|Two Cool Dudes|
Originally, Austin was planning to spend a full week in Dallas, hanging out with his best buddy from middle school. I was shocked when he called to say he was coming to Wimberley earlier than planned. Apparently he wasn't having as much fun as anticipated. Back in the early days, his buddy had just been a fun-loving, goofy kid who made average grades, and was only interested in girls, clothes, and hanging out with his pals. His father was some kind of financial consultant to the rich and famous, and was determined that his son would follow in his footsteps. Dad kept threatening to send him to private school, so he would be around the "right kind of people". We thought that was pretty funny, since our school district was nothing but upper-middle class, and you had to have well above a 4.0 GPA to even be close to top 10% of the class. Shortly after we moved away, Dad did in fact send him off to boarding school in Switzerland, so he could begin making "contacts", with summer programs at Oxford as well, so he and Austin were rarely able to get together. When Austin found out that his buddy would actually be in Dallas while we were there, he couldn't wait to see him, but I guess his father's brain-washing campaign was more successful than any of us anticipated. Austin said the entire time he was there, the guy talked about nothing but the future of investment banking, how much he was going to hate his job, but how rich he would end up being, and whether he should buy a Mercedes or a BMW.
Now, I will admit that I have occasionally felt twinges of doubt with regard to our parenting skills. I sometimes wonder if we cheated our kids by not pushing them harder, by not filling their every waking moment with private lessons and educational pursuits, and by not demanding that they be the best at everything they do. How would they compete against kids who have? But then I usually come to my senses and think "Nah, that would suck." What could be more wonderful than having kids who not only like themselves and love what they do, but who also still like hanging out with their folks upon occasion? Besides, look what happened to all those other wunderkinds who were determined to prove to Daddy that they could run with the big dogs - they're mostly in jail! Anyway, that's what Austin is claiming to be his reason for coming home early. Truthfully, he was probably worried that we were having too much Christmas fun without him. We had Taco Soup and warm focaccia bread for supper after the boys arrived, then we all snuggled up on the sofa together to watch "The Polar Express". It just doesn't get any better than that.
The next day Austin and I headed to San Marcos to finish up the last of our shopping. I needed to stop in at Hill Country Humidor to get a gift certificate for John's stocking. He loves going to that place because it's run by an old hippie with a ZZ-esque beard, who's a lot of fun to gab with. This guy has definitely perfected the art of living "the good life". He posts no hours of business on his shop door because he refuses to be held to a schedule - he opens when he damn well pleases! His bookkeeping system is rather unique as well, but ingenious. To pay for my gift certificate, I pulled out a credit card, but he said "Oh sorry, no can do. Has to be cash or a check for a gift certificate." I said "Oh really, why is that?" He demonstrated by taking the $20 bill I handed him and dropping it into a little zip-lock baggie, along with the stub from the certificate. Apparently, when John comes in to spend the certificate, he will simply pull the baggie out of his file drawer and hand him the $20 to spend. Makes perfect sense to me!
While I was doing that, Austin popped into Paper Bear to finish up his list. This store is every merchandiser's worst nightmare - their philosophy is cram as much merchandise as you can into as little space - but for some unknown reason, it works. Maybe it's because this is a college town, and students aren't all that particular. Or maybe it's because it makes you feel as if you are on a safari or a treasure hunt. I think I love it because it reminds me of shopping at my neighborhood Five and Dime as a kid. All I know is, whatever you are looking for, odds are, they will have it. When we had completed our shopping, we headed back to Wimberley to meet up with John, who had spent the morning comparing the offerings of our local pie companies, of which there are at least three. Once Alexis got off from work, we headed out to participate in one of our annual traditions - attending some type of Christmas theater production. Now, most people would immediately think "The Nutcracker", or perhaps "A Christmas Carol", but I'm not married to most people. We were headed for the Alamo Draughthouse in Austin, to attend the special Christmas performance of "Mister Sinus Theater". If you were ever a big fan of "Mystery Science Theater" on TV, where they had that guy and two little robots sitting on the front row at the movies, watching old, really bad sci-fi flicks, and providing rude remarks and commentary throughout, then you would love Mr. Sinus, because it is a live, comedic spoof of the TV program. However, if you hated that show, or have never even heard of it, then you just wouldn't get this one at all! John and the kids adored it, and I adored watching them and their reactions.
To be continued....