People aren’t perfect.
Oh, sure, I try to tell myself that. But then I always forget and get surprised all over again. Maybe I’ll get smarter when I’m a centenarian or something, but I doubt it. Some people just never learn. And, if I did, what would I have to write about? Nothing, that’s what.
Anyway, the topic today is not how anybody with a day job has the time to write 30,000 emails or how if anybody wants to write a biography of my husband, only the heartstoppingly ugly and completely charm-free need apply. No, certainly not!
My topic today is my daughter’s boyfriend, Bennett, who is pictured in the middle of our family photo above. Bennett is smart, funny, ambitious, personable and sweet. He’s wonderful to our daughter. He worked on the Obama campaign in Ohio. We like him and he likes us.
In fact, you could say he’s perfect and what’s the problem? O, ye of little faith and abysmally low standards, hold on just a goddamned minute. Bennett, for all his other admirable qualities, fails to achieve perfection since he’s not a Texan.
Yes, there it is. Bennett is not only not from Texas, he’s from California. Southern California, in fact.
“We hope he likes Austin,” I told my friends worriedly.
They reacted as Austinites usually do. They said well, yes, they hoped he would like it, too. But then, they usually added, what kind of loser wouldn’t like Austin? (This city is full of the most self-satisfied boosters in the world, second only to New York.)
Before Bennett arrived last week for his second visit here, we did what we could. Since we were going to a UT football game, my husband helpfully emailed Bennett several pages of UT-relevant lore, such as the words to “The Eyes of Texas,” the origin and symbolism of the UT Tower, and an introduction to Bevo, the UT mascot. Bennett noted there was only advice about what to do when Texas was victorious — so what should he do in the event of a defeat?
My husband pointed out that Texas doesn’t lose, so there were no traditions Bennett needed to learn. Seeing the opportunity for a “teachable moment,” I said that if Bennett were making a tasteless reference to the Alamo, then he should realize that particular battle had been a moral victory. (I guess they are unfamiliar with moral victories in Southern California.)
Ever dedicated to improving the men in our lives, our daughter and I illegally parked our car and hoofed it to the University Coop for Bennett’s sake. There, we wandered around displays and cases and racks full of burnt-orange paraphernalia — T-shirts, sweats, ties, stuffed animals, key chains, purses, boots, flipflops, scrapbooks, shorts, underwear, shirts, you name it, you can find it, even if you don’t want to.
“This is wonderful,” I told our daughter. “We can do all our Christmas shopping for Bennett here, too.”
We finally bought him a burnt-orange button-down shirt, which you’ll note he was able to wear to the football game. That was very fortunate, since we would have killed him otherwise. We all agreed that the color was highly flattering to his complexion. “Not everyone looks good in burnt orange,” I told him.
At the game, Bennett cheered for Texas. He stood up during “The Eyes of Texas,” but he didn’t accompany it with the “Hook’em, Horns!” sign, even though we were loudly prompting him on it.
“It takes a lot of coordination to stand up, sing the words, and put the correct two fingers up,” I said to my husband. “It may be too much to learn all at once.”
But we are both hopeful. Bennett seems to have the right stuff, we agree. After all, he put up with our family of four pushy Texans for the weekend. A lesser man would have hightailed it to the Oklahoma border. A lesser man — or a saner man. In any event, he seems to be our kind of guy.
(Copyright 2012 by Ruth Pennebaker)
Read one of my most embarrassing posts about what I maybe shouldn’t have said at the top of my lungs