Tuesday, September 8, 2009


Several weeks ago, Brother Nappy and I decided we were gonna get outta Phoenix over the Labor Day weekend, but we couldn’t decide where to go. Tombstone? Nah, too old. Sedona? Nah, too crowded. Flagstaff? Nah, too granola. It started to look as if we wouldn’t know where we were goin’ until we started the car and went. But finally we hit on the place that was "just right": Payson (also known as Rim Country). Neither of us had ever visited Payson. It’s up in the mountains (cooler weather), and I had a friend named Lorna who loved Payson so much she eventually moved up there. We had made our decision. Payson it was.

So, Sunday morning, Nappy and I drove my truck up the mountain and got there without incident. It was a pleasant one-and-a-half or two-hour drive from our home in Phoenix. Good road all the way; two lanes in each direction, so ya don’t gotta take no lip from no slow-movin' Winnebago boys. The only complaint that Nappy and I had? How is it that they can put a man on the moon, but they can’t figure out a way to make mountain driving all downhill?

The town of Payson was small yet considerably larger than I had anticipated. Originally I thought I could ask around and probably locate my old friend Lorna, but as soon as Payson came into view, I knew there was no hope of a reunion. But it was green and pretty up there. Not as pretty as Lorna was, but still pretty.

Nappy and I drove through the town a bit to get a feel for the place and then stopped in at a Famous Sams for a glass of Bass Ale. Nappy was criticizing a White bloke he had worked for in the air conditioning business: “The guy once told me that his favorite food is tacos. How can a person’s favorite food be tacos? Gimme a break!”
I replied, “Well, what would you say about a person whose favorite food is avocado on toast?”
“That’s different,” said Nappy. “We were raised on avocado on toast; that’s part of our heritage.”

It’s true. We grew up in California eating avocado on buttered white toast topped with lots of salt – something our Pa prepared for us regularly at breakfast because in his childhood, HIS Pa had regularly made it for HIM at breakfast. I got to telling Nappy how I suspect our paternal Grandpa may have invented that method for eating avocado. “He moved to Santa Monica from Canada,” I said. “And I’m pretty sure Canada is too cold for avocado trees, so I doubt it’s a uniquely Canadian way of eating it. And other than us, I’ve never heard of anyone else eating avocado on toast. And I’ll tell you something else: I think I would probably request avocado on toast as my last meal if I were scheduled to be executed – that’s how much I like it.” Nappy said that perhaps he would choose it as his final meal also.

We got to yakking with the barmaid and Nappy told her we’d return after we “get ourselves a room.” Back at the truck I said to him, “I wish you had worded that bit about getting ourselves a room a little better.” Nappy laughed and said, “Yeah, as soon as I said that I knew it didn’t sound good. That’s why I mentioned an old girlfriend right after that.” This was the first time in our lives that Nappy and I hoped that we looked enough alike that it was clear we were brothers.

We checked into a motel, glad to learn that they have a breakfast room with waffles, muffins, toast, and cereal. “Everything but the bacon and eggs,” the desk clerk said as she assigned us room number 222. We made some remark about the room number to the clerk but she claimed never to have heard of a TV show called ‘Room 222.’ We thought that was too strange. “How could an American woman in her 40s never have heard of ‘Room 222’?” I incredulously asked Nappy as an odd uneasiness swept over me.

The uneasiness soon intensified. While walking through the motel parking lot toward room 222, we saw a ripe avocado lying all by itself on the ground. There it was just calling out to us like Snow White’s poisoned apple. This was it: our ticket out! God had provided us with our last meal request! Monday morning, we would get buttered toast from the breakfast room, top it with avocado and salt, and die in a car crash while going down the mountain back to Phoenix. We were finally gonna be FREE! Free from this world! But we were determined to live it up on this, our final night of life.

“Eat The Avocado” and "Bite The Avocado" were now the new euphemisms for the old euphemisms “Kick The Bucket" and "Bite The Dust."

