Monday, May 28, 2012

Is East Texas Anti-Gay?

Way up north of Houston, in the town nearest our lakehouse, you know, the people out here don’t look like the people where I come from.

Elbows look different, for starters. Out here, elbows are… well, they’re recessed, I guess you could say. Like there will be a great hangover of skin from the upper arm and a great hangover of skin from the lower arm, and then an elbow that resides somewhere down between the two, as though in a crevice. It’s not even seen, this elbow, only it has to be there, right? I mean, the arms do bend, even here.

Then there’s the hair. The women’s all look straight out of John Waters films, and the men all wear ball caps so you can’t tell what’s going on. And the eyeglasses are bigger: huge, to the point where maybe they used to be windshields on old Dodge trucks. And there are floral housedresses and there are belt buckles and there are people named Shirley and Gladys and Ruby Lee.

They are amazing!

Dana says the elbows can be explained by gravy and by pancake syrup, which she informs me are the two primary staples of a country diet.

Dana’s a lot smarter than I am (and she is from Oklahoma) so I have no reason to doubt her about this.

She also says that – given half a chance – the people out here will as soon hang us from barbwire fences as give us the time a day. Barbwire! She says this has something to do with us being women and with ancient Jewish law, but this does not make any sense to me because none of these people even look Jewish.

So when we walked into the country store last weekend with our daughter, Rachel, I decided to test her theory, and I took Dana’s hand in mine and we walked right in through the front door, flaunting our perversion in public for everybody to see.

Now, this was not a subtle test. Half of the town hangs out in the country store all of the time. The other half hangs out in the country store part of the time. I don’t know why.

And sure enough, we were barely in the front door – Dana, Rachel, and me – and right away, I could feel all the eyes on us. The eyes looked at us, and then the eyes darted around at the other country people’s eyes, seeking contact, a silent “Hey, you see what just walked in?”

I started thinking about barbwire. Barbwire!

We turned a corner and shuffled down the next aisle, and before I could tell Dana she was probably right, that’s when I overheard one of the eye-darters say to another eye-darter in a low voice, “Bernice says there are even Mexicans who moved in down the block from them. Into the old Mueller place.”

Mexicans, she said! Mexicans!

Those people were not staring at us because we were holding hands. Those people were staring at us because Dana is Mexican! Ha!

It turned out that we had taken shelter in one of the store’s three beef jerky aisles. Rachel seemed enchanted by it. “Are you supposed to eat this stuff?” she asked. I wanted to warn her about recessed elbows but figured that it could probably wait. Why not let the kid try some beef jerky once in her life, you know?

And while Rachel was trying to choose which type of beef jerky she wanted, I looked down the aisle and saw a girl not much older than Rachel. The girl was staring and tugging on her mother’s housedress and staring and tugging on her mother’s housedress some more.

Here it comes, I thought. Why couldn’t I have left well enough alone?

I turned my back as though I had not noticed all of the staring and the tugging.

“Mom!”  the tugging girl said in a stage whisper. “Look! That woman looks like Barney Fife!”

Not even a little bit.
That girl was not staring at us because we were holding hands. That girl was staring at us because I look like… Wait. What? Barney Fife? Seriously? What happened to, you know, Bette Davis and Steve Buscemi?

So then we went about our business. Found the things we were needing to find. We paid for what we had found and we walked back out of the store without further incident.

But when we got back to Dana’s car, we saw a long scratch all the way down the side of it. The scratch had not been there when we walked in. Also, a sticker with the scales of justice on it had been half ripped off of Dana’s back bumper.

“There!”  Dana said as we loaded the groceries into the back seat. “I hope you’re happy now.”

I was not happy.

Dana and I, we stood there in the parking lot under an East Texas sun, glaring at each other. The standoff was still going on as a rusted red pickup truck with no muffler pulled up next to us and a man rolled down the window.

He motioned to the scratch on Dana’s car. “I hate you fucking lawyers!”  he announced. Then he revved the engine a couple times and took off out of the parking lot.  

Dana and I continued to stand there for a few moments.

Neither one of us knew what to say.

Eventually, a voice called out from inside our car. “Mom! Did that man just call you a lawyer?”

I broke the standoff and moved to climb into the car.

I said, “No, Rachel, he didn’t.”

I said, “That man called Mom a lesbian.”

I mean, what would you have said? Hearing that Mom is a lesbian is one thing, but a lawyer? C’mon, the kid’s not even ten years old! There are some things she’s just not ready to hear yet. 


  1. Kids are tougher than you think, she will handle it.

    And maybe a teeny bit...

    1. Kids are a hell of a lot tougher than we give them credit for.

      When I was a kid, I regularly handled shit that would make me break down crying if it happened now...

