Saturday, June 30, 2012

Poetic Edit at Austin's Texas Chili Parlor


The Texas Chili Parlor in Austin, Texas is not a place that a vagabond traveler will stumble upon. Unless that traveler veers off the I-35 to avoid evening rush hour with the sole purpose of chillin' with a chilled pint. The bar is lined with locals matching wits with contestants on Jeopardy and the beer is indeed chilled. A sign in the corner deserves a second look and that second look gives rise to a search for a pen and a piece of paper.

NO LONE STAR
NO CHECKS
NO DRAFTS
NO FRIES
NO FOO FOO DRINKS
NO TALKING
    TO
IMAGINARY PEOPLE

Big block letters, hand-painted in black on a white sheet of plywood measuring 2x3. Closer inspection of the sign reveals that a small piece of wood has been added over the years. That piece of wood reads, "DRAFTS." The bartender is asked what was originally underneath. "Amex," comes the reply. "Yeah, we accept American Express now but you still can't talk to imaginary people."

His shift soon ends, the traveler settles up for his pint and both head out into the Austin evening. One heads home, the other heads back out on the now open road. Another story tucked into a shirt pocket courtesy of the Texas Chili Parlor. In the miles that lie ahead there are bound to be a few more tales inspired by the stops and starts of the shimmering blacktops that mark America.


Mark Butkus