Nappy suggested we draw all of our money out of our bank accounts and drink it up. “Once the money runs out, we eat the avocado!” he said. But just in case something went wrong with the plan (after all, we ARE McCarthys) I said we’d better leave the money in the bank accounts and just drink up the money we'd brought to Payson. So once we were settled into Room 222, we went to a Safeway market and bought two bottles of California red wines and photographed them with the Avocado Of Death perched between their necks:

The California reds would wait; it was time to find a bar. (The only place in town that even remotely resembles a “real” bar is The Buffalo.) At The Buffalo, I ordered the traditional Vacation Martini – if I have to tell you what a martini is made with, you’ve found this Blog by mistake. Nappy ordered a “Kilt Lifter” Scottish-style ale. (The less said about that name, the better. Get a room!). Here’s what that order looked like:

Just a few sips into the ale and Nappy was speaking to the waitress with a Scottish accent. (You probably think I’m kidding. Silly you. You know nothing of Nappy’s work!)

Now that we had taken that Phoenix edge off, it was time to resume the search for a “real” bar, so Nappy and I wandered along down Payson’s main drag, Highway 87, also known as Beeline Highway. Tucked into a side street with a movie theatre, I spotted Macky's Grill. We made a beeline for it only to discover that the grill was a damned grill! Someone should sue Macky for false advertising. Everyone knows that when you put the word “grill” on a sign it really means “bar.” Looks like I’d been fooled again – I don’t like it!

Looking in both directions, up and down the highway, we could see nothing that looked like a real bar. So in disgust, we gave up and walked unhappily into the Chilis restaurant behind us. I don’t drive to a little mountain town in order to patronize national chain establishments, for crying-out-loud! But this turned out to be a nice surprise. Yes, they had a dang tennis game on the TV set (Tennis! Ugh!), but the martini that the woman behind the bar made for me was perfecto! I was most complimentary about it and so Nappy asked the woman, “Have you ever been to a bartending school?” (Nappy and I are both Summa Cum Laude graduates of a Los Angeles bartending school.) She said she wasn’t professionally trained in mixology but that she "used to work at an Elks Lodge, and those people are very particular about their martinis.” God bless the Elks!

Here’s what a marvelous martini looks like standing next to Nappy’s hops and clear mountain spring water:

Our barmaid didn’t know any pretty woman named Lorna living in Payson, but she knew where to find the gin, vermouth and green olives, and that was pretty enough for me.

Heading back up Beeline Highway toward our motel, right next to a Dairy Queen, we came across an abandoned building that had been used as Payson’s USAP headquarters during the presidential campaign. The sign was still up. I took a cell phone photo of Nappy flipping “the bird” to the Barack Obama sign. Just then, we heard a car horn loudly beep twice at us from the Dairy Queen drive-through. I wheeled around, thinking Payson might be on the verge of becoming Duke City; Nappy spun on his heels, ready to redirect that “bird” he was holding. But what we saw were four dudes in a compact car at the Dairy Queen drive-through window, and the four dudes wore big smiles and were giving the McCarthy Brothers eight “thumbs up.” We were a hit in Payson. Here’s the evidence:

Walking back to our motel, I kept finding beetles on the ground that had gone belly up. They seemed to be all over the place. We named the first one John and the second one George, but we ran out of dead Beatles long before we ran out of dead beetles. I don’t know wha’s up with that, but take my advice: if you’re a beetle, you’d better not go to Payson or you’re doomed to eat the avocado.

Walking past a Burger King I noticed this large East Indian family having a picnic on the outdoor tables and benches. Seriously. They’d brought ice chests and homemade sandwiches and soda pop and everything (maybe even brought their own ants) and they were picincking right there on Burger King’s property. I liked Payson, I really did: cooler weather, pine trees, Payson’s slower payc of life – but there’s a Twilight Zoneish thang goin’ on there. I told Nappy that I wasn’t so sure the town really even existed until we reached it. Maybe it was cobbled together in the eleventh hour for our benefit. “Yoey O’Dogherty, hurry up with that Obama sign; the McCarthy boys are almost here! Madge, are you sure we’ve got enough green olives in town?” I was almost afraid to lean up against anything in case the paint was still wet.

