It'd been a beast of a week and I was utterly shot. Between the stress of having my mother in the hospital many states away and a massive onslaught of work, I felt as if the meager amount of sleep I'd manage to capture had absolutely no impact on my body or my psyche.
So I was brittle and bone tired by the time I landed in Austin on Friday night, checked in and slogged across the hotel parking lot to the first lighted place I saw. I approached it from the back - or the aft, as I soon came to realize. It was, of all things, a restaurant shaped like a boat that had just up and run aground into the asphalt , despite the helpful guidance of the equally improbable lighthouse, docked atop a patch of scrubby grass.
I took the only free seat at the U-shaped bar, amongst the men from the auto body shop (if their shirt patches were indeed accurate), young, tattooed Mexican dudes and families gathered for Lenten Friday fish fry.
I ordered a "mick-a-lada,' knowing what I'd get, but I'd never heard it pronounced or actually had one. The young, ink-sleeved shucker looked at me quizzically and then nodded. "Ohhhh, you mean michelada*! What beer?"
My turn to be caught off guard. Uh...uhhh...
Sure, most SXSW parties have free swag, loud music and throngs of people pecking at their phones to check in on Foursquare or Gowalla.
But how many have giant sculptures of famous viral-video cats, molded from 50 pounds of cheese?