Dwayne and his son Colby stopped by yesterday just as I was heading out to grab a bbq lunch at Don's, a little taco and bbq joint down the road. (Remember that just about everything is a "taco and.." establishment in this area). I grabbed sandwiches for the four of us and quickly rejoined the group who were comfortably settled by the campfire, beers in hand.
Dwayne was deep into storytelling, the theme of which focused on rattlesnakes and local wildlife, since Jer had just reported last week's rattler incident. Dwayne's two sons are badasses, equally. Although Kelly is arguably a badass in the more traditional sense. He rides bulls, traps rattlers with his bare hands - the whole deal. It's possible some of Dwayne's tales about Kelly are a little "tall" but then, I've met his son. Kelly's not a large man, but he packs a punch with his toughness and stoic demeanor. I've not seen him without a wad of chew in his bottom lip. All of his boots are well worn, his buckle's large and polished, and his cowboy hat fits so well you know he only takes it off to sleep. Although I've heard the story before, it never gets old watching Dwayne act out the time when Kelly drove home with a live rattlesnake. His teenage son came up the driveway in his beat up oldsmobile. One hand on the wheel, the other hand grasped behind the neck of a rattlesnake that he held out the driver's side window. Snake talk always turns to the condition of the local wildlife and Dwayne reported that a "tiger sized" mountain lion was spotted on a wildlife camera just "down the way." A tiger-sized mountain lion is definitely hyperbole, but still. Down the way sounds too close for comfort, even though there's no telling if we're near it. In a rare moment of seriousness, Dwayne cautioned us to "bring the Judge along any moonlight walks you get to takin' 'round here." Rattlesnakes and mountain lion not 13 miles from the University of Texas campus? I felt a distinct chill, and it wasn't the weather.
Soon enough though, the topic changed again to Dwayne's third favorite topic (behind wildlife and horses): his past or, more specifically - women. What I haven't mentioned over the years since this cowboy rode his horses onto our land, is that Dwayne was a permenant fixture and honorary co-owner of Austin's "finest" gentleman's club, The Yellow Rose. He still plays an integral role as co-smoker for The Yellow Rose each year when it enters the rodeo bbq cookoff. Which is why it shouldn't have been surprising to learn that, for years, Dwayne was (of course) Santa Clause at The Yellow Rose. Danced with the girls on stage in his Santa suit. Like everything, he's got a picture to prove it. Before heading out to go "listen to some pickin' at a beer joint" he got a little misty relaying his recent trip home to visit his momma in Lubbock. "You can spend one whole week in Lubbock on your first night in town," he said before falling silent and clearly thinking of someone specific. "Those Lubbock women," he said softly, "it's a fact of nature that there's more beautiful women, per capita, in Lubbock than any other place on earth. You're real lucky if you get aholt of one of those women."
He says stuff like that a lot in such a way that you feel he's almost weepy. It makes me wonder about all the stories he hasn't told but know that he'll be back around next Sunday. And surely something new will slip out amidst all the old stories he'll tell again.