Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Of Red Sox and Refried Beans

Kate and I drove to Arlington on Sunday to see the Texas Rangers lose to Kate’s beloved Boston Red Sox 6-5. Texas has been playing like ass this year, but at least they took the Sox down to the wire before losing. It was Kate’s first non-Fenway Red Sox game and my first Rangers game since 1975. The trip was a surprise early birthday gift from yours truly.

There were almost as many Red Sox fans at the game as there were Rangers fans. The Rangers have never been an easy team to like. Between never winning more than a few lousy AL West Division titles and foisting the worst president in history upon our once-great nation, I feel absolutely zero affinity for them. When it comes to baseball, the Astros are the only team I’d cheer against my girlfriend’s team for.

After the game, we spent about an hour looking for our hotel. It was a nondescript AmeriSuites in Irving that had recently been rebranded as Aspen Hotel & Suites. Between the impossibility of intuitive navigation and the look-alike design of the endless corporate offices surrounding D/FW Airport, I quickly found myself consumed with loathing for greedy developers who’d thrown all this crap up with no regard for humanity. A region like this deserves the Texas Rangers.

Not wanting to spend another hour searching for a restaurant in this suburban wasteland, I decided to drive to the more familiar environs of Dallas to dine at Campisi’s Egyptian Restaurant on Mockingbird Lane.

Campisi’s serves old-fashioned Italian food with lots of red sauce and an iceberg lettuce salad on the side. Jack Ruby ate there the night before JFK was killed and former owner Joe Campisi was the first person to visit Ruby in jail after the Oswald shooting. Kate said Campisi’s reminded her of the homestyle Italian places back East. It really hit the spot.

We were hoping to visit the art museums in Fort Worth on Memorial Day, but apparently every art museum in the Metroplex is closed on Monday. We wound up at the Sixth Floor Museum in the former Texas School Book Depository Building.

As we approached the infamous window itself, we loudly expressed our surprise at the torrential downpour outside and were shushed by the docent as though we were rowdy kids on a school field trip. Between the constantly-looping audiovisual presentations and all the other yammering yokels, no one could’ve possibly intuited the need for increased decorum. I guess that’s why they have to pay a guy to shush people.

When we got downstairs, another museum employee asked if we'd enjoyed our visit. "Enjoyed" isn't the first term that comes to mind when I think about visiting the place where JFK had his brains blown out all over his wife's pink dress, but it was nice of them to ask.

Then it was time for the weekend’s biggest challenge – a trip to Pancho’s Mexican Buffet. This would be Kate’s virgin Pancho’s experience and my first in over a year. I’d been reticent to bring Kate to Pancho’s because not everyone understands its sloppy Tex-Mex allure.

Given her inquisitive reporter’s mindset, though, I knew Kate would eventually want to eat there. One can only hear so many oft-repeated Pancho’s yarns before demanding to see what all the fuss is about. I could only hope she’d spy a sliver of Pancho’s appeal and not find the whole thing disgusting.

Much to my surprise, my Maine-born, Massachusetts-bred girlfriend totally got it. She ate like a seasoned pro. The only trouble spot was the neon orange melted cheese, which is something no one I know can eat much of. Everyone loves the honey-drenched sopaipillas and Kate was no exception. However, it was her enthusiasm for the entrees that let me know Pancho’s was truly a place of coalescence for us.

When we stood up to leave, she said, “I’m high on food, Greg!”

My heart heaved in exultation. Or maybe that was just the beans.


David Wyatt said...

It must be love. I say that because, if I were going to publish the words "She ate like a seasoned pro" to the internet about my wife, I'd first be checking into airfare to distant lands and having radical plastic surgery on my face.

Greg said...

In my corner of the world, admiring a woman for her ability to "Panch" is a high compliment.

Needless to say, this can be a pretty goddamn lonely corner sometimes.

jen said...

Oooh, I used to love Panchos when I was about 7 years old. Do they still have those flags you raise to demand more sopapillas? Mmmm. Sopapillas. Damnit, you don't give a pregnant woman food cravings. That's mean.

Shean said...

Where is this Panchos you speak of in Dallas? I am taking my son and nephew to Dallas in June and they have never had Panchos. The only one I know of in Houston is less than desirable so I think Dallas is the right place to pop their Panchos cherry. Also if you know of any other cool places in Dallas that would be cool. I haven't been to a Panchos since the early 80's. It was the one in Bellaire and this really cool guy I know had his birthday party there. He was also known to write some of the coolest Panchos song, and every time I pass a Panchos I think of him fondly.

Greg said...

There are Pancho's located throughout the Dallas/Fort Worth area. The one we went to is in Duncanville at the corner of U.S. Hwy. 67 and Wheatland Rd. (4001 Wheatland). It's not as cool as the former Bellaire location, though!