 1962, Nikita Khrushchev got the neighborly idea of putting Russian missiles in Cuba, ninety miles away from the Florida Keys. Jack Kennedy realized quickly that missiles in Cuba threatened to sharply amplify the hazards of a determined Duval Street Crawl beyond a drunken face plant on a Key West sidewalk, a night in the Key West slammer, and your name on page two of the Key West newspaper. The hazards could logically portend an end to Western Civilization which, hard as it is for my acquaintances in the Keys to believe, involves bigger issues than a cold beer (or five) and a well-done conch fritter (one is enough). Kennedy ordered a naval blockade to intercept a missile-laden Russian ship headed for Cuba.

The whole country felt a spasm of fear. A nuclear conflagration seemed eminent.

<<<< My dog farts in bed and sighs. All is well and evidently well-fed. >>>>

My sixth grade class at Yates Elementary were schooled the day after the blockade was announced in the intricacies of “duck and cover.” We knelt in the school’s halls with our heads down and covered by our hands.

But I had seen images of Hiroshima.

I didn’t raise a ruckus in school about our atomic training, but I was silently and forlornly convinced that “duck and cover” wasn’t gonna cut it.

No, Lexington’s best hope was in the fact that there was no military reason to nuke it. I found a soupçon of solace in that, though it would be a few more years before I knew what “soupçon” or “solace” meant.

But I still fretted about the rest of the world. If the random angry world powers ignored Lexington but obliterated themselves, how would I know?

On the radio!

All’s well…

An Imperial Visitor

A hawk came to our house today.

We’ve been in our house for 30+ years. We’ve tried to encourage most critters that drift in and we’ve deliberately brought others into our outdoor space. Our dogs and cats have thrived. Our fish teem and our frogs sing. We’ve been briefly visited by raccoons, opossums, owls, and herons. An ancient and wavering coyote was once cornered by the authorities under our hollies. The hedge of trumpet vine under which we live has become a condo for about a dozen tiny chittering birds that are a source of endless entertainment for our cat. Of course we have the usual horde of squirrels who screech their disapproval of every move the dog makes…critics! We have a plethora of rabbits and an occasional terrifying, but non-lethal serpent.

Our little space has become a lively, noisy little jungle. I believe Henri Rousseau would smile upon our efforts.

But today…

…today…

…it was a hawk.

Janie was heading out the door to her yoga session. There was a wo-o-osh of wings. She stopped; “I think we had a hawk in our garden!”

It was gone and so was she. I grabbed another cup of coffee and headed for the library.

The windows in the library overlook a small brick-lined pool with a birdbath fountain. I can stand in those windows and watch the frogs and fish and fountain, all of which are less than ten feet away.

I fired up the desktop and got the music ready for a’shufflin’.

I stepped up to the window with my cuppa and there he was.

“The stuff that dreams are made of…”

More like nightmares…feathered and beaked nightmares.

Squatting in the fountain, wings drooping happily over the edges of the basin, water bubbling up beneath his regal bird butt, his cruel Sam Waterston/Morris Ankrum countenance darting challenges to the world.

He flapped and flung water, enjoying his morning ablutions.

Our garden went silent.

Teeming and singing ceased. The frogs and the fish discreetly and immediately plunged to bottom of the pool. The chittering condo birds chittered not. The squirrels kept their vulgar opinions to themselves. Dogs on the street stopped barking. Sirens and cars all instantly became hybrids and made no sounds.

I held my breath.

Death was bathing…

…and like the gods of Lovecraft, nothing good for any living creature would come from attracting his attention.

This stricken silence went on for about ten minutes.

It was thrilling.

It was magnificent.

It was kinda scary.

I understood a little better the silence of Republicans in the presence of Trump.

The hawk, in his own time, flew to the garden gate, flapped and flung water to dry. He then cocked his head and flung a dismissive Chuck Pogue sneer to the silent garden.

He flew away, taking the silence with him.

I breathed again.

I looked down at the cat.

She sauntered away, wide-eyed, her tail huge, murmuring; “…goddam neighborhood’s goin’ to hell…”

What’s French for Pep?

Flea 06

I was in a French farce once…
…on stage.

I’ve participated in and initiated many a farce in my life but they weren’t French and they weren’t onstage.
This one was.

On opening night, the director (a guest director imported from New York City, no less) assembled the cast in the Green Room for a pre-show chat (aka pep talk). This perplexed me. At the stupidly young age of 19 when I, of course, knew everything, one of the things I knew was if your farce required an injection of pep to achieve “farcicality” you might want to consider doing Ibsen instead. Shouldn’t a prominent bed and sturdy doors that slammed loudly be farcical enough?

