Lebanon Reporter

July 11, 2013

Texas equals scorpions, sunburns and burned meatloaf

Lebanon Reporter

---- — I spent a lot of time when I was younger visiting my sister Sherry and my brother in-law John in the huge state of Texas. I’m trying to remember the very first time that I ventured into the deep southwestern part of our country. If memory serves me correctly, and it doesn’t always, I think I made my first trip there by car with Sherry. That trip stands out rather clearly as my life story could have ended right there and then.

I know we were going to pick up a friend of my sister’s somewhere in Missouri on our way, but this near-tragic incident occurred prior to that. We were traveling in one of those infamous areas that twist and turn through and around high rocky outcroppings. You must know the kind of terrain that I’m talking about, where there are constantly signs warning of falling rock zones and blasting areas. Another interesting sign states, “do not turn on your radio!” I suppose that they thought that the Beatles music would cause an avalanche or maybe an earthquake. In all reality, I think it had something to do with the dynamiting that was going on.

Anyway, neither explosions or rock slides caused our demise, but rather a falling rock the size of a basketball nearly could have. Luckily for us, the runaway stone just missed the back of my sister’s car. I wonder if my sister was trying to get rid of me, since she had me get out of the car on the wicked stretch of highway and retrieve that “stone of death” for her rock garden. That incident has always reminded me of a scene from my favorite movie “Long, Long, Trailer,” where Lucille Ball is always getting Desi Arnez to risk his neck trying to reach an unreachable piece of rock for her collection.

One of my least favorite stories that happened while spending time in the “Lone Star State” was when I was trying to make friends with my sister’s pet raccoon, Isabelle. I’ve always prided myself with being able to befriend any animal that crosses my path. The one exception is Isabelle, or shall I refer to her as “Old Razor Mouth.” I had gone to great lengths to show her that I was her friend and I would not harm her. She seemed to make up with everyone except for me, which made me all the more determined to win her over with my animal charm.

I had tried everything under the sun, except for bribery. I knew that she loved chewing gum, so I pulled out a piece of Wrigley’s Spearmint Gum! Having observed that she would rather take off the shiny foil that contained the sweet treat herself, I eagerly handed it over to her. That was like handing a lovely lady a diamond bracelet. I knew that I had her love and affection now! So, I slowly reached out to pet her and the little bandit immediately bit my hand, the very same hand that had given her the gum just moments before. I guess that was her way of saying that her affections could not be bought at any price.

It seems that while in Texas, one is never completely alone, not even in a phone booth or a bathtub. Luckily, nowadays most people have cellphones, and I’ve not seen a phone booth in years. Thank goodness we are still using tubs though. By not being alone, I mean that everywhere you look there are scorpions lurking about. The very first one I saw was parading around the floor of the phone booth that I was standing in. I’m so glad that I had my shoes on. I’m certain that the scorpion did not feel exactly the same way, since I crushed him with my foot. I can’t remember how things turned out with the one that was waiting for me in the tub. I’m pretty certain, though, that he did not wash my back.

Many years ago, when I still had a 32-inch waistline, John and Sherry were going to take me to Six Flags over Texas. The night before, my sister was creating a picnic worth remembering for our day at the amusement park. Yes, it was a meal to remember. We were going to have meatloaf sandwiches, along with the other usual items that make up a delicious meal in a basket. The meatloaf was placed in the oven and there it stayed all night long. Fear not, my resourceful sister removed the partially charred loaf from the pan and scraped away the blackened crust, leaving a tender and tasty hamburger concoction, which she turned into the most delicious sandwich spread ever.

Oh, why did I insist on staying at the pool all day in the hot Texas sun? I am sure that my sister warned me of the possible impending disaster, if I did not heed her warnings about the intense southern sun beating down on my Yankee skin. Do you think that this (know-it-all) preteen listened to his older sister? Of course I didn’t! So, by the end of the day, my skin looked like a cooked lobster, but that was only the beginning. By morning, the most excruciating pain had found its way to my entire backside. Blisters were popping up like dandelions on a spring day. I eventually found refuge in the air-conditioned home of my sister’s friend who we had picked up in Missouri. Jo, as she was affectionately known, was Sherry’s age, but that didn’t matter. I soon found myself with a serious crush on an older woman. I believe that I was really more in love with her air-conditioner, along with her color television set.

Contact Raymond Snoke at shark_guy2@yahoo.com.