Friday, August 11, 2006

In the red

It was at the welcome-home barbecue thrown by mom at my childhood home in Dallas that long-time neighbor Joe sidled up to me in the kitchen, leaned in, and whispered, "I've got a question for you, and I won't tell your parents."

Oh dear.

"Just tell me," he continued sotto voce, "are you democrat or republican?"

It is a time for snap judgments. For I am in red Texas. Where it is perfectly acceptable to sit in a Mexican restaurant and publicly proclaim how the illegal Mexican immigrants are destroying our American Values even as they fry our chimichangas a stone's throw away. Where the W stickers on cars outnumber valid registration stickers and the wrong bumper sticker can rend the fibers of your family values.

I, a sometimes student of Soviet history, eyed neighbor Joe quickly: informer or fellow traveler? I gambled.

"The first one," I whispered, unwilling to risk voicing the d-word in the crowded kitchen.

A wide smile greets my answer. "I thought you might be! I just had a feeling. You're one of us. One of the few."

"What, do you have a secret society going or something?"

"Yes, basically. You have to keep it quiet around here. But we're there, we're around."

He stepped back and appraised me critically.

"Look, you can run for something here. I'll manage your campaign! And you," his smile so wide it nearly splits his face, "will lose spectacularly."


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