Offering fine advice since 2007

Illustration by Jack Unruh

Q: Growing up in Rockwall, I encountered this problem several times: If, when you visit a friend’s house, he has parked on his front yard, may you park there too?

Emily McClosky
Austin

A: The last time anybody parked on the Texanist’s front lawn, there followed a quick arrest and a miserable morning spent in the pokey. And although on closer inspection the perp turned out to be an untoward old friend, the Texanist has always maintained that he got what he deserved. A lawn is an outward expression of the pride a person takes in his or her homestead; the degree of its kemptness or unkemptness says a great deal about the creature that serves as its keeper. The Texanist keeps his grass neat, waters by hand, fertilizes twice a year, rakes the leaves in the fall, and broadcasts corn gluten meal as a natural herbicide in the spring.

That said, if your friend’s lawn is full of mud holes and strewn with cars, adding your own auto to the ad hoc parking lot will probably not diminish his perception of you in any way. In fact, were you to park on the street, you might run the risk of being thought a priss by this rube of a host. It is always important to observe local customs. The Texanist may take an above-average interest in organic lawn maintenance, but he is no fool. When he finds himself in Rome, he fashions a toga from his bedsheet, guzzles wine from an oversized goblet, and oils himself liberally before a trip to the public baths. Were he to find himself in Rockwall, he would not be disinclined to park wherever the trail might end.

Q: I am a born-and-bred Austinite living in the big city of New York. To what degree should I expect the use of “y’all” to decrease my professional credibility up here?

Mark Moravits
New York, New York

A: Times have changed, and usage of our unofficial state colloquialization in New York City nowadays should not soften your professional footing at all. So sure of this is the Texanist that if it does, he will jeopardize his own impeccable credibility by running naked through the district south of Houston (Street, that is) singing a song he will make up, titled “The Eyes of Y’all Are Upon Me.” Look out, Ivanka Trump!

Q: My husband and I have inherited a great deal of guns from his father. We do not want guns in our home and are somewhat “anti-gun” ethically, but these guns do have sentimental value, and we don’t want to sell them. What do we do with them?

Rachel
via e-mail

A: The Texanist has safely kept arms since he was a child and has never had a problem with guns that are not pointed directly at him, but he respects your hesitance to exercise your Second Amendment rights in your own home. When the Texanist’s grandfather died, in 1952, a .41-caliber single-action Colt with a long, long barrel was passed along. Despite the fact that this firearm had in no way earned such a moniker, it would become known by the Texanist and his brothers as the Widow-maker. The gun—a big iron, Marty Robbins would call it—was eventually mounted in a shadow box frame with a small brass plaque and became a prized heirloom after the passing of the Texanist’s father. Now the Texanist looks at it and thinks of his dad and granddad, whom, but for told and retold tidbits, he never knew.

Cull your newfound arsenal if you must, but don’t banish everything. Guns can be made nonfunctional and yet, as you see, still serve a purpose.

Q: I recently moved to Minneapolis to work on a Ph.D. My wife is due to deliver our first child in January. Should I send her back to the homeland to give birth?

Justin D. Baxley
Minneapolis, Minnesota

A: Congratulations. But driving the entire length of Interstate 35 with a woman so close to her gestational expiration date is the only thing less advisable than denying the child his or her Texas debut. The Texanist, however, would be happy to arrange for shipment of a yard or two of local soil, to be spread on the hospital’s delivery room floor beneath the action. Just remember him when it comes time to fill in the name line on the birth certificate. Not only does The Texanist Baxley have a nice ring, it’s unisex.

Q: I have a close friend who has moved to our state after growing up on the West Coast. He has told me that he wants to acquire what he perceives as the Texan essentials: cowboy boots, a belt buckle, and a cowboy hat. Which should he acquire first, so as to fit in as rapidly as possible?

Rob
Via e-mail

A: Your friend’s first acquisition should be the knowledge that the dime-store cowboy look went out shortly after Urban Cowboy. On the frame of a nonnative Texan, the holy trinity of hat, buckle, and boots should be made manifest only during Halloween costume parties and “Cotton-Eyed Joe” night at the local community center. Singly, of course, any of these items can be worn by anyone, but in tandem they are best reserved for the homegrown. Newcomers to the great Farm Belt of the Middle West do not appear at their local restaurants and bars in Big Smith overalls and John Deere gimme caps with wheat stalks dangling from their lips; nor do transplants to the Pacific Northwest rush out to buy bright-yellow hip waders and matching slickers. Clothes may make the man, but they may also make the man look foolish.

Tags: THE CULTURE

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