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  Texas : Features : Humor : Columns - A Balloon In Cactus

"Soft-Boiled Eggs Of Texas"

by Maggie Van Ostrand
Maggie Van Ostrand
Once upon a time, delicate people like poets and women, held a monopoly on sensitivity. Then, somewhere in the 1990's, man entered the Age of Sensitivity Training. There's nothing wrong with a cowboy crying over the beauty of a sunset, or a steelworker pondering the meaning of life as he walks the high beams, or a policeman treating the accused as he'd like to be treated himself.

But I think we've gone too far when sensitivity messes with a Texan.

All my life, I've heard about the Real Men of Texas, the broncobustingest males in the country, the mustangbreakingest macho men in the world, the John Waynes, Sam Elliotts and Gary Coopers who always live in Texas.

But, hey, this is 2001: Last week I was at Dallas-Ft. Worth Airport and had to wait two hours in a coffeeless baggage area for rain to stop. Why? Because airport employees are not permitted to go outside when it rains. They might be struck by lightning, we were told. While lightning might indeed smart a tad and might even set your pants on fire, what are the odds of a bolt striking a Texan unloading luggage from a plane? After all, wouldn't a Real Texas Man just grab the bolt of lightning and hurl it right back where it came from?

Curious, I did the politically correct thing and took a poll of 100 locals. To the question, "Are you too sensitive?" 1% said no, 14% said yes, and 85% thought the question hurtful.

Beau, a former deputy, told me he now gets hurt feelings when the restaurant hostess asks, "Just one?" because she might think he can't get a date. Beau underwent Sensitivity Training in 1996 and still gets highly emotional if his bag of Gummy Bears has no black ones in it.

Trey, a disgusted prosecutor, retired early, unable to forget the embarrassment of the sugar defense to a murder one charge. The sensitive jurors reduced that charge to manslaughter because they agreed that the sweets the killer had eaten before the murder had made his blood sugar level so high, it caused a "psychotic episode." Uh huh, right. That'll be a hundred Oreos and solitary for you, dude.

Waco, a nurseryman from the suburbs, weeps whenever he sells a plant. "I'm not sure," he says, "if it's going to a good home. You'd be surprised how many people abuse their African Violets."

Can Texas be joining the rest of the country in Wimpville? Where are all the hard-boiled Takers of Life on Life's Terms? Aren't they in Texas? Where's John Wayne when we need him?

I can still see him as Rooster Cogburn astride a big horse in "True Grit" confronting his nemesis, notorious Lucky Ned Pepper who has just called him a fat, one-eyed old man. The fact that Cogburn really was a fat, one-eyed old man didn't matter; he got mad anyway.

"Fill yer hand, you sonofabitch!" Rooster shouts, guns blazing from both fists, the reins between his teeth, riding hard toward Lucky Ned.

If Rooster had had Sensitivity Training, he might've instead cantered toward Lucky Ned, anger blazing from both eyes, drawling, "Fill yer hand with Twinkies, you sonofabum."

So come on, you rawhide hunks of Texas, the tough hombre is still there under the surface....... Right?


Copyright Maggie Van Ostrand
More A Balloon In Cactus
2001
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