Offering Fine Advice Since 2007
Q: My husband has chewed tobacco since we started dating back in high school fourteen years ago, and for the first thirteen years the spit, breath, and mess didn’t bother me much. I don’t know why, but now I can’t stand it. He says that he’ll try to quit, but he hasn’t, and now I think it’s starting to affect our marriage. Is it reasonable for me to insist that he stop just because I suddenly can’t stand it any longer?
A: How the bloom comes off the rose. When you took this man as your husband, you likely agreed, via the “for better or worse” vow, to accept him as is, sort of like a used car. And as with a used car, any sort of blemish that was present at the time of purchase cannot be used as grounds for future complaint. If this were not the case, there would likely not be a Mrs. Texanist today, what with all the morning scratching rituals; all the deafening snores; all the indoor whittling sessions; all the screechy serenades of il Texanisto, a.k.a. the Baritone of the Bathroom; and all those breakfasts punctuated with that awful whistling sound the Texanist makes when taking his coffee. But thanks to the fact that all these incredibly irritating behaviors were preexisting and therefore persist as inalienable rights protected under the wedding contract, the Texanists’ marriage survives. Now, that said, some spousal modifications can occur organically, especially when the offending behavior is technically a health risk. Your husband’s penchant for chaw is bad for him, unlike whittling and making that whistling sound, which, honestly, what’s the harm, right? It just feels good. Can’t a man relax in his own home once in a while? But the deal is this: If you want to demand that your spouse give up a perceived flaw that he brought into the marriage, you have to be willing to give up one yourself. What’s that? You don’t have any flaws to trade? Why don’t you just see if he has any suggestions.
Q: I moved to Texas from England two years ago and I love it here. But the flies! The man at my hardware store has supplied me with flyswatters, flytraps, and flypaper, and none of them work. A neighbor told me that the only surefire way to get rid of them is to hang clear plastic bags of water around my patio. Is he pulling my leg?
Tilly Richardson, Dallas
A: The thing about flies is that they always bring with them a little bit of shame, as the subject of their attentions inevitably has to wonder to him- or herself, “What have I done to attract so many insects that are also drawn to untended piles of feces?” The Texanist, to the best of his knowledge, does not draw an above-average number of flies, but nor is there any corner of this state in which he has not had the opportunity to shoo swarms of them away. Which is to say, he has tried all forms of fly abatement (citronella, toads, Venus flytraps, DDT, mud baths, excessively loud hollering) and considers himself well equipped to answer your question. Are you ready? There’s an old saying that goes, “Don’t like the weather in Texas? Stick around for a minute; it’ll change.” Unfortunately, there is no similar saying relating to the prevalence of flies on patios. Your best defense is a stiff upper lip. Welcome to Texas.
Q: Our six-year-old daughter has just finished her first season of soccer and is going to play again this summer. With regard to cheering, is it out of line to root for a win in her “no-score” league? Where exactly does the line between parental supportiveness and overenthusiastic sideline parent from hell lie?
A: Amongst all of life’s curricula, there are few lessons more important than those imparted via peewee sports. It’s on these shortened fields where children first learn how to handle with dignity and poise both the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. And it’s on the sidelines of these fields where parents get a refresher course in the same. Here’s the CliffsNotes version: Supporting your own child with moderately enthusiastic encouragement is good; razzing, heckling, or in any way attempting to “get inside the head of” another child is bad. Punitive behavior (e.g., withholding orange slices, et cetera) toward the less athletic children on your own child’s team is also unacceptable, however tempting it may be. Even the coach is never to be verbally or otherwise abused, no matter how idiotic it was for him to put that nearsighted Stevens girl in at goalie with ten minutes left in the game. And as for these so-called no-score leagues, it is the Texanist’s experience that if the peewees are old enough to count, then the peewees keep score. Everyone may get a trophy in the end, but the peewees know, as sure as there will be juice boxes, in which team’s column to place the W and the L.
Q: I’m a fifty-year-old boy from West Texas and I’ve worn jeans and boots every day for as long as I can remember. Recently I started putting a crease in the jeans that I wear when I go out at night. My buddies are now giving me a hard time about it, telling me that I’m putting on airs. What do you think? Should I quit creasing my jeans?
R. L. Kranepool, West Texas
A: Blue jeans, as you may have guessed, are a staple in the Texanist’s wardrobe as well. And while he tends not to starch, iron, or even launder his dungarees all that often, he doesn’t hold this kind of personal kemptness against anyone. And neither should your friends. The haves and have-nots are not separated from one another by way of the existence or nonexistence of a crease in the legs of their britches. George Strait, who, being George Strait, doesn’t have to put on airs, keeps his jeans crisp and creased, but so does the guy who empties the Texanist’s office wastebasket at night. It’s pretty hard to put on airs while emptying wastebaskets. Putting on airs would be if you showed up next Friday at the dance hall wearing those jeans with the curlicue stitching on the back pockets. But so long as we’re just talking about Levi’s or Wranglers, the only real difference between the man with creased jeans and the man with no crease in his jeans is the crease itself. Keep it, and keep the friends too—just give them something else to tease you about, like maybe a pair of gold-nugget pinky rings.