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GOOD MORNING ON THE RIVER! Serving Antojitos so Zucchini \(Breakfast, Nachos, Burgers, Chili, Hot Dogs, 7:30 a.m. until Midnight 225-4098 G BE ID RESTAURANT 511 Rivcrwalk Across from the Kangaroo Court San Antonio, Texas Life Insurance and Annuities Martin Elfant, CLU 4223 Richmond, Suite 213, Houston, TX 77027 &Mire OF CANADA unwilling to go any further south than DC. I tried to console her by pointing out that DC was south of the Mason-Dixon line, knowing full well that the only north-south boundary of any concern to Texans is the Red River, and thought to myself that intermarriage between races was fine, but the marriage of Texas and Boston was at best a mystery. After dancing a bit more, my wife and I started talking to a lawyer from my sister-in-law’s office. She hailed from the big N.Y.C. and had gone to law school in California. We had met her before, and she had already expressed her amazement at the way Texans carry on. After watching us at our worst for a couple of hours, she couldn’t believe what she was seeing. “I know people from California and New York and all over the country, but I’ve never met anyone who’s as crazy about where they’re from.” I told her to talk to the guy from Dallas who wanted to be anywhere but Texas, but she pointed to the other side of the room where he was teaching some new prey the Texas two-step. “I rest my case,” she concluded. I explained that when Texans are in Texas all they do is bitch about how horrible it is, and that they’re only this patriotic when they’re not there. She said she’d seen New Yorkers away from home, but they weren’t like this. “I guess they just don’t have all these symbols,” she said. “I guess not,” I agreed. I looked around at all the Texas paraphernalia tacked up on the walls: pictures of Luckenbach and Willie Nelson and armadillos, Texas flags, a “Texas Secede” bumper sticker, and on and on. Upstairs there was a pot of chili hot enough to make Ernest Tubb a soprano. The empty Lone Star bottles were everywhere, and the Texas T-shirts were boundless in their inventiveness and vulgarity. After milling about for a while longer, I was pretty well talked and danced out, so I sat down with a beer and watched the people swirl around the floor. I was feeling a little drunk, and I started mulling over the bits and pieces of memory which the events of the evening had called up: the horse that rolled over at a full gallop and broke my collar bone when I was 13, and how I’d carried my single-shot four-ten on dove and duck hunts with my father for a full year before he decided I was safe enough to put shells in it, and the way I would argue with my best friend in high school at the drop of a hat, be it God and politics or rock-and-roll bands.. . . I thought about the first time I saw John Silber leap onto the stage of AC 21 at the University of Texas, and how I decided in the first week of class that I didn’t want to be a lawyer I wanted to be just like him. Any damn fool could see that Polus and Gorgias and Callicles were just old-time lawyers, and that this feisty philosophy professor was a latter-day Socrates if there ever was one. And I thought about the first time we drove into Buffalo, the wind off Lake Erie in January, chicken wings at the Anchor Bar. . . How I discovered in graduate school that there’s hardly a damn soul who’s anything like John Silber most academics in the Great Northeast don’t even have his bad traits. And then there was the Great Buffalo Blizzard of ’77. Every sane person had locked himself inside, but not me: I’d bundled up and walked right out into the thick of it. If I wasn’t going to get the education I’d planned on, at least I would know what a goddamn blizzard was. . . . At one point, everybody cleared the floor for two of the folk dancers to do a Tex-Mex polka. It was fast as hell and a sight to see, but I couldn’t resist shouting something about how we’d won the battle of San Jacinto, hadn’t we? Late in the evening when things quieted down, I broke out my guitar and played a few Texas standards and a couple of Bob Dylan tunes for good measure. I finished up with something I’d written about slow Texas waltzes, which prompted someone to put on “Waltz Across Texas” for one last time as I was closing up my guitar case. My wife grabbed me and we sort of held each other up as we circled the floor. I watched the other couples over her shoulder. The folk dancers looked like they were in the Vienna Waltz Contest; the outlanders who weren’t folk dancers looked like they all had three left feet and bad backs; the Texans looked like Texans. I knew I wasn’t in Texas, but right about then I wasn’t exactly sure where I was, or why. Did the god of Texas drive us from our homeland, I mused, so that we could disseminate the art of making chili the way the Jews spread the word of the one God? If we’re supposed to be spreading something, what is it? Cowboy capitalism and fall fashions? Mechanical bulls and golden calves? The Texas two-step and unending fodder for nighttime soap operas? Or maybe we’re supposed to learn something from all of this whizzing around the globe and then take it back home. But a lot of us don’t go back home. And learn what? Well, I’m learning a lot of things and I’ve taught a few people a thing or two but sure as the sun shines in Del Rio, this is no god-induced Lone Star diaspora: even if there are reasons for all this wandering about, I’m not so sure there’s a purpose. In the early morning hours we loaded the guitar into the car and headed off for Annapolis. The cool autumn air soared into the wide open windows and the engine hummed. For the sound of the tires on the pavement and the speed I was driving and the tunnel of highway carved out by the headlights, we could have been in West Texas. But there were other cars on the road and a damp mixture of confusion and certainty in the air. As we neared the exit for Annapolis, I turned to my wife: ” “What is John Silber doing in Boston, anyway?” 0 Craig Clifford still lives in Annapolis where his wife Mallory teaches English at the U.S. Naval Academy. The author cooks chili for a local bar. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 19