Driving up MoPac* at dawn, the big red ball of the Sun rose in a narrow slit between two layers of clouds. As I glanced again, the same horizontal slit appeared between two downtown skyscrapers, causing a vertical slit of the same dimension. Thus, I witnessed the Sun rise as a square.
* "MoPac" is Austinite code for "Loop 1" (which is not a loop) so our directions make no sense to visitors. We have many other secret directions:
* "The Drag" means Guadalupe, between MLK and 29th. All other stretches of Guadalupe are called Guadalupe (a barely audible, hard g, and no "aye" on the end-- (G)uad-a-loop).
* We have have a 1st Street-- and it intersects 2nd, 3rd, 4th... through 18th street. The real 1st Street takes us townees place we go-- they are not for you. What you think is 1st Street is César Chávez. Which ever way you pronounce it, we will pronounce it the other way.
* We may call 26th Street "26th" whether it is marked as "Dean Keaton" or "Manor" (which is not pronounced in any way you could guess).
* We all know that "North Loop" is 53rd-- and that it is not a loop (and North Loop crosses Burnet, which is not pronounced in any way you could guess).
* When we say "take the 38th and a Half street exit," we refer to what is marked as 35th Street.
* There is an apparent rip in the space-time continuum along 35th and 38th streets. In that region, 35 and 38th (which we call 38th 1/2 Street for reasons of our own) are one in the same, while 36th, 37th and their halves simply do not seem to exist. A few have tried to follow 35th Street only to find they are really on 34th. Likewise, in places you can turn on 38th 1/2 Street only to find you are on 38th (and no 100ths) Street.
* We may tell you to take 38th and a Half and then turn on Burnet, but only we know it is marked "Medical."
* "Koenig" (Kay'-neg, sometimes Coy'-nig) when we refer to parts of 290, Allandale, Northland and FM 2222.
* We say "Capital of Texas Highway" for "Loop 360" (which is, as you may now have guessed, not a loop) -- unless speaking among ourselves, when we call it "360."
* They had to close Mueller Airport, because everyone mispronounced it (its Miller), and move it to ABIA (which we all call "Bergstrom"-- because we are mean).
* To go from 4th Street to 38th Street on Pleasant Valley, go north on Pleasant Valley, turn straight on Chestnut, then, at your first opportunity, turn straight on Cherrywood. We will call it which ever one we feel like calling it in the moment.
* So, you are taking 290 from IH-35 to Oak Hill? We can give you direction on how to do that, with several exits, and we will not once mention 290, but we will mention "Ben White" -- good luck with that.
* We say "Ben White" or "Ed Bluestien" but only because there are no signs using those words.
* On some (and I'm not telling which) entrances to MoPac, you have to turn right to go left, and turn left to go right. There are signs, but those signs are only visible when you have committed to the (wrong) lane. No one will let you over, because no one let us over-- it is how we learned so it will be how you learn.
* Headed to the Formula 1 Race? You are going to take Highway 71, of course. But we do not call Highway 71 that. What we call it depends on where we are... and our mood.
* If you hear on the radio that the "Upper Deck is shut-down," you will have, at most, 4.2 seconds to choose the correct lane before you are committed-- and you will choose the wrong one because we do not give visitors so much as a hint as to how to know which lanes go "upper" and which go "lower."
* When someone needs to take a specific numbered street exit from IH-35, we do not tell them which lane to be in, we say to "use the upper (or lower) deck" -- depending upon which street. We know what it means, but you won't.
* Because it makes perfect sense to visitors, we sometimes refer to the non-existent "19th Street." There never has been a 19th Street and there never will be. No signs make mention of it-- but we do.
* There are no east-west freeways in Austin, so to go east or west you will use one of the five (5!) north-south freeways. Because everyone is either going north, east, south or west, the north-south freeways are always packed; and so it is that we always complain that we need more north-south freeways. Got it?
* There are exactly two (2) major thoroughfares in Austin upon which the lights are timed to facilitate the flow of traffic. On all other roads, the traffic lights are timed to impede the flow of traffic. Only about three dozen townees know the two good streets, and we are sworn to secrecy.
* Remember, if you are on anything in Austin with the word "Loop" in it, and miss your exist, you will NOT return to it-- instead, you will end up in either Mexico or Oklahoma.
* All directions given to tourists may be intended to direct you to Oklahoma or Mexico.
* Yeah, sure, 6th Street is THE hot spot-- and ALL the great local bands play there. Do not even think of going anywhere else as 80,000 drunk college kids can't be wrong. The townees only avoid it because we want to make sure the tourists can enjoy an authentic Austin experience during their brief time with us.
This roller coaster ride we've been on's nearly at an end,
I bought my ticket with me tears and that's all I'm gonna spend...
The morning Sun was shining like a red rubber cube.