Against the wind and popularized slogan “Go west, young man” (Horace Greeley, 1861), my dog CiCi, riding shotgun, and her driver Charlie head east from the Mexican border of Arizona to South Bend. Every year, both ways. Twenty years. “Blue Highways” (William Least Heat-Moon, 1982).
Peculiar, by avoiding interstate boredom, the ride is always changing and enriching. And adds a day or two at a different budget motel for CiCi, a nose on four legs, anxious for any fresh aroma. Mold, urinal cake, a petrified M&M, mildew, scrubbing bubbles, tootsie roll, a premium popcorn kernel left behind in 1973 by a 1928 Purdue grad (Orville Redenbacher, 1907-1995).
We are chipping off a triangle on the desolate edge of the Texas panhandle, the intersection of U.S. 54, County Road 807, and the tracks of the BNSF RR. The Rand McNally indicates no name, although MapQuest GPS indicates we’re in Conlen, Texas? There is no ghost town, dollar-store, saloon, mobile home, nor any sign of life … only an abandoned monolithic grain elevator, and a small boarded-up brick building that may have been a Texaco station in 1936 dust bowl. The year my parents married.
Except … CiCi urging to #1 and exhibiting grade #4 sniff anxiety for a gopher or jackrabbit.
There stood TEX, a primitive 18-foot sculpture, crude, cowboy hat on top, left hand on hip, right arm packing and pointing a colt .45, and bowlegs spread to draw. We called him Tex, because that must be his name, or his belt buckle is lying.
Stunned by his silent presence in the west Texas winds, no evidence of a signature by the sculptor. Perhaps an amateur proctologist passing by, a post surgical hemorrhoidal complication, and a quick solution. Tex was stuffed with Depend undergarments, thereby avoiding a future rectal rust repair. Neither of which are covered by Medicare A, B or D.
I began to erase the abuse and misuse of our new quiet friend. Place names, in the diminutive, Texhoma (TX & OK) and Texarkana (TX & AR), TexMex dining, Texaco Oil, and products latex, kotex, the brainy cortex, and the ever present daily intrusion on your device: TEXt messaging.
Against the admonition by Horace, who was also an ardent feminist before it was cool, my ♀ CiCi and I head east, in search of wheels and a woman for TEX. Stay tuned, we’re on a roll.