“Notes on Alan & Sara” by Joanie Whitebird (Part 1)

for my dearest friends, brother & sister, Alan & Sara, a chronicle of events for “Posterity” — Love, Joanie

Joanie Whitebird

The late Joanie Whitebird, noted poet & writer & minor literary legend — and my former sister-in-law — did indeed play a central role in how Sara and I met.

Sara was visiting Joanie (and my brother, Scott) at our family’s house over the Thanksgiving weekend in 1989 when I came down from Austin for the holiday.

But I’ve already told that story here before.

Here Joanie tells the start of our story — as seen from her nearly ringside seat.

We were firmly ensconced in the old homestead of the in-laws for the Thanksgiving holidays. My friend Sara had flown in from California to visit. Scott’s brother, Alan, lived in Austin but had come down for the weekend. Sara had been living with John for seven years. Alan was dating Lisa, a woman I had introduced him to in Houston.

Thanksgiving morning I introduce Alan and Sara. They look at each other and immediately assure me they’ve already met. I don’t remember them meeting before, but, hell, I could’ve missed it, right? Shortly after dinner (which is at 2 in the afternoon, and includes Lisa and Vassar Miller) Sara comes running up to me, grabs me by the lapels and says

“I WANT Alan!”
“Don’t you think he’s sexy?”
“THAT Alan? My brother-in-law Alan?”

They spend the rest of the day together, and sit up the whole night talking. Next morning, Alan has to go back to Austin to photograph a wedding. I’m hoping things have settled down. It was just one of those quick infatuations, sort of like a 24 flu bug, I tell myself. Sara and I go off to this nice little dinner we had planned for six months at this favorite Italian restaurant of oours. Sara can’t talk about anything but Alan, at which point I get bored and say

“So, alright already, just what is it you want to do here, Sara?”
“I want to be with. Alan.”
“Alan’s in Austin.”
“I know,” she wails.
“(Right.) I guess I’m driving to Austin tonight…”
“Can we do that?” she asks, breathless.
“Hell, it’s only three hours.” I say, thinking, it’s bound to be more fun than sitting here listening to this.

I call Scott and let him know what’s going on and he says
“Okay, but be sure to warn her about The Pit.” Alan has always been a bachelor and his house looks like somebody forgot to clean up after the last acid trip of the 60’s. So, we tell Alan we’re coming up and I spend the next three hours explaining Sara not to be too overwhelmed by the state of his housekeeping.

Somewhere near Smithville Sara looks up suddenly and asks if Alan has a middle name. I do not like the sound of this at all. As a rule in one night stands, I hardly bothered to find out their first name, much less any other appendages. Sara wanting to know Alan’s middle name belied a seriousness I was not prepared to accept in my present state of mind.

“Wade,” I say suspiciously. “Why?”

“just wondered.” She looks out the window and I can see the reflection of her mouthing something to the quickly fogging glass. Is this the “writing the married name”?

Surely not, I say to myself, the girl can’t be that gaga yet. But the omen does not sit well with me. Neither does the speeding ticket I get sailing into Smithville with everything but the local fuzz on my mind.

We waltz into The Pit near midnight and I don’t recognize the place. I mean, I can see the floor, the dishes are washed and the bed is made. I’m standing there trying to make sure I’m in the right house and Sara looks around and says

“This isn’t so bad.” Right again.

I go find myself a cheap motel up S. Congress for the night and comeback around noon the next day to find them just barely beginning to drip out the front door. I bundle them in the car and take them for breakfast. Alan goes off to buy film and I sit Sara down and say

“Okay, give. I drove you up here, I want to hear all the gorey details.” Meanwhile I’m trying to get this girl to focus on the menu and not having much luck.

“Well, there was one major disappointment of the night.” She says. Frankly, I am somewhat relieved, things were looking much too cozy for me. I still have to go back to Houston and explain to my in-laws, Dell and Leonard, just why Sara and I both disappeared in the middle of the night. Only one disappointment on a one/first night stand. Still a damn good score overall, I figure.

“What was that?” I ask and motion the waitress over order Mimosa’s for both of us as I see we’re not going to be eating anytime soon.

“We figured out, from where I am in my period cycle, that I probably didn’t get pregnant last night.”
“(Gulp.) Wait a minute, that’s the disappointment, that you aren’t pregnant?”
“Uh hunh. Alan’s wonderful.”
“Right. Waitress! Keep those Mimosa’s coming.”
“Two more?”
“Yea, at least.”

