In Part 1 of this adventure I introduced you to several characters. There was Alma, the Salvaruvian housekeeper who pulled a “Mary Poppins”. There was the liquor store lady who introduced me to a swirling
mess of crap in a glass new cocktail. There was Airport Drunk who clearly wasn’t paying attention during the safety video. And there wasSister, the gregarious ex-nun who chose to spend her vacation in the warmth of our Texas winter. Now I should like to tell you about Sister’s adventures proper. Buckle up.
Tuesday February 9, 2021
I awoke to find the highballs from our Yankee Candles (the bijou cocktail lest you forgot) sitting in the sink, and a few empty bags of Whataburger in the trash can. It was like the aftermath of a frat party where Mother Teresa was the pledge. Now it was time to show Sister the sights. My wife prides herself on being able to find the most unusual places to visit. These are places that exude just the right amount of local flair without seeming too “kitschy”. And every visit to Dallas should begin with a trip to… Fort Worth, the “Gateway to the West”. That reminds me of the first time I visited Detroit as a television producer. I found myself in the driver’s seat of a rental car driving a 92 year-old black woman around town on our way to our location shoot. Struggling for small talk because I’m apparently not down with the swirl, we found ourselves discussing the local flavor. After a few moments of silence I said to my guest, “Oh, I went over to Windsor [Ontario] last night and saw a few bars and casinos.” To this the old lady replied, “I’ve been livin’ here almost a century and I always said the best part of Detroit is Canada.” And then she pulled out a guitar and sang three verses of the folk tune Freight Train. And then she died. And what might be in Fort Worth, you ask? For starters, we went to a pickle museum. No, that’s it. A literal showplace for pickles, nature’s cruelest joke right after progeria, that disease where children rapidly age. I did not know such a place existed before this day. I did not know that an entire room, let alone 10,000 square feet, could be filled with the wonders of pickles. There were pickled food products such as cotton candy (gross) and, well, basically that was it other than the actual pickles. For the record, I despise pickles. A pickle once tried to kill me. I did take a picture with a mock-up of a pickle though. It’s called facing your fears. Sister seemed to enjoy the place, though, so it was cool. And they had a gift shop! My daughter bought a shirt with a pickle on it that side something like “I like it dirty” or something.
Right next to Pickle-o-rama was a Western wear outlet. Surprisingly we found nothing that we liked. But the seed was planted. I’ve lived here close to ten years and have yet to embrace this local attire. True, many people in Texas actually do dress like cowboys. Some of them actually are cowboys. I am a Northerner who has never truly felt like I belonged here. But my children have insured that I have little hair left on top of my head and I’m a sucker for a nice hat. Sister wanted boots. She tried on 1200 pairs, turned to my wife and me, and said, “Nothing fits. What’s for lunch?”
After a lovely meal, we ventured into the Fort Worth Stockyards. We listened to Sister’s eclectic selection of music. How a recently kicked-out ex-nun has any music on her phone is beyond me. It was mostly pop music and some classic country which I’m totally cool with. The Stockyards is an historic district just north of downtown Fort Worth. It is famous for housing an honest-to-goodness cattle market. Apparently cattle need daily exercise so twice a day a group of cowboys “stampede” about 12 sickly longhorn steers down Main St. to the delight of the tourists. I took out my phone and played the Aaron Copeland symphony Rodeo. You might remember it from the old beef industry commercials. One of the cows dropped dead. Sister and I laughed. As the song finished we both said in unison, “Beef: It’s what’s for dinner.”
After failing to find anything more than another bar at the Stockyards we headed to the home of other friends who have know both my wife and Sister for years. Along the way we stopped at another Western outlet. This time, Daddy found what he’d been looking for. Say hello to my new black felt Stetson. And they had my size too! It’s hard to find a 7 9/8. Possibly another reason I don’t fit in here. My father always told me I had a larger skull to accommodate a bigger brain. Sister’s hat size is even larger. She did not find a hat. I was sad for her. To alleviate my grief I also bought a pair of jeans and a graphic tee with a picture of an oil derrick that says “I like it crude”. My wife now officially hates me.
Remember that lovely lunch we ate? Yeah, something about the spices they used at that Mexican joint wasn’t sitting well with me. I had been uncharacteristically experiencing heartburn all afternoon. We forgot to stop at Walgreens for Tums on the way home so I asked my wife when we walked in the house if we had any in the medicine closet. It really wasn’t that bad, just an annoyance. Also I’m 43 and now believe that every minor malady is a heart attack. Welcome to maturity! “Honey,” she said, “just take one of these,” as she handed me a prescription bottle. I must state this off the bat. I ALWAYS trust my wife. For some reason this time, however, I did not. I took the bottle as she walked away and quietly slipped into the pantry where I Googled the medicine’s name. My wife believed in her heart she had handed me an antacid. In fact she had even written the word “antacid” on the bottle with a pencil. But drugs.com said otherwise. Staring back at me from my phone was the following.
“Sweetness,” I called into the other room. “Um, you know these ain’t Tums, right?” I showed her the website and she just about died laughing. Wondering what was so funny other than that she had tried to give me, a MAN, something to stop a nonexistent yet heavy menstrual flow, she said, “I’m pretty sure I gave those to my sister’s husband like three or four times on different holiday gatherings.”
Our laughter was only interrupted by two words I never thought I’d ever hear in my house, certainly not in such an elfish tone.
With that I dutifully returned to my bar to whip up a few bijous. And all were happy.
In Part 3 you will travel with us into the heart of Dallas’ obsession with the 35th President of the United States and discover the moment when Sister finally finds her hat. Don’t worry. The snowstorm and blackout eventually show up.