• Sage Webb

A Taqueria Most Magnificent, an Archery Tournament, and a Piped-In Haggis

If you enjoy Tex-Mex, imagine, if you will, a vast tiled expanse of bespoke-taco fixings, potato tortas, and conchas in pink and yellow and dun. A line of men bound for the chemical plants sprawling across Houston’s northeast shoulder (rubbing against the San Jacinto River and the shipping courses of the channels and bayous that feed the world’s desire for polypropylene fleeces and plastic dolls, for sterile syringes and catheters, and for those weird foam forms for painting toenails) winds around this shop of culinary treasures, no one speaking English.

The Bosun believes the breakfast of champions starts here, starts with a potato cake fit for Philoctetes himself (an archer who was a way better shot than Achilles or Hector or even Penthesilea). So here we be ... before we set out for my second archery tournament of this odd comeback.

(With a slice of cake from the taqueria, I “meditate” before I shoot.)

In the end, the day will produce a globetrot of feasting. I will shoot well ... to win my division and inch up in the state standings. We will supp afterward with a clan of new archery friends, the others swimming in meats and barbecue sauce as I shame myself with my vegetarian creamed corn (weep not for me, brothers and sisters: the banana pudding was fit for the gods).

And then we will fall to a righteous Burns Supper, replete with piped-in haggis and neeps and tatties. Robert Burns, born January 25, 1759, hailed from Scotland and ascended to immortality in writing of things like “[t]he best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men.” Now, across the globe, around January 25, adherents toast the scribe (and the lassies), pipe in a haggis (literally—with bagpipe music serenading the haggis as it enters the dining room), and partake of those beverages for which Scotland has a reputation.

A man of many loves (evidenced in part by the varying levels of legitimacy of his myriad children), Burns’s verse often betrays his appreciation of the gentle sex.

As he wrote:

O my Luve's like a red, red rose,

That's newly sprung in June:

O my Luve's like the melodie,

That's sweetly play'd in tune.

Burns died at the age of thirty-seven in part from his “dissolute lifestyle.”

In many ways, it feels like Robbie Burns would likely have cottoned to our dock’s motley crew. Burns even had a never-realized dream of sailing off to the West Indies with one of his loves (she died before the couple could depart).

Something in his work makes me fancy he knew that these days ... the days right at hand ... each day we live right now ... represent the “good old days,” and maybe I’m not so far off since he did write:

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,

And never brought to mind?

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,

And auld lang syne!

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