Be that as it may, we assembled in full regalia (wigs, tails, boas, bustles, and spats) and our director spoke.

“When I was a young man, I apprenticed at a summer one-week-stock theater in the Catskills. Each night as we traveled from the green room to the stage, we passed under a large sign that read;
‘IT’S A COMEDY HOUSE. PLAY IT LOUD AND FAST.’
I came to hate that sign that summer. I knew theater was far more than important than that. I knew acting involved far more than that. I swore when I was a director I would not sell my art out like that.
And we haven’t.
We will take the stage tonight knowing who we are, where we’ve come from, where we’re going, and why we’re making this journey. We’ve listened to each other, and laughed with each other, and cried, and kissed, and slapped…we’ve loved and betrayed…we’ve explored every path of this theatrical journey and we’re ready to take our audience with us.
Just…
…just…
…remember this;
IT’S A COMEDY HOUSE. PLAY IT LOUD AND FAST!”

<< sigh >>

Well…
…the bed was prominent, the doors worked, the walls were mostly pink, and the accents were vaguely French.

It was a farce.

The Hazards of a Wine Education

“Yer name Leasor?”

The words came out softly from a warm Bluegrass night accompanied by a blinding police car spotlight in the summer of 1973.

I could, regrettably, rule out an epiphany since I was pretty sure I was not on the road to Damascus.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind wouldn’t be released for another four years, so it wasn’t a targeted alien abduction. Probing, thank God, was unlikely.

I was in my car parked at the back door of a liquor store at about 2am Sunday morning.
How could anything good come of this?

Wait, wait, wait…
Let’s roll this clock back a bit.

++++++++++++++++++++++++

I have been asked a number of times how I learned about wine.
I read magazines and books of course. In the early 70’s I read a quote from the owner of a California winery; “The only way to learn about wine is to open bottles.” That rang true and desirable to me in 1973, and has continued to ring true and desirable through the decades. But in 1973, I couldn’t afford to open that many bottles. Oh sure, it was a time when the most expensive California Cabernet Sauvignon (Paul Masson) was $3.59, Pouilly-Fuissé was $3.79, and Dom Perignon was $15.99. But I was making $1.85 an hour as an assistant manager and riding a bicycle to work whenever the weather allowed.

There were no student loans for opening bottles.

One day a customer ordered two cases of Jos. Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett (about $2.99 per bottle). It arrived in the store and the customer did not. We were stuck with $70+ of wine that nobody else in Kentucky had even heard of, nor could they pronounce it if they had. What to do?

It behooved us to sell the cases. To do so, it behooved us to research the wine.

On Saturday nights, the store manager and I would work the store together with one cashier. At midnight, we would let the cashier leave and the two of us would finish working until the legally mandated closing time of 1am. It was usually a slo-o-o-w final hour.
One slo-o-o-w final Saturday night hour, the manager chilled down a bottle of the problematical Jos. Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett. I slipped next door to the grocery store (Randall’s, if you’re geezer enough to remember) and purchased a couple of gourmet cheeses (Colby and Havarti, leftover from their deli sandwiches as I recall – goin’ first class all the way). We pulled out the Lichine’s Encyclopedia of Wine, and pulled out the corks, and employed a couple of styrophene cups – goin’ first class all the way.

That night I learned a good bit of geography (the importance of those hilly bends in the rivers Mosel and Saar, and their orientation to the sun). I learned of the winemaking prowess of the Prum family. I learned a good bit about my first grape varietal; Riesling. I learned about the agricultural challenge of coaxing maximum ripeness while avoiding potentially crop-destroying early winter. Most importantly, I experienced for the first time sunshine in a bottle. There’s no going back from there.

From humble sips, a sometimes blurry enthusiasm ensued (plus, we sold the two cases).

We continued our Lincoln-esque educational path. Wine sales and reputation grew steadily. In the long run, the manager eventually became the best and most influential wine-buyer in the state and I did OK conducting a ton of wine-tastings over the next 40 years.

But in the short run…

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

This particular Saturday night, we had tried and studied a couple of real nice wines from the Cote de Nuits and I was definitely feeling the effects of the nuit.

We closed the store and the manager drove me around the shopping center to my parked car, dropped me off, and departed.

