REFLECTIONS ON A LONE STAR DIASPORA WAUTZ ACROSS TEXAS FOR ME By Craig Edward Clifford Annapolis, MD The whole idea made me think of my cousin from Louisiana who has lived in Manhattan for the last ten years. When I asked her if she’d had enough of New York, she said she was thinking about moving to California. Good god, why?, I thought and asked. It turned out that she had a lot of friends out there. What was a good-hearted Cajun doing with friends in California? They were all from Louisiana and Texas, she explained, I asked her why she didn’t just move back to Lake Charles or New Orleans or, if she had to better herself, Austin or Houston. Well, she lamented, all of her friends from school were either in Manhattan or L.A. or San Francisco or Boston. That’s a problem, I admitted. And now here I was in the basement of a huge brick house in northwest Washington, D.C., knee-deep in Texans, an early Willie Nelson album shaking the shingles loose, and a refrigerator chockfull of Lone Star. My wife’s sister, native-born Texan, Harvard Law School graduate, dutiful employee of the District of Columbia, decided to throw the biggest damn Texas party the capital city had laid eyes on since LBJ scraped his boots on the doorsteps of the White House. My wife and I drove in from Annapolis, where we landed after five years as graduate students in Buffalo, New York. D.C. lawyers and Harvard lawyers, aficionados of international folk dancing that my sister-in-law knew from folk-dance groups here and back in Texas, young professionals and professional vagabonds, civil servants and civilians, one person whose government job is so sensitive that he won’t even tell you what department he works for the Texans of Washington, along with a handful of curious acquaintances who wanted to see what Texans are all about, we all converged on northwest Washington on a Saturday night. My wife and I arrived about an hour late, guitar in hand, hats on heads, my oldest, raun chiest boots protruding out from under my oldest pair of unwashed Levis. Was I the same person who refused to wear a University of Texas T-shirt for my entire undergraduate career, the same person who was so eager to study on the East Coast that he ended up in Buffalo, only to find out that Buffalo has nothing to do with the East Coast but a lot to do with winters that would freeze the ass off a polar bear? I walked down the stairs to a chorus of “Is he one? Is he one?” I assured them I was one, whatever that was, and promptly made a circle of the big basement to decide for myself who was and who wasn’t. Some of the people I already knew. Of the ones I didn’t know, some were dead give-aways: the ones wearing old Tony Lamas with working heels were for sure; the ones wearing brand new Dingo boots \(you know, dead-ringers for imposters. When it came to new Tony Lamas or just plain shoes, then I had to judge by the gait. As my wife and I shuffled to “Fraulein, Fraulein, walk down by the river. . . “I heard an attractive young woman ask her partner if he was the “real thing.” He cocked his head back to get a better look at her and said: “Is the Pope Polish?” My sister-in-law kept telling me to dance with someone besides my wife, so that the outlanders could learn the twostep, but I had tried that once at another party, only to end up with a woman from God knows where who couldn’t have done a two-step if you’d taped her feet to the tops of my boots. I was liberal enough to let my wife dance with other men \(not that she would have listened dance with anyone except the one I’d brung. Not to mention that I might get stuck doing a Cajun two-step: my sisterin-law had assured some of her folkdance friends that it would be a Texas/Cajun dance party, and every now and then they played a few bayou basics to keep them happy. Folk dancers, I’ve learned, begin to break out in a rash if they identify too strongly with any one kind of folks. When someone did try to get me to do a Cajun two-step, I explained that my parents had moved from Louisiana to Texas when I was a baby so that I wouldn’t have to do those Coonass dances. After dancing for a while, I decided to “mingle.” as the saying goes. It wasn’t the cocktail hour, I know, but it was Washington, D.C., and Ronald Reagan was in the White House. One fellow with old Tony Lamas and an accent so thick you could have shoveled it he turned out to be from Dallas informed me that after finishing up at U.T., he had decided he was free to be anywhere he wanted, and the last place he wanted to be was Texas \(excuse me, that’s “TeggL.A. for a while and then it was on to New York or Washington. Jaded Texans or maybe it’s Texans pretending to be jaded always reminded me of the American teenager Mark Twain met on a boat trip down Rhine. The teenager had already seen all the castles and was determined to exhibit the superiority of ennui god forbid he should show enthusiasm like a vulgar American. Jaded Texans have already been Texans and god forbid they should ever be Texans again. I assured the fellow from Dallas that what with the academic world the way it was I would probably be stuck on the East Coast for a while, that I’d spent two weeks in the Big Apple and that was enough for a lifetime, that you couln’t get me to live in L.A. if you gave me Johnny Carson’s house and salary, and that I had recently taken a vow to be living in Texas within ten years or kill myself. That pretty well ended that conversation, so I moved on to a woman who turned out to have graduated from the same Houston high school in the same year that I had. We hadn’t known each other, but we were fairly sure about a couple of mutual friends. At first she bombarded me about how great it was to live in DC, but after I started talking about some of the little things I was beginning to miss after eight years away from home, she started looking a mite unhappy herself. It turned out she was married to a guy from Boston who was 18 SEPTEMBER 3, 1982
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