Q. Is it wrong to wear your football team’s jersey to church?
Bill Bledsoe, Dallas
A: The Texanist will endeavor to put the answer to this question in terms that you will understand. As a devoted football fan, you are undoubtedly aware of the phrase “not in my house,” a defiant cri de coeur that is generally shouted by a swaggering defensive end who’s just sunk a running back for a loss on third-and-short. Well, imagine for a moment that the Almighty is a 265-pound linebacker with meaty arms, a penchant for smashmouthiness, and one of those scary dark visors on His helmet. He who would attend a gathering held in this gentleman’s house would do well to observe the accepted dress code or risk the loudest “not in my house” you have ever heard. The proper duds are known as Sunday-go-to-meetings or sometimes even church clothes; an untucked, knee-length football jersey may be considered acceptable and even quite sporty in certain arenas, but not in God’s house. The Texanist is sincerely shocked by how suddenly the sartorial sands seem to have shifted. It wasn’t all that long ago that Tom Landry could be found patrolling the sidelines in jacket, tie, and trademark fedora. And this was after church. Nowadays jackets, ties, fedoras, and all garments not league sanctioned are forbidden on the sidelines. Forbidden. Although the Texanist, who is himself a high-spirited soul, applauds the gusto with which you aim to express your boosterism, he would have you suit up for church and save the jersey for the postworship Barcalounger.
Q: Texas is the only place where I have seen catfish heads on fence posts. Is this just bragging, or, as I was told by a friend, is it to ward off evil spirits?
Jack Shanafelt, Lake McQueeney
A: Wherever there are catfish, fences, and a population given to catfish braggadocio, the tradition of prettifying fence posts with monstrous rotting catfish heads is likely to be observed. This is not uniquely Texan. In ancient times, when a warrior landed an adversary after a hard-fought battle, it was customary to place the head of that foe on a pike for all to see. Today the practice lives on with the catfish-bagging mercenaries in our state’s hinterlands. Unlucky coyotes and large snakes have been known to meet similar fates. As for your friend’s theory, the Texanist doesn’t believe in evil spirits, although he did once have a frightening experience involving a quart of mescal, which is as evil a spirit as he would ever like to encounter. If you have the occasion to find yourself outside a bus station in Oa-xaca with time to kill, don’t kill it by hot-shotting a bottle of the stuff with a willowy bus driver named Gordo. Next thing you know, you’ll have concluded that Gordo will make a perfect partner in your brand-new career as a professional sidewalk chicken fighter. On this regrettable occasion, the Texanist woke up feeling certain that, much like a twenty-pound channel cat, his skull had been impaled with a large pike. Always be careful with mescal. And as for catfish heads on fence posts, just think of it as a sort of outdoor trophy room.
Q: Professional golf embodies all the conduct we pray our children will learn: honesty, good sportsmanship, civil behavior, and, finally, the selection of great clothes. However, even though most players aren’t smoking and throwing butts on the fairways anymore, I have noticed that some have not abandoned the truly disgusting habit of indiscriminate spitting. Who wants to follow the slime trail of a giant slug down the fairway? What kind of lesson is that? Soon the LPGA players will think it’s cool to spit, even though women have never done this and never should. Can you explain this exclusively male habit to me?
A: Like Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson, Lee Trevino, and Babe Didrikson Zaharias (but without the skirt) before him, the Texanist enjoys mightily an afternoon spent traipsing around enhanced natural settings in pursuit of the royal, ancient, and bedeviling game of golf. And like the antagonists of your query, he has let his saliva spill a time or two while out walking the links. The occasions vary wildly. When the game has momentarily gotten the best of him, he will often spit in lieu of, or in conjunction with, a club-throwing, expletive-spewing tirade. Or perhaps the need to casually expel a little spittle strikes him quickly and without reason. Expectoration, while not a pretty word or all that pleasant to witness, is a fact of life, and it isn’t, as you assert, solely the domain of brutish men. Don’t female oenophiles spit at wine tastings? Don’t dental patients of both sexes drool with equality into that slurping vacuum that never seems to come often enough? Watermelon-seed-spitting contests don’t exclude women, do they? The Texanist has even known girls to enjoy smokeless tobacco, and they didn’t require a spittoon of shiny brass. As long as a big snorting production is avoided and the exercise is undertaken with discretion, the Texanist believes that both gentlemen and ladies should spit freely upon the fairways.
Q: My family sits down for a home-cooked dinner four times a week. Generally, everyone is happy and well behaved. I usually have a glass of