    2. If you keep wording things in such awkward ways, your tongue is going to get stuck like that.

      It happened to Yoda.

    3. Such I am aware of, should it be.

    4. You were so much cooler when you were a puppet.

      CGI ruins everything.

  2. East Texas anti-Gay? Surely not! After all, aren't they just as reasonable as the people in West Texas?

    Never mind. I just realized what I said!

    1. I will hold the denizens of my state up against those of Kansas or Oklahoma any old day!

      Maybe even North Dakota.

  3. Ha ha ha ha ha! I didn't figure Houston, the largest city to twice-elect an openly gay mayor, would be that shocked to see a two ladies holding hands, but being prejudiced against lawyers or Barney Fife, that makes sense. Your poor child, how will she ever cope with the truth of the existence of lawyers?
    Wait, how does the tugging girl even know who Barney Fife is? Three's Company I could see, but Andy Griffith Show? Hold on...this story wasn't fictional for humor's sake, was it?

    1. Hey, Pickleope!

      We don't run into any trouble at all when we're around the Montrose area of Houston, where we live.

      The lakehouse, though... That's closer to Huntsville.

      And actually, we don't run into trouble in Huntsville, either, but we're also not waving the rainbow flag.

      Everybody knows Barney Fife. I don't know how. They just do.

  4. hahahaha. Oh, Katy - you never fail to impress me, you should post often.

    I really feel bad for your daughter. Women, Jew, Mexican, Barney Fife looks, Lawyer, and of course lesbian mommies. Poor kid.

    Even if everyone shaves off their eyebrows and head and wear same clothes and act and walk and speak same language and worship and wake up and go to bed the same way, there is still going to be difference and nothing or no one is going to walk or talk the way we want or the other person want.

    I say this very often to my fellow Indians who rail at me every single time. Now, their main focus is to make everyone speak Hindi - the language, then they would focus on religion, Hinduism or Islam and then they would work on clothing - salvar or sari and then then then.. and finally instead of Statue of Liberty and Charles Heston in planet of Apes, they would have Taj Mahal and mute Indians and monkeys all around.

    I dont know what elbows I have but definitely not the ones from pancakes and maple syrup.
    So, if I go to Texas, would they cage me and collect money - I am brown and I have accent and I speak a lot against religion?

    Houston, we have a big problem. Dont kill the lesbians yet, atleast wait till you pick your next target else you may have nothing to fight about or rail at, lawyers- sounds like a good start.

    1. You'd probably be okay in Texas.

      I'd try Houston first and maybe work my way out from there.

  5. haha, I thought Barney was a local thing here these days. The Andy Griffith Show airs twice a day, five days a week here, Andy being from a little town just up the road a piece.

    I never pegged you for a Fife!

    ... and much as I hate to admit it, there are lawyers in my family too. We try not to talk about it though.

    1. I have purposely withheld the Fife-like pics.

      Someday maybe I'll throw some out there...

      ...because I don't already hear enough jokes about my eyes.

  6. Is it wrong of me to think of Pamela Anderson after you mentioned barbwire?

    1. Now THERE is a fantastic movie.

      "Casablanca" totally stole the plot of that flick.

  7. wait. you're not really a lawyer, are you?

    oh, katy, no...say it ain't

  8. I was in some party of Texas once. It's difficult to remember the name of the city, but it was that one place with too much sunshine, and many diners that serve chicken and waffles. I couldn't scrub the Mexican off me that morning, so you can imagine how well received I was.

    1. As soon as you leave Houston, there are these amazing places called "Waffle House," which have very recognizable yellow signs.

      They're open 24 hours a day and everyone inside looks like they have grown into the booths on which they are sitting.

      I saw this Youtube clip once that was ONLY local news reports of crimes that took place in Waffle Houses.

      As a cultural phenomenon, it's absolutely fantastic!

  9. This reminds me of k.d. lang's old joke: "Yes, the rumors are all true. It's time I told you ... that ... I'm ... a ... L-L-L-L-L-Lawrence Welk fan!"

    1. Haha... I remember when she used to use that line. She came out back before everyone and their brother was coming out. I think she came out even before Melissa Etheridge or Ellen.

      lang probably caught more heat for being a vegetarian country singer than a lesbian...

  10. Katy. Funny shit, my dear. But, it's a "bobwire" fence back there to deep east Texas. Barbs are on fish hooks.

    1. I had "bobwire" and went back and changed it!

      I thought it was another of those colloquialisms where the way I said it was just so much slang that readers wouldn't catch.

      I need to leave the colloquialisms in. mark twain would leave the damn colloquialisms in.

  11. Texas's like a whole 'nother country.....

    1. I love Texas!

      But Texas doesn't seem to be too sure about me...

