We spent a lot of time in Texas this past year. I’ve been all the way across it on 10, 20 and 40, I’ve seen the best and the worst Texas has to offer. It’s huge, it’s diverse and it’s full of itself. I do like the speed limits — we always joke when it drops to 55 around the cities and say it must be a school zone.
You can flat fly through Texas; in fact, they encourage you to do so. Texas is the only state with DOT signs that taunt people. Most states have reminder signs that say things like, “If you drink and drive in this state, you’ll be arrested and taken to jail.” In Texas they have a picture of a billy club on a sign that says, “Go ahead. Drink and drive. We’ll beat the crap out of you and leave you somewhere no one will ever find you.” (OK, this may be an exaggeration, but only slightly.)
Texas also has copious amounts of snakes and various other stinging,biting, generally death-causing fauna. There’s a reason they wear cowboy boots in Texas. It’s so their toes don’t get eaten off by the hundreds of bitey, stabby things that crawl all over the place and their ankles don’t get poisoned to death by the many rattlesnake bites they sustain yearly. I am not going back to Texas without cowboy boots, and if you see me wearing them, be sure it’s not a fashion statement and purely a matter of survival.
We were in Southwest Texas and stopped at an independent place with a big dirt parking lot. The first thing I saw when I went to climb out was the squished flat carcass of a giant snake. This is not a good thing to see when you’re scared shitless of snakes and have to use the bathroom really bad. Unless the dead snake is currently a belt, boot or hatband, it can re-animate when the zombie snake apocalypse comes, and the Bible isn’t really clear on when that’s going to happen, so I’m still scared of even a dead snake.
I crawled out the driver’s side, behind George. I immediately noticed a large black puddle of something in the lot, and it looked like we would have to walk through it. As I was scanning to see if we could walk around it, it moved. It was not a puddle. It was a hoard of fat, black crickets, moving en masse toward the place we were supposed to be using the bathroom. They were racing us to the stalls.
“I don’t think I need to go that bad. I can wait til’ next time we stop.”
“What? You just said you had to go really bad?”
“This place is cursed. The Pharaoh of Texas has angered the Gods. They have the terrible asp and plagues of vermin.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about. Come on, we’re not going to stop again for a long time. You need to go to the bathroom.”
“That’s a sea of crickets we’re about to walk into. They’re going to leap all over us. Crickets can leap well, they’re made to leap.”
“They’re everywhere babe, it’s the drought. They won’t leap on you, they’ll move when the birds come.”
“Awesome. We’ll make it through the plague of crickets and walk back out into Alfred Hitchcock land. We’ll leave blind and screaming.”
“Ah! Finally a reference I can follow. The grackles won’t peck our eyes out, they’re pretty cool. It’s too bad they attract snakes…”