A Beard Across America: Hootin’ n’ Hollerin’, Lone Star Beer and Mermaids

This Excerpt from #TFoTG – Essays from A Beard Across America

I needed to find an alternative to CouchSurfing for lodging in Austin. My search for a host had left me without a place to stay. I was searching for hostels until Abhi, my CouchSurfing host in Houston, mentioned a website called AirBnB. I had never heard of the website before, but was up for the new experience. AirBnB is basically the same concept of CouchSurfing, but with cost associated with your stay. I found a place to stay that was only a few blocks from East 6th Street with a guy named Nick and his roommates.

When I arrived, I was greeted with a local “shitty beer” called Lone Star. To give you an idea of the caliber of the beer, there were two 24 packs in the refrigerator from a party they had thrown a few nights before. Shitty or not, I’m usually not one to turn down a free beer or three. He showed me to my room, introduced me to his girlfriend & one of their roommates, Kate, and we all chatted for about an hour. I retired to my room to do a few hours of work and when I was finished rejoined them in the living room for another beer or two.

Nick explained to me that he was a trivia host and spent most of his weekdays at local bars. He told me he usually doesn’t go out on the weekends and since it was a Friday, set my expectations for a night in drinking beers and listening to music. I was totally fine with that. That was until Kate emerged from her room and said she was going to a bar off of East 6th Street called The Eastern to do some “two stepping”. Where I came from, two stepping is a dance that hardcore kids would do at concerts. Not too pleasing and kind of silly, but they explained that The Eastern was a country bar and the two stepping they were referring to was the country style two stepping. Still a little skeptical, I decided it was worth a shot seeing how I was in Texas.

A couple that were friends of Kate’s arrived at the house and the three of them started pre-gaming with shots of Jack Daniel’s chased by Lone Star. I passed on the shot offers as to not get too drunk in an unfamiliar town. When it came time to leave, Kate and her two friends mentioned they would be riding their bikes that evening and I decided to join them and meet up with Nick and his girlfriend at the bar.

When we got to The Eastern, the atmosphere was completely different than I anticipated. It was a trendy-dive bar with a “jamboree” country flair. It reminded me of A Goofy Movie’s Possum Park, but if all the kids had grown up, grown a handle bar mustache and drank Lone Star Beer (Texas’ PBR). We grabbed our drinks, Lone Star Beer of course, and headed towards the stage where a band called Whiskey Music was already playing loud and fast. Sounds of the south rang loud as the lead singer peered at the crowd through a hole in the bill of his cowboy hat, a 50’s style, welled dressed cowboy played the harmonica, a banjo player and bassist strummed hard and the guy who was described by the band as “The guy who bangs shit with other shit” well, banged shit with other shit. The music was loud, fast and awesome.

About an hour later, I remembered Nick was suppose to be meeting us. I asked Kate if she had heard anything from him. He had decided to go to another bar as to not have to pay the cover for this bar. I left the communication of location up to Kate and Nick, which would prove to be a bad idea since Kate and her friends had continued their pre-gaming tactics while fully submerged in the game.

Once the band finished, Kate and I decided to meet Nick and his girlfriend at the bar they had decided to go to. On the way, we ran into two more of Kate’s friends who described themselves as “mermaids”. They ran a business handmaking high end mermaid tails. They were both wearing vibrant blue clothing, with bleach blonde hair and their nails painted (even the guy). They decided to join us on our quest for Nick and his girlfriend. When we arrive at the next bar, The Brixton, Nick was no where to be found. The four of us decided to just continue the night without him and move onto another bar called Cheer Up Charlie’s. When we got to the bar, I stepped away to use the restroom, and that was the last time I saw Kate. When I returned to the mermaids outside of the bar, who were hanging out with another group of people, they said they hadn’t seen Kate since they got there.

I talked with my new group of bar friends for a little before a few of the people I had just met decided they were going to leave and go to an after hours dance party. I was feeling a little spunky at this point, so I decided I would join them. Along the way, I realized I was en route to attend an AFTER HOURS party. It set in just how late it was and how late it would be once I left this after hours party. I decided to call it a night and started to head back towards The Eastern where I had parked my bike.

On the way back to The Eastern, I stopped at Lucky J’s Waffle Taco’s at The East Side Fillin’ Station. Both the waffle taco’s and the “fillin’ station” were things I had never seen or heard of before. The fillin’ station is a lot of food trucks, all serving different cuisines, but working together as one community. A waffle taco is exactly what it sounds like, a waffle used as a taco shell usually wrapped around chicken strips and toppings. I ordered the Brady Waffle Taco which consisted of fried chicken tenders, swiss cheese, sriracha and honey all wrapped in a bacon waffle. My god was that thing good. Not only that, but since they didn’t serve alcohol, the woman making the waffle taco was nice enough to share a nightcap of a whiskey with me.

I received the Brady Waffle Taco and sat at one of the benches in the courtyard of the fillin station. As I sat and ate my delicious, late night slice of heaven, I called my brother and chatted with him about how excited I was to see him in just a few weeks at my final destination spot of Tacoma, Washington.

The next morning, on my way out, I spoke with Nick. Come to find out, there was a miscommunication between him and Kate as to which bar he was at. I also received a text from Kate, who got my number from Nick, apologizing for her disappearance. She had been “over served”, as my grandfather called it, and decided to go home and sleep off the night. Nights like these are when it is a good thing my momma raised me in a way that I can go with the flow!

Tyler Goelz will be writing about his experiences in each city and posting them periodically. For a full listing of the cities he visited, check out this link: http://www.tylergoelz.com/trip/2013/america/


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