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July 19, 2003

Joie de Vie

Just got back from Raleigh. Met Oceanguy and his teenage daughter at the Alehouse for lunch, then popped over to the Oxymoronic Scotsman's new abode to see himself and the missus. Nice place, inside the Beltline, which means something to all of my Triangle readers and absolutely nothing to everyone else. In way of explanation, "Inside the Beltline" is much preferable to "Outside the Beltline".

The Beltline is Raleigh's circular thruway, originally a four lane layer of asphalt built in the days when Raleigh first started to grow beyond its historical bounds. Those who live inside its constricting embrace can still taste a bit of the life of yore, when the N.C. capital still thought of itself as a small town.

Mayberry, but with two deputies.

At the time it was built, outside the Beltline was where the immigrants lived, with their large lawns and their foreign ways. Inside the Beltline one had scratch biscuits for breakfast. Outside the Beltline they ate bagels, or worse, Pillsbury.

The lines have blurred in the years since. Now bagels, white cheese pizza and Mongolian barbecue are available inside the Beltline, and anyone can buy scratch biscuits at the Teeter no matter what their address is. The Inside addresses still possess a whiff of the old money native, peering suspiciously across the now six lanes of traffic at the Yankees beyond.

Oceanguy was visiting his brother, who lives in the wilds Outside but who is presumably a fine fellow nonetheless. His daughter was a saint, feigning interest in the conversation of two males nearly thrice her age and weight with a skill any Hollywood actress would envy. She'll do just fine in the life to come, even if she does lower her standards enough to attend State or Duke.

Oceanguy and I made the talk appropriate to two Internet contacts meeting face to face for the first time. He drank Guinness. I drank whatever the waitress could find after she told me they were out of my first choice, three times in a row.

It's a skill I have. After a thorough perusal of the menu at a alehouse, brew pub or similar establishment, I inevitably order whatever they happen to be fresh out of. I end up presenting myself as the Meg Ryan from Harry Met Sally of beer, demanding an impossible level of service from a coed who wouldn't know a lager from a lambic if her life depended on it.

You have my apologies, Tiffany, or Amber, or whatever your name was. You're a credit to Meredith College, I'm sure. I don't set out to be a pain in the ass, I just end up being one.

Story of my life.

The Oxymoronic Scotsman and his wife bought their new house shortly after our last dinner. It backs up to a creek, known to the poets in the Raleigh municipal system as a "drainage area," and so unnamed. It supports a variety of wildlife despite its unfortunate nomenclature; fish, salamanders and copperheads at the very least, and I found convincing evidence that freshwater mussels lived there not too long ago. Surprising, in that freshwater shellfish are an indication of water quality; their presence is totally unexpected in an urban environment. I was promised a hike to the source next time I visited, now would I please come back up to the house for another dose of nicotine and alcohol?

Which I did, nicotine and alcohol being two of the three things I am allowed to indulge in in the absence of my familial duties, the third being garlic.

When my family is home, I am a loving father and husband. When they are away, I am a Frenchman.

Ah, La Vie En Rose.

Posted by Bigwig at July 19, 2003 08:19 PM | TrackBack
Postscript:
First time visitor to House Hraka? Wondering if everything we produce could possibly be as brilliant/stupid/evil/pedantic/insipid/inspired as the post you just read? Check out the Hraka Essentials, the (mostly) reader-selected guide to Hraka's best posts, and decide for yourself.
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