Just before my trip to Texas my son Paul was home for two weeks. Since he now lives in L.A. we made sure he got to some of his favorite Kansas City restaurants: Aveluto’s Italian Delight, Rosedale BBQ, Papa Keno’s pizza, Gates BBQ…the list went on and on.
Paul also likes to start his day with a trip to Starbucks so as often as possible I’d go with him to keep him company and I’d have a Caramel Frappuccino. I did this because A. they’re delicious and B. go back and look at A. one more time.
I love my son, but after a couple of weeks of dining out with him I said he had to get the hell out of town because if he didn’t I was going to need a new wardrobe made up mostly of muumuus – try saying that 10 times fast – and golf shirts the size of a Barnum & Bailey circus tent.
I’d say a circus tent without elephants, but I was working on it.
I was consuming way too many calories in an effort to be sociable which sounds a whole lot better than admitting I do not have the willpower to pick at a dinner salad of iceberg lettuce while my son sits across the table and crushes a burnt-end sandwich and fries.
So right before I burst open like a dead whale on a hot day at the beach, Paul headed back to L.A. and I flew to Texas.
Day 1: Thursday
My friend Bill is one of those guys who won’t let you pay for anything when you come visit. He figures you spent money to get there, so he’ll cover dining out which works out great for me because he doesn’t come to Kansas City that often.
After decades of arguing about it, I pretty much let him pay until he reaches the point where he’s spent as much on meals and drinks as I did on a plane ticket.
After that we harangue some poor, young waitress insisting that there only be one check and we should be the one to get it, which forces her to make some Solomon-like decision when she clearly doesn’t give a rat’s ass about who pays and all she wants to do is get on with her work.
That’s pretty much my excuse for eating like I’m about to be put on exhibit at the county fair; Bill is trying to show me a good time and I’m trying to show I appreciate it.
Let’s face it; I’m a people person.
So my first day in Texas we went to lunch at Aboca’s Italian Grill where I showed my gratitude by eating every speck of my chicken Parmesan and pasta. The broccoli and cauliflower went untouched because I had to cut back somewhere and we all know how many calories are in steamed vegetables.
That night we ate fried chicken at Bubba’s which came with green beans and mashed potatoes with gravy thick enough to spackle a house. Really glad I saved some room by avoiding those steamed vegetables.
Afterwards, while watching TV, Bill offered me some beef jerky a friend of his made and what kind of houseguest would I be if I didn’t try it? And since I was eating something with the consistency of a Florsheim wingtip, I had to wash it down with something and a Blue Moon beer did the trick.
That night I lay in bed groaning thinking being sociable was killing me, but when the going gets tough, the tough take Tums.
Day 2: Friday
For a friendly Texan Bill has some anti-social tendencies and one of them is not only refusing to drink coffee, but not keeping any in his house.
Good host my ass.
When I first get out of bed my heart doesn’t start unless I get hooked up to a DieHard and jumper cables or down a cup of coffee. So Bill drove us to Inwood Donuts where I got a couple chocolate-cake glazed (getting just one seemed like an insult to the shop owners) and a cup of the jitters.
For lunch we went to Flaming Cheese Saganaki restaurant and Saganaki turned out to be a type of cheese, not a city in Japan like I first thought. Sure enough, they set fire to some and we had a fried-cheese appetizer, dolmas and gyros. It was so damn good after I finished my chicken gyros I took the last piece of fried cheese to top things off.
I didn’t want to insult the restaurant owners by not finishing the appetizers.
That night we went to Republic – an upscale Texas tavern – and I had one of their specialties; chicken fried steak, but in this case the steak is a ribeye the size of a Buick LeSabre hubcap. It was so big it covered the entire plate so you had to eat your way down through the first layer of chicken-fried ribeye to get to the dish’s foundation; mashed potatoes and gravy – this time with bits of bacon just in case your cholesterol levels are low.
Bill decided we should stop at Baskin-Robbins on the way home and I was beginning to feel like Hansel and Gretel’s half-brother, Leesel.
But once again I didn’t want to insult Bill’s generosity so I not only had a scoop of ice cream, I had two; Rocky Road and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup in a waffle cone that was big enough to be used as a college cheerleader’s megaphone at a 1950s Texas-OU game.
Am I a great houseguest or what?
Day 3: Saturday
Back to Inwood Donuts for coffee and donuts, but this time I threw in a cherry turnover because I hadn’t had one in decades, they were one of my dad’s favorites and Father’s Day was just around the corner.
When it comes to pastry, I’m sentimental.
Lunch was BBQ at Bone Daddy’s where I polished off a pulled-pork sandwich, potato salad and BBQ beans. I was extremely proud of myself for turning down the fries; if you don’t watch your figure, no one else will.
We stopped by Stein Mart afterwards to buy some new shirts because the ones I brought along seem to have mysteriously shrunk in the wash.
Went back to Bill’s, took one of those food-coma naps, woke up hungry and polished off that beef jerky, washed down with a Dos Equis in an effort to keep my strength up for dinner. I mean who wants to hang out with a drowsy dinner companion?
We went to Ojeda’s, which before I saw the sign I assumed was owned by an Irishman, but it turned out to be a Tex-Mex joint so I had fish tacos swimming in a couple margaritas.
On the way home Bill mentioned B&R’s ice cream again, but to my disappointment he headed straight home – I think he was toying with me.
Day 4: Sunday
Back to Inwood Donuts for breakfast and this time I had to have two chocolate donuts and a cherry turnover because it was actually Father’s Day and I didn’t want to hurt the owner’s feelings by downsizing my order from the day before.
Say what you want about me, I’m thoughtful.
Pei Wei’s for lunch and Pad Thai Chicken where I may have accidentally consumed a vegetable or two. But I made up for that at dinner which was Jake’s Burgers and Beers: fried mushroom appetizer, onion rings and a Bacon Bleu burger, two meat patties and a goblet the size of a Voit volleyball filled with Irish ale to cleanse the palate.
Afterwards, Bill pulled up in front of Baskin-Robbins and asked if I wanted a top off and I felt like Mr. Creosote being offered a “wahfer-thin mint” in a Monty Python sketch.
If you’ve never seen it I’m thoughtfully supplying a link, but I wouldn’t advise watching it because it’s pretty disgusting and will be stuck in your memory forever. Quentin Tarantino once said it’s the one movie scene he finds disturbing. So if you watch this, it’s on you:
I actually refused the B&R ice cream because I didn’t want to explode and get bits of Bacon Bleu burger – another tongue twister – all over Bill’s Chevy Silverado. Plus I needed to save room for the two Inwood Donut chocolate-glazed I planned on getting the next morning on our way to the airport.
So what have we learned?
Most of us – and unfortunately that includes me – will rationalize doing what we want to do and procrastinate when it comes to doing what we ought to do. I like to eat and will obviously use any half-ass excuse – including my son, friends, dead father and donut shop owners– to excuse doing so.
But now I’m back home, don’t have any visitors coming into town and don’t have any trips planned for the rest of the month, so I won’t have any excuse to eat like I’m going to the electric chair in the morning.
So I’m going to start a sensible diet today…right after I meet some friends for lunch.
Because I’m not fat, I’m friendly.