True to the multi-entendre title of this post, our al fresca lunch upon arrival in Big D this past Saturday was both substantial and satisfying. You see, I grew up in Dallas until the age of 12, lived there again in my 20s, and absolutely relish any and every chance I get to pop back up and see my Dallas crowd. Especially a trip that kicks off at Jack’s Burger House.
The reason for the 24-hour roadtrip? Well, I am humbled to report that I was asked to participate in a fundraising event aptly penned “Tables of Content”, which is hosted by and helps to support the Friends of the SMU Libraries.
So The Professor, Little Chick and I ventured up I-35 on Saturday morning, and rolled into Dallas just in time for a late lunch at the venerable Jack’s Burger House — which for the record just celebrated its 60th year flippin’ burgers and serving up its one-of-a-kind seasoned fries.
After lunch we visited friends and I gave the Professor and Little Chick a little driving tour. I showed them my elementary school, the pool where we went swimming, where family friends live, and the house where I grew up — incidentally the place where I wrote my first book which for the record was self-published and self-bound. With staples.
All of a sudden it was time to check in to our hotel, gussie up, and head over to the SMU campus.
The Professor was very impressed with how beautiful SMU is. I have to admit, I have spent a fair amount of time traipsing around SMU through the years and it is awfully impressive. It was both lovely and special to be back.
The evening began with a cocktail reception on the back porch of a building in the business school. I was honored to be one of the authors selected as 2012’s Top Ten Haute Young Authors.
We had some laughs with the other writers about the name of the category. Clearly I’m not young, so I suppose I slid through on the “haute” vote? Then there was some discrepancy on whether we were pronouncing it “haute” as in high french couture, “hot” as in redhot new writer, or “hawt” as in Texas sassy.
I opted not to question it further, choosing to accept all combinations of fashionable, in demand, and really really good looking.
Patrons of the event were trustees, community activists and all-around book lovers – my kinda crowd. They were engaged and dynamic and we were swamped at my table talking about the Texas Water Safari and signing copies of PADDLEFISH. Thank heavens the Professor was with me, we were quite a circus act! It was a really, really fun scene.
First Lady Laura Bush was in attendance but we didn’t see her until everyone moved inside for the seated dinner. Sadly she escaped with her secret service and no copy of PADDLEFISH. Che sera.
We were at a table with two other Haute Young authors, Becky Wade and PJ Hoover. It was cool to be with two other female writers, both of them moms with kids about the age of mine, and it was an invaluable gift to have that time to swap stories with each other. Our husbands chimed in with their points of view, it was a lively group. Also at the table were Amy Carver and Cindy Ruppi who worked on the event and made everything run seamlessly.
(PS ladies, the meal was delish!)
That said, the real highlight of the evening for me personally was to see them present the 2012 Literati award to one of the dearest people in my whole life….my surrogate father…Marshall Terry. (Lest you think I adopted this man against his will, he introduced me multiple times as his fake daughter. So yes, he does know me.)
It was serendipity that I was a participant the same night he received this incredible honor. Marshall has been a family friend and personal mentor, in my life since I was a mere eight years old. His daughter is my very nearest and dearest sister-friend from childhood, she is even Little Chick’s godmother. I could barely hold back the tears listening to Marsh’s life achievements, and I was very very proud to be there when he accepted.
Not only a published author time and time again, Marsh was an English professor at SMU for about half a century and taught generations of talented Texas writers. He created the Creative Writing Department, served as Associate Provost, co-authored the university’s strategic plan, lead study programs in Spain, Taos and Oxford, and taught the infamous “Myth of the American West” course.
He is known simply as “Mr SMU.”
Luckily the fact that his daughter Mary and I traveled along as young girls to the SMU in Oxford summer program didn’t cost him his job. We weren’t that much of a nuisance. Although we did hang out in the beer cellar pub on campus for hours on end playing pinball and chumming up with all the college kids.
It was a special night all the way around. MANY THANKS to the Friends of the SMU Library, including Toni Terry and Amy Carver who both brought me into the mix, and special congrats to my dear friend, Mr SMU.
We capped off the evening meeting up with one of my best Carolina Dallas girlfriends and her husband, enjoying big laughs and margaritas at Mi Cocina.
Have I mentioned I love visiting my friends in Dallas?
And of course, it wouldn’t be a proper drive home without insane traffic on I-35 and a stop in West at the Little Czech Bakery for a kolache to go.
Delicious is our business.
I wish that were my tagline.