Saturday, May 27, 2006

Raise the Flag


I lived in Texas for a long time, 26 years to be exact, and the first Mexican restaurant I can remember eating at was Ponchos. For the uniniated, Ponchos is a Mexican buffet where you went through the line and got as much food as you thought you could eat for a few dollars. After you finished the first round (and the word round is appropriate here), if you could manage and hadn't experienced major g.i. tract disturbance, you could raise the flag at your table and get as many courses as you wanted. The food wasn't pretty, but it was cheap and plentiful which sometimes is the point. I never thought much about Ponchos -- it wasn't a place you ever wanted to go, it was a place you ended up for lack of better options. I remember going on a school trip with some National Honor Society kids and afterward we took our show on the road to Ponchos. By this time, the childish charm of the flag had worn thin for me, and I was doing what I could to pick at my greasy taco. There were some kids in the group who had never been to a restaurant (Mineral Wells built a Chili's this year and that was a huge deal!), and one of them was Movanna Lack. Movanna was a girl who had long snake-handling hair and a complexion that would make Sissy Spacek's look rosy. She kept gasping while we went through the buffet line where workers in hairnets offered us whatever we wanted. I couldn't figure it out until I overheard her on the payphone in the corner, telling her mother that she was at the fanciest restaurant in the world, one where they had flags on the table and would bring you anything you wanted whenever you wanted it. Weep for the little things that could make them glad, I thought, quoting Robert Frost for the first and maybe only time in a Ponchos. What else was there to do? I rose the flag like everyone else and ate until I was sick, which didn't take too long.

Michelle's Spell of the Day

"Evil can stay in, minding its own business for eternity, if the right situation doesn't arise." Zoe Heller

Love Among the Ruins

1 part vodka

1 part champagne

1 whole passion fruit, crushed

Stir in the passion fruit and chill.

Benedictions and Maledictions

First published in Bordersenses

Raise The Flag

While exiting Panchos, a woman in a wheelchair
is accused of stealing soapillas in a small brown
paper bag she holds between her atrophied legs.
The counter woman wants to search her. You can
look away from this scene, the stringy hair,
the catheter bag, keep eating until you’re sick,
the point of this place being that you can get
whatever you want while you’re here, but you
can’t take any of it with you. Maybe you want
to help, pull out your wallet and give the woman
what you have which is nothing. You’ll have to put
this meal on your card which doesn’t have much
room on it or you wouldn’t be here, loading up
on cheap greasy food, all you can eat, and you can
only stand so much and maybe that’s the problem.

5 comments:

cindy said...

Michelle,

another beautiful photo, and perfect post. I LOVE Movanna Lack! Who could have a sweeter name besides Michelle Brooks?

xo
Cindy, always and truly, forever

Bonnie said...

Hey sweetie,

I love how your gorgeous feet are like the raised flags of our youth. So sweet and smart like always! Miss you bunches! And soon!

Cheri said...

Michelle-
There's always been something about buffets that turned me off as well. I couldn't imagine being searched and accused of stealing food though, thats ridiculous!

Paul said...

howdy, barefoot queen of my heart,

that all you can eat Mex food is way too much to think about. Great writing, yes ma'am. Memorial Day.

R2 C2

Tom said...

Michelle;

Thanks for the note. And I will be more careful. Promise! All great things come in pairs. I too noticed the feet. And the hands to match............Have a great time there. Love you much.

Tom