Does keeping a found twelve-pack of beer constitute stealing?
Does keeping a found twelve-pack of beer constitute stealing?Illustration by Jack Unruh

Q: Last Saturday, when we had finished loading the groceries into our truck, my husband, Tim, went to return the cart when he noticed that someone had left a twelve-pack of Coors Light in his buggy. My husband, being the honest man he is, took the beer back into the Super Target. He said the clerks seemed shocked at his honesty but that he felt that if he had kept the beer it would be considered stealing. I disagreed and said it wouldn’t be stealing at all and that the beer, which has no name on it, was “found.” I most certainly would have returned the beer myself, but I disagree that keeping it would be stealing. I told him, “What if God had left that beer there for you?” to which he replied, “God would never have left me Coors Light.” So, my wise friend, please shed some light on this disagreement: Was it theft or just not our lucky day?
Kathi Davis, Spring

A: The Texanist has been saddled with enough swayback, gotch-eyed, glue-bound bags of bones to know better than to adhere strictly to ill-advised adages. Your husband was absolutely right to look this particular gift horse in the mouth and walk it back to the stable from whence it came. Although loading up a dozen forsaken Silver Bullets would not technically make you a low-down beer bandit, neither would it call for a jig. Let us review once again the purpose of beer: It is a fermented brew that produces a pleasant feeling of easy relaxation and mild amusement. Yet the Texanist has a hard time seeing how your husband—an honest man, to all appearances—could enjoy these sensations in any real way while at the same time grappling with a parking lot misdeed. Beer that causes its drinker to feel guilt or sorrow is no beer at all. The Texanist is prompted to recall a party he attended during his undergraduate days. Drawn thither by a handbill offering “FREE LONE STAR!” he discovered upon arrival that the gathering had been organized by the Society for the Promotion of Vegetarian Cookery. Neither a member nor at all interested in becoming one, he nonetheless gamely played the part in order to snag the suds, rambling on for quite some time about his favorite chickpea preparations. Yet round about his seventh cup, he was forced to admit that the purloined beer was not having the desired effect, that it had, in fact, been tainted by the false pretenses under which it had been gotten, and that no good could come of any subsequent cups (he had one anyway just to see). He thus finds much to relate to in your story. The half-case of Colorado Kool-Aid light was paid for by someone else, and although temporarily misplaced, the brew belonged to him and not you. No way around it. Cheers, Davises. You are good folk.

Q: I was in Austin recently to attend the funeral of my aunt. After the service, we ate a fine Texas barbecue with brisket, chicken, sausage, and all the sides. As I’m a big eater, I really piled it on. My first cousin, whom I’d not seen in forty years, said that in Texas, when one has eaten one’s fill, the proper thing to do is throw up both hands in the air and holler “calf rope!” Please enlighten this native Georgia Bulldog as to why, exactly, this is?
Larry Rowell, Campbellsville, Kentucky

A: The Texanist is sorry for your loss but glad you were able to partake in what sounds like a real good spread. In these parts, at the close of a notable feed, a person who finds himself plumb gut-busted might shout “calf rope!” to acknowledge that he cannot under any circumstance accommodate even one more bite, not even a little sausage end. Shouting “calf rope” is akin to crying uncle at the hands of a wrist-burn-dispensing foe. It is the eater’s white flag of surrender. As such, its deployment must be exquisitely timed. Too early and your tablemates will question your willpower, intestinal fortitude, and character. Too late and you may imperil your health and the carpet’s. It’s important to note, however, that when half-belched through bubbling barbecue sauce, a premature “calf rope” can always be rescinded if it was uttered before you were made aware of the presence of homemade peach cobbler.

Q: I am a transplanted Texan living on the West Coast. Lately, I have started noticing that I get strange looks from people out here every time I order bourbon. All they drink here is wine and microbrew. Should I change my drink in order to blend in?
Scott D. San Francisco, California

A: Your situation is a serious one. Don’t be alarmed, but it sounds as if you are being groomed for indoctrination into the cultlike society known as the “California lifestyle.” You stand at a threshold, Scott D., beyond which there will be no turning back. You must resist the temptation to abandon the common sense of your homeland for the Dionysian mores of the Golden State. The Texanist advises you to disregard anything with enticingly subtle allusions of mango, guava, or flint and to pay no attention to any sparkling stemware that flaunts, like the Pacific Coast sunset itself, the shimmering hues of golden rose. Additionally, beware of convertibles, Rollerblades, and spandex shorts. Keep your distaste for sprouts and keep ordering your libations as you like them. And don’t be afraid to write again. A crisis such as yours is nothing to be ashamed of.

Q: I have recently learned that my boyfriend is getting ready to pop the question. I’m going to say yes, but I’m afraid that he’s afraid to first go ask my father, who comes across as much scarier than he really is. My daddy will hold it against him if he doesn’t. I don’t know what to do.
Name Withheld

A: Your daddy would be right to hold it against him. You’re his daughter, and although we’re long past the days of dowries, it is still good manners for a suitor to alert the proud father and acquire his blessing before proceeding with the direct appeal. Chances are that your boyfriend knows this and would like to observe the ancient protocol. All he needs is a signal that indicates that his father-in-law-to-be has a nastier bark than bite. Perhaps you can persuade the old man to speak during the next family dinner about his new love of flower arranging or his obsession with Felicity. A subtle sign should be all that’s required. Congratulations.