Q: I bought a fancy pair of brand-new Lucchese oiled-calfskin boots a while back and have not worn them out on the town but one time. They caught people’s eyes, but it seemed like it was only because of their newness. Also, they are not the most comfortable footwear. What can I do about breaking them in?
A: If experience has taught the Texanist anything, it is that new boots, like really rank broncos or compulsive tobacco addictions, are not easily broken. There are no soapy shortcuts here, no training of monkeys to do it for you. The union of foot and boot is not unlike the union of holy matrimony, and, as in the best marriages, the strongest bonds are forged by time—time spent traveling together, molding to one another, collecting a patina of character-building scraps, nicks, and scratches in strange and foreign lands together. Boots right out of the box are never a walk in the park, but if you love them and listen to them, they will learn in time to adjust to each and every one of your inherited anomalies. Patience is your friend. It has worked for the Texanist, and it can work for you too. As soon as possible, take your Luccheses on down to Mexico for a long weekend; go ahead and have a few too many Ramos Gin Fizzes at El Dorado Bar, in Nuevo Laredo; get into a heated grito contest with a rotund mariachi trumpeter; black out in the middle of an argument back at the hotel and regain consciousness in a taxi that bumps down a dusty road and drops you at a strange walled compound where everyone seems very friendly. When you wake up the next morning sweaty, confused, and thankful to be alive, apologize for everything and swear that it will never happen again. If the relationship survives (this may require years of counseling), you will soon find yourself able to trip the light fantastic, run quickly away from trouble, and certainly walk through any park without the pain and unfortunate mien of a new boot owner.
Q: If one makes a genuine effort not to be seen while peeing outdoors, can that still be considered urinating in public?
Frank Allen, Ricardo
A: Yes and no. The need to shake the dew off one’s lily away from modern facilities is one of life’s many inevitabilities (and one of its few remaining pleasures). But taking precautions to not be noticed by the general population when that need arises is always advisable. When, however, such measures fail and privates are displayed publicly, the golden rule of outdoor potato straining has been broken and public urination is at hand (and in hand). This goes, the Texanist has learned, against many a community’s ordinances, and being cited for being sighted while seeing a man about a horse is no laughing matter. Don’t become known as public enemy number one for making a reckless number one.
Q: I have recently found myself in a bit of a predicament. I am a third-generation Aggie, and my wife and I have taught our three-year-old son, Jake, the complete lyrics to the “Aggie War Hymn.” Some observers have commented that a three-year-old should not be taught the words “sounds like hell.” You probably have a unique perspective on this dilemma.
John M. Davidson, College Station
A: Perhaps the age appropriateness of the lyrics is not the actual pickle. Perhaps, and the Texanist is merely wondering aloud, of course, the real conundrum is whether, as one of the boy’s primary caretakers, it is proper for you to still be squeezing into musty-smelling all-white garb that hasn’t fit in years and roaming the house (not just on game days, either) hollering nonsensical utterances like “hullabaloo caneck caneck” and “chig-gar-roo-gar-rem chig-gar-roo-gar-rem” while making strange gestures, assuming odd postures, and kissing Mrs. Davidson frequently. What the h-e-double-toothpicks is a three-year-old to make of all that?
Q: Why is it that flour tortillas are offered in many sizes at the local grocery but the lowly corn tortilla is only found in the one size? I love to make flautas, but the small size is a “culinary bummer,” to quote Guy Clark.
Thomas Welch, Deep East Texas
A: Thank you, Thomas Welch, for bringing this matter into the light of day. If there is one thing—one thing!—in this crazy world that reliably sends the Texanist into spasms of uncontrollable rage, it is portion standardization in the consumables trade. Why must our serving sizes be so rigid? If the Texanist wants to buy a piece of chewing gum with the proportions of an adobe brick and if in doing so he will not violate any known laws, he should be able to find his vendor on the open market. Likewise for a frankfurter scaled to resemble a dachshund, a bean as big as a balloon, or a corn tortilla with a circumference equal to that of a flour tortilla. Are we not a self-determined species endowed with the inalienable right to the pursuit of happiness? Can we not be permitted to determine the dimensions of our own foodstuffs? Yes, yes, the chemical makeup of the tortilla dictates its overall elasticity and thus its effectiveness for bearing a payload, and the optimal diameters are derived by the tensile strength as measured while stuffed with delicious fillings. The Texanist is no dummy. He understands that the sacred numerology of these measurements was established many hundreds of years ago by native Mesoamerican folk far more in tune with the natural physics of the cosmos than he. And yet, innovation is the pico de gallo of life, that which keeps things spicy and unpredictable and worth enduring, and for a boundary pusher like yourself, the Texanist advises a 4.4-pound bag of masa harina. A man must be provided the raw materials and left alone. You take that masa, Mr. Welch, and you make yourself a corn tortilla as large as you like (the Texanist keeps imagining a manhole cover). Next thing you know, they’ll be mass-produced and widely available.