A Look At Cities, Just For Grins
Never judge a book by its cover. OK, but that old adage never traveled as far as a face or a smile.
I've been on the road a good bit lately and had a chance to do a lot of people watching. There may not be anything more entertaining than watching this fascinating drama of the human race reveal itself day by day.
Elizabeth was prompting me to get this piece written and remarked that you could tell a lot about a person by the way they smile. True, but even some smiles must be reviewed cautiously, case in point -- our presidential election.
My travels have taken me to Dallas, Houston and New Orleans recently. Each city has its own personality and the smile quotas in each vary significantly.
In Dallas and Houston it seems people are so busy they never have time to exhale, much less smile. Dallasites seem to take themselves much more seriously than Houstonians. Then again, while Dallas fancies itself an international city, Houston is a true melting pot, much in the way we once thought about places such as New York City.
The population in Dallas seems to remain somewhat more homogenous to its Texas roots than the sprawling metropolis of Houston. Nevertheless, Houstonians seem to be a little more laid back. Comfortable in their own skin, if you please. If you smile at someone in Houston, they might return the gesture. But in Big D, it seems they look at you a little funny when you flash your pearly whites.
Now, New Orleans is an entirely different matter. The natives of the city are a happy-go-lucky bunch and seem to welcome a smile and all the tourists they can jam into the city at any given time. My son Jamie and our friend Jim made the pilgrimage recently to the Final Four. It was Jamie's first trip to the Big Easy. It was my first trip back since Hurricane Katrina. The place is cleaner to the extent you can clean up such a place. Bourbon Street is still Bourbon Street and the old haunts still have the best food money can buy.
Without exception, breakfast at Brennan's is still the gold standard for brunch in the lower 48, if not the Western hemisphere. They have the best coffee and their bread rivals anything you can find this side of the wharf in San Francisco. Their turtle soup is still fabulous with a dash of sherry and the service is as impeccable as it was on my first visit in my teens.
There is one major difference from my formative years. You can dine in shorts and a T-shirt if you wish. Now, I understand things have changed and will continue to do so for the duration of my adventure on this earth, but dumbing down the dress code in Brennan's and similar establishments is not a change for the better. I was all for the movement of relaxing dress codes in general but it seems when you had to meet a standard followed by all the other patrons in a place that something special was taking place.
Understandably some folks in for the Final Four may not have made their plans adequately and who could really know what "Kentucky casual" really means? A pair of overalls without a shirt on perhaps?
But enough of that. Let's close the topic with a back in my day statement. Back in my day, if your breakfast required more than one 20-dollar bill to pay the check, the lump in your throat would have at least been concealed by your necktie.
Smiling faces start out as unanimous at every Final Four. The first night of competition diminishes the hopefuls by half. Followed by dividing the remaining half again after the Monday night game.
To sum things up, New Orleans wins the smile quota by a runaway margin while Houston comes in a distant second followed by Dallas needing to learn how to chill out and grin a little more.
Is it just me? Or maybe there really is no place like home.