Editor’s Note: This article is a work of satire.
While checking out NIOSA (A Night In Old San Antonio) this week, looking for a story, we ran into a young business professional – we’ll call him John Smith, just the kind of Millennial guy everyone in the city is working so hard to recruit and retain – partaking for the first time as an adult with legal ID in this year’s Fiesta activities.
“I’m very excited to be part of everything, it’s my first time back since I moved away to go to college in 2008, which took me six years,” Smith said with a note of nostalgia in his voice, an official Anheuser-Busch Bud Light in hand. After a short pause, he awkwardly adjusted his footing. “San Antonio was such a bore back then.”
Smith said he had checked out of his 9-to-5, daily, middle-class professional job in an emerging industry to attend the opening night of NIOSA.
“It’s been a blast being surrounded by families and other like-minded people who love to participate in an event so steeped in local history and culture,” he said, sipping his room temperature domestic beer, some of which ran down his shirt as a big guy in a hurry bumped him, several of his stacked plastic beer cups spilling to the ground. The man just kept going. Someone else was about to score some free plastic cups, just lying there.
We followed Smith to a local stall where he purchased a Monsanto-engineered grilled corn-on-the-cob with a mayo smear and some chili powder handed over by a friendly, but overworked vendor. “Maybe I paid $20 for this fraction of a meal, so what? I’m supporting local business. That’s what really matters.” Smith took a few bites, then threw it away.
He tossed his empty beer can in the direction of an overloaded, somewhat malodorous recycling bin, one of the few we saw that night, watching it bounce to the ground amid a few other cans and discarded food sticks and turkey legs. We made our way back into line, content to catch up on texts and Instagram traffic while we waited a half hour for another event-sponsored light beer.
“I really enjoy how down to earth this event is, even the food and beer are so humble,” Smith said. “Cocktail culture is so pretentious here (in San Antonio). Sometimes it’s great to just drink something that tastes and feels like the event you’re at.”
He gave a thumbs up to the beer vendor as he counted out Smith’s tickets and handed an extra one back.
“I guess you can’t tip tickets,” Smith said, moving on. “I thought you could.”
Surrounded by what he called “thousands of my closest friends,” Smith looked with appreciation at the sea of moving bodies, many of the heads sporting Spurs caps illuminated with glow sticks and other Fiesta regalia.
“It’s great that the weather’s been so perfect for this event,” he said, stepping right into a rain puddle that splashed about three people, none of them showing any visible distress as they stood in a tight circle, gnawing hungrily on kabob sticks, heads bent to the task, nobody talking. “I feel kinda naked without a sash full of medals, but those kabobs sure look inviting as it gets darker.”
We asked how many other official Fiesta events he intended to catch over the weekend.
“I’m not sure if I want to go to the King William Fair, Southtown is so full of hipsters,” Smith said as he checked the time on his Pendleton wristwatch and adjusted a pair of prescription Ray-Bans to hang from a shirt pocket. “I just don’t get what people see in going that far south in San Antonio.”
Smith had eaten corn in a cup, a kebab, and other culturally appropriated processed foods, yet now declared he was “still a little peckish,” and suggested I join him “for a bite to eat at Green and maybe a craft brew or two somewhere near my space at the Can Plant.”
A Night in Old San Antonio came to a close before we knew it. We joined the thousands streaming back to their vehicles, leaving behind La Villita like a discarded corn husk, an empty uninhabited village, ready for an overnight steam cleaning and a switchout of the Porta Potties.
“My car is all the way over at the UTSA Downtown Campus,” Smith said, eyeing the screen of his smart phone. “I guess our only choice at this point is B-Cycle. Is there an app for that?”
*Featured/top image: A man stands in one of the many puddles during NIOSA 2015 at La Villita. Photo by Scott Ball.