Offering fine advice since 2007

Illustration by Jack Unruh

Q: Can one have too many Texas tattoos? By Texas tattoo I mean Texas-themed—for instance, a design with half the Texas flag incorporated, the outline of Texas with my Greek letters inside of it, and my newest, a nautical star with the letters T, E, X, A, and S inscribed around the outside, like the star that was on one of our first flags. Just wondering if getting the “Come and Take It” flag might be overkill?
James Owens, Lubbock

A: Seeing as how you probably slipped the pesky fetters of propriety a tattoo parlor or so ago, why stop now? At this point, for the Texanist to preach otherwise would be fruitless, as fruitless as informing you now that the nautical star you most recently had permanently inked upon your skin was never featured on any standard of the Republic of Texas but only on a theoretical banner discussed but never approved at Washington-on-the-Brazos and known as the Zavala flag after its designer, Lorenzo de Zavala.

But this is not a seventh-grade Texas history class. The Texanist has mined his ample memory banks and concluded that he has yet to encounter the person with too many Texas-themed tattoos. And not being your poor mother, he actually finds the exuberance with which you display your pride in our great state commendable. Honestly, worse choices could certainly be made. The unforgettable sight of a female’s unmentionables imprinted with Willie Nelson’s bearded mug once elicited a short-lived smile from the Texanist, until it struck him that anytime this lass shared an intimate moment with a gentleman caller, one of our state’s most revered icons was desecrated, repeatedly. That takes it too far. As would the “Come and Take It” tattoo you are considering, if located in the nether territory.

But as you seem to have nothing more than good old-fashioned patriotism and pride on your mind, that place called overkill still lies some untold number of needle pricks down the road. Onward! The Texanist even has a few ideas for your collection: How about a grandiose and detailed depiction of the Battle of the Alamo? Or maybe the Battle of San Jacinto, which, by the way, featured its own very nice battle flag. Better yet, consider the likeness of a grinning Texanist accompanied by one of his most popular sayings: “Come and Take It . . . From the Texanist!”

Q: Is noodling an advisable catfishing technique?
Ken Cluley, Wichita Falls

A: Noodling, also known by such regionalisms as hogging, dogging, tickling, or grabbling, is a rudimentary method in which the “angler” submerges himself in a body of water, uses his hand as both lure and hook, and after getting a bite, grapples with behemoth channel, blue, or flathead catfish like a sort of Jacques Cousteau—cum—Fritz Von Erich. Noodling is legal and acceptable behavior in such lawless wastelands as Oklahoma and Arkansas, but around here it is apt to net you a handsome fine, as will the taking by hand of any fish, game or not. When the Texanist hankers for a physical encounter with a lunker, he prefers to laze about on the end of a dock with a well-stocked cooler and a can of night crawlers rather than go three Tarzanian rounds with a Moby Dick of the mud.

Q: My husband and I recently attended a small dinner party. We were excited when our host unwrapped some beautiful and no doubt expensive steaks—prime, inch-plus-thick ribeyes. Well, our excitement turned to shock when the steaks were plopped on a tray, sprayed with a heavy coat of Pam, dropped onto a barely warm grill, and cooked for what seemed like an eternity. We choked them down without saying a word, except for the awkward and not very convincing compliments to the, um, chef. How should we have handled this troubling situation? Were we right to lie or should we have been more truthful?
Name withheld

A: For the sake of all future dinner guests of this bonehead, it is imperative that you make him aware of his atrocious behavior regarding the aforementioned ribeyes. It was both wrong and dangerous for you to swallow your indignation, especially alongside flavorless bites of misgrilled meat. Your outrage should have been voiced as quickly and diplomatically as possible. You, your spouse, both of your consciences, your hosts, and the ribeyes themselves could have all benefited greatly. If this makes you uncomfortable, the next time your presence is requested at a dinner party where steaks will be grilled, consider asking your host to invite the Texanist. He is constitutionally incapable of abiding the mishandling of meat.

Q: I have a thirteen-year-old daughter who has recently learned the cotton-eyed Joe at her school, complete with the traditional cussing! What is a mother to do?
Carolyn Gallego, Deadwood

A:The Texanist’s introduction to the cotton-eyed Joe was also complete, as you say. It occurred in sixth grade at James B. Bonham Middle School in Temple at the hands of a fun-loving language arts teacher whose name has been lost to time. The Texanist is almost certain that this is not uncommon. It may, in fact, be a mandatory component of accepted curricula across the state. Your daughter will soon be of dance hall age, and it is important that she be properly equipped to handle a standard fiddle breakdown. We must leave no child behind.

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