Sara looks at her untouched glass.

“I don’t need another one.” Sara says. Mine is already finished and I down hers.

“Yes you do and if you don’t, I do.” I see Alan come bobbing red-bearded through the crowd and slide into the booth seat beside Sara. Big kiss and she says

“We are getting married, aren’t we?” (Where the hell are hose Mimosa’s?) Alan looks a little scattered for a moment, as if searching through his appointment book,

“Well,” he says thoughtfully “Not today, honey. (Would Wednesday do?)”

Sara looks like a kid on Christmas morning and I realize I’m going to need a lot more than Mimosa’s to get through this.

“Excuse me,” I say “I have to make a phone call.”

So, I’m standing in the door of the women’s restroom trying to get a long distance operator while hanging my head out staring at the two love birds thinking “Oh shit, how am I gonna explain this one?” Already I have a very clear picture of just who will be explaining what to who else and it will not be Alan and Sara as they won’t even be coming up for air anytime soon. I get Scott on the phone and say

“Remember your bachelor brother?” (I am trying to break it to him easy, I rationalize to myself.)
Slight pause.
“Uh, yes?”
“Well, forget it.”
“Want to explain that?” he prompts.
“Not at all but I’m afraid I have to. Alan and Sara are getting married.”
Long pause.
“That was quick.”
“My thoughts exactly. Want to talk to Alan?”


“Sure, why not?” So I smuggle Alan into the womens rest room to have a nice chat-to-chat with his big brother and I scoot back to the Mimosa’s which finally seem to be piling up enough so that I can make some use of them.

I insist on ordering breakfast, whether anybody else eats or not. I sneak peeks over my shoulder at Alan, whose turn it is now to hang halfway out into the hall. All the time I’m thinking “Did I get this right? I mean, he sure looks serious.” I look back at Sara, who, at the moment resembles the happiest puddle of jello I ever saw.

“Well, J,” I say to myself, as I make progress through the Mimosa’s “This is one you just didn’t figure on, not to mention didn’t see coming for shit.” All the time thinking, this must be like what its like being plugged into an electrical outlet. The next question is inevitable.

“Why didn’t you ever introduce me to Alan?” Sara has finally come to herself enough to blame someone for what she suddenly sees as the most wasted seven years of her life.

“Yea,” Alan chimes in as he climbs back into the seat “Why didn’t you tell me about Sara?” I stare dumbly at them both. No wonder lights bulbs pop he way they do., I know I’m about to.

“You see,” Sara informs me patiently “We’ve always loved each other, we just didn’t know where the other one was.”

“Right guys. Yea, I think I got that.” So we head back to the newly cleaned Pit to regroup. Having slept badly in the cheap hotel room, I figure on getting some sleep at the house before making the drive back to Houston in the afternoon. Alan’s supposed to go take pictures of a wedding, so that should give me a solid couple of hours anyway, right?

Alan has this sloppy old water bed ala ‘60s, of course. But that’s okay by me, a little sloshing around won’t even faze me at this point. Alan and Sara are safely off to find the wedding somewhere in Zilker Park and I’m almost asleep…when they’re back.

“Yo, what?”  I ask. I have the sneaking suspicion I will not be getting any sleep today.

“Well, the good news is that they got someone else to take the pictures.” I am laying on the water bed, waving only slightly, and looking up. They are looking down at me, or more specifically, at the bed and it is very clear what the bad news is.

“Right.” So I swim off the edge of the bed and go plop down on the remains of a couch in the front room. It is about four feet long and smells like Alan’s dog Brutus. As if that wasn’t enough, in a couple of minutes I hear the waves starting up on the water bed. The fact that Hurricane Alicia was only somewhat more tumultuous does not surprise me but, once again, does not bode well for the home team.

I take stock. Lets see here, my best friend just fell in love with my brother-in-law. John will shoot me. Lisa will not exactly appreciate it, and it will definitely will not endear me to my in-laws any. All this would be a little easier to take if I had some sleep, but, for the time being, that’s obviously out of the question, too.

It’s fivish or so before they emerge, looking perky and energetic and generally alive, which is a far cry from how I’m feeling by now. I throw Alan the car keys.

“You’re driving and you’re explaining to Mom and Dad.’
“No problem.” He says.

Right Why do I not trust that?

To be concluded…

About bullersbackporch

I am a native Austinite, a high-tech Luddite, lover of music, movies and stories and a born trainer-explainer.
This entry was posted in anecdotes, Buller, Family, love and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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