An original gyroscope, but not what this is about.
A few years before that, under the summer’s twilight, I recall a different version. Similar yet oddly at odds. It was a my truly first exposure, as a young adult, to Greek food. Gyros, as they were called. Still are.
It’s that first time that I recall so specifically, we bicycled down to the University Barrio, the cacophony of shotgun-blast housing and businesses that surround the University. Like anywhere. Odd it was an Albuquerque night, the stars beginning to emerge in the burgeoning twilight, little lights twinkling and wheeling overhead.
The cool desert air, taut and fresh against young, brown skin. Long hair flying in the breezes, not quite sweaty but gently invigorated with the brief sprint on stylish European cruisers, the pinnacle of bicycle technology, at the time. Lightweight, silver frames, thin tires. Casual youth against the night’s sky.
What I can recall, the spirit of the moment, and I’m not sure why we were on bicycles, but that should narrow the time, in my porous memory, as well as adding some kind of punctuation. The place was “underground,” in as much as anything was underground at that time, and it offered a narrow kitchen with a spit, heaped with lamb, white lettering on a sign outside.
The aroma was that of the lamb’s meat impaled on a rotating spike, simple. The pita, a taco would’ve been okay, but the pita was – I’m guessing here – baked on location, and fresh, sliced in half and stuffed with the lamb and the yogurt spread, along with grilled onions and shredded lettuce. Not dissimilar to more local cuisine that features pork on a spit, shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, onions (Al Pastor).
I’m thinking that the gyro was less than two dollars that night, which, at the wage I was earning, a princely sum. Still, that was the real, first exposure. Exploring, and then, off into the night, hair flapping in the breeze. The night air in the desert, along the western flank of the Sandia Mountains, the Rio Grande River Valley, the dry and yet, soft gentleness of the evening’s apparent breeze.
The other evening, I was in a mall, a typical suburban mall. The food court has been marginally revamped since I was last there. A place offered some kind of styled ‘Greek’ food, and the come on was a series of toothpicks through tiny squares of thinly sliced lamb, resting on top of pita. Or maybe a thick flour tortilla. Never can tell in South Texas. The young, Latin female working the counter was trying to be alluring but also tired of mall food service. She batted her heavily lined yes at me, beckoned with a tired, “Would you like to try some?”
Smelled good, and tickled that memory from Albuquerque, a thought process hopeless unstuck in time.
A couple of curly fries, don’t know any Greek that does curly fries, a tiny Greek salad that was surprisingly good with its piquant, almost (not quite) peppery dressing, paprika, I think was the key, and lemon juice, and a lamb gyro. The lamb was acceptable. The yogurt dressing, it tried. Give it an “also ran,” points for the effort. Couple of tomato quarters helped.
It was that memory of the bicycle trip under a canopy of stars on a simple night in the desert, summer desert evenings.
If this an age of irony, then the balance of the gyroscope, the guiding principle would be about young and wanting to find love, just like that night under the desert sky, looking for that woman, like the tired child, offering her lamb bits in the mall.