The Texas ApprehensionPosted on November 9th, 2007 after 13660 miles by Dean Croshere.
(Sounds like the name of a movie, doesn't it?)
I was apprehensive about Texas. It was next. I didn’t know what to expect.
I should have known better. I was apprehensive about New York, I was apprehensive about North Carolina, and I was apprehensive about Tennessee. Yet I found, that in each of these states, people are just people. Despite different particular interests, people just want the same basic things: happiness, companionship, and a good time. In fact, I’ve found that if you are able to convince a person that you aren’t going to screw them over, they will give just about anything to be able to obtain those simple things.
I find myself feeling guilty about my Alabama video. I jumped to a pretty harsh conclusion. At the same time that I’m experiencing the incredible generosity of people, I assumed that the person that lives in this house (if anyone actually lives in the house) was the sort of person that would do unspeakable things to me, rather than relax and share a beer.
Yet, I feared that Texas might be different. All that hoopla about “don’t mess with Texas” and “everything’s bigger in Texas” all generated the same worry in my mind:
“Texas might be different.”
It was the same worry I had about the South, the same worry I had about the Northeast, the same worry I had about the Midwest. I had heard so much about these people and how they are real men (or real women), how they have real difficulties. How they won’t stand for this kid with Oregon plates, how I would experience culture shock.
I didn’t experience any in any of those places. I was treated to the best of Southern hospitality while I was in the South. People went out of their way to make sure I was happy. In the South, I only asked for a place to stay for a night, and that’s all I really hoped for. Instead, people bought and/or made me food and drink, provided companionship and acted as guides, and worked hard to make me happy.
The thing is? I was also treated to the best of Northeast hospitality, Midwest hospitality, Idaho hospitality, and Northwest hospitality (No, I don’t consider Idaho to be Northwest).
I did have some trouble with places to stay in Texas. I thought I had several places to stay throughout Texas. I figured I would be spending at least a week between Houston, Austin, and Dallas. It turned out that four offers for hosts fell through due to bad timing and bad communication.
I pushed straight through to Austin. The drive was only 8 hours, my usual sweet spot, but this time it felt like it took forever.
There are several reasons for this. One is that the reader for Robinson Cruso, the book I was planning on listening to next, was terrible. I couldn’t handle listening to him. Another is that I was pretty much out of podcasts (pre-recorded radio shows). Finally, Western Louisiana and Eastern Texas is really, really boring.
I really need something intellectually stimulating when I’m driving long distances. If I have something to think about, I am entertained. At the beginning of my trip, I had personal issues to mull over, problems to solve, a forthcoming trip to contemplate. I did a couple of the first few drives with just my music playing on random, letting my mind wander.
It’s wandered, and so have I.
I’ve been mentally going in circles over those problems for long enough. I need someone talking.
I chose to try am radio. I tried one station. It was Sean Hannity, the Republican radio pundit. He had a caller.
“Hi Sean, You’re a great American.”
“So are you. You’re also a great American. What’s your question?”
I don’t actually remember the question, I was too busy trying to figure out why they were congratulating each other on being “great Americans.” What does that even mean? It wasn’t long before he introduced his next caller.
“We have a liberal on the air, it’s [someone from somewhere].”
“Hi Sean, I am curious about why you said-“
“I have a question for you.”
“I have a question”
“I just calle-“
“My question is what is Hilary Clinton’s stance on something simple…. Like, say, oh, driver’s licenses for illegal aliens.”
“That doesn’t have anything to do wi-“
“Answer the question.”
“I don’t underst-“
“If you don’t answer my question, I’ll hang up on you. You have to answer my question.”
“Um, last I heard, she was against t-“
I changed the station. That’s about as much willful ignorance as I can handle in one sitting.
“-AHAHAH. No, you see, she’s since changed her-“
He was on the other station too. I mashed the seek station button.
“And then the Lord-“
It wasn’t Hannity, but I had no interest. I searched again.
“These liberals can’t even get one of the most basic tenets of the leading-”
Hannity again. A third station out of four.
I turned the radio off.
After listening to my music on random into Austin, I managed to find my host’s apartment. Our greeting was awkward, but we moved fairly quickly to the decision that we should hit the downtown Austin scene for a bit of local flavor.
We hit up this big Irish Bar that seemed like it would normally be packed, but tonight was a Monday night. We were just about to finish up our dinner and beer when a waitress came up and asked if we wanted to play some trivia, winner gets a $50 bar tab, plus some other beer at some other points.
That $50 tab would completely cover our food, drinks, and a round for the cutest ladies in the room.
We signed up.
There was going to be 6 rounds of 10 questions each, ranging from general knowledge to Shakespeare. Our team was the two of us and “Mr. Google” who just happened to be hanging out in my phone. That, and anyone I could think of to text message for answers.
I’m shameless when it comes to free beer.
We won the first round, and kept our lead by a point into the second. We were actually coming up with a vast majority of the answers on our own. I think Google may have helped us get 2 of the answers right that we would have missed otherwise.
We did horribly in the third round, completely sacrificing our lead. Being mid twenty-year-old guys, 70’s pop culture questions were just out of our league. Our total scores were tied up at this point.
The fourth round maintained our scores. The fifth round, the Shakespeare round, was where things got interesting. This was a free beer round. The winner of this round gets a free round of beer. Through some intense help from a couple friends, we managed to tie with “super, super team.”
There was a tiebreaker.
One person from each of our teams – I went for ours – were to come up to the MC to answer a do or die question.
We both answered the same. It was another tie.
Now it was double tiebreaker time.
The question was, “What is the job of the character Helen Hunt played in ‘As Good As it Gets.’” I put, “writer’s girlfriend.”
They didn’t take it.
With tensions high, the final round began. There was a three-way tie in overall points and the winner was getting $50 worth of free beer.
We bombed. Our worst score yet.
We paid our bill and left. A shame we didn’t win, but at least we had a good time.
While we played, we spent a while joking around with the other teams, having a generally good time. My host was a wonderful, generous guy.
I can mark another place off my list of states to be apprehensive about.
P.S. I'm sorry I didn't conclude the New Orleans post. I really just a had a bunch of pictures and a few minor things to write about. I set up a flickr page to upload my pictures. I will put everything there and it should be more up to date for where I am. Feel free to check out all of my New Orleans pictures there. It also has my Texas Panhandle pictures up.
The Flickr should not change much about the way this page is updated.
You can find it at http://www.flickr.com/photos/roadtrip-life/.