How high is too high to jack up a truck?
How high is too high to jack up a truck?Illustration by Jack Unruh

Q: How high is too high to jack up a truck? And what are your thoughts on my wife’s theory of a correlation between a person’s road clearance and his IQ?
Rodney Dudek, Arlington

A: The Texanist is a utilitarian. In determining a suitable amount of ground clearance for a person’s vehicle, he would need to know exactly what that person plans to drive over. It is certainly the case that, while motoring our state’s thruways, he has often been left confounded by the sight of junior monster trucks more suitable for a blackland mud-bogging rally than the daily blacktop commute. Unless one is truly bound for some bottomland jamboree, the need for unreasonable lift kits and a set of forty-inch Dick Cepek tires is unwarranted. As far as your wife’s speculation regarding the association of a vehicle’s height and the capacity of its operator’s brainpan, the Texanist is not sure there isn’t something to it. Most of us royals of the road, by the grace of One Higher, have reached a point in our evolutionary road trip where the decision to drive around what we cannot drive over is a true no-brainer. Gratuitous flexing of off-road worthiness might just be, as your better half supposes, the province of the meek of mind. After all, who but a pinhead would continually risk a groin injury mounting and dismounting his automobile?

Q: A very long time ago I was involved in a friendly game of washers in what turned out to be some not-so-friendly weather. I was behind in points when I called the game due to inclement conditions. Since that time, my opponent claims, on every occasion that presents itself, that he whupped me in washers that day. How long do I have to take this?
Pete, via e-mail

A: The Texanist’s familiarity with horseshoe and washer pits is extensive. And to be sure, throughout this decades-spanning experience, he has been and is currently involved in several intractable grudge matches. These contests are generally as convivial as the friendships that revolve around them, yet they are contests nonetheless, and the Texanist is most concerned by your untimely “calling” of a game on grounds of weather. A faint heart and a dearth of intestinal fortitude have no place in washer tossing or related diversions. The Texanist was once able to take down a few skins in a Las Vegas windstorm that gusted upward of 50 miles per hour. You are advised to challenge your friend to a rematch and earn his trap shut.

Q: The other day I told my teenage stepson that he was not allowed to pick his teeth with a toothpick because (1) he could fall and drive the toothpick into his brain (which I believe is a direct quote from my own mother), and (2) it made him look like a one-tusked walrus. Am I wrong?
Belinda Grace Freeman, Phoenix, Arizona

A: As a masticator of some renown, the Texanist is keenly aware of the occasionally very pressing need to remove detritus left behind after enjoying, say, a well-marbled ribeye with sweet shoepeg cob corn. Despite the good sense that both you and your mother no doubt possess, the Texanist finds the danger described—that a sudden forward pitch into a hard surface could drive a toothpick through the roof of its user’s mouth and into his cerebrum—an improbability of your-face-will-freeze-like-that proportions. Have you never been engaged in interesting post-dinner conversation only to find yourself in uncomfortably close proximity to a large hunk of gristle staring at you from across the table? The Texanist has and can assure you that his attention was completely lost to a vigilant monitoring of the flapping debris. Had any sort of small poker been at hand he would have wasted no time in dislodging the distraction himself.

Trust the Texanist when he says that it is not dangerous nor even walrus-like to use a toothpick. Just tell your stepson to be discreet.

Q: As a peripatetic Texan with itchy feet, I find myself in distant climes upon occasion. During these sojourns, I invariably identify myself as “Texan” rather than “American.” Am I being unpatriotic?
Trudy B. Taylor, Longview

A: Since he began dispensing advice, the Texanist has received a number of questions on this matter. There appear to be many residents of Texas, Benedict Arnolds none, who feel that the soil on which they sit is more self-defining than the soil on which the soil on which they sit sits. To them, and to you, the Texanist would say that being both puredee Texan and red-blooded American has not been mutually exclusive since 1845, when the Lone Star became the twenty-eighth in Old Glory’s constellation. Out in the world, your declaration as “Texan” is simply precise.

Q: Can one who has never shelled pecans (in anticipation of a homemade pecan pie) while watching a football game on TV between two teams from the old Southwest Conference honestly say that he/she has lived life to the fullest?
Randy Casey, Libertyville, IL

A: Yes, but he/she would, in your mind and in the Texanist’s, be misunderstanding the meaning of life itself. Drawing breath is only half of it; a good portion of the remainder consists of pie eating and enjoying the smashmouth rivalries of a close-knit college football conference such as the old Southwest. It warms the tips of the Texanist’s toes to recall those glory days when it was possible to take in a live broadcast of an Arkansas-UT title game while consuming the fruit of our state tree via homemade pastry. Life was not just better, it was fuller.