The world of Dallas continues its uniqueness, starting with the weather, I guess. From our -17 wind chill last week to our 84-degree days now, what a rollercoaster. To someone who’s grown up in Louisiana, those kind of changes mean tornadoes and nasty thunderstorms. But we haven’t even had any rain.
Right now, the wind is howling through the night like the Furies, banging our fence around and sending all kinds of small, lightweight things whipping around the back yard, like the grill and the tile table and the 100-foot hose and the lawnmower and the solid iron umbrella holder. It’s been like that for the past few nights. I imagine it is, even now, moving more of our neighbors’ leaves right back down to our yard, where they stop, unpack, move in and hang out. (What do leaves dream of, when they take a little leafy nap? Shout-out to the wolfpack.)
The warmth’s been great, though. We’ve walked Chase in T-shirts and done some outside errands, like swab the garage floor to get out the greasy, dirty, salty melt stains from where the road snot died its slow and slushy death. Our hearts remain with the family of I.C. Clump, and his daughters Lil Clump and Imma Clump Tew. We believe it could be as long as a year or so before we see the relatives again.
I was sitting at a red light waiting to turn left the other night when something odd caught my eye. There was a guy standing on the curb, waiting to cross the street. It wouldn’t have been odd at all, except that he was carrying a huge, white swan. Yep. The bird’s three-foot torso was just clutched right up against his body, and the guy (I’ll call him Benno) was squeezing it desperately with both arms.
Because the stoplight is so long, I have time to wonder a bit. I think the swan is dead, because it’s so still. I think, “Man, that big of a bird must be heavy.” I wonder why Benno’s carrying a heavy dead bird anyway — why not just leave him where he found him? Then I think Benno must’ve injured him in some way — hit him with his car? Popped him with a flying golf disc? A boomerang? Forced him to listen to the American Idol auditions or three minutes of politics? Any of those terrible things could’ve knocked that big white bird right into a coma.
I decide the decent thing to do is to offer him (them) a ride, maybe to an emergency vet. So I step out of my car just as the guy starts to cross the street. “Hey!” I yell. “Do you need some help?” Right then, the swan realizes he’s being carried across a busy intersection by Benno, right in front of impatient drivers and a tiny shouting woman.
So the swan begins to swing its feet, which previously were dangling quietly down near Benno’s knees, and making a keening noise. And it arches its long, beautiful neck, moving it back and forth over Benno’s head. I was sure there was an ear amputation coming any second.
Fascinated as I was by all of this, I did see our long-awaited light turn green. Uh, oh. Benno and the Swan were still in the middle of the road, Benno talking those little choppy steps you take when you’re overloaded with a massive, live, unhappy swan.
At the exact same second that the light turned green, a bossy dude in a big, big truck behind me laid on his horn. Apparently, since I was standing with one leg outside of my car on the icy road, he realized I might not be able to proceed into my left-hand turn at top speed. It wasn’t a polite tap, or even a “quick, beep-beep, sorry, you might not realize the light’s changed” number. It was, well, just downright rude.
So I turn around to the guy, holding out my arms, and I yell at him, “Can you just give me a break here? I mean, THE GUY’S GOT A SWAN!”
I realized, at that very second, a deep certainty that my life will end before I ever get the chance to run with that baby again. I imagine I’ll yell a lot of things at people in the future — heck, this week at work’s a good chance — but probably not those exact words.
By the time I looped around and came back to Benno and his Swan, they had moved down toward a small pond by the senior center. I like to think Benno found the lovely Swan after it somehow wandered off on a great krill hunt or something, and he decided to do the right thing: snag the swan and carry him a half-mile to the pond, where today he was swimming and eating fish and enjoying the warm weather.
If Benno instead took him home and fired up his grill, I don’t want to know about it.
I do have many friends who find my story a bit too strange even for me, a creative writer. They scoff at the blurry camera-phone photo I took, just because the flash mainly reflected my windshield and only offers a smeary little glimpse of a somewhat swan-shaped thing in a guy’s arms. No, it wasn’t the Loch Ness Monster! No, it wasn’t a pillow. No, it wasn’t a pinata. No, it wasn’t en route to the back door of the nearby Chinese restaurant. You’re just jealous that YOU didn’t get to see a guy carrying a swan through a busy Dallas intersection.
On to the next chapter of our search for great Dallas restaurants! Unfortunately, it’s been a rough gustatory stretch… Had a stultifyingly bad dinner at a place we’ve been saving for a special night, because it was always busy and we’d heard so much about it: Truluck’s, a famous stone crab and steakhouse place. We got there early enough for half-priced happy hour, and all was well until I made the mistake of telling our waiter that I wanted another drink, about 14 minutes before happy hour ended. This thereby guaranteed that we didn’t see him for anothr 23 minutes, at which time he regretfully informed me that it was too late for the half-priced drinks. Hmmm.
Then out came our meals. The garlic mashed potatoes would have more properly been named Mashed Garlic with a Smidge of Potatoes Waved Over It. D’s crab claws were served cold, which is their style, I guess, but it made them pretty bland. The worst travesty was their “gumbo.” Now, I know gumbo. They stitch the recipe for it inside the head of each baby born in Louisiana before they leave the nursery. And this gumbo was bad. I get it — it’s hard to throw away a burned roux you’ve been working on for a long time. And it’s a really fine line to get that flour to nutty brown perfection without scorching it. But god bless ’em, when you miss it, you’ve simply got to do the right thing, and toss that stuff into the sink.
What you can’t do it serve a bowl of dark brown, scorchy, burned and bitter soup and call it “special.” Bleeech. Someone rented out the entire Truluck’s restaurant for a Super Bowl party earlier this month, so a lot of folks must like it. Not for us, though. Although they did have a lovely chocolate cake. I love me some cake.
We also had a really average meal at an allegedly Cajun place called Razzoo’s, en route to Cirque du Soleil’s “Ovo.” Lots and lots of food for the money, but unfortunately, it all tasted the same: bland. Definitely not as good as Dodie’s or Shuck ‘N Jive, and a world away from Fish City Grill’s gumbo and red beans. (Oh, BTW, we loved Ovo. Highly recommend it. Plus I really loved the big red truck in the parking lot… The headlights were higher than my head. It was huge. The sun revolved around it. It was so big it affected the tides.)
Had high hopes for Kenny’s Italian Kitchen. Went there with a couple of friends. The food was — large. Big, large plates, covered in sauce and cheese. I had baked ziti, which couldn’t quite figure out what it was supposed to be: red sauce, and white sauce, and baked, but kind of not… But it was large. Really large.
We have found a great little Italian place, though, a bistro called Penne Pomodoro. They even have a gluten-free pasta that you can’t tell is gluten-free. Their red sauce is fab, and they have a lovely Reisling by the glass, my fave. Go, run, try it.
More things we’re loving about Dallas as time goes on: beautiful sunsets (see today’s at right), lots of those aforementioned restaurants to try, a plethora of things to do (if we just had time to do them), jobs that keep us busy and fulfilled (sometimes a little too busy and a little too fulfilled), warm new friends. Things still difficult to adjust to: missing our loved ones
and their various birthday celebrations and other big moments, the fact that a couple of friends are living out their last few months and we’re not close by. Sigh.
But life goes on, as it always does. And we continue to adjust.