Eddie Ashworth went to Indian Springs with me back in our high school days. We caught up again right after we both finished law school. I was at the Justice Department, making the transition from paralegal to trial attorney. (I worked full time and went to law school at night.) Eddie got a job in DC with Charles Morgan, Jr., the civil rights attorney who won Reynolds v. Sims, the landmark redistricting case, and who represented then-Cassius Clay, better known as Muhammad Ali, in Clay/Ali’s successful appeal of his conviction for draft evasion. Morgan also represented Julian Bond in Bond’s challenge to Georgia’s refusal to honor Bond’s election to the state legislature. So Eddie was standing in tall cotton. Upon moving to DC, Eddie bought five identical charcoal gray suits (the Washington, DC uniform). He also bought a weekend cabin in Mid-Nowhere Virginia so he could, through what we call a polite fiction, vote in an actual state.
After a while, Eddie saw greener, oil-soaked pastures in Louisiana, and left DC and the practice of law. I lost track of him until our 50th high school reunion. I discovered that Eddie now lives in Baton Rouge where he heads up a think tank that focuses, or at least contemplates, budget issues — as if Wilkins Micawber’s advice ( “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.”) were not enough. It was really good to re-connect with Eddie. And Eddie gave me a tip on LC’s Bar-B-Que in Kansas City, which I had been planning on trying before I had to cancel my Kansas City barbecue trip.
Eddie now recommends Midway BBQ in Katy, Texas, a suburb of Houston and the birthplace of Renee Zellweger. Eddie stopped at Midway while he was on his way to get a boulder from Sealy, Texas, birthplace of Eric Dickerson and Sealy Mattresses. Sealy is a little west of Katy. I imagine Eddie needed a boulder for landscaping.
Back to barbecue. Eddie reports of Midway, “Best brisket I’ve ever put in my mouth—by an order of magnitude—and I’ve eaten a lot of brisket. Get it off the marble end. Money back guarantee!” Now don’t rush over there expecting Eddie to foot the bill. I’m guessing that the money back guarantee only applies to me, the person to whom it was directed, and that Eddie’s lawyerly language means that I get my money back only if I can establish that it’s not the best brisket Eddie has put in his own mouth. The “marbled” end, by the way, is another way to say the “moist” end, also known as the fatty end. I didn’t need to be told to ask for that, but it’s always good advice.
I trust Eddie’s barbecue judgment, even though he grew up in Childersburg, Alabama, where the presence of a paper mill was far from conducive to maintaining an acute sense of smell. I think that paper mills no longer pour into the air as much sulphur — sulphur, with that nauseating rotten egg smell that make you think that maybe hog farms aren’t that bad. Paper mills used to be just awful. I remember driving from Evergreen, Alabama, the best-smelling town in the world, with a young attorney, Yvette Rivera, after a grueling election monitoring trip years back. Yvette slept for most of the drive, but woke as if from a nightmare when we hit the paper mills north of Mobile. She later confided that she thought it was something I had done. That smell may be why she moved to New York City to be a federal prosecutor for a few years,
Anyway, Eddie’s sense of smell has recovered, what with college and law school in hickory-centric Birmingham and Tuscaloosa, and the enchanting fragrances of Louisiana cooking, and I look forward to trying Midway.