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Writing

Late March 2009

Chicago to Fort Collins to Santa Fe

and a stop in Texas on the way home.

Lauren stopped in Shamrock, Texas for gas. It's somewhere at the top of that rectangle-ish part of the state. Near Amarillo, I think. It's identical to any of the towns that I've seen in that region, except everything had shamrocks on it. Not like things you would expect, I don't know - like posters or a kind of beer advertisement. Instead, giant shamrocks on the same set of venues at every roadside town: Days Inn was the Days Shamrock Inn, the "Family Restaurant" was the "Family Irish Pub." And though the gas station had a shamrock on its fa├žade, it provided the same confederate-proud and threatening Bible verse T-Shirts with disturbing images on them. Yikes. Having been through fourteen years of Catholic schooling in my life, I have never come across "Fight like a real man! Get down on your knees and pray!" in my bible readings. I find it difficult to get a read on the cashiers in these kinds of places. There's something so innocently sweet about them. Maybe it's the tucked in faded T-shirts with suspenders holding up the Wranglers to their belly buttons, or the perfectly straight flat brim on the "Fire Marshall" red hat, or maybe just that their thick-lensed spectacles sit relaxed on the edge of their nose, safe and secured by the strap around the back of their neck. Despite the delicate appearances, there seems to consistently be a stern defensiveness when the Chicago accent crosses the southern one; regardless of our polite salutations, the eyes speak differently and sometimes don't speak at all. I shouldn't jump to conclusions so quickly though, maybe the cashier designed those T-shirts and was just upset that I looked but didn't buy. 

2009, TexasMatt Austin