By Patrick Alcatraz
McAllen, Texas - Carrie Manthey, my friend of - what? - four months, pointed at a booth downrange, just off the waiter's path to the kitchen and not far from where the road to the bathroom loomed like one of those tunnels from Juarez to El Paso. It was almost 8-thirty Ayem and we were meeting to knife and teeth through ham and eggs and pancaked potatoes, Carrie's favorite grub when not in Paris, Dresden or New Braunfels, Texas. I had called the meeting; she was calling-over the young waitress with the lovely doe eyes, monuments to someone else's evening pleasure no doubt.
Mimi's cafe, midway between uppity McAllen and the dusty, sleepy burg of Mission on westbound U.S. 83, is not the place to discuss international politics, tropical hair or well-hipped women seated at other tables and booths. Not with Carrie Manthey, former news anchor at once-powerful Channel 4 up the road the other way, over toward Brownsville and Cuba. She wanted to talk about our coming news website, which at present is as much of a dream as are my intentions when in the throes of Day Two after meeting a spitfire chick with cash and time on her hands. We're on it, but we're not yet on it.
Anyway, the waitress arrived and I agreed that regular coffee would do as the beverage of the moment. Manthey followed suit in known fellow journalist fashion. The coffee made its appearance and, yeah, it sucked. Too mellow, I said and Carrie concurred, noting its lack of fight. "Tastes like hospital coffee," I threw out and a woman seated nearby smiled back at me, looping me for a few seconds, making me think everything was possible with her. Order-up, I said next and the waitress, a birdie-sort of kid of about 20 years of age, wrote it all down on her pad, carrie going with the bizarre pancake potato.
We sailed into a range of topics and sipped coffee like two camels shade-bathing under a palm tree in the last oasis between Cairo and Bethlehem, me complaining evermore. The pretty waitress returned, asked how the coffee was, and I said. "I don't feel anything..." She smiled, threw a mini-frown at no one in particular, and took my cup, saying she'd go get some from the latest pot, said to be currently brewing. We kept talking about this and that, mostly this.
The cafe, a safe-looking, cookie-cutter joint seen elsewhere in this Great Land, had maybe three other customers, a young couple sitting somewhat next to us, but separated by a faux glass divider that really was cheap plastic. Carrie said something about the weather and I said it's out there, outside. She mentioned an angle to do with our website project and I said, "Yeah, that could work..."
Things went like this for about an hour, and when I looked down on the table, I noticed Carrie had eaten half the blueberry muffin we were sharing for dessert.
I didn't eat my half, believing in the fable put forth by Goldilocks that one must leave some sort of trail for others to follow. When last seen, the muffin sat in full melancholy there alongside a watted-up table napkin and the Splenda container. Carrie rose first from her place on the booth and I let her, thinking, "That's what a cowboy ought to do..." She said her friend Espi has a thing for cowboys. I asked about Espi's outward appearance, as I am wont to do with ladies, and Carrie's words forced me to say we'd be making a quick stop at Cavender's Western Wear on our way home. I did not repeat it, but whenever Carrie gets on me about my shallowness with romance, I always say, as I wanted to say this morning when she said Espi, the well-endowed Espi and her dreams of landing a religious fella, wouldn't go for a guy like yours truly: "I could never be a woman. I'd be playing with my breasts all day long..."
It's a line from the movie L.A. Story. Steve Martin delivers it with killer aplomb...
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