In 2006, the summer after my freshman year at Southwestern University, in Georgetown, I went on a road trip with three friends to Canada. We had this amazing drive up to Cortes, an island north of Vancouver, and saw America along the way. We spent several days on the island, enjoying the local flora and fauna—all we did was smoke weed and find oysters in the ocean—and then we started heading back.

I thought I was going to be home in time for my sister’s engagement party, but I got the dates wrong. So I called my parents from Vancouver and said, “There’s no way I’m going to be back in Houston before the engagement party; will you buy me a flight?” They were pissed off, but they agreed. Which meant I had 36 hours to get from Vancouver to Los Angeles and catch a plane.

When my friends and I got to L.A., we bought a bottle of whiskey—probably two—and drank them on our friend’s roof. We got really drunk, and then they took me to the airport at 4:30 a.m. I somehow got through security, then sat by my gate and fell asleep.

I woke up and people were boarding, so I got in line, and they let me on the flight. I’m sitting on the plane, then this guy goes: “You’re in my seat.” I showed him my ticket. “You were on the 8:30 a.m. flight,” he said. “This is the 1 p.m. flight.” Turns out I had been sleeping all morning in front of my gate.

I managed to get on a later flight, but my folks told me to wait for my aunt’s flight to get into Houston, so we could share a cab to the party. At this point, I hadn’t showered in a few days, smelled of whiskey, and had thrown up; I was not in a good way. I was leafing through magazines, and then next thing I know I was looking at an adult magazine at the Bush Intercontinental bookstore, when someone tapped me on the shoulder. It was my high school journalism teacher, Ms. David. “Seems like interesting reading material for a public place!” she said. I turned around and just breathed whiskey fire in her face. “Son, I’m going to be honest,” she said. “You reek of booze. You should probably change your shirt before you see anyone you’re related to.” I was completely humiliated, but I managed to croak out a feeble “Thanks, Ms. David.”

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I changed my clothes in the men’s room, then met my aunt. We were sitting in the cab, and then, of course, she said: “Walker, you stink of booze. And you should probably change.” So I changed again in the car, and she was just cracking up the whole time.

When we got to the engagement party, my parents wouldn’t even look at me. It took a long time to gain their trust again. My sister, on the other hand, thought the whole thing was hilarious.

This article originally appeared in the April 2020 issue of Texas Monthly. Subscribe today.

The Stories Behind the Music

Texas musical luminaries reveal the family histories, powerful influences, and big breaks that made them the artists they are today. Read more.