Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Saturday Night in South Austin

A lady walks into a bar with a parrot ... This might sound like a start of a joke, but it's just a typical Saturday night in south Austin. Now the difference between Austin and south Austin is that south of the river they take the "Keep Austin Weird" mantra to the extreme, and while it can shock those of us from the northern, whitebread suburbs, most Austinites just smile knowingly, wishing they could be that hip.

Saturday night Doug and I made one of our rare trips to Oakhill, an area in southwest Austin. It's a 45 minute drive without traffic, but a friend talked us into heading out to the Y Bar & Grill to see one of Austin's favorite musicians, Lisa Tingle. The first thing I noticed about the Y Bar was that it was slightly more upscale than one would think in Oakhill. I mentally pictured something completely casual, shorts and flipflops, the standard south Austin dress. Instead it was slightly dressy, with nice sundresses and sandals (that's as dressy as summer gets in Austin). Lisa played at the outside bar which was a nice covered patio with ceiling fans so that you don't feel the 95 degree at 8 p.m. heat.

There were three big screen televisions that were showing the Longhorn baseball game (they were playing in the College World Series). I'm not sure if the TV's are usually there or if they had to bring them in special so the guys would be willing to take their wives out to dinner. Because it was hot and we weren't that hungry, we opted to do appetizers and wine instead of a meal. Everything was just laid back and easy, Austin style.

As we were sitting there, enjoying ourselves, a couple walks in and the lady had a parrot on her shoulder. Since the tables were all taken, she and her husband/boyfriend/whatever sat at the bar and ordered a few drinks. I swear, I think I was the only person who gave her a second look. I guess maybe it's quite common in south Austin to take your pet parrot out for a drink. The only time the parrot left the lady's shoulder was when the lady went inside to little girl's room; at that point the parrot hopped on the shoulder of the male companion, but went back to the lady when she returned. The couple stayed for about a hour and left -- I guess the baseball game was over and the crowd was thinning. Maybe it was the parrot's bedtime.

I think the strangest thing was that no one thought the parrot thing was strange. That's what makes south Austin what it is.

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