texanist politics
What’s the etiquette of political yard signs?Illustration by Jack Unruh

Q: My housemate and I have very different political leanings, but we’ve never let this get in the way of our friendship. We have an agree-to-disagree policy. Then, without any discussion, she put a yard sign out in front of the house supporting her presidential candidate of choice. So I asked her about it, and she just shrugged and said I was free to put up a sign too if I wanted. What to do?
DeAnne P., Dallas

A: The Texanist applauds both you and your roomie for having put your differences aside for as long as you have. In these bitterly argumentative times, it is rare indeed to find people who are willing to come together and work across the aisle (y’all might call it the hallway). Although the policy decisions you must confront are more likely to involve the cable bill and the recycling bin than corporate tax reform and nuclear proliferation, there is still much to admire in your steady bipartisanship. Would that the problems of the day were approached with the same tolerance for opposing viewpoints with which you and your co-habitant decide between watching Mad Men and Homeland. Alas, of late the drama of a presidential campaign has strained this cooperative spirit for you two (just as surely as it has broken that spirit completely for our elected officials nationwide). The Texanist finds your options to be threefold. Option Number One is to do as the roomie says and just negate the effectiveness of her sign by pounding in one of your own. This option has a straightforward and obvious appeal, but it is likely to result in a great deal of confusion on the part of passersby. Which brings the Texanist to Option Number Two: offer to replace her sign with one of those nonpartisan “Vote” signs. If she refuses to allow this, you cannot be blamed too much for proceeding to Option Number Three: tear her sign down, set it afire, and dance around the ash pile chanting, “USA! USA!” Make a big enough ruckus and someone may ask you to run for office yourself.

Q: I often like to think of the Texian army marching across Saint Hyacinth field, playing “Will You Come to the Bower I Have Shaded for You” and fixing to have their way with Santa Anna. In particular, I like to imagine two of the most compelling reasons ever not to overserve yourself cactus whiskey the night before engaging in mortal combat: the Twin Sisters. As a commemorative act, would it be legal for me to display, and on appropriately historical occasions deploy and discharge, working replicas of the product of the forges of Cincinnati?
Name Withheld, Houston

A: The Texanist has reviewed this matter with an officer, a colonel, in fact, in a very reputable replica army, the kind that stages reenactments and so forth. The replica colonel requested in no uncertain terms that his name not be affiliated in any way with this response, considering that someone might end up blasting off a limb or losing an eye due to poor cannon operation. Nonetheless, he did confirm that muzzle-loading curio cannons, like the fireable facsimiles of the famous pair you describe, named for twins Elizabeth and Eleanor Rice, are considered under the applicable laws to be antique weaponry, and he further indicated that such a ceremonial cannonade is, under the right circumstances, perfectly legal. But the Texanist would advise that before going great guns every second of March (Texas Independence Day), twenty-first of April (Battle of San Jacinto), and thirtieth of April (Willie Nelson’s birthday), you contact the local authorities to check for any ordnance ordinances. And further, before you go lighting the fuse, the Texanist (stepping back slowly now . . .) would remind you that recreational cannoning, while exhilarating, is different from roman-candling. The semi-official official with whom the Texanist spoke, for instance, explained that he has been trained in muzzle-loading artillery safety and operations by the U.S. Field Artillery Association. Unlike you, the Texanist assumes. Ready yourself before you aim and fire. And don’t say the unnamed colonel didn’t warn you.

Q: Once, there was a long strip of land between Mustang Island and Boca Chica called Padre Island. In the late fifties or early sixties, a channel was cut through it at Port Mansfield, and then there was Padre Island and South Padre Island. Lately I have been hearing of a place called North Padre Island. Does such a place exist? Is there a place that is now officially called North Padre Island, or are people mistaken?
Charlie Culpepper, Round Rock

A: The long, sandy stretch of coastal Texas of which you speak has gone by many names over the years, beginning with Isla Blanca way back in 1519, when it made its first-ever appearance on a map. Since then, the world’s longest barrier island has carried such monikers as Isla de San Carlos de las Malaguitas, Isla Corpus Christi, Isla del Padre Ballí, Ysla del Vallín, Isla de Bayán, and Isla de Santiago. Your thumbnail sketch of the island and its historical nomenclature is pretty good, but the Texanist would nutshell it this way: the large island between Mustang Island and Boca Chica, at the southernmost tip of Texas, is currently known, in its entirety and despite being bifurcated by the Port Mansfield Channel, as Padre Island, a geographical place upon which exist two communities, one at the southern end known as South Padre Island and one at the northern end known as North Padre Island. The Texanist knows as much because he has enjoyed himself at both ends of this natural Texas treasure.

Q: I am a young Texan who a few months ago met the most perfect little lady in the world. She is an all-over-amazing girl with whom I have fallen head over heels in love. My dilemma is that she lives in South Carolina. Also, I am not completely aware if she has feelings for me, and I have not heard from her since sometime in July. I have lost my mind over this girl, and I don’t know how I should go about this. Do you have any ideas?
Kyle Ludwick, San Antonio  

A: In the absence of more-concrete information concerning the backstory of the quasi-relationship described, the Texanist has found himself challenged to provide adequate advice. Therefore, he has done his best to supply what he considers to be a generally plausible romantic history himself. Here’s what he has so far: on your way to your neighborhood H-E-B this summer, where you were going to pick up a case of beer, a package of bologna, and a loaf of white bread, you smiled at a woman in a car with South Carolina plates as she sped off into the hot San Antonio night. Is that about right? The Texanist jests! He’s sorry. But seriously, as long as there isn’t a restraining order preventing you from doing so, the Texanist sees no reason not to pick up the phone and give her a ring. Or write on her Facebook wall. Or take out witty “Shot in the Dark” ads in as many South Carolina weeklies as you can find. Good luck.

The Texanist’s Little-Known Fact of the Month

The world’s largest word is located outside Smithville, on a ranch where, many years ago, a landowner clearing his property decided to fashion letters out of the uncut areas. At 3,100 feet by 3.5 miles, his name—“Luecke”—is visible from space (and on Google Maps).