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...
I am not a drinker of beer or a Bloody Mary devotee, but I swear, this beverage just called to me from some other plane - drink me. The heat flowed from the base of my tongue, through my ears, across my cheeks and some part of my heart it knew needed tending to. All that had been wearing on me surely wasn't solved, but for just a moment, I knew it was miles away.
Half a dozen ugly, craggy, creamy and utterly necessary Gulf oysters later, and I was once again moored, my ship righted - at least for the time being.
The man next to me, dining solo and decked in the insignia of a different auto shop from seemingly another state, turned to me. "I have to ask - what in the world is that you're drinking? It looks great."
"Well, it's a michelada," I said, proud of my sudden mastery of the lingo, "And you really should have one. They're good for what ails you."