Get the Guest Burnt Orange


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

24 comments… add one
  • I like Bennett, too. He seems like a nice guy. Maybe he will move to Texas. Nobody in their right mind stays in southern California.

  • I’m glad he survived his hazing. I think it could have been a lot worse, though. I’m guessing he’s counting his blessings.

  • He must really love your daughter if he consented to wear burnt orange…not that there’s anything wrong with that color!

  • Every time we travel to the southwest, my husband buys a burnt orange shirt that never seems to look the same back east. The shirt may keep Bennett in Texas.

  • Sounds like you all have yourself a real winner!

  • So what was the guy in green thinking?

  • So Bennett’s new favorite color is burnt orange then? He sounds like a great guy.

  • Ward Link

    And exactly how is it that Nick (far left) got away with wearing lime green? Has he no shame?

  • Marsha Canright Link

    He has a good face and a good name. Like Lyle Lovett says: “That’s right you’re not from Texas but Texas wants you any way.” Looks like a keeper to me.

  • I feel your pain. We have had to do several interventions with potential in-laws who did not understand that you must say “the” preceding Ohio State University. And it’s scarlet and gray–(not red and gray)

  • Emilian P. Link

    I’ve me this “Bennett” character. He’s a total dirtbag.

  • Suzanne Lambremont Link

    I was raised in Baton Rouge, my dad taught at LSU for 35 years, my mom did her masters there, I and all my siblings and most of their children attended LSU. I now live in SETX, the right side of the state, and my Wyoming born husband thinks, or used to suggest, we cheer for any TX team whenever they play LSU…because we live in Texas now! Yes, I still love him and my family makes allowances.

  • Steve Link

    Good choice of shirts for Benett, but what’s with oil derrick corruption of the world’s most recognizable (and licensed) logo? What an abomination. Must have been a free cap. And where’s yours?

  • LOL. It’s always a good thing when the guy your daughter has chosen is not only great, but is a good sport around her family. 🙂

  • I dunno. I think my vote is for SoCal. But Austin isn’t really Texas, is it?

  • I remember being warned about UT Austin football fever when I started my Master’s there. When I experienced the first game day, I had to laugh. It was NOTHING like the fever at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. I didn’t even know it was game day-the whole city wasn’t swathed in orange as they do in Knoxville.

  • bonehead Link

    If he treats your daughter right, who gives a shit about anything else. Welcome to the family Bennett, you’re a lucky man.
    P.S. Austin should secede from Texas until the rest of the state get their shit together.

  • B Link

    if we could just get that warehouse wedding locked in…

  • (The real) Emilian P. Link

    I was notified of the above posting under my name and wanted to clarify that I did not write that; I don’t know who did.

    What I do know is that the author most assuredly does not look as good in burnt orange as Bennett does. Let the record show that in addition to being a kind-hearted and wildly funny person, Bennett is quite the dashing charmer when robed in the colors of the Texan sun. Well played, Bennett. Well played.

  • He sounds like a keeper!

  • Emilian P. Link

    By that I of course meant the author of the comment, not Teal’s lovely mother. She is an attractive woman, much like her daughter. They both look good in burnt orange. Better than the author. and better than Bennet. Who also looks better than the comment author. Who is an impostor. Of me.

  • (The real) Emilian P. Link

    When I said Bennett looks better in burnt orange than “the author,” I of course was referring to the author of the first fake post under my name, not to the author of the blog in the first place, Teal’s mother; she, of course, excels in donning burnt orange. I was not, as Bennett later told me, ‘taking a swipe’ at Ruth.

    Hi, Ruth. Love your writings.

    Sigh. There goes my dream of one day attending a Pennebaker family gathering.

  • (The real) Emilian P. Link

    Agggggh. The impostor lives on. I would never say that Bennett is better or worse looking than Teal or her mother. They’re all attractive people who look great in the burnt orange of Texas. A place I sincerely hope I’m not permanently banned from. (I still need my t-shirt!). Any author who would spend time working on a blog is wasting their time, anyway.

  • Bennett’s family has it coming from all sides. His older brother married a lady (me) from Alaska, which…. well, how do I put this nicely? Is twice the size of Texas. 😉

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