Q: I’m a senior at Texas A&M and I am happy to report that I have a girlfriend. She’s also a senior and we’ll both graduate this spring, at which time we’ll hopefully each have a job in our respective fields in Houston. The problem is, she’s from Wisconsin and my mom, a rabidly native Texan, sensing that things are progressing, has begun to put out subtle signals that she’d rather I marry a girl from Texas. In fact, she actually said this directly to me the last time I saw her. I thought she was joking at first, but she’s serious. This is crazy, right? How do I convince my mom that her feelings toward my Wisconsin girlfriend are wrong and that she ought to just be happy for us?
Name Withheld, College Station
A: It warms the cockles of the Texanist’s hardened old heart to hear about a budding love between two young Aggies. Congratulations to you both. It’s great to know, despite all the hurly-burly out there today, what with the political pandemonium, the climate crisis, and the general prickliness, that romance perseveres. And between two Aggies no less.
You know, time was, such amorousness amongst Ags was more of a challenge than it is today. Although Texas A&M University opened its doors as the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas way back in in 1876, it didn’t begin enrolling women on an equal basis until nearly a hundred years later, in 1971. On a straight sexism level, the foolishness of this type of exclusion is, of course, well documented. But on a purely social level, well, it must have been a little hard for the fellas, too. Not to equivocate, but can you imagine what life in College Station must have been like for a young college boy for that near-century?
You may not be aware, but the absence of a female population on campus—and, too, the agricultural focus of the institution—caused the widespread promulgation of some very indelicate tales, told mostly by rivals from Austin, having to do with Aggie boys dating farm animals. The Texanist knows this because, as the son of two Texas Longhorns, he grew up hearing such yarns. Less apocryphal than those stories, though, are the ones involving Aggie boys frequenting the famed Chicken Ranch brothel, in La Grange, a mere hour and twenty minutes southwest of College Station, for female—that is, female human—companionship. It’s said that trips to the legendary house of ill repute became a part of freshman initiation and that there was at one time even an $8 Aggie Special on Thursdays. This aspect of life at A&M was entertainingly immortalized in the Broadway smash and subsequent silver-screen iteration of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. Who could ever forget the bawdy “Aggie Song”? “Seventy-five miles until we get to heaven… where history and Aggie boys get made.”
Alas, the Texanist, as is his wont, has digressed.
Back to the situation with which you have a come a-knocking, the one concerning your girlfriend and your mama. The Texanist can tell you that it’s many the mother, not just yours, who, if they had their druthers, would prefer that their sons go steady with anybody other than the gal with whom their dear boys are currently making time. Such moms will often find something to disapprove of and then have very hard time letting go of that thing, no matter how trivial it is. The Texanist isn’t going to go so far as to say it’s a naturally occurring maternal instinct, but it isn’t all that unusual.
(Full disclosure: the Texanist is not speaking from personal experience here. His own mom had no problem with his wife-to-be. But then the Texanist did, as his dad had long advised him to do, end up with a “sweet-smellin’ West Texas girl.” Who knows how the Texanist’s mom would have reacted had he instead chosen a Wisconsinite possessed of a different odor, like, say, the odor of those supposedly delicious cheese curds that folks from Wisconsin are always yammering on about? Things could have gone a very different way.)
Given how prevalent such behavior is among moms—and, let’s be fair; many dads act the same way when their daughters bring home a new beau—the Texanist wonders if your own mom has latched onto the fact that your girlfriend happens to be from Wisconsin as a way to not talk about what’s really bothering her: namely, that her little boy has grown up to be his own man, capable of making his own choices, including the choice to spend his free time with a woman who is not his mom.
Your mom, as you state, does need to chill a little. In fact, since the cheeseheaded lady, er, apple of your eye is neither a farm animal nor a prostitute, but rather just a plane old Midwesterner, your mom ought to be counting her lucky stars. Things could be much worse. Or could have been had you been born fifty or so years earlier.
The Texanist suggests explaining this to your mother and seeing if it has any effect (other than her taking a switch to your bottom). Either way, though, just in case you didn’t know, Aggie lore states that a successful marriage proposal that takes place beneath the Century Oak, located near the Academic Building, will result in an everlasting union. There are no exceptions that the Texanist could find for fiancées from Wisconsin or spouses-to-be who are for any other reason held in low repute by their mothers-in-law-to-be.
Good luck to you and your gal! And to your mom! Sounds like you’re all going to need it.