Tonight I sit upright in a hotel in Austin, wide-awake after sleeping during the gloaming and eating obscene amounts of pasta hours later. It could have gone differently. I could have stayed sleeping. But this is where the perpetual commuter becomes hardened to a revised hunter-gatherer instinct (one greatly amplified by phoned-in reminders from wifey): eat while you can.

This innocent late afternoon nap is developing the ear-marks of a full-blown nighty-night. I force myself up, blurry-eyed and not particularly hungry, knowing that I need to seek calories before my options dwindle to Denny’s and vending machines.

I fumble out the door as if being man-handled by an evil drill sergeant. I am face-to-foot with the sick swirling carpets of La Quinta. This prompts a quicker pace. Soon I’m speeding off in my  Honda CRV, u-turning under the freeway to find a conveniently located and stupidly trendy outdoor shopping center called “The Domain”. Parking, it’s a pain, but the many Lexus SUV’s assure me I’m among the most wasteful and wanton crowd in Austin (the city’s hippier-than-thou image has been soiled).

Naturally I bee-line my way into the Apple Store first, perusing its many delights. What is it with this company? Their products flick large quantities of spending confetti all through our brain. Not unlike the wide-eyed urge one gets from a plate of hot-from-the-oven chocolate cookies, except more expensive and with an Apple Care contract. My appetite is now peaking.

I find a nearby \$\$\$Italian ‘bistro’ whose name I’ll recall when I get my Amex bill. It proves a wonderful surprise, despite the pulsing house music and cave-like lighting. I carefully savor a hearty and I must say, stunningly delicious mushroom/pine-nut pasta which I pair with a colder-than-usual glass of Italian Tuscan red wine (I haven’t assimilated the vast ocean of Italian wine, so I stick to “red” and “white” when drinking from the boot). This butter-rich, pretentious meal earns every dime of the \$40+ bill.

My extravagance concludes with the acquisition of three new books at Border’s (\\$76). Among them a funny memoir called “The Know-it-all”, the journey of one man’s obsessive pursuit to read all 32 volumes of the Encyclopaedia Britannica (a mere 33,000 rice-paper pages in all). His story is presented in dictionary form, each of its 26 letter-named chapters reviews the most interesting entries from that letter used as clever bait to tell his life story. I’m at letter C now. He reminds me of every neurotic (insecure) intellectual I ever knew in NYC. But it’s charming nonetheless. I now know that there’s a snail called an abalone which has five buttholes.

And with that, goodnight.

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