So today in Austin, I wandered around the downtown area (6th street) just to see what I could see. Austin has this movement called “Keep Austin Weird,” which is basically a call to action to support local and indie businesses that make Austin such a weird, hip oasis in the middle of Texas.
I went to the “Museum of Weird,” but just kind of looked around the gift shop, since you had to pay to see the museum and I feel like my whole life is a museum of weird, so no thanks. I was the only customer in the whole place, aside from the three weirdos who worked there. Who were super cool Austin hipsters. Too cool for me, I think. We started chatting.
Turns out one of the girls who worked there was, in fact, originally from Odessa, TX (320 miles west, where I had stayed the previous night). When she asked me why in the hell I would want to stay in Odessa, TX, even for a night, I told her: “Well… Friday Night Lights. You know. The whole… the football thing.” Turns out she actually went to that high school where I saw the football game the other night. (The world is smaller than we think, folks.)
Anyway, this girl wasn’t super psyched about her alma mater or their football team (“they suck”). The other two started talking about how sports were soooooooo huge in their small hometowns and how it was total bullshit, and it was never really their scene. I’m just as intrigued by people like this as I am with the people who choose to stay in the Odessas of the world, because I can’t even imagine the kind of fortitude it takes to just uproot your entire existence and move to a place you think better suits you. I was basically talking to three people who had grown up in small towns, who then decided they were way too weird for their small towns, and then moved to Austin to be weird with other weirdos. Which I can definitely appreciate. But I think they also thought I WAS THE WEIRD ONE for being so fascinated by things like Texas football and small town life and driving around the country just for the sake of seeing places like the ones they escaped.
It was basically one big weird-off at the Museum of Weird between me and three other weirdos. It was fantastic.
After that, I decided to grab a bite to eat. I Yelped nearby places and saw this place called “Franklin’s BBQ” that had 4 stars based on over 1,000 reviews. “FUCK YEAH,” I thought. Then I saw that the hours of operation were 11 am - 1 pm. It was now 12:15. Plenty of time, I thought. Plenty. Of. Time.
The place was a mile away. “I think I’ll walk there,” I said, because I am an idiot. One mile didn’t seem that bad. Hell, I had just jogged three miles earlier that morning. What’s one mile?
WELL LET ME TELL YOU WHAT ONE MILE IS IN 100 DEGREE TEXAS HEAT.
I started walking and was immediately drenched in sweat after I moved maybe 40 feet.
“Well this is a terrible idea, should I go back and get in my car? No. No, I’m already walking. I’m doing this.”
Then the route turned a corner and it became all uphill. And it was 100 degrees. In Texas.
By now, the clock was ticking, it was getting close to 12:30, so I had to book it. I picked up my pace. Uphill. In 100 degrees.
“WHY THE FUCK DID I WEAR PANTS? WHY THE FUCK DID I WEAR SKINNY JEANS, OF ALL THE TYPES OF PANTS THAT EXIST? THIS IS ALL THE HIPSTERS’ FAULT.”
My jeans became so hot on my legs that at one point, they fused with my skin and I was turning into some kind of hot, unholy half-human/half-denim monster on a rampage through downtown. “DON’T FEAR ME, PEOPLE OF AUSTIN! I WAS ONCE LIKE YOU!”
I finally got to Franklin’s BBQ and I saw a line going out the door and wrapping around the corner because of course. The line was, as you might imagine, filled with Austin hipsters (who probably Yelped it just like me, because everyone in my generation is the worst). I got there, and took my place at the end of the line. At that point, one of the waitresses came out to tell the last half of the line (myself included) that they were all out of food.
I bet they were. I bet their food was sooooo fucking good that they couldn’t physically keep anymore of it in the kitchen, because these ravenous Austin hipsters ate it all up. Probably ate it up ironically too, I bet. Just to spite me.
I turned around, defeated, and pulled out my phone to Yelp another location. Then I saw this sign directly across from Franklin’s BBQ.
How. Fucking. Adorable. I assume this was placed there specifically to console people just like me who just barely missed out on having Franklin’s legendary BBQ. People would hang their heads, shuffle their feet, and then turn around to find this quote from “The Help.” Their eyes probably even well up with tears a little when they see it which I totally didn’t do, SHUT UP MAYBE YOU DID, NOT ME, SHUT UP.
Anyway, I found this other place called Casino El Camino, which also had great Yelp reviews and was supposedly featured on the show “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives,” so even though I generally make it policy not to follow Guy Fieri’s advice about ANYTHING, I decided to give it a try because I was hungry. I walked back the way I came. Downhill this time. At a leisurely, non-hurried pace.
I walked past a gas station and narrowly avoided stepping on a used condom on the sidewalk. Which…
WHO IN THE HELL HAD SEX RIGHT HERE OUTSIDE THIS GAS STATION, I DON’T UNDERSTAND, THIS USED CONDOM RAISES FAR MORE QUESTIONS THAN ANSWERS, STARTING WITH:
Oh my God, did I step on that condom on the way to Franklin’s?
I could have! I was in such a hurry to get to Franklin’s before it closed that I wasn’t looking at the ground. I had my eyes on the prize! I could have stepped on it on the way there! WE CAN’T PROVE THAT I DIDN’T!
I then proceeded to stomp my feet for the next few blocks in an attempt to remove any foreign bodily fluids I may have stepped in, either real or hypothetical. Because in my mind, as far as I was concerned, my shoes might as well have been DRENCHED in jizz. It would have been the same to me.
After my contemplative walk back (“Is herpes medicine available over-the-counter? Have they cured AIDS yet? Can you get pregnant from a shoe?”), I sat down at the bar and ordered what tasted like the coldest, most delicious, most hard-earned beer of my life.
Oooohhh yeaaaaah, that’ll get you there.
And I also ordered something called the K.C. Burger.
It took 40 minutes to make.
But when it came… Holy shit, you guys.
This glorious piece of culinary art was cooked in BBQ sauce to a perfect medium-rare, topped with sweet grilled onions and smoky cheddar cheese. The meat melted, SWEAR TO GOD, MELTED in my mouth with every bite. The bun-to-meat ratio seemed as though it were scientifically calculated by some kind of advanced bun algorithm because it, too, was perfect. Hands down, one of the best burgers I’ve ever had in my life.
The fries served alongside the burger were equally impressive. Coated with some kind of seasoning (I have no idea what kind, is “heaven” a flavor of seasoning?), I literally could not stop myself from eating them. I was full, but I knew I would never see these fries again, so I stuffed as many of them as I could fit down my esophagus because I AM AN ANIMAL.
So I guess I’m glad Franklin’s was closed.
Anyway, all in all, pretty much what I expected from Austin.