We were having lunch the other day at, well, at Bubba's Ice House.
Slight digression: ice houses apparently have an interesting history in Texas. There were not many places to stay cool in the summer back in that savage yesteryear before universal air conditioning. According to the informal history that has come to me, the southern states were dotted with ice houses filled with blocks of ice cut from northern lakes. At some point, people started "visiting" the houses on hot days. Just droppin' by to say Howdy, podner. Golly, it's nice and cool in here, isn't it. And then chairs appeared for the visitors. And then tables. And then some of the houses started brewing beer and serving food and they became sort of rough restaurants or pubs. Some ice houses have survived as restaurants. And some restaurants that call themselves ice houses may actually have been ice houses once. End of digression.
I have no idea what Bubba's heritage may be as a restaurant or as an ice house. We tried it just because it was there and we're still surveying local restaurants. The sign says they serve "Great American food for the everyday hero." Good burgers, ribs, chicken-fried steak, they say. You order your food at the counter, go find a table, and they call you later when it's ready. The announcements on the speaker were pretty typical squeaky little girl voices until they got to number seven. "Number seven, your order is ready," boomed out in a perfect, accent-free, smooth-dog radio DJ voice. Wow. Almost dropped my fork. Couldn't see who it was, but he did it a couple more times during lunch. And that gave me an idea.
Another digression. Product idea: Get twenty or thirty recognizable, famous voices to record, "Number one, your order is ready!" and put them on a CD for restaurants like this to use. The restaurant uses a little CD player, the hostess punches in the track number, which matches the order number, and, boom, Dolly Parton tells you that "Number eleven, your order is ready and waitin', honey!" Clint Eastwood. Kathleen Turner. Katherine Hepburn (well, she's dead, so you have to get a good imitator). Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre, Groucho (same problem). Hmmm, I think there is a generational problem here. Need some more recent, but still recognizable voices, please. Surely not most of today's Barbie and Ken clones that are recognizable only by their videos and maybe lyrics. How about Darth Vader (James Earl Jones) for number one: (Breathe. Breathe.) "Obi One, your dinner is ready." End of second digression.
Yet another digression. Next door to Bubba's is Callahan's General Store. True to its name, it has some of everything, from tools to Texas stuff, from food items to toys, from insecticides to saddles, bridles, and horseshoes. And real horseshoes, too, not decorative ones, in about thirty different sizes and shapes. Gosh, the real West. End of digressions for today.
In any case, the radio was on, and between songs, in one advertising slot, the station played three ads:
1. A car dealer's big sale of used pickup trucks.
2. Two men's clubs (topless and bottomless bars) that advertise themselves as "the naked and the half-naked truth about Austin." And
3. Southwestern Bell high-speed DSL connections to the internet for businesses and homes.
How perfectly Austin and perfectly Texas! Rusty trucks, naked women, and bandwidth. What more does a Bubba need? Yee-ha!
Copyright (C) 2000, 2001, 2002, Richard Landau. All rights reserved.