I Love Tacos

We’re two days away from National Suicide Prevention Month – a month where I stress the importance of both suicide awareness and prevention, and then hopefully convince you to support my team. However, it’s still August, and that means you get a Beth story instead. Not that the other posts won’t include a healthy dose of Beth-ness, but this one is more like a typical post – one featuring a story about me tripping along through life – you know, like I do.

I’d been wanting to volunteer for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention for awhile. I know, I know, I said this post wasn’t about that, and it’s not – just roll with it a bit. Then an opportunity finally presented itself that matched up with my schedule: Pride Austin! Fantastic, support my friends, support a great cause, and I’d get to go to a festival. All wins! Of course, I signed up. My good friend Anna hopped on board as well as her son, Adam, and we had the makings of a plan – of a fun weekend adventure. Off we went!

We arrived in the heat of the day, and when I say “heat of the day,” it’s not a polite way of saying, “Golly, it sure is hot.” I mean it was, “Let’s buy a case of water each, haul it around in a wagon that will get lighter and lighter by the minute, and still hope we don’t die of heatstroke” hot. The kind of hot where you look at syrupy drinks or snow cones and your stomach and brain chime in with a huge, “Nope!” because all of that just sounds gross. It was so hot, I heard more than one person start a sentence with, “It’s hotter than the devil’s…” (The noun and the description of the aforementioned noun changed depending on the person. Some easily fell into the “Eww, that was really specific and colorful” category, but all descriptions let you know that any Satanic body part was still not as hot as an August day in Texas.) My favorite nephew, aka friend’s son, aka Adam, immediately headed for the fan vendor where he purchased this gigantic “Clack” fan – both a brand name and a descriptor. Personally, I don’t recall ever wanting a fan from a festival as a souvenir; however, at that moment, I wanted it more than anything (other than maybe more water). Forget those sad little pieces of flimsy cardboard stapled to a stick, this thing was amazing and produced focused gale-force winds. Also, it happened to be quite stylish. The boy has taste. He became quite the accomplished aunt-fanner that day.

We had some time before our volunteer assignment, so we walked around, checked out the booths, picked up all sorts of free items – stickers, buttons, bracelets, temporary tattoos. We even scored t-shirts, towels, and sunglasses. It was fantastic! There were a ton of things to look at and buy, and that’s when I found a place selling t-shirts.

I can’t tell you much about the actual shop, I can only tell you that they had a shirt on display declaring its appreciation for tacos with a big, “I LOVE TACOS!” on the front. This made complete sense because tacos, as we all can agree, are pretty great. Who doesn’t love tacos? As a Texan, my love for them is right behind my love for my state, Molly Ivins, a field of bluebonnets, armadillos, and Shiner Bock. Ok, I’m not really a beer person, but if I’m ordering beer, I order Shiner Bock and then feel Texas proud. Corona? Oh, please. Don’t insult me with your near-Coors.

I think I may have pointed at the shirt, and whether I pointed or not, I do know I said quite loudly, “I LOVE TACOS!!” Again, because of all of those reasons (Tacos, Texas, Armadillos, etc. – keep up!).

A look of maybe what could be described as “confused alarm” went across both Anna and Adam’s faces, while I carried on about the shirt and my commitment to my adoration of tacos. Finally, one of them, then both of them tried to shut down my jubilant loud celebration of tacos and my desire to own the shirt, which really fueled the “I want to scream it from the roofs” fire. Adam implored, “Aunt Beth, stop saying that!” I feel he also may have implied I might be having a heat stroke, but nonetheless my response was a firm “No!” I mean, Tacos! LOVE ‘EM!!! I won’t be shamed for my Tex-Mex food love!!

I moved off the taco topic as we moved further away from the object of my culinary desire. I’m easily distracted.

After we finished volunteering, which went really well despite the heat, and we left behind our puddles of sweat, we went to find dinner. Nothing quite “beats the heat” like AC, fluids, and ice cream. Then we decided to do some shopping. Needless to say, in one of the stores was another shirt professing taco adoration. This one had pictures of tacos – corn shells filled with meats, cheese, lettuce, and tomatoes. I exposed it on the rack by shoving the less worthy shirts around, and made it so the logo and wording could be clearly seen, then I turned to Anna and Adam. The need to declare my taco love was rekindled. And here’s how that conversation played out. It’s not an actual transcript, because my memory isn’t that great, but it captures the spirit. It’s how I “felt” it went, so yeah… take it with a huge grain of salt, too.

Me: Look! Another shirt! I love tacos!

Anna/Adam: (synchronized exhausted sighs)

Me: You won’t repress my love now. (I’m sure I didn’t say “repressed,” but in my stories, I’m quite clever and well-spoken. In reality, I kind of just grunt and gesture emphatically to convey what I want/need.)

Anna/Adam: (more synchronized exhausted sighing combined with maybe a hint of an eye roll)

Anna: What do you think tacos are?

Me: (duh look on my face) Crunchy-shelled OR soft-tortilla goodness stuffed with lettuce, cheese, and some kind of meat.

Anna: That’s not what they mean. Where were you today?

Me: Pride.

Anna: (just waiting – giving me the look of “Go on Beth’s brain, please catch up.”)

LONG PAUSE

Me: OHHH!!! OH NO!!!! No! I don’t like tacos. I mean, tacos are fine, but umm… 

Anna then burst out laughing as she watched all of that play out across my face.

It reminded me of the time I had to explain a “beavers” reference to my aunt after visiting a Bucc-ee’s while thinking, “Your mother would not be very happy with the words coming out of your face right now.” Only I was my aunt in this scenario.

