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  Texas : Features : Humor : Column - "A Balloon In Cactus"

Amarillo Hotels

Naked Came The Amarillan

by Maggie Van Ostrand
Maggie Van Ostrand
I love Amarillo, even if it doesn't matter to me that Mayvi Cornelius was the first child ever born there back in 1888. What does matter is that most Amarillans today are men. Thank you U.S. Census takers. Thank you, God.

I never met so many good lookin', boot-wearin', city-shunnin', plain-talkin', fellas in my entire life as I did a few weeks back when I visited The Fair And Totally Underrated City of Amarillo In The County of Potter in the Republic of Texas.

The Panhandle has some of the nicest people in the country and if President Bush sent a few of them over to Afghanistan, they'd find Osama, and they'd find him fast. That cruddy-bearded, anti-American, flea-infested, filth blob better not ever come to Texas. There are plenty of hangin' trees left, and there wouldn't have to be any sissified old trial either. That's why Amarillo has something other cities don't have: phone listings just for their cemeteries. But I digress.

Driving from California to Ohio to attend a writers' conference, I stayed at Marriott Residence Inns along the way; they take dogs and I had one of those critters along for the ride. We had the only car in all of Texas that didn't have a gunrack.

Amarillo people have a great sense of humor. I stopped to pick up some groceries and handed a twenty dollar bill to the checker. He said, "Got I.D.?"

As soon as the car crossed the state line into Texas, the music changed from rancid rap to pure country & western. None of that puny-sounding citified who-can-understand-what-they're-saying? stuff here.

It was good to see a Hooters -- not that I'd go in one myself, being a woman and all, but back in California there's a bunch of liberals who aren't satisfied that they've already passed a bunch of laws prohibiting smoking and every other pleasurable pasttime, they'll probably get Hooters closed down, too. But not in Texas, nosireebob! Or maybe that should be nosireeboob.

A trip to Cavender's Boot City got me a nice pair of boots to impress everybody because they were made in the U.S.A. and not some Asian country where stuff shrinks. These boots will stay the same size, whether I do or not.

I asked the receptionist at the Marriott Residence Inn (I-40 West, frontage road), if there was a park in Amarillo where I could take my dog, and she sent me to Medipark, the nicest park I ever saw in my entire life. There's a beautiful lake there with walking bridges over it, picnic tables, barbeque facilities, jogging paths, and beautiful trees. I wondered what that strange sound was overhead. I didn't recognize it as a helicopter sound, or a jet-flying-over-your-head sound or a duck-there's-a-driveby-shooting sound. Turned out to be birds. Nice.

I hardly recognized it as a park, since I didn't see any squashed beer cans dotting the landscape. I suppose Texans are such macho guys, they probably drink the beer and then eat the can.

And I met a lot of nice folks there, too, particularly on the day my Toyota 4Runner was acting up. "Acting up" is an understatement; it was bucking, and that's no exaggeration. It was like a pathetic attempt to recreate the mechanical bull at the old Gilley's. But no. The car was just loco. You can buy one of those electronic bovines at El Toro Manufacturing, Deer Park, TX, or you can borrow my car.

Amarillans certainly know how to handle an hysterical woman who's shrieking, "Help me help me. I don't know what to do," when they see one. Several handsome guys came immediately over and called me endearing things like little lady and honey. They seemed to understand right away that I don't want to be one of those liberated women from the big cities who don't like to get petted and flattered. I love that stuff.

Anyway, they directed me to the most wonderful Toyota dealership in the world over there on Georgia Street, all the while telling me things would be okay real soon. And they were.

I relayed the bucking problem to the hunk at Toyota, who reached into the car right across my lap. I thought he wanted a date, but he was only after a button on the dashboard. Drat the luck.

Turns out I had driven the car spastically in 4-wheel drive all the way from the park where I must've accidentally hit the wrong thingamajig with my knee, or the dog did.

The Hunk didn't charge me either. Just smiled and told me to have a nice day ma'am and stay safe. Sigh.

Lots of visitors check out Cadillac Ranch in the middle of a wheat field off Route 66 west of Amarillo, but I figure on starting a Toyota Ranch on Georgia Street, so I can research car stuff with that Hunk.

The title of my story is "Naked Came The Amarillan," but that's just wishful thinking.


Copyright Maggie Van Ostrand
"A Balloon In Cactus"
Pubished June 26, 2004

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