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13. What You Can See in Texas


Its amazing what you can see from a highway rest stop table, especially in a place like Texas, where people tend to let it hang out more. Hitching west, thats one of the first things you notice: how much more at ease folks seem to feel with themselves out west. They let you catch them scratching their navel or adjusting their hang or spitting or mopping sweat from a cleavage. Its okay by them. Theres so much more space out there, west of St. Louis, and people are a lot more self-contained. They know they can just get up and go somewhere else if they damn well feel like it. Listen to western music. Listen to Johnny Abilene and the Haymakers, for example. They dont take shit from anyone, bosses, lovers, fathers, children "take a bite of this."

Once, over a Swiss Miss, in a Panhandle rest area, I saw a woman and her husband duking it out on the back of a flatbed pickup. That was the best cocoa I ever had. Nobody got seriously injured, though their five kids, pasty, bleak, skulked in looking like war orphans. In New York, youd see couples swap looks, and youd notice their kids squirm a little?thats it, thats all. If one of them raised their voice slightly, everybody in the restaurant would turn and stare. Somebody would dial 911, sure. In Texas, three people would have to be murdered first.

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