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