Q: I just read a rerun of one of your advice columns, “Contemplating the Texas Exit,” that I got in my daily Texas Monthly email newsletter. In the article there is a link to other road-related advice columns you’ve written going back as far as 2008. I went down the rabbit hole and read them all. In doing so, I noticed that your current replies are more relaxed, refined, and politically correct. It seems that your tongue was once a little sharper. Not that it bothers me that your tongue was sharper (I think we could use more of that bluntness today); I got a couple more laughs and even an out loud “Damn right!” when I read your older pieces. And I’m wondering: is your evolution a result of our current political, #metoo, get-our-feelings-hurt-over-everything, everybody-gets-a-trophy, “I could lose my job over the slightest wrong word” world we now live in?
David W., McKinney
A: The Texanist makes his living purveying fine advice to those who come to him in need of such counsel and doesn’t typically utilize this space for namby-pamby introspective self-examination. That’s what barstools are for, right? And though nobody likes to see how the sausage is made—tours of sausage factories are not really a thing—the Texanist felt that your letter deserved a response and is willing, in this case, to make an exception to his rule about not engaging in public self-analysis.
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Your assessment that the Texanist has experienced some sort of limpening of the lingua over the years is an interesting observation. But your supposition that this alleged wussification, for lack of a better word, is a result of the rampant political correctness of the times in which we find ourselves is flawed. You see, the Texanist is fairly immune to the to’s-and-fro’s of accepted societal norms. He is, as he has always been, his own man. If something needs doing, the Texanist does it; if something needs saying, the Texanist says it; if something itches, the Texanist scratches it; and if gases need to be expelled, well, you get the idea. The Texanist is not now nor has he ever been a shrinking violet. Indeed, he is a sturdy mesquite—unbending and thorny. At least that’s the way he likes to think of himself.
Interestingly, the timing of your letter coincided with the Texanist’s preparations for the most recent release of the mothership’s monthly print edition, Issue 2 of Volume 47, a.k.a. the February 2019 Texas Monthly, which happens to be a “Special Collector’s Issue,” meaning it comprises works that have previously appeared in the magazine at some point during the past 46 years. The Texanist’s contribution is a compilation of handpicked questions and corresponding responses taken from his lengthy archive, which dates all the way back to 2007. In reviewing the oeuvre, the Texanist also went down a deep rabbit hole, an exercise he too found to be quite entertaining. While the Texanist did not detect any flaccidity in his flow during the stroll down memory lane, he did, like you, notice a subtle evolution in his prose.
When the Texanist first signed on to be the National Advice Columnist of Texas [Editors’ note: Our fact-checkers point out that this is a title that nobody but the Texanist himself uses], he was a much younger buck than he is today. And like all of us, he is not the exact same buck (or doe, depending on how you identify) that he was twelve years ago. Back then, the Texanist was a little rawer. Sometimes a lot rawer. Over the years, though, he’s gotten older and wiser. He’s made mistakes. He’s made amends. He’s watched his little girl Texanist grow up to be a fine young lady (can we still say “lady”?). He’s seen loved ones pass away. He’s watched esteemed colleagues come and go. He’s experienced both highs and lows—thankfully a lot more highs than lows. Much water has flowed beneath the bridge. It’s perfectly natural that the aging process would result in a detectable degree of refinement. The Texanist, in this way, is not unlike distilled agave spirit. In the beginning there is harsh white liquor, young blanco tequila, but then with time, you get the smoother, more complex, and more nuanced añejo. The Texanist, you see, is a little more palatable today than he was a dozen years ago.
At the same time, though the Texanist, like you, is alarmed by some of the excesses of our current PC moment, he has also, like many of us have, come to realize that not every attitude he held back in the day lived up to the sort of standards that good Texans should practice. Indeed, the Texanist winces when he thinks of some of the things he said back in his earlier times. Rough liquor will do that, though. The thing is, the subtle shifts in the way the Texanist addresses certain subjects in his column are all for the good. The mature Texanist is a more edifying, entertaining, and enjoyable Texanist, don’t you think?
Perhaps you don’t. And that’s okay; one other thing the Texanist has learned over the years is that not all who disagree with the Texanist are deserving of the Texanist’s derision. If, years from now, you vote for the Young Texanist postal stamp rather than the Old Texanist postal stamp, the Old Texanist will not object. He just asks that you think about anything other than the Texanist when you lick the backside of that stamp.
And truth be told, all of the above notwithstanding, the Texanist too sometimes misses his young tequila self. In fact, for old time’s sake, let’s uncork a little of that ol’ blanco of yesteryear and address the gist of your letter again:
Q: Has the Texanist’s tongue somehow been tempered due to the current finger-pointy state of our public discourse?
¡Salud, amigo! And thanks for the avid readership.
Have a question for the Texanist? He’s always available here. Be sure to tell him where you’re from.