We went to Room 222 to stretch out on the beds and watch some boob tube. Initially, we were watching some PBS-like channel, but as soon as it dawned on us that the programmer was trying to teach us facts and history and stuffs like that, we went channel surfing until we found some Andy Griffith Show reruns. Then we popped the cork on one of those bottles of red California gold and emptied it. (That’s two glasses of wine for each of us, for those of you who are trying to keep score.)

Some hours later, when the effect of the wine was winding down, we headed back to The Buffalo sort-of-bar, walking past dead beetles all the way. As we walked into The Buffalo there was a band on stage playing ‘The Devil Went Down To Georgia.’ OK, I’m getting a little freaked now. Maybe we should rethink tomorrow morning’s avocado on toast breakfast? What if our journey back down Beeline Highway isn’t a highway to Heaven like we’ve been assuming?

Nappy and I found a place at The Buffalo’s little outdoor cabana-like bar. I ordered a gin and tonic because I like tonic water and lime wedges. Nappy had an Obamarooskie (Black Russian). While we were sitting at the bar nursing our drinks, Nappy said to me, “Do you know what would be the smart thing for us to do right now?”
I guessed: “Go back to our room and go to sleep?”
Nappy said, “Go back to our room and open that other bottle of wine.”

Well, you’ll be glad to hear that we went back to the room but didn’t assault that second bottle of wine, which was cowering under one of the beds. We watched a little more boob tube (nothing educational, I assure you!) and turned in for the night.

Monday morning, I went down to the lobby, grabbed a cup of coffee, a couple of bananas, buttered two pieces of white toast, acquired some salt from desk-clerkboy, and brought it all back up to Room 222 to “eat the avocado.” I’m feeling pretty good, thinking that in just a few hours I’ll be playing a harp in Heaven on cloud #222. Well, Nappy and I “ate the avocado” on toast. Then we showered (not at the same time!) and dressed to go.

I’m pulling on my cowboy boots when I glance over at Nappy and I’m horrified to see that he is wearing his American Graffiti Mel’s Diner T-shirt. Not that there’s anything wrong with that... except that I’m wearing MY American Graffiti Mel’s Diner T-shirt. It was the ultimate fashion faux pas, and neither of us had packed another shirt. Nappy verbally lashed out at me: “Of all the T-shirts you own, that’s the one you had to bring?!”
“Yeah? Well, I could say the same thing to YOU!” I countered.

JUST GREAT! We’re gonna die on the highway looking like the Hardy Boys or the Bobbsey Twins, or something even worse. What’s Saint Peter at the Golden Gate going to think? Well, let’s just hope all that yakking about getting to wear wings and robes of light in Heaven isn’t a bunch of hooey. I sure don’t want to spend eternity known as one of The Bonehead Brothers.

Well, we finally checked out of Room 222, and started down the Beeline Highway toward hell (Phoenix, Airheadzona). I’m kind of fantasizing about our imminent accident and hoping that it won’t be dumb, like a head-on collision with a drunk driver or something mundane like that. I’m hopeful that we’ll blow a tire, or the steering suddenly goes out, and we rocket through a guardrail and plunge 4,000 feet to the valley below. I’m imagining the tremendous explosions that will occur when our livers finally make contact with the ground, and I’m thinking about how cool our smoldering wreckage will look on the 5 O’clock happy hour television news broadcast. And that’s when Nappy spoiled my fantasy and dashed our hopes...

