Saturday, September 13, 2008


Don I picked through our individual memories of riding out Hurricane Alicia twenty-five years ago over lunch yesterday. Apparently we were both allowed to go outside while the calm of the eye passed over our suburban homes only to be shuffled back indoors before the outer rings of the storm again passed over slinging more wind and rain. I was laughing at Don's apt description of the smallish trees in our respective suburbs leaning over (complete with hand gestures) during the storm only to stand straight again during the eye, and lean back over going the other direction as Alicia completed her pass over Houston. That storm was less scary than exciting from the relative safety of our homes under the seeming protection of our parents.
At the time, I was greatly offended that all hurricanes were "her-icanes", and I wanted to know why the storms did not have male names, too. (Early feminist leanings? Sense of fairness? I dunno.) Many years later, I trawl the internet watching for news on Hurricane (Himicane) Ike glad for the cousin's family who went north, but concerned about the in-laws who are staying at home.
What I find is a victim of Hurricane Ike that I did not even think to be concerned about until I saw the name listed as a casualty in an on-line article. Brennan's, a downtown Houston restaurant with New Orleans roots, burned in the midst of Ike's march into town. I visited this landmark of fine cuisine only once, but it was a memory that I treasure. My mother took my Aunt Nancy, who was seven months older than I, and me to the restaurant for dinner once when she was staying with us for one of the extended slumber parties we called visits. We rode in a taxi, which was a disappointment because I expected something grand and very "Breakfast at Tiffany's" rather than the grimy, smelly reality. I ate something off the menu which was somewhat less exciting than anticipated (and nerve-wracking because I recall not wanting to upset my mother with my picky eating habits on this special day). The dinner was not the high point of the evening. We were absolutely wowed by one of the signature dishes of the landmark eatery. Nothing like a flaming Bananas Foster to impress a child! I think Mom was disappointed when I ordered a something chocolatey instead of the super-cool treat afire.
It was an adventure where I glimpsed my mother as she sees herself, and Nancy was the best friend who would never move away or grow away because we were family. I have since learned that families are not quite inseparable or infallible. Nancy did not ever move away. She remains forever a young teen instead of the lifelong friend and confidante expected following a car accident a couple of years after our Brennan's adventure. I find a small sharp sense of mourning for the place that was the scene one of our happy memories.


Anonymous said...

The reason we had to ride in the crummy taxi was the delayed completion of our dinner. Brennans provided a free shuttle to the theatre for diners. In order to have "Death by Chocolate" (a dense cake with gooey ganache and raspberry sauce) the waiter assured us we would still be on time after dessert and he would arrange for alternate transport...thus the grimy cab. By the way, the reason dinner took so long is a story in itself. Remember the fascination with having your chair pulled back, an attendant standing at attention with your napkin in order to snap it back into your lap each time you returned from a visit to the powder room?

Holly (me.) said...

Ha! Once my memory was prodded ("Anonymous" is my own dear Mama in case it is not obvious.), I do recall the wonder of having my chair pulled out for me by our attentive (and likely annoyed)waiter each time I traipsed back and forth to the "powder room"... that raspberry sauce was lovely drizzled across the plate, too.