  12. Hahaha. Brilliant post!

    I've never been to Texas, but I heard they wouldn't be to fond of my energy-efficiant hatchback. Hell, I went to Maine, and I was receiving dirty looks for driving my sister's Yaris.

    1. It's probably the "energy efficient" part that would get you here.

      I mean, if we ever run out of gas while driving a Hummer down the road, we can just get out of the car, suck at the ground for a minute or two, then spit into the gas tank and start right on going again.

  13. That "Lesbian" logo looks like something out of one of those "old dark house" type movies, it looks pretty cool.

    1. Isn't that a great gif?

      I've been looking for an excuse to use that on a blog post for weeks!

  14. Firstly great gif...
    Secondly - gravy and by pancake syrup? Where is this great place!

    1. Waffle House!

      Seriously, man. Completely worth the clogged arteries.

      Sure, you could eat elsewhere and live 10-15 years longer. But why bother living if you're not going to get all that gravy and pancake syrup.

  15. Hanging with barbed wire might be a tad uncomfortable.

    Hanging from a barbed wire fence? Just wear padded clothing and you should be OK.

    1. Ha. The fence part is sort of ingrained in LGBT folks because of the murder of Matthew Shepard in 1998. He was tortured and murdered BEFORE being hung on a fence, but it sort of sticks in the head of many of us.

      I'm looking at Wikpedia right now, and it says: "Still tied to the fence, Shepard, who was still alive but in a coma, was discovered 18 hours later by Aaron Kreifels, a cyclist who initially mistook Shepard for a scarecrow."

  16. Keep it in Texas. Oklahoma may not be so kind.

    1. Thanks for the tip. We're already pretty much banished from Oklahoma for completely unrelated reasons.

      Which is awful, really, because if we can't go to Oklahoma, then we'll never get to... to... um... Well...

      I was going to mention Flaming Lips here, but they're actually going to be here in Houston this weekend. So I've got nothing.

  17. Lol...very nice.
    It always cracks me up when people talk about how "redneck" east texans are.
    You break down in the right area of Oklahoma and may get eaten. (And not in a good way)

    I'm scared to go to mcurtain county and I'm straight and white.

    1. Many years ago, I knew a family in Oklahoma who lived in a town where they had banned rock music.

      I'm not confusing this with, you know... "Footloose"...

      Tragically, the kids I knew in that town spent their time NOT listening to rock music instead getting hit by a train. One lost his leg.

      The world is more interesting than we give it credit for being...

  18. I lived Longview for a couple years. As far as I can tell, they hate anyone who isn't straight, white, and Baptist. That was bad for me because I was... METHODIST!

    1. It is exceedingly tough being a Sneetch without stars in a city where the Sneetches have stars on thars.

      The current software program being used in humans have some obvious errors.

      Hopefully this will be corrected in the Beta version, to be released December 21, 2012.

  19. Katy, I don't know whether to cry or laugh, but there's enough reason to do both after reading that post.

    Great story, ma'am. Mexicans, Barney Fife, and Lawyers, oh my!

    1. Thank you, Squatlo!

      Not knowing whether to laugh or to cry is always an acceptable reaction to my blogs!

  20. First - Don Knotts? Not even close. You have way more upper body mass. Second - accusing of someone being a lawyer is pretty serious stuff.
    Last - Nevermind, I already told you about the red neck who felt compelled to inform I should not go to Starbucks for supporting gay stuff.... Evil gay stuff. I told him I didn't care and went anyway. Had he told me they supported the Texas Bar association, that would have been something else entirely.

    1. There are plenty of fairly good reasons to dislike people. If you just give people time and attention, you usually see that they are awful in ways that the pigeonholes they fall into can never fully capture.

  21. I was shopping for a wedding suit in the upper crusty mall in Frisco Texas and remarked at how culturally diverse it was from my little town less than an hour west. Cal is right, you have to be white, straight and Baptist and apparently a Tea Party fan. Being only white and straight, I am on the outs.

    1. It's that old joke! (Took me a while, but I fund the joke I meant online and cut and pasted it below...)

      I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump off. I immediately ran over and said "Stop! Don't do it!"
      "Why shouldn't I?" he said.
      I said, "Well, there's so much to live for!"
      "Like what?"
      "Well... are you religious or atheist?"
      "Me too! Are you Christian or Jewish?"
      "Me too! Are you Catholic or Protestant?"
      "Me too! Are you Episcopalian or Baptist?"
      "Wow! Me too! Are you Baptist Church of God or Baptist Church of the Lord?"
      "Baptist Church of God."
      "Me too! Are you Original Baptist Church of God, or are you Reformed Baptist Church of God?"
      "Reformed Baptist Church of God."
      "Me too! Are you Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1879, or Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1915?"
      "Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1915!"
      To which I said, "Die, heretic scum!" and pushed him off.


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