So, let me say that I do still love tacos; however, the idea of buying the shirt is now off the table. Let me also be very specific and state the kind of tacos I happen to love are the kind listed on menus in local Tex-Mex restaurants. You’re free to love tacos any way you choose, and I’ll support your taco affection. Just make sure the enjoyment of all tacos is consensual.

Anyway, now that I’ll be the butt of many jokes to come, I will say that I’m looking forward to cooler weather and Oktoberfest. I hear several events will host Sausage Fests in celebration! Probst! Cheers to Fall!

Don’t Let the Door…

I’m a Texan – 5th Generation, which puts part of my family here some 30 years after the state gained its independence – an independence hard won through the sacrifice of some of my family (if you really stretch the term “relative” and ignore some basic genealogical truths, but I digress (or I rant, one of those)).  I grew up Texan.  I will die a Texan.  And the truth is I don’t understand how not to be a Texan.  I can’t throw on your Idahoan shoes to see things through your Idahoan eyes, and in truth, as a Texan, I imagine there’s not much of a perspective there.  (And that my friends, is what it’s like being in a Texan’s brain – that pride or arrogance or that hubris, if you prefer.)

And it’s not that Texas doesn’t deeply embarrass me on occasion.  There are times now and again where I’m not actually bursting with pride.  For example, anytime Texas makes the news, I know it’s going to be cringe worthy. When Brian Williams comes out and begins with, “In Texas today…” it’s not going to be because we did something awe inspiring.  In fact, those words often herald some announcement that at best will place us barely above Arkansas or West Virginia in some awful competition for “worst” in something and at worst, well… let’s just say it can get ugly.  Then there’s those wonderful times when one of us escapes the borders to find a microphone and a national listening ear.  That’s usually time to grab a maple leaf pin and say, “what buffoons, ay?”  But by and large, despite the headlines, my Texas soul remains intact, even if it’s a bit dinged around the edges.

Plus, there can be those moments that make me proud – where we as Texans surprise even me and I can take pride that we did something better – something right:  Any time we can say, “in your face, NYC!” is a good (albeit rare) day.

Now we as Texans are all different.  We hail from different regions with distinctly different cultures. We’re not exactly a hive mind unless you’re talking about our pride.  And despite our difference, the truth is if you’re going after a Texan for a Texas thing and you’re not from here, well I’ll stand with the Texan every time.  We “get” that you don’t get it, but we’re not joking when it comes to our feelings about our state. We’re not playing. Make a light-hearted jab about our pride and you’ll hear a room go very still.  You probably know about Texans and their notorious love for football.  Well, swap out “football” for “state pride,” and you might begin to understand where we’re coming from.

We also take small (and by “small” I mean “gigantic”) exception to the idea that we’re a gigantic pack of bumpkins, especially when you talk about how great it would be to do a bumpkin study on us to measure just how deep our bucolic bumpkiness goes.  Always keep in mind, we have urban areas, too – some with more than two major streets. Many of us grew up away from livestock and have never ridden a horse. Heck, did you know we even have some of them schools fer book learnin’?  And there’s a pack of us who made it through all of the grades and have us-selves one of them fancy de-grees. I heard tell that some even have advanced de-grees from them prestigious schools that y’all are so proud of.  Our men don’t always swagger and our women aren’t always politely demure. If you want to see a Texan get all Texan on you, make the generalization that we’re all backwards idiots stuck in a 1950’s mentality.  Save that for your friends in your other state that you can’t say you’re even proud to be from.

All of this started rattling around my head recently when I was sitting outside at a local pub daydreaming (I mean, paying close attention) while some non-natives were mocking Texas in some way.  Well, my go-to reaction whenever this comes up is “leave,” but I suppose curiosity won out and well, I do like them despite their obvious poor breeding, so I listened.  The gist of it was “even when Texans take a crap, they think it’s better.” My knee-jerk reactions to that: 1) Do you kiss your out-of-state mother with that mouth? and 2) Ummm… is there a question in there? Despite the crassness, I would say we don’t “think” it’s better, without any doubt we “know” it’s better. As I thought those words, and may have even lent them a voice, I knew I believed in the truth of that statement 100%.  We have no doubt that everything is better, even when it’s not. Call it a “faith” of sorts. The conversation continued and danced around my statement being a perfect example of the sheer obnoxiousness of our state’s natives, so I had to follow with, “it’s not my fault your state didn’t raise you with any sense of pride.”  It’s not my fault that you don’t have anything to be proud about. Hell, if I came from Ohio, I wouldn’t mention it either. They don’t even have a proper flag.

I don’t know why we have that pride.  Maybe it’s all of the classes we have to take on Texas history and Texas government as we work our way through the one room school system.  Maybe it’s subliminal messages from some insidious Texas PR firm, or it could be something in the sweet tea or possibly the BBQ, but it seeps in at some point and it grows (no, it doesn’t “fester”, it “grows” – sheesh).

I saw a movie the other day depicting the door to a Navy Seal’s room who was from Texas.  On the door hung the state flag.  That one small attention to detail rang so true to me,  Texans I’ve known away from home displayed the Texas flag, wore their Texas shirts, and donned their cowboy hat as a way to let everyone know, “I’m a Texan”  We wear our pride.

It’s a way we let you know that despite its flaws and sometimes its history, we stand proud – Texas proud.  And so I’m just here to say that…

I’m a Texan, from the best state in the country! (Especially if you steer away from studies and the news and such.)  If you don’t like our state, you’re welcome to leave – ain’t nobody stoppin’ ya.  Don’t let the door…

Oh, and let’s end this with a song from a Texas boy who they just announced would be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame along with his band, Double Trouble