3 Days in Texas—3 Years to Recover

Allow me to begin this column by officially stating that my recent trip to Texas was solely for research purposes and therefore is completely tax-deductible. I would absolutely hate for Uncle Sam to get the wrong impression and think that this trip was fun—I needed a stunt double for most of it. Oh, and let me state for the record that everything I say in this column is true; in fact, each and every one of my columns are thoroughly researched and written with the fullest of journalistic integrity. That is, if you define thoroughly researched as made up in my head and journalistic integrity as writing after having a minimum of three beers. Those of you who know me know that I never make anything up; ever. So now I will begin to tell you about my Memorial Day weekend trip to the greatest state in the world—Iowa.

Now that you have all had a solid chuckle, only about an hour of my time was actually spent in Iowa. Any longer and I might have had to cut off my nose to save my face. The State of Iowa is one giant mass of pig farms, and the stench is so potent that individuals who have been dead for centuries in Europe have covered their skeletal nasal cavities for relief. I feel horrible for all those poor souls who don’t have room enough in their caskets for arm movement. Thus, thankfully, only one hour of the eighty-billion that were spent in my car this weekend was spent in Iowa. The rest of them were spent in Texas (as well as the two northern Texas colonies that call themselves states).

That’s right; Texas is huge. And it’s true what they say, everything is bigger in Texas. For example, Texas is the only state in the country to fly the state flag at the same height as the American flag, both of them being the same size. Not to mention that the state capital dome in Austin is the only one in the country that is larger than the dome in D.C. Everything in Texas is bigger; but that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily better (Texans, please put away your shotguns). After careful consideration, I’ve decided to recant my last statement out of journalistic integrity for those Texans with big shotguns and agree that everything is better in Texas also.

Where else would you find the state’s community for the blind conjoined with the state’s regional lottery community? That is a genius development strategy (or, in the words of their famous hometown President; strategery). The Dallas Cowboys have figured out a better way to get a new football stadium. They refused to perform any upkeep on their current stadium so when voters voted on whether to grant the Cowboys a new stadium, all they saw was a badly dilapidated football field. But those are only Texas landmarks; their people are simply remarkable.

The idea for this trip came from a very good friend of mine named Steven. He graciously invited me, along with a few other friends, down to his parents’ beach house that sits on a large lake on the northern border of Texas. Thanks to my particular strategery of financial planning, one compatriot and I decided to head to this beach house by way of a road trip. That means we spent twelve consecutive hours (each way) in a construction nightmare so bad it would have given R.G. LeTourneau the shakes. Despite the numerous attempts made by construction crews (“On Call 24 Minutes a Day”) to thwart our efforts, we made it to Dallas in enough time to sit in rush hour traffic. And this was all a wonderful experience, because after sitting through one Dallas traffic jam, I’ll only need to continue therapy sessions with my psychologist for an extra twenty-seven years. Somehow, though, we made it to the lake house.

This is where the fun began. In the three days I spent at the lake house, I received enough injuries to take down King Kong. Because the water was too choppy on the lake for water sports (and by the word sport, I mean ways to kill yourself), so we thought it would be fun to play games. One friend thought up some new rules to the well known sport of ultimate Frisbee. I’ll spare you the gory details, but let me say this: the main rule change consisted of the need to use your head in order to score. As if I haven’t killed enough brain cells already, I joined right in to see how quickly I could knock a few more screws loose. After that, I played a few other dangerous games, escalating to the climax game that we called “Hammock Toss”. That is where one person lays in the hammock and holds on as tight as possible while the others try to spin it as fast as possible hoping that the magic of entropy would hold true and keep the unfortunate rider in the hammock. It didn’t. Despite the fact that I probably lost two years of college education for all the damage to my brain this past weekend, I was not the craziest person in the group.

I could tell you about my buddy Steven, who though knowing that the lake water was even choppier the next day, decided anyway to take us all out and show us how to ski with one ski (though not on purpose), or how to shred all the skin off your inner arm by holding on to an inner tube being pulled behind a wave runner at forty-five miles per hour; but not even he was able to match the veracity of his older sister. I think that she is perhaps the most remarkable, yet most dangerous and scary person that I have ever met.

The day before arriving at the lake house, Becky, a young doctor just starting her own small town practice (while also being a mother of three young children) broke the pinky toe on her left foot. It was a totally freak accident, but one that would cause a normal person to take full advantage of the temporary handicap and force everyone around them to play the part of Geeves. Not Becky. On Saturday, she played kickball and had the best wipeout in our hammock game. On Sunday, she water-skied and practiced skeet shooting, and on Monday she ran the Dallas Marathon. Okay, not all of that was true. She had the second best wipeout in Hammock toss. And by the way, during the kickball game she, as pitcher, caught a ball that she had to dive for all the while holding her youngest child in her arms. She made the catch and the young boy didn’t even wake up from his nap. She either needs to be given a medal for bravery and effort or checked over for severe craziness.

All in all, I managed to return from the trip safe and sound. Granted, I have about three thousand dollars in doctor bills for patching me up from all the crazy stunts I pulled (such as nearly flipping a four-wheeler and a wave runner in the same afternoon). And believe it or not, I even helped the environment. I put enough sun-screen on to protect me and anyone else within a five mile radius from any UV exposure for the next sixteen years. At least now I know what it takes to get a good tan. I’ll make sure to repeat that next weekend, on my upcoming tax-deductible research trip to St. Louis (at least supply a little bit of journalistic…something to the masses). I’ll be trying to answer the age old question of whether or not it’s possible to buy a Miller beer at Busch Stadium, or if they arrest on request. Of course I’ll be doing it while wearing a Chicago Cubs hat, so I’m sure my chances to make friends will be plentiful. And, by the way, I can’t wait until my next opportunity to visit Steven and his family again at the lake house. I haven’t had that much fun trying to kill myself in years—but that’s because I’m a smart guy—this head of mine ain’t just a hat rack!


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