Nappy turns to me and asks, “What’s the last thing you ate?”
I said, “I had a cinnamon mint.”
Nappy says, “I had one of those bananas you brought up to the room.”
“Yeah,” I said. “I had the other banana and ate the cinnamon mint right after that.”
And Nappy says, “Then avocado on toast wasn’t our last meal.”
“Damn! You’re right. We screwed it up!” I yelled as the reality of what Nappy was implying dawned in my noggin. “We weren’t supposed to eat anything after the avocado on toast. We upset the whole arrangement. Crap!”

On the way down the mountain, some stuffs started flying off a truck right in front of us. They looked like rubber floor mats or sumpin’. Nappy, who was behind the wheel, managed to dodge them. I figured those mats had been meant for us; they were intended to cause our glorious demise, but they were overpowered by two bananas and a cinnamon mint.

There was no pretending for either of us now; we knew we’d make it safely back to hell (Phoenix, Airheadzona) and have to go back to work on Tuesday. The party was over; our invitation to paradise had been rescinded. Shoot! Don’tcha hate it when that happens? The Lord had given us a free meal ticket outta here and we stupidly voided it. Uhp! We’re idiots! But we don't need no ladies cryin' 'cause the story's sad. Maybe we didn’t bite the avocado this time, but we will still make it out of “this world” yet. It just looks as if we’re gonna have to wait until 2012 and go out with the rest of ya.

~ Stephen T. McCarthy


DiscConnected said...

Avacado on toast? Seriously?

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

Yeah, I know that we "McCarthys" are the only people for whom it sounds perfectly natural, but as many people who first said "Wha'?" or "Eew!" but nevertheless later tried it, surprisingly found themselves saying "Mmmm..."

Butter the hot, white toast quickly so it melts into the bread (shouldn't really be seeing yellow spread on the top). White toast, so the flavors of wheat, rye, etc. don't overpower the subtle flavor of the "Haas" avocado (and yes, it should be the Haas variety, identified by the thick, leather-like skin). Top it with plenty of salt. Not a little salt - plenty of salt. And then say "Mmmm..." and write a Blog Bit 'bout it.

~ "Lonesome Dogg" McCarthy, avocado connoisseur.

Anonymous said...

Thanks bud, you know what a fan I am of these. I love these stories of your road trips.

"get ourselves a room"- HA! and the matchin t-shirts- HA HA!!

In your honor I'm gonna have a couple of slices of AOT with a couple martini's for my weekly "sinners" meal this week.

Can't wait til the next trip.

God Bless

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

>>[I love these stories of your road trips.]<<

I'm drinkin' myself all the waaaaay...!
Across the good ol' U.S.Aaaaaaa...!

Put music to that and you'd have... music.

>>[the matchin t-shirts- HA HA!!]<<


>>[Can't wait til the next trip.]<<

I'll have to sober up from this one first.

>>[In your honor I'm gonna have a couple of slices of AOT...]<<

Don't do it!
Don't do it, BR-O WP!
Yer too young to die!

~ "Lonesome Dogg" McMe

mousiemarc said...

No wonder you couldn't go. There is absolutely no way Jesus is going to let cinnamon be your last meal. It's just plain wrong.

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

You're probably right. And He's such a stickler for details.
~ "Lonesome Dogg" McCarthy, Doggtor of Alcohology

Anonymous said...

I KNOW that I left a vote, grading this blog bit as TANG... my very HIGHEST rating. I am puzzled as to why it does not show up.

Perhaps the man running the computer tally has imbibed too much fine wine!

Love toast. Loathe avocados. I'll have to take your word that this combo is good.


Stephen T. McCarthy said...

Tang don't register here. You get two choices, Fine Wine or Yoo-Hoo. But Yoo-Hoo don't register here either. It's kind of like politics: you can choose the Republican or the Democrat, but either way, what you get is Socialism. You can click Tang or Yoo-Hoo, but either way, what you get is Fine Wine. (And I'm "fine" with that.)

AVOCADOS: Now wait just a minute here, Boy! You once told me that you were raised in Southern California, and now you're telling me you "loathe avocados"? But EVERY Californian loves avocados.

