texanist coed camping
Should I let my teenaged son go on a coed camping trip?

Illustration by Jack Unruh

 

Q: My seventeen-year-old son wants to go camping with his sixteen-year-old girlfriend and another couple at his girlfriend’s parents’ ranch, in Kerrville. I’m going to let him go because all the other parents have signed off on it, but in my heart of hearts I know it’s not a good idea. Should I have said no, or am I being too old-fashioned? 

Name Withheld

A: As a fellow raiser of offspring, the Texanist feels your pain. However, since the offspring whose well-being has been entrusted to him is but a sweet and mostly well-behaved ten-year-old girl rather than a hormone-addled seventeen-year-old boy, he comes at the when-is-it-okay-to-allow-unchaperoned-coed-camping-trips conundrum from the other side of the equation, which is to say the more terrifying side. Terrifying because he himself was once a seventeen-year-old boy and can attest to the shockingly poor judgment and questionable behavior that is mostly par for such a creature’s erratic and ofttimes catastrophic course. Frankly, he is a little surprised at the nonchalance of the two girlfriends’ parents. If such parents existed in Temple during the Texanist’s boyhood, he was not acquainted with their daughters. And herein lies your problem: as it is considerably more unusual for the parents of daughters to agree to an arrangement like the one you describe, the fact that in this case they already have puts you in a difficult position. To say no at this point would likely have a profoundly detrimental effect on your son’s social life. And it is entirely possible that this could even result in the proverbial end of the world! As you really had no other choice, you made the right decision. Now, in order to help you live with it, the Texanist will summon his seventeen-year-old self to reassure you that no great harm will come to your son or anyone else on this trip. [Sound of candles being lit and some guttural chanting, followed by a whoosh.] Hello! Young Texanist here. Nothing to worry about! This trip is going to be so awesome! Hey, can the young Texanist get your son’s number? He threw his phone at a mailbox from the bed of a speeding truck last night and lost all his contacts, and he needs to text your boy about something. Or, actually, could he just have you give your son this enormous jug of Jose Cuervo before they take off? The young Texanist is supposed to meet some of the dudes up at the Sonic and— [another whoosh]. The adult Texanist apologizes for that. He had forgotten. Listen, other than making sure your son packs clean skivvies for the trip, all you can really do is hope that, as the fire fades to glowing embers, and the moonlight shines brightly down, and the last of that cheap tequila is drained, and the heavy, drunken canoodling commences, the boy employs the good judgment with which you have armed him. You’ve made sure to do that, right? If so, everything ought to be just fine.Q: I recently volunteered at a barbecue cookoff held in my neighborhood park, and at least a third of the teams thought it was okay to dump hot coals and globs of grease directly onto the ground. Surely their mothers taught them to pick up after themselves. I wouldn’t blame the city’s parks department if they banned future cookoffs. Please enlighten barbecue teams as to what they should do after the trophies have been awarded. 

Tracy Poe, Via Email

A: Like smoky clothes, intestinal turmoil, and a slight hangover, hot coals and grease globs are unavoidable by-products of barbecue cookoffs. The proper cleanup and disposal of such remnants are the responsibility of the individual teams, and it is unfortunate that so many barbecue cooks disregarded a simple chore that was likely covered in the packet of rules and regulations distributed by the cookoff’s sponsor. The offending teams should know better, and the Texanist is sorry that your park was so unnecessarily sullied. But as bad as it was, count your lucky stars that it wasn’t a chili cookoff that was held in your fair city. Chili cookoffs, as you may or may not be aware, are known to attract a special sort of individual. Particularly in comparison with those who attend barbecue cookoffs. Let the Texanist ask you this: Do you think it’s an accident that the two most famous chili cookoffs in Texas, the Terlingua International Chili Championship and the Original Terlingua International Frank X. Tolbert–Wick Fowler Championship Chili Cookoff, are both held way the hell out in the Chihuahuan Desert and not in the outfield of your local city park’s baseball diamond? Let the Texanist now answer for you: it is not. Had your neighborhood green played host to such an event, hot coals and grease globs would be the least of your concerns. How do you feel about public nudity, open consumption of drugs and alcohol, the random discharge of firearms, and the senseless sunstroked shouting of hundreds of chili heads in the grips of a vicious stomach burn? The Texanist assures you that even accounting for the inconsiderate behavior of a few bad meat-smoking apples, the barbecue cookoff was far preferable to the likes of any chili cookoff.

Q: Do Coloradans dislike Texans more or less than New Mexicans do? I’m taking my family on our first-ever ski trip and trying to decide between these two destinations. The last time I was in Colorado was for a ski trip in 1987, and I recall being told that Coloradans really disliked Texans and to be on the lookout for trouble. I’ve never heard anything like this about New Mexico. Between the two, what do you think is our safest bet? 

Darrell M. Brooks, College Station

A: The Texanist is not unfamiliar with the supposed anti-Texan sentiment you mention, but it’s nothing that he has let stop him from enjoying himself in Colorado on multiple occasions without incident. Or, he should say, without incident that he didn’t have coming to him. No need to bore you with all the details, but there was this one time when the Scotchgard on the Texanist’s favorite snow-skiing jeans had worn off, leading them to become sopping wet during a day on the slopes, which, in turn, led to them freezing his butt solidly to a bench at a shuttle bus stop in Crested Butte. It was embarrassing and certainly not the finest moment in Texas-Colorado relations, which have a very long history. Texans have been traveling up to that mountainous paradise since the days of the republic, when a wide swath of what would one day become Colorado was included in the expansive territories claimed by Texas. This may account for the Coloradan’s supposed dislike of the Texan. The fact is that a Texan in Colorado is vaguely akin to a Spaniard in Mexico (or, for that matter, a Mexican in Texas). Some deep-seated ancestral part of the Texan probably feels a rightful claim to those rich mineral deposits, those plentiful grazing lands, those abundant bison, those beautiful evergreen forests, that fresh-powder skiing, that wonderful summer climate, and that legalized marijuana. Criminy! Why in the hell did we ever give Colorado up? Who made that brilliant decision? Regardless, as long as you don’t go around acting like you own the place (even though as a Texan you once may have) and remember to apply the Scotchgard extra liberally, the Texanist would be surprised if you ran into any trouble at all in Colorado.

Q: I was deer hunting with my nephew after Thanksgiving, and he shot at a bunch of buzzards and killed one of them. I told him not to do it and he completely disobeyed me, but when I told his dad, my sister’s husband, he just laughed it off and acted like I was overreacting. How should I have handled this?

Name Withheld

A: Your hellion of a hunting companion was in violation of the law. By gobbling up roadkill on our highways and byways, buzzards play an admirable part in keeping Texas a beautiful place, and harvesting them is strictly prohibited. Your nephew was clearly in the wrong, and his father, by not immediately recognizing this and swiftly employing corrective measures, also failed. The Texanist would not hunt with either of them ever again.

THE TEXANIST’S LITTLE-KNOWN FACT OF THE MONTH: It has recently come to the Texanist’s attention that the Astrodome’s original 42,217 seats were not in fact manufactured by American Desk, in his hometown of Temple, as he has been claiming for decades, but rather by American Seating, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The Texanist regrets the thirty-some-odd years of error. Long live the Dome.