I’ll preface this column by saying I love my parents. Unfortunately, Mom and Dad recently retired and apparently, they left behind their brains and common sense to travel the country in their RV. Their plan was to spend the rest of their lives exploring the country. In the summers, the grandkids would join them on trips to see the Smithsonian, the Statue of Liberty and a really big ball of twine somewhere in Iowa. Or maybe Idaho.
But, after approximately 2.5 days of grueling travel with two dogs, two cats and very few places to get free WiFi so my mom could shop online at Nordstrom, they landed in a Texas town so small it doesn’t have a post office. Or a grocery store—although it has a bar and grill because in Texas it isn’t a proper town unless it has a place to suck down Shiner Bock and play pool. So my parents decided to park the RV and settle in a house with broadband and regular UPS deliveries.
Since then, they have been driving everyone insane.
First of all, they are determined to keep in touch with all of us. Now, of course everyone wants to stay in touch with mom and dad—but my parents don’t do this by conventional means. They don’t send emails or postcards or call. Instead they send gifts. Yes, this sounds wonderful. I mean, who in their right mind could refuse a gift? Well, let me think about that. Oh, yeah. I could. And so could everyone else in the family.
Since they settled in, my family members and I have been the bewildered recipients of many presents from my very enthusiastic, newly Texan parents. Among the gifts are a giant waffle maker that makes waffles in the shape of Texas, a resin armadillo beer holder, a “Spirit of Texas” beer bucket, a branding iron in the shape of a Texas Ranger badge so we can brand our steaks when we grill, and a doo-rag with the lone star on it. (Please, who sends their adult children doo-rags?)
Just two weeks ago, my sisters and I received identical gifts of instant grits, a miniature Texas flag and a copy of a forwarded email detailing how Ozzy Osborne had desecrated the Alamo fifty billion years ago (let it go, people; the man can’t even speak a coherent sentence anymore, let alone atone for peeing in a sacred spot). And the week before that we were all the proud recipients of a bottle of “Texas Badass” hot sauce with its very own miniature, horseshoe-shaped toilet seat attached to the bottle.
And it isn’t just my sisters and I that get the odd gifts. Recently, my grandmother received a 4-pound apple pie from someplace that billed itself as the “Capitol of Texas Apple Country.” Now, my grandmother is 87 and lives with her dog, Sugar. The dog is not allowed people food because the dog has a sensitive stomach which is my grandmother’s very polite way of saying that on a regular basis, Sugar passes green clouds capable of wiping out entire nations. So I ask you, who the heck do my parents expect to eat this pie?
In any event, I wasn’t very surprised to find a strangely wrapped box in my mail yesterday. I was surprised, however, when I opened the box and found a large plastic bag filled with what appeared to be some sort of dried up, wrinkly meat product that was quite possibly illegal to own or consume in California. So I called Mom. Our conversation went a bit like this:
Me: What the heck is this stuff in the bag?
Mom: It’s venison jerky. I bought it at the bar.
Me: They sell dried-up Bambi at the bar?
Mom: Well, yes, honey. But they don’t advertise it. That might scare away the wimpy tourists from California.
Mental note: Never again eat the chicken fried steak at the bar. I am a wimpy California tourist and it scared me away.
But you know, of all the gifts we’ve received, the worst one is coming. Apparently the deer in the part of Texas where my parents live shed their antlers. And any day now, I’m expecting a big old box of antlers that my mom said—and I quote—would look right fine above the mantle.
You know, I’m thinking of moving and not leaving a forwarding address. I wonder if Mom and Dad will let me use their RV.