I've reached another milestone in my life by having breakfast with Wolfgang Puck. Well, not exactly with him, but with numerous photos of him staring at me from the walls of his franchised eatery at the Indianapolis airport. My sister and I got to the airport early and hungry on Saturday morning for our trip to Texas, and Puck's was the closest place to our departure gate.
We both selected the "traditional" breakfast -- scrambled eggs that were nothing special, two pieces of bacon, one slice of toast and a handful of breakfast potatoes -- for $8. It must be nice to be able to use your name like that, just let people throw together whatever crap is on hand and charge whatever they like for it. Maybe he'll start making surprise visits to his holes-in-the wall and scribble on paper napkins for an extra $10. Pablo Picasso got a lot of free meals that way, so it seems only fair to let the kitchen help cash in, too. And they say Bob Dylan sold out.
At least the floor show was entertaining. In addition to the usual vacation miscreants and forlorn members of the business diaspora shuffling through the concourse, there were all these kids in Halloween costumes, tugging at parents with fake laughs and facial tics. I didn't know if the costumes were for the arrival -- maybe destination Halloween parties are big these days -- or for the trip. Just in case, I hunkered down at my Wolfgang Puck breakfast table, keeping my face hidden by a book. This was the first Halloween in years when I didn't have to escape to a friend's house or hide on the back porch with the front light off to avoid the hordes of trick-or-treaters. I didn't want the occasion spoiled by some grubby kid sticking his hand out for a free glob of my $8 scrambled eggs.
The most interesting traveler we saw was an attractive woman wearing a T-shirt with the inscription "I married my stalker." She kept explaining to people that her husband asked her to wear it for a laugh because he couldn't make the trip with her, which means it was probably more accurate than she would care to admit.
The trip was uneventful -- no screaming babies or unexplained tarmac waits -- with one positive note. Because we had ordered our tickets before the price hike, my sister and I had to pay only $15 per checked bag instead of $20. And on the first leg of the journey, from Indy to Dallas-Fort Worth, they actually gave us a soft drink for free. And they say there are no bargains today.
On arrival at my brother's just outside Wimberley in Hill Country, we quickly repaired to the deck to catch up on family stories, gaze on the sprawling Texas countryside and wait for the pot roast to finish simmering in the crock pot. If he had become a complete Texan, he would have had half a steer roasting on a spit in the back 40 somewhere, but he is, after all, a transplanted Hoosier with roots in Kentucky. It's probably a good thing we didn't have to chase down our own chickens to fry.
I shared my airport observations, which led to a discussion of Halloween in general. My brother lives so far from his neighbors that he isn't bothered by greedy candy grabbers -- they'd have to call it trek-or-treat here. I mentioned some of the steps being taken in Indiana to proect the kids from registered sex offenders. In some communities, the perverts aren't allowed to turn their front lights on, and in Indianapolis, they aren't even allowed to stay home on Halloween night. They have to go to a meeting to get lectured and counsel each others on the error of their ways. It suddenly occurred to me that perhaps my neighborhood reputation might drop even further. No longer would I be seen merely as the crabby old man in the middle of the block who refuses to participate in trick-or-treat. Maybe he's not allowed to turn his light on. He might even be at a meeting. Shudder.
Yesterday morning, my brother made breakfast for everybody. He's no Wolfgang Puck, but his eggs were made to order -- over medium is perfect, no runny whites but the yolks not hard -- and there was a whole platter of bacon and as many slices of toast as we wanted. And last night he threw great hunks of beefsteak on the grill, accompanied by nothing but oven-fried potatoes.What else is needed? He is completely redeemed, foodwise. And they say families no longer get along.
In between, we lounged on the deck and watched critters roam his land. Gray foxes with big bushy tails came by to eat the cheap hot dogs my brother and his wife throw out for them. There aren't as many deer this year, and blame human perverseness for that. They have a deer feeder that dispenses food automatically twice a day, and the deer know exactly when that is. But the timer changed itself Saturday night with the end of daylight saving time, so the deer are an hour off and confused about feeding time. I'm sure there's a great metaphor for something in there somewhere, but I'm on vacation, so you figure it out yourself if you want to.
After dinner, we went down to the firepit and drank wine and watched our mandmade sparks blot out the stars. My sister-in-law took along a few boxes of Peeps (she has great stacks of them just for this purpose) to throw into the fire as a ritual sacrifice. My sister asked to throw in a batch, but was horrified to learn she was murdering marshmallow bunnies instead of the traditional chicks. This seemed like a perversion to me. Those two women ought to at least have to go to meetings. But I Googled Peeps and found that people do all sorts of strange things with them. Here is a plea to end cruel Peeps experiments, for example. And here are 100 ways to kill Peeps -- guess we should make that 101. Nobody seems to actually eat the damn things.
But I wouldn't be a bit surprised to find stir-fried Peeps on the menu when the Wolfgang Puck drive-in franchises start opening. I recommend white wine -- save the red for the beef, pot roast and frankfurter-fed foxes.
We're going down to the shooting range tomorrow or Wednesday to make the world safe from paper targets. But just in case, I think I'll take a box or two of Peeps in the event that Puck doesn't start taking them out for us -- make that 102 ways. So many Peeps, so little time.
And they say traditional American values are at risk.