~ Stephen, Doggtor Of Accidental Truth

TN Kat said...

Avocado on Toast...mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm ;)

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

Ha!-Ha! But ain't dat da twooth?!
MMMMMmmmmmmmm... !

~ "Lonesome Dogg" McMmmmmme

farawayeyes said...


Just so you don't think I'm so bored and pathetic and AVOIDING answering your questions. I told you I was working my way through all of the S.T & V blogs. You sent me here and am I glad. Even though I could see most of it coming, I am seriously LOL and have tears running down my face. It would only have been better if there was a picture of the McCarthy Bros in those matching shirts.

I'm sure I'll be laughing all afternoon as I'm cleaning up at the'old apartment'. Later.

If you choose to reply, better do it by email. I don't know if I can find my way back here. Today, I don't know if I can find my way out of a paper bag.

Stephen T. McCarthy said...


>>..."It would only have been better if there was a picture of the McCarthy Bros in those matching shirts."

Ha!-Ha! Oh, yeah, like I would have posted a picture of that EMBARRASSMENT!

Glad ya liked this blog bit though. You having directed my attention to it, I reread it for probably the first time since I wrote and posted it. In fact, Brother Nappy read it right along with me, and as we remembered that little "misadventure" he and I were laughing our way through the entire post.

For me - having forgotten most of the details - it was like reading SOMEONE ELSE'S WRITING, and thinkin: Gee, that's a funny dude!

Thanks for inspiring my little stroll down Amnesia Lane.

~ D-FensDogg
'Loyal American Underground'

Russ said...

You left out an important ingredient:
Toast + Avocado + Salt + PEPPER!

Seriously, I think pepper's evolutionary destiny was to complete "Avocado on Toast"...

It's also highly probably that I've eaten this savory dish while watching Room 222...

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

Pepper, eh? Ya know, despite the fact that I really LOVE pepper (you should see how much of it I put on egg dishes) I have never tried 'Avocado On Toast' (AOT) with pepper. I just wasn't raised that way.

But it doesn't seem the least bit offensive to me, and I will try to remember to sprinkle plenty of pepper on my AOT the next time I have it.

Thanks for the suggestion!

~ D-FensDogg
'Loyal American Underground'

Empty Nest Insider said...

I didn't realize that the avocado on toast delicacy has been in your family for generations. I remember Room 22. I think it was popular in the early 70's. I love that you and your brother accidentally wore matching t-shirts! Great road trip story! I hope you don't "bite the avocado" until you're at least 100!


Stephen T. McCarthy said...

GEM JULIE, thanks for coming by, reading, and commenting. You know, you REALLY ARE a gem!

Sometimes I say things just because they strike me as bizarre and funny (my sense of humor is definitely on the weird side). And sometimes I say true things but add a little mustard just for emphasis and effect. And sometimes I say things that I really mean but because of my history, people think what I've said actually falls under one of the two categories I just 'splained.

What I'm going to say next is NOT balderdash intended to sound bizarre and funny, nor is there merely a grain of truth in it that I have blown up and expanded like a balloon for emphasis and effect. What I'm going to say next is just flat-out, unexaggerated, 100% truth:

I would have to say that the things I was genuinely raised on in my boyhood years were Avocado On Toast, The Andy Griffith Show, Baseball, and Roger Miller's song 'You Can't Rollerskate In A Buffalo Herd'. Seriously!

So, if for some criminally strange reason a parent would want to raise a child to turn out as wacky as I am, those are the four ingredients they should introduce into that child's life at an early age.

And thanks for the kind wishes. I can tell you though that I'm ready to check out. I think I missed the Earth Hotel check out time by many years, but the very next time I find an Avocado Of Death in a parking lot, I assure you I will NOT mess it up with a banana and a cinnamon mint.

~ D-FensDogg
'Loyal American Underground'