Smile When You Say Texas

Smile When You Say Texas

Last night I was in Oklahoma, saw the oil wells outside Ada lit up with light-bulb crosses 30-feet high for New Year’s Eve. It made me realize I really was in the heart of Christian America. Caught a bit of sleep this morning at the bus depot in Dallas without anyone picking my pocket.

On the bus to Houston, my destination, where I had a job interview set up, I remembered several recent news items about road rage in Texas. There had been a rash of shootings from driver to driver. Even for Texas this seemed a bit much. I figured it was best not to make eye contact with any driver on the road, even as a passenger on a cheap bus. If the bus passed even one slow car, and the driver saw you looking down at him, he might take it the wrong way. And there you go, highway wasn’t church on Sunday where you could hope for love and forgiveness.

It seemed the motor vehicle and law enforcement authorities in Texas had taken note of their road rage dilemma, and came up with an immediate solution, albeit one of dubious efficacy.

I saw an example of it before long, There as the bus headed on down I-85 was a sign reading DRIVE FRIENDLY. I’ll remember that as I get cut off by some lazy smart aleck, I thought some Texan would think as he reached for some heat in his glove compartment.

Before long I noticed another road sign that said Ronco. and seemed to indicate a prison rodeo in that town. I was surprised. Not being from the West, I’d never heard of a prison rodeo. But somehow shooting people from the semi-privacy and convenience of your car, DRIVE FRIENDLY, and prison, all hooked up seriatim, seemed to be related.

I arrive in Houston in time to buy a meal at the Spaghetti Wharehouse and buy a Stetson at Shudde Brothers. I have an interview somewhere on Bagby and Main with an old timer from an esteemed law firm in the oil and gas field. He tells me he hasn’t been up on the firm’s recent hiring, because they took out his tailpipe and all. The interview ends there.

And, next day I’m off to Portland, Oregon.

Before I leave Texas on the plane out I run into a real Texan. He’s maybe six foot three and proud of his state, and he has a seat on the plane next to mine.

We start up a conversation. It goes something like this.

“What dya think of Texas?” he says.

“Well, seems pretty big,” I say.

“Just pretty big? You oughta smile when you say Texas. It’s mighty big.”

“Look I come from Rhode Island, the smallest state. And we don’t say anything about it, but you Texans always come along with a chip on your shoulder when you’re from the second biggest state, while Alaskans from the largest state don’t say shit.”

“What would dya say if I hauled off and beat the tar out of you.”

I’m only about five foot nine. “Just before that I’d say Maybe I’ll spend a night or two in the hospital, but you’ll spend it in jail.”

He thought for a moment, then replied “Hey, I kind of like you lil’ buckaroo.”

So, I went into the overhead luggage and showed him my Stetson, and he liked that too. The rest of the trip was smooth sailing for both of us.


About the Author

Gene Goldfarb lives in New York City, where he ponders, love, hate, mortality. He loves movies, books, travel, and international cuisine. His poetry has appeared in the small press including: Black Fox, The Daily Drunk, The Gorko Gazette, Rat's Ass Review, Bullshit Lit, and elsewhere.


Photo by Tim Patterson, CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons