The longer you’ve lived in Austin, the smug­ger you are

Austin American-Statesman - - METRO&STATE - JOHN KELSO

There’s a game we play in Austin that I call the “I’ve Been Here Longer Than You Have” game. You can hardly at­tend a gath­er­ing of three or more Aus­tinites with­out run­ning across this con­ver­sa­tional com­pe­ti­tion. It’s a game of one-up­man­ship en­joyed by long­time res­i­dents but an­noy­ing to new­com­ers, one of its sell­ing points.

When play­ing the I’ve Been Here Longer Than You Have game, the words “ar­madillo,” “world,” and “head­quar­ters” fre­quently come up.

The point of this game is to prove you’re smarter than the new ar­rival, be­cause, while he may be a tech whiz who just moved here eight years ago and knows how to find his mes­sages on Face­book, you re­mem­ber where Hector’s Taco Flats was.

In­ci­den­tally, Hector’s Taco Flats was on North La­mar, but I can’t find my mes­sages on Face­book.

When played by old-school Aus­tinites, the game goes like this: Guy No. 1 in a pony­tail says, “I saw Frank Zappa play at the Ar­madillo.” To which Guy No. 2, also in a

pony­tail, re­sponds, “That’s noth­ing. I saw Ste­vie Ray Vaughan play at the old Rome Inn.” To which Guy No. 3, who is bald, an­swers smugly, “When I got here, it was just one In­dian in a ca­noe, chant­ing.”

This bat­tle for supremacy goes on con­stantly. The other day I got an e-mail from an old friend who men­tioned the Stal­lion, Mad Dog and Beans, and Les Amis. I coun­tered with the Split Rail, the Fron­tier Lounge and the Cha­parral. Take that, pal.

When this game turns snippy, it evolves into the “Why Don’t You Go Back to Where You Came From?” game. In this ver­sion, it doesn’t mat­ter where you came from or how long it’s been since you set foot there.

I was re­minded of this while read­ing the story in our paper about the bat­tle be­tween Best Wurst, a food cart on Sixth Street, and Park­side, a swank res­tau­rant. Best Wurst sits in front of Park­side, and Park­side wants Best Wurst to move. Some Best Wurst fans think Park­side owner Shawn Cirkiel is be­ing a bully, and he re­cently was told on Face­book that he should go back to Dal­las, by some­body from Dal­las, he said.

Cirkiel thinks the mov­ing rec­om­men­da­tion is funny. He’s never lived in Dal­las. He’s lived in Austin al­most all of his life. When he was a kid, his mother moved the fam­ily from the ur­ban part of Austin out to far North­east Austin near a pig farm be­cause she was sick of all the peo­ple mov­ing here from Dal­las.

Me? I was once told to go back to Ohio. I have stayed overnight in Ohio just once, in a ho­tel in Cleve­land.

So now you’re won­der­ing: What dif­fer­ence does it make how long you’ve been in Austin? None. But the game goes on be­cause many Aus­tinites re­sent the city’s change.

So, if you can claim you were here when Punch’s Lounge was on the lower end of Congress, and the other guy came here five years later when the same spot had up­graded into a wine bar, the first guy wins — be­cause he’s less re­spon­si­ble for Austin’s latte-fi­ca­tion.

Yep, all of this is pretty silly. Then again, I re­mem­ber the old Raw Deal. Bully for me, huh?

Bur­ton Wil­son

Do you re­mem­ber hang­ing out at the Ar­madillo World Head­quar­ters in 1976? If so, you prob­a­bly think you’re brighter than all the pesky new­com­ers who have ar­rived since then.

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