THAT DIDN'T TAKE LONG: I did hesitate before posting those thoughts on Texas just below. It's certainly naughty to be rude about a whole state like that. But then, it's Texas. Once a few years ago I was having lunch with a visiting friend in a very nice restaurant (great thing about living here: when you get visitors they take pity on you and take you out places you can't usually afford). In walked a foursome, two married couples, from Texas. They had to be, that is. The men: ten-gallon hats, shirts with those needlepoint patterns, string ties, jeans with prominent overhanging beef fed bellies and expensive looking cowboy boots. Either the men were the shy and retiring types (how likely?) and were dying of embarrassment over something, or they were holding their breaths - because they had the reddest necks and faces I'd ever seen. Didn't look like sunburn. They really do have red necks down there.

Once they'd settled in to give the performance of a lifetime as The Archetypal Texans on Holiday - loud, difficult customers that complained about every goddamn thing - I reflected that the string ties alone constituted a level of crime that could excuse any manner of glittering generalizations about Texans for years to come.

However, I didn't expect to get dinged quite so quickly - almost within minutes - by someone. What are the chances that my very small group of readers would include a Texas sympathizer? G.A. Cerny has duly reminded me of my manners, and points out that not only has Texas got culture in it, but that it's "better than Oklahoma."

I'll have to take your word for it that Texas rates Oklahoma. I once went to OK to visit a girl. Goll-eee things sure did take on a different perspective. She wasn't quite the same person I remembered from swinging D.C. I did survive to tell the tale, but I would hate to think there could be anywhere scarier.

I knew about the Czech culture connection. Here's a tidbit: A good friend of mine who once taught English in this country later dated the (American) professor of Czech at UT while doing post-grad work in Austin. This guy apparently went all out for authenticity, seeking out smoky bars with just the right beer in which to hold the occasional class. And once I picked up a copy of Lidove Noviny and flipped open to an article about this very same fellow and how he'd actually produced a Jara Cimrman play - all in Czech - using his UT students for cast members. That's brave.

BTW I'll politely decline my last meal courtesy of the "Fair" State, thank you very much.

Why "Fair" exactly? I've seen pictures of west Texas, so it can't have much to do with the scenery. Fair as in fair-play? One word: Enron. I swear to God that every time I hear the word "fair" a certain verse of a certain old tune skirts through the inner reaches of my consciousness. Here it is:
With a four-barrel carb and a dual exhaust

And four-eleven gears you can really get lost

It's got safety tubes, but I ain't scared

The brakes are good, tires FAIR

Kind of Texasy in its way, isn't it? And that song's on my top ten list, so that is not faint praise.

Steve | 18:05 |