April 14, 2016

Recently, my husband and I visited Austin, just to keep things a little weird. It really is the coolest city in Texas, complete with great food, excellent academic institutions, clean, smooth streets, fabulous bike paths, stellar performing arts, great museums and a rich history. To top it off, the weather was perfect for my hair. The only challenge we faced was prioritizing our exploration of the city. We decided to start with the heavier, headier endeavors, then finish with the physical, outdoorsy stuff. So on day one, we walked from our hotel, through the campus of UT, and on to the state capitol. We would spend the morning there, then head over to the LBJ Presidential Library.

The state capitol is grand, with a huge cupola, dome thingy crowning the building. It is actually very European but……shhhhh……don’t tell that to the rest of Texas. We roamed the hallways, which were deserted because the legislature was not in session. We did find one somewhat surly guard on duty at one of the most obscure entrances. We couldn’t decide if he was surly because that was part of his job, because he was banished to this unused entrance (like being put in time out), or because we had the audacity to speak to him in a friendly, familiar manner. Regardless, it took my husband all of thirty seconds of whose your mama chat to warm the guy up. I remained quiet, all the while thinking that if I were a spy, he would end up as my asset. This guy really was pretty easy, and clearly lonely. By the end of our conversation, he wanted to take us fishing.

We wandered upstairs to the gallery to view the paintings of all the former governors and, whaduyaknow, we found a female governor from the 1920’s. Apparently, her hubby was the previous gov, but he did a bad and had to leave office so she took over. Whatever. It was all becoming a little overwhelming, having to read all the little placards about the paintings and the history yada yada yada. My feet hurt a little. That is when Miss Gina’s Third Grade Class entered the room festooned with a private tour guide. The guide was young, energetic and couched Texas history in a manner that was simple, fun and easy to follow. Plus, if you listened to her, you didn’t have to read anything. I found myself drifting away from the written word and being drawn towards the little children. Miss Tour Guide Intern Who Wants to Be Governor One Day was downright entertaining. And, really, just sitting on the floor with the little ones made me nostalgic for a little taste of paste.

“Can anyone guess which praiseuhdent was the only one ever bowern and raised up in Takesus?!!!” I knew the answer but kept my mouth shut. It was killing me, plus I really wanted to correct her grammer. Little hands shot up in the air like jumping beans.

“LBJ!” Finally. From a little blond haired girl, of course. I felt myself exhale. Miss Tour Guide commended the little girl.

“YES! YOU ARE CORRECT! IT WAS LBJ!” Her enthusiasm was a little over the top if you ask me. Like those bumper stickers that give accolades to children for simply staying out of jail. My kid stands up straight! But nobody asked me, so I kept quiet, but I did start following them around, as nonchalantly as possible for someone who was significantly taller than the rest of the class. At one point, in the senate chamber, Miss Tour Guide instructed us to have a seat on the floor, thank God. My feet were talking to me, so I happily sat cross legged on the floor right behind the little blonde girl who knew her stuff. MTG was asking all sorts of questions; some rhetorical, some just stupid.

“What do you see all around this room?” Hands up and waving.



“Windows!” No kidding. This was lame.

“Cameras! The kind to keep it safe!”

Miss TG spoke up. “Yes, there are cameras. But those are so that we have a record of everything that happens here. And sometimes we show that on the news! It is very important that the people who vote have the opportunity to see what happens here, because the people who work here work for them!” Tah-dah!

Blondie spoke up. “Yes, but it is good to have them for safety too. Sometimes a stranger might follow you and if you have their picture on TV, you are safer.” A little boy seated next to me on the floor cut his eyes over at me, locking them on my face as though to memorize my features. He must have thought I was pretty. Sweet boy. The little girl went on.

“You have to be careful…always. Stranger danger.” A few of the other children parroted her words under their breath. I nodded in full agreement because, really, you just can’t be too careful these days. The class must have noticed that an adult was agreeing with them, because I noticed a few others eyeing me as well.

Soon, our little tour was over and my class started lining up to exit the building. I noticed my husband patiently waiting for me by a door opposite the one the children were using. He was shaking his head discreetly. I guess I had lost track of him for a few minutes. I knew that look though. He was ready to leave…or he wanted to find a bathroom. One or the other, for sure. Miss Gina was counting heads and sending the children outside as she muttered something about lunch. I head the word “picnic.” Damn! I wish I had thought about bringing a sandwich or something. I could have joined them, but Tom didn’t seem to be into it, so I just watched them leave, single file. We headed out a different door, the one in the middle of nowhere with the fishing guard. Tom wanted to tell him goodbye, so we did. As they say in Texas, daylight was a-burning. We still had to grab a bite and go to the ABC Presidential Library. Oh well, maybe Miss Gina and my class would be there too. Maybe.


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