Brankton started out the day as usual with a nasty little headache. Not enough oxygen to the brain. The majority of his family, dominated by males, suffered from the same malady, that is to say, snoring, but with Grizzly bear ferocity, capital ‘S’ snoring.
Years ago on a ski holiday to some swanky resort in Utah hanging out with all of the swells with their whiz-bang skiing accoutrement and private chalets adjoining the main run, the unfortunate souls in the townhouse next to his family actually complained to the leasing company that their trip was ruined because of the ungodly racket that he and a half-dozen of his brothers harmonized for four nights of sonorous hell. Not even the most desperate succubus would sit on the chest of any of his brothers, attempting to snatch a soul during the night. Upon hearing the horrific sound emanating from their large, undulating thorax, the noise most assuredly would drive even the stoutest of succubi away. Having been married to and driven one off, Brankton felt he should know.
He walked the Austin neighborhood by himself, with its old twisted oaks and the occasional stray cat and ubiquitous Obama/Biden yard signs. Austin might be in Texas, but it's the liberal hub of the south with plenty of state employees working at and owing their allegiance to the "sunset red" hued granite Capitol building right off of Congress Ave. Brankton was finally getting used to making his daily constitutional alone, although this trip to the big hat capitol caused him to feel a bit more out of sorts than usual. His momentary boredom had its typical result -- Brankton was feeling hungry.
Sitting alone in the multi-level mid-century house turned into a restaurant on 6th St., Brankton ordered the “big ole pancakes” for brunch. He was beginning to regret the blue wool sweater that he put on in much cooler Los Angeles just a few short hours earlier. The typical Austin weather of 95% humidity and low 90’s temp did not agree with his sartorial norm; especially in a restaurant with two dozen obviously gay men surrounding him, dressed much more weather appropriate with assorted chambray shirts and long board shorts and snug-fitting t-shirts, now frowning upon his choice of garb, he felt, save for one very attractive co-ed “friend of the gays” who, with her masculine, deep voice, oozed a sexual confidence that mocked Brankton’s recent string of asexual years. Brankton spied her looking his way several times in a few short minutes, which of course meant she saw him seeing her.
Ten long minutes later, his heavily tatted and overly tanned waitress informed him that she forgot brunch was over and that he would have to forgo the pancakes he had been thinking about and craving for a month now. Brankton had visions of a rotund Orson Welles with white chef hat in the back somewhere saying that he'd "flip no flapjack before it's time." He also had a vision of smacking the sass off that fat man's face. His pancake cravings started right after his wife left him and took their dog along with her “big ole” pancake recipe, the one hanging on the fridge, and not much else -- though he wished she had taken the cuckold knife out of his back at least for sense of symmetry.
The twenty-something Janeane Garofalo-type with the gay men had a mouth on her that, for lack of a better emotion or description, disappointed Brankton. Her descriptions of “her gay” -- as she proudly called her homosexual best friend -- and his proclivities for certain gay sex put Brankton’s gag reflex on overdrive at the sight of the gravy-covered chicken-fried-chicken that he reluctantly ordered due to the no pancake past brunch rule. He wasn’t the only one to cringe either. There was a family of four “to his 9” – this was his grandfather’s phrase when he wanted to say “to the left” in a cool sort of grandpa way -- who looked as out of place as an Amish family with big tall black hats and long ZZ-Top beards shopping in a Fred Segal store.
She continued unabated regaling the men in her gay coffee clutch. Some occasionally tried to compete with her, but she had the floor and wasn't about to let the spotlight slip from her grasp for a moment. None really could compete; her stories had just the right combination of raunch, real life patois, and an unexpected ending. And of course, she knew her audience, and they laughed, which inspired even filthier anecdotes. She had an expert comedienne’s deft touch, though the venue and time-slot were no doubt inappropriate.
“What?!” the twenty-something "Janeane Garofalo" finally asked Brankton as she caught him glancing her direction one-dozen times too many. Her friends were caught up in conversations about Barton Springs and some festival that was about to take place. None of her friends would hear his response so he was confident, at least more confident than he would have otherwise been.
“You’re crude. Crude, but funny.” Brankton turned in his seat to deliver what he thought would be his final line more forcefully. “In fact, I’d say your crudeness is bordering on rudeness. You’re a crudeness/rudeness straddler.”
“Is that so?” She turned in her seat to catch his opinion head-on. “Well who exactly cares what you think?”
“NBC does.” Brankton regretted saying it the instant the two-word reply left his half-filled chicken-fried-chicken mouth.
“NBC? What, is that supposed to impress me?” The coffee clutch was breaking up and her friends were throwing 20’s into a pile to pay for their meal. They were waiting for her to pony up as well. “Jackie, $20.00 please,” said a friend from somewhere in the scrum.
Jackie turned her head only slightly from Brankton for a moment, “Nels, can you cover me please?” “Oh, shit, girl,” was the response from Nelson who had obviously “covered” one too many times for Jackie. Her “Oh, please!” retort belied a belief that she had indeed earned her keep with her mid-morning improv routine.
“So, Mr. NBC, you were saying.”