A Very Longhorn Christmas Eve --Bridget StuartWhen my husband was considering taking a professorship at the University of Texas-Austin, I flew out with him to scope the town. While he interviewed, I drove around, trying to decide whether I could live here or not.
Well, Austin was greener than I expected; lakes and trees and hills instead of flat desert with blowing tumbleweeds. So far, so good.
But as I tootled about in my little Toyota rental car, I constantly found myself wedged in between huge high shiny pickup trucks--and on the back of each one was a sticker or even a metal emblem of a longhorn cow head. Major freak out; I had no idea there were so many cattle ranchers in Austin! I felt intimidated, like a wee calf in a herd of bull steers. If we moved out here, how would I make conversation with so many cowboys and cowgals? Would I have to read up on breeds and feeds?
Nope. When I mentioned this later to some real Texans ("hey, you all are really into your cows out here") I got enlightened pdq that this cow head thing was actually the symbol for the local college football team, the University of Texas Longhorns. Ohhhhh. Yeah. Okay.
The Longhorns poked me again the next day, when I was out with the real estate agent. She drove me past the University and she pointed out a gi-normous stadium, mentioning some experience she'd had there, when the crowd went wild as they "brought out the bull". I guess I wasn't listening closely enough, because I came away from this drive-by with the distinct impression that the University of Texas had built a billion dollar stadium for the express purpose of staging bullfights. I was mucho impressed, and I commented on this later to my husband's local friends: "I think it's great that there's so much Mexican culture here in Austin, with that big bull ring and all."
Uh, it turns out the bull is the mascot for the Longhorns. Not the real ones who go "moo", but that damn football team again-- I mean, that sweet, adorable football team for whom I now cheer. Go, boys!
So back to our first Christmas in Texas. Yes, we made the move. We sure aren't in Boston anymore...
Christmas trees in Austin all seem to come from North Carolina and a nine foot tree costs one hundred and fifty bucks. I'm not kidding. After pricing them, I put my foot down and told the Professor, aka my husband, that we were getting a fake tree. He couldn't handle it. He grew up in North Carolina, and this was not his style. I'd never had a fake--excuse me, 'artificial'--tree either, but hey, I never drove through a flash flood in an arroyo before this year. (Yes, I did. In February. Wheee! Now I know the reason for all those big high trucks.)
We got the tree, and it looks fabulous. Not as fabulous as our new Texas friend Carolyn's tree, which is silver with fiber optic branches and rotates continuously. Still, we're happy with our humble green one and are keeping our jealousy under control, at least when Carolyn's within earshot. Oh yes, and I bought a Longhorn ornament to hang on an upper branch, so now we're official.
But I've got to get some Christmas-tree-scented candles before tomorrow, so the Professor will stop mentioning the lack of piney fresh air in the house. Pine Sol-ing the floors, I've been informed, is not an effective substitute.
I just love living in Austin. Merry, merry Christmas everyone, wherever you are. And hook 'em, Horns!