I sat in my car for a moment with windows down, my ride in 1973 being sans air-conditioning, GPS, Sirius, FM radio, cruise control, and cup-holders. I blissfully contemplated my next move. I was leaning towards a greasy breakfast at the Euclid Avenue Toddle House with the closing time rejects from the Fireplace Lounge and the Chevy Chase Inn. I was pretty sure that crowd would ignore my shoulder-blade-long locks and spare me the usual jukebox tribute of “I’m Proud to Be an Okie From Muskogee.”
Hash browns…
…hash browns…
…might just be the answer, whatever the question might be.

BAM!

That’s when the police car spotlight hit me.
The car glided alongside and a voice that invited no nonsense inquired; “What are you doing here?”

I explained, eloquently, perkily, and with perfect American diction, my status as an employee of the liquor store, just getting off work and heading for home for a good night’s sleep before I arose to attend church, teach Sunday school, and sing in the choir……uh……and get a haircut, Officer.
I don’t think he bought it.

Then he asked; “Yer name Leasor?”

I confessed……abjectly.
Every fault known to man, every yellow light compromised, every RSVP un-responded to, every face turned away from the ugly hour mirror, every oil change postponed, every missed cut-off man…I confessed to it all in the name of Leasor.
“Yes…it is.”

“I saw you in a play. My girlfriend…she loves the theater. She took me to a play and you were in it. I didn’t like the play much, but you were pretty good.”

I was stunned and flattered into silence for a moment. Now remember, it didn’t take much to stun me at that exact moment…………I’m not proud of that admission.

We chatted for about 15-20 minutes about theater and girlfriends. He asked; “You still doing that?”
By then, my faculties were returning to razor-sharp (well…at least hacksaw-sharp) and I determined he was asking about theater and not girlfriends.
“Oh, yeah. I’m rehearsing a show now. You wanna see it? I’ve got comps.”
“I might. That’d be nice. My girl would be impressed.”
We arranged the logistics and he asked gently;
“Where’ya going now?”

Well, frankly, my belief in the restorative power of slimy hash browns being strong, I was still ciphering on the possible wisdom of a visit to the Toddle House, but his question gave me pause.
“I’m going straight home.”
“Where’s that?”
I responded with my address.
“Why don’t I follow you there, just to be safe?”
I agreed.
He did.

He and his lady attended my show and came backstage afterwards.
I think he scored a lot of points with her.

I merely lived to tell the tale.
I won……

Yes……I won……

But, it might have been because of the kindness and care of a problem-solving police officer. Attitudes about alcohol and driving were different; lenient and far more dangerous in 1973 than they are today. That incident changed my path. I stayed in the wine business, but my educational curriculum steered to a safer course. The slo-o-o-w Saturday night classes were terminated tout suite. C’est bien, n’est-ce pas?

Taco-Fest in San Miguel

san miguel-taco don feliz
Don Feliz, the scene of the Great Taco Massacree

I think I was in my late twenties before I had my tenth taco. I can’t say it was a memorable moment or a memorable taco. It didn’t leave me wanting more. Keep in mind, Lexington at that time only had one Mexican-themed restaurant and it wasn’t even a Taco Bell. Some of my friends, refugees from other cities, spoke dreamily of Taco Bell. I spoke dreamily of White Castle – we didn’t have them either.

But San Miguel de Allende…

I had been in San Miguel for less than 45 minutes and had had three tacos and an epiphany. The shells of these tacos were jicama and the fillings were spicy and light and crunchy and of no meat. I was weary from a day of travel, challenged by trying to keep up conversations with newly-made ex-patriot friends, and feeling the effects of cobblestone streets on an offended knee. These invigorating tacos and invigorating new acquaintances (plus a stunning view of a brilliant sunset over the distant mountains) cured all.

It was an instant revelation that I had grumpily trudged into a blessed place and that “grumpily” would henceforth have to be deleted from my vocabulary.

I replaced it with “tacos.”
I know, I know…”tacos” is not an adverb, but I trust you catch my drift.

Over the next two weeks, we had tacos indoors and outdoors. We had tacos on the first, second, and third floors, AND rooftops of excellent restaurants. The tacos, the sunsets, the company of our traveling companions, and the irresistible enthusiasm of our new friends happily filled our days. The offended knee was mollified by the plenteous and inexpensive taxis.

It was a real good time.

One last evening we were whisked away to Don Feliz (see picture), a restaurant slightly off the beaten cobblestone. It featured gallon-ish margaritas and a seven-taco entrée.

Seven.
Seven different tacos.
Some were beef. Some were chicken. Some were pork. Some were buffalo. Some were unicorn.

Madre de Dias!

Clearly, it was time to go home.