texanist barbecue
How can I get my girlfriend to live with the smell of smoke from a nearby barbecue joint?Illustration by Jack Unruh

Q: My girlfriend and I live in an apartment in Austin that overlooks one of the many new barbecue restaurants here. She can’t stand the smoke or the smell that wafts into our place, and she has recently admitted to me that she doesn’t even like barbecue. She wants to move. The thing is, the smoke doesn’t bother me all that much, and I like the apartment and enjoy the proximity to the barbecue. How can I get her to live with the smoke? 
Tom A., Austin

A: Oftentimes, when the Texanist is ruminating over the work before him, he’ll close his eyes in moments of deep pondering. It may even appear to passersby (or to his editor) that he has dozed off, although he most assuredly has not. When he did this with your letter, a strange thing happened: he was overcome with a strong aroma of smoldering post oak so palpable that he’d have sworn there was a barbecue pit in the immediate vicinity. His mouth watered. Alas, when he came to, there was no pit. Nor was there any barbecue. The Texanist had drooled a substantial amount. The wishful mind is a powerful thing and can make a person crazy. Unfortunately, your wishfulness—for your girlfriend to make a 180-degree turn from strongly disliking the odorous and offending (in her mind) barbecue joint and its delicious (in your mind) products to tolerating or, even better, enjoying the place—will prove futile. For while it is a woman’s prerogative to change her own mind, changing it for her can be very difficult, to understate it greatly. All things considered, it is the Texanist’s professional opinion that the time for the old heave-ho may be nigh. Your experiment in cohabitation has been fun, but this woman’s heretofore unbending stance on barbecue represents a compatibility issue that will forever thwart the successfulness of the relationship. It’s not you, Tom, it’s her. Although from her point of view, it probably is you. These things are complicated, after all. But you know what? Let’s go get some barbecue. The Texanist knows of a little place nearby.

Q: I am in the market to buy my first pair of black boots to wear with a suit or tuxedo, but I seek your counsel before making such an important purchase. I am a lifelong city slicker, born and raised in Dallas, and don’t know the proper etiquette. My Hill Country buddy from Boerne, who is much more learned than I am in proper Texas attire, says you can wear boots with a suit only if you are an oilman or a rancher. As I own neither pump jacks nor steers, perhaps I should stick to wearing my trusty brown boots with jeans? However, if this maxim is antiquated, then I will proceed as planned. I await your guidance.
Robbie Baty, Dallas

A: Your friend turned style counselor has misinformed you with regard to just who may or may not wear boots with suits. And since you asked, the Texanist, a sartorial sage when called on, is happy to step in. The likes of a Bick Benedict are not the only folks who can pull on boots with their dress-up clothes. Investment bankers, hedge fund managers, wealthy entrepreneurs, successful doctors, rich lawyers, and state legislators can also. But this is not just an outfit for the fat cats among us. You too, no matter your station in life, are well within your rights to pair a pair of boots with something other than a pair of jeans. You, sir, are a Texan after all. Need the Texanist really remind you of this? Indeed, anyone who wears suits or tuxedos can do so in the stylish comfort of boots. There are just a few guidelines to be considered before you proceed. First off, boots worn with suits don’t even have to be black necessarily. They can be merely dark, although black is a fine option. Boots with tuxedos, on the other hand, ought to be very black and very shiny. Additionally, the Texanist would advise you to avoid excessively tall heels, excessively strange toe shapes, and excessively stitched, appliquéd, or loud styles. The Texanist doesn’t mean to suddenly be all, you know, but once you’ve made your purchase there are still a couple more things you’ll want to think about. Most important, always avoid inseams of improper length. The pants leg should be hemmed with a full-to-medium break, which means the front crease will be at least slightly bent and the hem in back ought to reach the boot’s heel if not the ground. And keep your new suit boots clean and polished. If you will follow these few recommendations and wear your boots with pride, you, a regular joe, will be virtually indistinguishable—save for the lack of hydrocarbons and livestock—from any oil tycoon or cattle baron in the state.

Q: My fiancé and I are planning a spring or early-summer wedding, and we’re looking for a scenic location for the big event. At this point, we will consider almost anywhere. We trust your opinion and come to you looking for a few options. Where are the prettiest places in Texas for a destination wedding? 
Melinda and Sean, Fort Worth

A: The Texanist seems to recall that he has donned a wedding-planner hat before. He’s also sported his marriage-counselor hat on numerous occasions. Fortunately, he does not recall having ever put on his divorce-counselor hat. So congratulations, you’ve come to the right place! But this question is a tough one, as the stakes are high, the options are plentiful, and the Texanist knows absolutely nothing about you two—except that y’all currently reside in Cowtown and are presumably in love with each other. To offer the fine advice for which he has come to be known, the Texanist is going to need a little more information. Please, if you will, fill out this short questionnaire and return it to him as soon as possible.

1. How far do you want to travel? Scenic El Paso is six hundred miles away, the beaches of South Padre Island more than five hundred, and Lake Worth is right there.

2. Indoor or outdoor nuptials? Do you want to ride down the aisle on a horse, or are y’all looking for something a little less traditional?

3. Will your guests be more inclined to throw rice or shoot guns?

4. Have you ever heard of an honorarium?

5. Do you believe that honoraria should be paid to advice columnists/wedding planners?

The Texanist looks forward to hearing back from you. Don’t panic—this is going to work out just fine.

Q: Almost all of my friends have fire pits in their backyards, and I’m jealous. I want one. The question is, should I go the professional route or do it myself? 
Camille Parten, San Antonio

A: Be it a campfire out on the range, a bonfire on the beach, or a small fire in a backyard pit, Texans enjoy few things more than sitting around the crackling results of having rubbed two sticks together. Needless to say, the Texanist approves of your plan. And as a dyed-in-the-wool-he-just-finished-shearing do-it-himselfer, he’d encourage you to not be afraid to get your own hands dirty. He’d also encourage you to think big. The Texanist is envisioning elaborate stonemasonry and built-in-drink-holder ledges. Camille, we’re probably not going to need a backhoe, but we are going to need a full weekend, a couple of picks, some digging shovels, a few spades, two wheelbarrows, four large buckets, a load of limestone, a cooler, four 20-pound bags of ice, two cases of beer, some sandwiches, a jambox set to KKYX 680 AM, a number of bags of concrete mix, a bricklayer’s hammer, an array of trowels, a cord of wood, some kindling, a box of strike-anywhere matches, and possibly a little more beer. This really is a great idea. The Texanist can’t wait to get started.

The Texanist’s Little-Known Fact of the Month: The female official state small mammal of Texas, some months after having been successful in a summertime mating season, will typically bear a litter of precious and identical little armor-clad quadruplets. This is a fascinating biological feat that may be reproduced up to fourteen or so times in her lifetime, for a total of 56 armadillos—give or take.