When my old friend Boston Bob sent me a Facebook message about a Barton Springs lifeguard reunion, the dream job image shot through my mind. Bob, a true New Englander, left Austin after his lifeguard stint in the early ’80s. We had played on the same softball team back then. I hadn’t seen him since, but Facebook reconnected us. He resides in Atlanta, but he’s still a Red Sox fan. No surprise there.
The problem for me with the reunion: I was never a lifeguard. Maybe I should’ve been. I certainly wanted to sit up on that tall white platform above Austin’s favorite watering hole. And since the lifeguard reunion would include the fine folks who actually did sit way up high from 1976-82, I might recognize some faces besides Bob’s. I was at Barton Springs all the time, swimming, snorkeling, checking out the scene. It was the place to be.
So on a sunny afternoon in early May, I showed up at Scholz Garten, another Austin treasure, to meet up with Bob and his fellow lifeguards. I got to Scholz’s just as the Kentucky Derby was announcing post-time. Bob wasn’t there yet, so I sipped a Real Ale Fireman’s Four and watched as the greatest two minutes in sports flew by on the big screen just above the bar.
The race was over and still no Bob, so I wandered out to the beer garden area. I sat at a table across from a guy who was there because his brother had been the pool manager back in the day. So here the two of us sat, neither of us lifeguards. From our vantage point at a worn out picnic table in an old Austin icon, we watched the joy of a reunion: hugging, laughing, and people maybe not recognizing each other.
I didn’t know a soul. One or two faces seemed familiar. Even lifeguards get old.
Bob did show up. As we talked, I realized the tough road he’d had. He was sober for one thing, and had been for nine years. I was glad for him. He was divorced for another, but remarried. And he had a twenty-something son he was very proud of. Showed me pictures on his smart phone. I was happy for him. About the divorce, he joked, “I didn’t get along with my wife’s boyfriend.” He grinned, and I saw the same confident look in his eyes from back in the old days when he was sitting up on the lifeguard stand.
As darkness descended and the twinkle lights in the trees came on to provide some outdoor lighting, a lifeguard (well, a retired lifeguard) with her smart phone camera asked everyone at our table for a group photo. I stood and moved to the side, but she insisted I get in the photo. Click! We all laughed and for one evening, I was a Barton Springs lifeguard. What a cool job.
Austin, TX – When we last reported, yes, a shortage of frozen limeade was in effect – meaning those nice little frozen concoctions, as Jimmy Buffet sang, were tough to come by without that key ingredient, frozen limeade. There’s plenty of tequila. Don’t worry about that. It seemed like that – for now at least – the crisis had eased…until Cinco de Mayo last Saturday.
Cinco de Mayo is perhaps the most celebrated misunderstood holiday ever. Why? People think it’s Mexico’s Independence Day. Wrong. It’s a David and Goliath type thing. The Battle of Puebla in 1862 is remembered on May 5 each year because it was that battle that resulted in a vastly outnumbered group of Mexicans fighting, stopping (temporarily) a much larger French Army force on its way to Mexico City. Underdogs. Against all odds. You get the picture. I’ll drink to that, and millions of other people join me each year – on Cinco de Mayo.
Chris called and invited Cherie and me over for fajitas Saturday night. “And bring some frozen limeade,” he said. When we arrived at his place, he told us that he had gone to the store to buy some limeade frozen concentrate and there was none. The store manager told him people had been coming in the previous day and buying cases (24 cans to a case) in preparation for Cinco de Mayo. We handed over our requested delivery (we had some on hand only because we stocked up the last time we couldn’t find any) and moments later were – yep, celebrating Cinco de Mayo.
Limeade: it’s getting harder to find all the time. People buying 24 cans at a time? Really?
Austin, TX – It can’t be real. HEB, the largest grocer in the Central Texas area, has discontinued selling frozen limeade concentrate, the primary ingredient (well, there’s tequila too) in frozen margaritas.
I first noticed no limeade concentrate last Sunday on a casual trip to the grocery store. The shelves were completely empty of the familiar green and black cans – no HEB brand, no Minute Maid brand, no limeade period. Today, Tuesday, Cherie and I happened to be in a different area of town and stopped in to pick up the key ingredient. Nothing.
We drove to another part of town, to a different HEB. Nothing. (Sure, a couple of cans of largely ignored Bacardi “margarita” concentrate sat there freezing). Cherie asked the store rep at the checkout area about the so-called missing limeade. “So, you’re just not carrying limeade or what?” she asked. That got the attention of the four store “associates” who were going over next week’s work shifts. Justin, with red shirt and name tag, took the lead for the group and said he would call his “grocery manager.” We waited, casually commenting that a shortage of limeade at various HEBs didn’t make sense because it’s, well, the key ingredient. It’s Austin. It’s getting hot. Silence.
Justin got off the phone and reported that the product has been discontinued. “This is usually because of poor sales,” explained Justin, who apparently has never had a frozen margarita in his life, much less made one in a blender.
A quick Google of the local Wal-Mart brought a sigh of relief. They have 12-ounce cans of Minute Maid Frozen Limeade Concentrate. I should have my trailer over there tomorrow morning, when I will offload a Bobcat and remove the pallets Wal-Mart has into safe keeping here in my freezer. Crisis over.