ABQ report

Subject: ABQ report
Date: Mon, 12 Feb 1996 00:28:04 -0500
From: KramerW@aol.com
To: benbubba@aol.com

ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO: The trip to Albuquerque began at a pet shop in Austin. It was a dark and foreboding place with floor-to-ceiling aquariums and a dank atmosphere. It was the sort of place where the bride of the slime monster might reach out from one of the tanks with a scaly green tentacle and pull an unsuspecting long-haired astrologer, like me, into an alage-filled oblivion.

A friend from Albuquerque said his domicile had the exact same ambience. Arriving at his place in Albuquerque, I found out he wasn’t kidding. Weird but wonderful accommodations, though, and he assured me that the tarantula couldn’t escape and that he had finally caught the last of the snapping turtles that were loose.

“Any other creatures running free?” I asked.

“Just a few lizards,” he said offhandedly.

Scanning the living room, with its wall-to-wall fish tanks, I was worried about a monitor lizard poking its head out from underneath the couch.

“Just household geckos, nothing serious.”

I slept with one eye open. I trust my friend’s judgment in many areas, but critters on the hoof in the homestead worry me. No mishaps to report except a mood change. The feeling started during a layover in Lubbock. The wide and high lonesome. Butch Hancock, Joe Ely, Buddy Holley, all came from out there. Lubbock evokes a feeling of being close to the sky. I got an inkling that I was far away from anything I knew.

I knew I was still in Texas because a woman sitting next to me on the flight to Albuquerque was on her way to see her grandchildren. There is nothing quite like seeing a grandchild run full-out to a grandparent at the airport. Winessing the excitement was worth it, as if my trip was made before I arrived. Eyes cloudy, I shouldered my show bags and left the terminal.

I lived, briefly, in Albuquerque 18 years ago. The city isn’t the same, but the feeling is. We ate true New Mexico cuisine, Carne Adovada, which is a soft pork roast marinated in red chile sauce. Hot and tasty. The sauce softens the meat so tenderly that it falls apart under the touch of the fork. The restaurant’s logos is a taco dancing on a hamburger. The tag line: Stamp out gringo food. I’ll vote for that.

On toward my usual, on-the-road destination: the psychic fair. I have come to notice zodiac runs. Hordes of people born under the same sign arrive all day long. Saturday in Albuquerque was Capricorn day, and I wound up with a half dozen or better new names. Most were Cappies.

Dinner was with an AOL buddy. “Garduno’s, dude,” she said. “It’s my favorite place. You have to have green chiles in New Mexico.”

The food was plentiful and tasty — Tex-Mex doesn’t have same flair or taste. Quite full of the fine fare, we discussed the finer points of astrology. I let my friend in on some trade secrets, stories from the trenches and some gratuitous Capricorn bashing. For a pair of Sag’s, it was a most appropriate evening.

Then back to the home for reptiles, fishes and other living things. I slept soundly, but the poor guest in the living room was awakened by one of the geckos traipsing across her in the middle of the night. I was glad she didn’t have a firearm handy; she would have emptied a clip faster than Sylvester Stallone. And geckos are notoriously hard to hit with a pistol. The butt of the gun is more effective. I know it worked better in my imagination.

Sunday I had the strangest experience with members of the press that I’ve ever had. Reporters, camera people, the guys who tote the microphone, everyone likes to get readings. I do them gratis in exchange for a plug on the local Tee-Vee. But a photographer and reporter from the Albuquerque Tribune claimed that a free reading would violate their professional ethics. I have a problem with this. I’ve performed unctuous services for a shot of glory, or least a little publicity. To hear a reporter claiming ethical standards bothered me. When has the press ever worried about free stuff?

The high desert wind is blowing strong again tonight. Although the thermometer is dropping, it doesn’t feel that chilly. It’s that special New Mexico air.

About the author: Born and raised in East Texas, Kramer Wetzel, settled in a South Austin trailer park before trailer parks were cool. He now lives in San Antonio, Texas.

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