texanist license plates
Should Texas license plates support rival sports teams?Illustration by Jack Unruh

Q: While driving my favorite Texas highway the other day, I saw something that made my blood boil. There in front of me was an SUV displaying official Texas license plates with a Boomer Sooner theme! The state must be desperate for money if it’s allowing foreign universities to take over our vehicular identities. I can’t imagine Michigan issuing Ohio State–themed plates, or vice versa. Am I right that there’s a principle at stake here, or am I just not driving friendly enough? 

Name Withheld

Cedar Park

A: The Texanist is a mostly tolerant, live-and-let-live, to-each-his-own sort of advice columnist. But he finds it harder to preach this gospel from late August to early January each year, when the state’s large population of rabid, foamy-mouthed football fans takes to our parking lots, stadiums, and message boards to heap scorn and derision upon one another with smashmouth vehemence. As a regular tailgater at Darrell K Royal–Texas Memorial Stadium, the Texanist well understands what motivates this hostility. He has been known to march crookedly along Commerce Street on many a Texas-OU weekend singing an alternate-lyric version of “Texas Fight” that is not suitable for publication in a family magazine. But our beef here is not with the Sooner Nation; our beef is with the State of Texas. And it’s a legitimate one. The Texanist noticed while perusing the DMV’s website that there is an enormous variety of specialty plates available to motoring Texans, representing all manner of interests, allegiances, and identities, including a category known as “Colleges and Universities—Out of State.” This gave the Texanist pause. The spectre of a Brigham Young University alum cruising our byways with his alma mater on display may be inoffensive to most Texans, but OU is a helmet of a different color. The fact is that the Sooners are the only truly reviled rival that the University of Texas has left. Now, it would be difficult, and unfair, to flat-out exclude OU from the “Colleges and Universities—Out of State” category, especially since nearly 20 percent of OU’s student body is made up of Texans. But perhaps it’s not necessary to officially ban the OU plate. For his part, the Texanist has never glimpsed one with his own eyes and would bet that there aren’t too many out there. For while it may be a bad idea for the State of Texas to peddle Boomer Sooner–themed license plates, it would seem to be an even worse idea to tool around the Texas roadways with one on your bumper.

Q: My boyfriend recently got in a fistfight while defending my honor at our favorite Saturday nightspot. There was a belligerent guy who had asked me to dance about ten times but just wouldn’t take no for an answer. My man got banned from the place, and I haven’t been back since, but our friends still go and are planning to celebrate an engagement there in April. My question to you is, Am I also obligated to skip the festivities? I’d like to go.

Name Withheld

A: What has the world come to when the gallant act of protecting the honor of a fair maiden from the unsolicited affections of an inebriated but probably harmless boot-scooting galoot gets a guy tossed out of his preferred watering hole? Are we no longer permitted to solve problems with impulsive, reckless, and wholly inappropriate outbursts of violence? Since you were not banned along with your hair-trigger boyfriend, you are more than welcome to return to the scene of the crime for the engagement doings. And if that’s what you’d like to do, you should. While you are there, you could also apologize to the proprietors for what appears to have been a little bit of an overreaction by your boyfriend. Do this, and there’s a chance you may just get his ban lifted. And tell your BF that fisticuffs should always be a last resort.

Q: I have a lawn of Saint Augustine grass that looks fantastic but requires a lot of watering. My neighbors are switching to xeriscaping, and I’m warming up to the idea, especially as it gets closer to spring. But I think I’ll miss the grass. I bet I know what you’ll say, but what should I do?

Chuck Vega

San Antonio

A: The water situation in many parts of the state is still dire, and while the Texanist is ever hopeful that we will yet again see  our gullies washed, our toads choked, and our turds afloat, he’s not holding his breath (or his nose). In the meantime, you are correct that the Texanist recommends more climate-appropriate landscaping. But he also understands why the transition is difficult. In fact, he is struggling with it himself. Everyone loves a nice emerald carpet out front. He is finding that the best way to overcome the resistance is to think of it as an opportunity for reinvention. It’s like your house is switching to a new style of jeans. These new jeans,
gravel- and cacti-covered as they are, may leave your domicile (and you, by association) a little self-conscious at first, but they will come to suit your home (and you) in time. At least this is what the Texanist is telling himself.

Q: Just like your fine magazine, I’m turning forty years old this year. My girlfriends are asking me whether I’d rather spend a long weekend “roughing it” at a spa way out in West Texas or relaxing at one of our more familiar resorts here in the Dallas area. Which would you rather do if you were a soon-to-be-forty-year-old Texas girl?

Carla Taylor


A: Let’s pretend for the moment that the Texanist really is a 39-year-old gal. Hmm, city spa or country spa? Well, the Texanist can tell you that she has had absolutely marvelous experiences in both settings. But, really, what could be better than a good old-fashioned all-girl road trip to beautiful West Texas? Think about it—we could drop the kids off at school on a Thursday morning, pile into Lynette’s Suburban, and hit the road. Windows down, the sound track to Mamma Mia! or Melissa Etheridge blaring . . . we’d be there by happy hour. “Roughing it”? Come on! It’ll be manis, pedis, oily deep-tissue massages, roiling hot tubs, and steamy saunas all day long! Not to mention fabulous dinners, too much wine, and—what?! Amy brought a bottle of tequila?! And some marijuana?! Shut UP, y’all!!! And then, of course, there’s the late-night skinny-dipping, pillow fights, and college-style blackouts, followed by bleary-eyed binging on eggs Benedict, short stacks of buttermilk pancakes, second and third helpings of sausage, and assorted breakfast alcohols. Then back to the pool. Sure, we could probably do all of this (well, maybe not all of it) in Big D, but for a truly soul-cleansing and spirit-invigorating experience, West Texas is our best bet. After all, we only turn 39 years old for a second time once. Happy birthday, girl!

THE TEXANIST’S LITTLE-KNOWN FACT OF THE MONTH: The week in which Texas Independence Day (March 2) falls was deemed “Texas Week” by the Forty-second Legislature, in 1932. During this time, all Texans are compelled to “exalt and extol the highest and the best cultural and spiritual values of Texas.” Even more than usual, that is.