Will hiring a lawn service to do my mowing make me soft?
Will hiring a lawn service to do my mowing make me soft?Illustration by Jack Unruh

Q: Will hiring a lawn service to do my mowing make me soft?
Preston Culberson, Nacogdoches

A: Well, boy hidy, Mr. Deep Pockets, seems somebody has suddenly found himself standing in some mighty high cotton. And, at the same time, in some increasingly tall grass. Did your numbers hit? Ol’ Aunt Hattie, bless her soul, remember you fondly in her will? Well come in? However it happened, you now face one of the classic quandaries of the freshly minted. It is not so much the softening that comes with newfound wealth that should concern you; in many world cultures such plumpness is a badge of honor. No, what you need to protect is the pride you now take in a job well done by your own hand. For this there is no substitute. Who feeds and waters the patch of God’s green earth on which you reside? Who risks life and limb repelling columns of indestructible fire ants and sortie after sortie of dastardly chinch bugs? You do, brave sir. And if you are anything like the Texanist, you do it with a passion that few comprehend. Apocalyptic drought? Mounting water bills? A stream of threatening notices from the local water authority? None have kept you from pouring your heart, soul, and previously paltry savings into the shorn seas of verdancy that surround your abode. And when strolling strangers stop to admire your turf while you, filthy and sopping in last night’s beer-and-hot-wings sweat, nod proudly from behind 190 cc’s of roaring John Deere, it’s all worth it, right? The feeling that rushes over a man at that moment is pride. Pride as sweet as the aroma of freshly cut grass in early springtime and as addictive as the fumes from an open gas can. It’s clear that you have reached an income level at which domestic help becomes affordable, yet in the case of your landscape, think hard about what you will be giving up. Money can buy many services, but the self-wrought happiness derived from a perfectly mowed lawn carries no price tag. Don’t do it.

Q: Almost every time I go to a Mexican restaurant with a hankering for enchiladas the mood is ruined by a paralyzing indecision between the red and the green salsas. Can you help me?
Jane Parkfield, Dallas

A: Dear lady, Tex-Mex cuisine, in all its glorious variations, seems an odd thing to kvetch about. In his vast experience the Texanist has found, nearly without fail, that a platter of cheesy enchiladas will go down well with most any salsa, no matter its color. The old “icing on the cake” axiom, for instance, implies that having cake is a good thing, but having cake with icing is even better. The particular type of icing is not germane to the enhancement of the cake. The cake is simply better with icing. Enchiladas are good, but enchiladas with salsa—red, green, or mole—are even better (enchiladas with icing, on the other hand, are disgusting). It’s really quite simple. The Texanist wonders if you experience the same discombobulation of your undergarments when making other choices between two good options (corn or flour tortillas, tea or coffee, sherbet or praline). If so, you may want to seek the counsel of one who, though not an official designee of any medical board, is nonetheless capable of prescribing an old folk remedy, which will have the effect of making you okay with anything. (Editors’ note: The Texanist, while licensed to hunt, fish, and drive a car in the state of Texas, is not authorized to dispense pharmaceutical or herbal medication. Please do not encourage him.)

Q: When I’m in the car with my daughter, she prefers to listen to my wife’s radio station, which often features songs with inappropriate language or morning talk shows with inappropriate topics of conversation. Is there anything I can do to change her radio dial preferences?
Name Withheld

A: The Texanist has recently found himself in this very situation. While ferrying his six-going-on-sixteen-year-old daughter around town, he was suddenly treated to the sound of Lady Gaga announcing her desire to take a ride on a “disco stick.” He immediately skipped to the next preset, only to be met with Katy Perry singing about tasting another girl’s “cherry ChapStick.” Good God! Did he dare listen further? His knuckles were white and his brow was drenched with sweat. He glanced in the rearview mirror, only to see his sweet little girl nodding her head innocently to the rancid beats. Unable to take it any longer, he jumped to the next preset. Never before had he been so happy to hear Celine Dion’s irritating “My Heart Will Go On” (theme from the movie Titanic). Severely addled, the Texanist has thenceforth adhered to a strict drive time diet of wholesome classic country. Now it’s “Chug-A-Lug,” by Roger Miller; “Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! (That Cigarette),” by the incomparable Tex Williams; Loretta Lynn’s “Don’t Come Home a’ Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind)”; and plenty of Conway “I’d Love to Lay You Down” Twitty. The protestations from the backseat are loud and plaintive, but beneath the sound of the Texanist’s own singing, they are barely noticeable. Happy trails.

Q: I happen to live on a small island near Port Aransas, and during the occasional hurricane threat I find myself in the Hill Country. I thought I would get a cowboy costume so that I might not look quite the surfer dude—beach bum and more the buckaroo. I seem to have a working knowledge of most of the footwear and other garments but have one big concern. How and why does one name his belt?
Rick Reichenbach, Port Aransas

A: An important thing for you to note is that, typically, the name on a belt goes with the belt’s owner and not the belt itself. Those who would be so foolish as to take the time to give a name to a belt are, thankfully, few. Having a name stamped onto a leather strap adds multiple functions to a device that once served only to secure one’s pants safely in place. Think of the name belt as a sort of vanity plate. It enables its possessor to add a little flair to what could just as well be a length of rope. Or consider it an item of great utility, like one of those little “Hello My Name Is ________” stickers worn at social functions where formal introductions are not made. Always be mindful of the context too. The plate attached to the back of a little red convertible Porsche that reads “FXYLDY” identifies its driver quite clearly as an attractive female who might very possibly mean trouble. Similarly, the wearer of a sticker that reads “Hello My Name Is Craven Morebeer” is likely to wake up hungover, ashamed, and alone again. Note also that the traditional positioning of the name on the belt and its proximity, when worn, to the derriere is no accident in design. Thusly, a belt might not only say “Hello My Name Is the Texanist,” it would additionally say “Hello These Tightly-Wrapped-in-Denim Sweet Buns Belong to the Texanist.”