Our first proper day off on this tour and it’s in Amarillo TX, which is the halfway point between Dallas and Denver, and a city I’ve never been to. I set off to explore on foot this morning but don’t make it very far before I encounter “The Potato Factory,” a restaurant which has actual, physical people inside it, positive Yelp reviews, and harmless baked potatoes as the base of their culinary fare.
I decide this will make a good start to my day and approach the counter, where I am suckered into Today’s Special: A baked potato stuffed with chicken fried steak, plus a biscuit and a 20 oz beverage for just $7. Suddenly overcome with As-Long-As-I’m-In-Texas pride, I order it for breakfast and don’t look back. The Potato Factory Guy tells me “the bacon-cream gravy sauce is what makes it so good” —
I eat the entire thing and wash it down with a giant styrofoam coke (sorry, Adam) (sorry, Mayor Bloomberg).
Weary from my Texas-sized meal, I stumble out of The Potato Factory into the Amarillo heat. I don’t feel right. Things definitely aren’t right. I decide a walk will help and venture off into The Land of No Pedestrians.
The heat is bearing down on me as I walk past sad purple strip clubs, boarded-up Christian book stores, auto dealerships, and gas stations. This part of Amarillo is pretty down on its luck. I am sweating. I don’t know how long I have been walking, but it’s clear I need something. What do I need?
1) A salad. I need a salad so bad.
2) A mattress. I once heard that bedbugs hadn’t made it down to Texas yet, and some of the mattresses strewn about the sidewalks and back alleys of deep Amarillo are hard to pass up. Just a quick little disco nap to get my energy back. Resist. Carry on. I am in a Cormac McCarthy novel.
3) A bottle of water (sorry, Adam).
4) A toilet. Jesus-god, I need a toilet RIGHT FUCKING NOW. NOW! RIGHT-NOW! Oh wait, no, we’re fine. It’s okay.
5) “Just For Men” brush-on beard color. Can you really take the gray out of your beard in just five minutes?
As I walk on down The Road it becomes clear that I won’t encounter a salad until I hit the Colorado border, so option one is out. The water helps a little, and the toilet at the CVS helps *a lot* — now I am stuck choosing between Just For Men “Dark Brown” and Just For Men “Real Black” — I think I land somewhere in-between the hot white guy on the Dark Brown box and the handsome mixed-race guy on the Real Black box. I have been standing in the Just For Men aisle at CVS for a full 15 minutes.
It had been my unspoken hope that somewhere around minute 14, another box would materialize, called “Really Really Dark Brown” or “Jew-y Brown,” but that didn’t happen. I go with the Dark Brown and begin the two mile walk back to the hotel, where I can brush the gray out of my beard in just five minutes.
The Texas sun bears down on me again and I feel weak. I am almost 40 and the younger touring version of myself, with the full black beard and the iron gut and the boundless percussive energy — he is shaking his youthful head at daddy-Thundergod while the Amarillo vultures circle above. The little blue dot on my phone inches along so… slowly…. people are looking at me from their cars either because I look Jew-y, or because I am a pedestrian, or maybe because they can see I have the wrong color Just For Men in my bag. Suddenly a scary guy in a pickup truck pulls up next to me and rolls down his window. He has a big beard (in need of a little JFM-Red) and a camouflage hat. He is The Most Frightening Man In Amarillo and he is going to shoot me with a gun.
Oh wait, it’s just Ryan Miller.
I ask Ryan if he really tweeted to our fan base looking for someone to loan him a pickup truck for the day, and he says: “Yes.”
This road journal is TO BE CONTINUED…