The Christmas holidays brought about our seasonal two-step: first down to Houston, then over to College Station.
We left for Houston on the Monday before Christmas, and I guess everyone had left town during the weekend because the drive down I-45 was absolutely painless and borderline lonely for that road. We did stop in Conroe on the way into town to coordinate (finally) with our wedding photographer (remember the wedding, back in, oh, May?) on getting our reprints done, and after that, it was off to my mom-in-law’s place for a few days.
Christmas Eve is when my sweetie and her family traditionally open presents, and just like the past two years, I was witness to a true spectacle involving her family and what appeared to be an infinite number of Christmas presents. Not that I’m complaining, mind you, for we made off with a tidy little haul for ourselves; it’s just that my family’s celebrations, at least after we got older, have always been considerably more low-key and on a much smaller scale. But I think I can get used to this. :-)
Thursday night was an all-around treat for me. We went into downtown to see a performance by The Flaming Idiots, a juggling and comedy performance team that used to play at the Texas Rennaisance Festival until a couple of years ago. My sweetie has seen them umpteen times, but I’d never seen them before, so it was great to finally see them after all she’s raved about them. But an even bigger treat was the surprise that my sweetie had cooked up for me—instead of going back to her mom’s place, she had booked us a room at the Crowne Plaza downtown for the night, so we ended up spending a wonderfully romantic holiday evening alone, just the two of us… ummm, watching TV in our room. Yeeeah, that’s it, watching TV, that’s what we did.
Saturday, we made the hour and a half drive down the road to College Station to spend a couple of days with my parents. (Actually, we got into town before they did, as they didn’t return from visiting my brother in Florida until later in the afternoon.) College Station is pretty much a ghost town when the school (Texas A&M) isn’t in session, so we just spent the time recharging our batteries before heading back to D/FW on New Year’s Eve (well, on the afternoon of NYE, actually). We did, however, managed to introduce my parents to the goodness that is Rockfish, who recently opened a branch in College Station. (In fact, there are now a number of pretty good restaurants in C.S. these days, as opposed to when I was still in school and Red Lobster constituted a “good restaurant”. But I digress.)
[Long aside: Back when I was still in grad school and my sweetie and I were just friends (no, really, we were just friends; it was until much later that the proverbial sparks started to fly), we spent a good deal of time at Alfred T. Hornback’s Professional Pool Emporium (I kid you not—that’s what the sign above the door says). Hornback’s was great for what it was—a blue-jeans-wearing, beer-fueled dive (and I mean “dive” in the good sense) with a bunch of pool tables. Plus we knew all the bartenders, who made sure we were always treated really well. What does this have to do with anything? Not much, except that Hornback’s contrasted with the other place we’d occasionally play pool at: Yesterday’s, your typical dark, smoky, wood-paneled pool hall. One nice thing about Yesterday’s was that it tried to sell itself as a slightly classier joint, meaning a minimal dress code was enforced (no T-shirts or shorts, that sort of thing) which tended to keep the just-graduated-from-high-school and kegger crowds away. It was a great place for when you wanted to just shoot pool (unlike Hornback’s, where the pool and the beer were pretty much inseparable, at least for me).
Well, we revisited Yesterday’s while we were in town—and I’m sad to report that… well, things haven’t quite gone to hell in a handbasket, but the handbasket’s at least open. Maybe the place is under new management, but the dress code restrictions are all but gone, and perhaps as a result, the place is/was overrun with the cut-off T-shirt/baggy jeans crowd, most of them barely out of high school (if that) by the look of things. Cursing and yelling and basically looking like shit. Fortunately, they cleared out for the most part as the evening went on, but it was still sad to have to realize that an old friend had essentially passed away. Next time, we’ll probably go to Hornback’s.]
We had decided before leaving town that we were going to spend New Year’s Eve alone together—just the two of us—and that’s exactly what we did. Since we’re not on the East Coast, it didn’t make sense to count down to the new year with Dick Clark in Times Square, so we waited until midnight local time, counting down the last few seconds via the clock on The Weather Channel (yes, it’s true—we’re officially sad) before trading kisses and glasses of pseudo-bubbly when the clock struck twelve in Texas. And then we went to bed.
Happy New Year! 2003: so far, so good…