Offering Fine Advice Since 2007

Offering Fine Advice Since 2007
Illustration by Jack Unruh

Q: Every year at wildflower time my wife, whom I love dearly, insists that I come with her and the kids for the annual bluebonnet portrait. I usually protest a little but inevitably end up out there on the side of the road with them. Do I really have to go this year?
Name Withheld

A: The Texanist looks forward with giddy anticipation to wildflower season, when springtime’s resplendent splash of Lupinus texensis heralds the annual promise (as short-lived or downright empty as it may be) of rejuvenation to the winter wilted. J. Frank Dobie, our great tale-teller and petal-smeller, once declared that no other bloom provides “such upsurging of the spirit and at the same time such restfulness.” The Texanist is in agreement. When the full splendor of the bluebonnet’s azure blossom is realized across a bucolic landscape, it is a fact that a first-rate photo op is at hand. However, long-held regional tradition dictates that unless one is a toddling child whose button nose is like a magnet to fluttering butterflies, one is not legally required to sit for amateur roadside bluebonnet portraiture. Children are stuck with it, but you, sir, are a grown man and, as such, can make a defensible case for Lupinus texensis avoidus. This year, when the time comes, simply be steadfast and mulelike in your refusals. Your spouse’s spirit, as Mr. Dobie observed, will upsurge, and a string of profanities, like a garland of roses, will encircle you. Be advised therefore that the blessed restfulness of which Mr. Dobie speaks will evaporate should you choose this course. Yet fear not, as this particular unpleasantness, like the wildflower itself, will in due time subside unto the earth from whence it sprungeth.

Q: I grew up in the great state of Oklahoma and cannot recall ever being served tea without a healthy dose of sugar in it. In fact, my cousin Boyd, who now lives in Georgia, another sweet-tea state, fondly recalls being served sweet tea in his baby bottle. Is Texas a non-sweet-tea state, or are you all closeted sweet-tea drinkers?
Abigail R., Bandera

A: While it is true that not all the tea in, say, China Grove is served presweetened, Texans enjoy iced sweet tea as much as and likely more than their Oklahoman neighbors and in fact are perfectly capable of displaying that enthusiasm outside of their closets. When it comes to tea, the Texanist follows the native spirit of do-it-yourself-ism. To him, having another person sweeten his drink when he is perfectly capable of doing it himself just isn’t proper. Since the dawn of time, Texans have been known to bait their own hooks, raise their own barns, mend their own fences, shuck their own corn, saddle their own horses, drill their own wells, spike their own punch, and dance their own jigs. It should be no different with the sweetening of their iced tea. Yet they know well that too much of a good thing can lead to ruination. So in closing, the Texanist has a question for you: How it is that your cousin Boyd manages to enjoy those firm and juicy Georgia peaches when every last one of his teeth has rotted to oblivion from a lifelong diet of sweet tea?

Q: Having been born and raised in Texas but having never owned any sizable amount of land before, how am I to describe my recently acquired property? Is it a farm or a ranch?
Name Withheld

A: What do you take the Texanist for, oh Name Withheld? Do you imagine him a clairvoyant? Some sort of juju-fondling voodoo priest endowed with a supernatural power of divination? Look, the Texanist’s gift is one of old-fashioned, silver-tongued, and whip-smart truth telling. He is no soothsayer. In this case his ability to offer a definitive response is rendered seriously limited due to the paucity of background information. To provide you with the help you request, he would need to know a little bit more about you—starting with your name. He would need to be made privy to a smidge more detail with regard to the real estate query you pose. Let us start with a few questions: Do you raise cattle, sheep, hogs, emus, or miniature donkeys on your land? How familiar are you with the implements of modern farming? Do you drive a tractor to work? Do you enjoy chewing straw? Are you obsessed with meteorology? How, exactly, do you apply yourself to your new acreage? Please, write back and give the Texanist a little more to go on, and he’ll be happy to help you determine whether your new spread is a farm or ranch.

Q: Recently, we have been hit up for money for a wide variety of causes by door-to-door solicitors. How do we know whether or not they are on the up-and-up, and should we feel obligated to make these donations every evening during supper time?
The Garlands, Dallas

A: As long as the transactions are executed at the proper time of day, which is to say before he dons his Midnight Robe, the Texanist doesn’t mind being shaken down for the sake of the children, clean groundwater, owls, political candidates of every stripe, Jesus, or, most especially, Girl Scouts. Of the many, many things for which the Texanist is well-known, his limitless appetite for doing right by his fellow man, beast, or waterway ranks right up there among his most notable hungers, lodging somewhere between his renowned love (bottomless) of espresso macchiato and his legendary affinity (bottomless) for the roulette wheel. At the same time, unfortunately, the Texanist’s reputation for sudden bursts of violent hot-temperedness has preceded him since childhood. For the soul who would darken the door of Texanist Manor during the dinner hour (or, may God help him, cocktail hour), he reserves a level of annoyance and twitching fury worthy of maximum-security institutionalization. It is for this reason that the Texanist’s team of court-ordered anger managers always advises that he just not answer the door. Maybe this will

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