My parent’s dog, OB (Other Brother), had been giving me the sad puppy dog eyes for the past two days. I’d tried to explain that 106 degrees at 5:00 p.m. meant there was no way I was going to take him for a walk. However, one of the best things about our weather here, other than the fact that “it’s a dry heat”, is that it cools off completely once the sun goes down. One hundred and six by day, a gorgeous moon-drenched sixty-eight degrees in the dark of the night.
So, as soon as we had breakfast this morning, I gathered up the leash and we went for a walk.
One of the other nice features about this part of the world is the general aura of friendliness that is characteristic of small-town society. We all know that anytime you pass a pick-up on the road, the driver will give you the one-finger-wave. And it’s not even that finger. When you’re in line at Wal-Mart with only two or three items and the lady in front of you has two carts full of groceries that will feed her family for the a couple of weeks until the next payday, nine times out of ten, she’ll tell you to go on ahead of her. People are just nice to each other, most of the time.
As the dog and I made our way down the street, we came within a half-block of a group of snarly-looking bandit wannabes sauntering down the street. I was kind of surprised to see them out and about at 9:00 a.m. They seemed the type who’d still be sleeping it off at that hour. As we approached they began to swagger and holler, “Buenos dias, chica!”
Good morning, girl? Spare my blushes.
I don’t mean to imply that we don’t have our fair share of really worthless individuals out here. Just yesterday, at the office, we were discussing one of those people. He’s on probation for trying to force his mother to give him a blow job. He claims it never happened and his mother is lying. She claims this wasn’t the first time, it was just the first time she had to courage to actually report it to the authorities.
The general consensus was that your momma may hate your guts -- she may throw away your comic book collection, burn you with cigarettes, try to starve you, call up your ex-wife and ask her to move into your old bedroom or just plain beat the crap out of you. But no momma, no where, is gonna lie about her son trying to force her to do that.
There are some really awful people here.
But thankfully they’re not the norm. I’ve lived in west Texas all my life, so I never realized how unusual our culture of amiability was until I was teaching drunk class one day. One of the “students” was a guy recently arrived from Los Angeles. One night he observed how friendly everyone was here.
“Even your punks are polite!” he said. “I took my mother to the grocery store and a group of gang-bangers were coming in as we were leaving. They were thugs, just like you’d see in L.A. But they held the door for my mom and called her ‘Ma’am’!”