Q: My wife and I recently found out that our firstborn is to be a boy, and we’ve been discussing names. I’m dead set on Tex. He’s going to be a son of proud Texan parents and ought to have a name that reflects this. My wife’s not so sure. Any suggestion on how I can sell it to her?
A: The practice of handing out nicknames or pre-truncated proper names in lieu of traditional full names to the newly born is a growing trend to which the Texanist stands in firm opposition. Nicknames, like badges of honor and honest wages, ought to be earned and not simply bestowed willy-nilly at the drop of a hat, or infant. The consequences of premature nicknaming by impatient parents are more serious than you might think—right-handed Leftys, blond-headed Reds, off-target Aces, slender Pudges, pudgy Slims, and two-eyed One-eyes. We’re doomed! Or at least in for some confusion. However, “Tex” allows for an exception to the rule. For one thing, you won’t have to sweat his formative years. Unlike that Lefty who turns out to be a righty, Tex, even if he ends up in, God help him, Oklahoma, will still be undeniably Texan. Wherever he goes, all over the world, he’ll carry his birthplace with him. In fact, it’s when traveling in the strange country beyond the Red, Sabine, or Rio Grande rivers that most Texans are first called by this appellation. Your boy will also be in good company with these notable precedents: country artist Tex Ritter, animator Tex Avery, bandleader and saxophonist Tex Beneke, gambler Doyle “Texas Dolly” Brunson, inventor of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders Tex Schramm (a California native, oddly), and State Fair icon Big Tex. Explain this to the boy’s mother and tell her that the name also comes with the Texanist seal of approval and all the rights and benefits included therein. She’ll likely see the light.
Q: When picking out what DVDs to take on an extended visit to see family over the holidays, I included my Lonesome Dove box set. My wife and I feel that the children are too young to watch the series, but both of us agree that at some point all Texans should see it. So, at what age should children first see Lonesome Dove?
Aaron Lloyd, Houston
A: The Texanist doesn’t know which to applaud first, the way you pack for a prolonged holiday trip to see faraway family or the conscientiousness with which you and your spouse go about your parenting. I God, Aaron, this is fine work on both counts. Now, the real question before us is one of relative harm to the young ones. There’s no doubt that many of the 867 minutes in the 867-minute-long, six-disc Lonesome Dove Collection box set (consisting of Lonesome Dove, Streets of Laredo, and Dead Man’s Walk) are not suitable for children. The Old West was a violent and tawdry place, as the miniseries’ scalpings, hangings, shootings, and pokings of whores bear out. Yet it is also true that the Lonesome Dove Collection makes a perfect 867-minute-long diversion from Uncle Fred’s torturous monologues on topics from A (atopic dermatitis) to X (xenophobia, denial of) or Aunt Darlene’s incessant blather about corns, incontinence, and the new season of Idol. So here is your dilemma: Is it more harmful for your children to see the young Irishman swarmed by that nest of moccasins or to hear these inanities dribble from the mouths of Fred and Darlene? The Texanist is hard-pressed to make the call. But what he does know is that all native Texans worth their salt should certainly have seen (or better yet, read) Lonesome Dove by or around the time they are mature enough to have been sat down for their obligatory “poking” talk, which should take place by age twelve or thirteen.
Q: I have a ten-year-old daughter whose two best friends are going to camp in Hunt for four weeks this summer, and she’s expressed some interest in joining them. I didn’t go to camp myself. Fact is, I was under the impression that only bad kids got shipped off to camp. Am I missing something? Is packing my girl off for a month this summer a bad idea?
A: The Texas tradition of sending kids to the Hill Country for summer camp is not just for juvenile delinquents. The Texanist’s own daughter—who is not, to the Texanist’s knowledge, a criminal—is a third-generation Kickapoo at Camp Honey Creek for Girls, in Hunt. In what is either a strange coincidence or something the Texanist needs to speak to his psychiatrist about, his mother, mother-in-law, and wife were Kickapoos all. And while the camp experience is a wonderful thing for the young camper, so too can it be great for the parents, who are able, with the children gone, to unleash their own inner bad kid. That’s right, while memories of camp time for the child are filled with swimming, horseback riding, archery, new friends, s’mores, and unair-conditioned cabins with bunks full of oversharing peers, memories of camp time for the parents ought rightly to be filled with tequila-fueled bouts of naked Crisco Twister