10 Reasons Why

10 Things I Noticed While Driving to Odessa, Texas

1. The shocking incident involving phallic violence.

So, we pull into Whataburger along the way, because we’re pigs and we like grease. As Terry dashes inside whilst I stay in the car and do nothing of importance concerning this lark, I spy one of those little cylindrical stands where you can drop off your cigarette butt before purchasing cholesterol-affecting consumables. And I see that some fool has tried shoving a banana into the tiny hole on top, and the operation has failed.

Really? First, who the hell would even have a banana at this place? It’s certainly not on the menu, which means that somebody actually brought the damn thing with them. Second, right next to the cigarette obelisk is an actual trash can. Yet the Banana Bandit chose to use the smaller vessel, knowing it wouldn’t fit, and then walked off and left the fleshy fruit dangling for the world to see. What kind of person would do that?

I quietly locked the car doors, just in case.


2. The further west you travel, the examples of probable inbreeding increase.

Is there only ONE woman in this half of the state that can get pregnant? Geez.


3. Cows are fun to watch.

I don’t know why they amuse me so, but they do. Maybe it has something to do with driving past so many thousands of them that I had to either love them or hate them. I chose joy. Besides, there’s just something very appealing about the word “cud”.


4. These people love them some Jesus.

Every other billboard invites passersby to come fellowship at yet another entry in a very long line of houses of worship. Which is fine and dandy. Then we hurtle past the latest example, like Truculencia Baptist Church, the Leviticus Lodge, or Bubba’s Christian Bait and Tackle Shop (“Get hooked on the Lord!”), only to find that the years have not been kind to many of these places.

Maybe at some point the faithful flocked here in droves to attend a Praise Palace that was splendid and inspirational and people couldn’t wait to throw money into the gilded offering plates. But now all I’m seeing is a rundown shack with nary a parishioner in sight and a rusted, wheel-less pickup truck being the only thing now bearing witness. Sad, really. But don’t worry. Stick around fifteen minutes and another church will open up next door, because these folks can’t stand it if Jesus doesn’t take the wheel.


5. Apparently the crime rate is very low in these little towns.

Because all of the police cars are lined up along Interstate 20, just waiting for you to do something stupid so they can turn on their sirens, rather than cruising around the neighborhoods and protecting the citizens. We just passed five squad cars in a 10-mile span. Like that’s not overkill. I’m thinking maybe these little towns can spend their payroll budget on better things. Like schools. And birth control.


6. They sure have a lot of queens in West Texas.

Dairy Queens, that is. For the uninitiated, Dairy Queens are food joints that specialize in deep-fried and gravy-drenched offerings. There’s not a single healthy thing on the menu, and there never will be, that’s the whole point. You don’t really see these all that much in urban areas in any more, but you get out here, and there are almost as many Dairy Queens as there are abandoned churches.

But unlike the churches, the Dairy Queens in this part of the state rarely go out of business. Devotion to the Savior can ebb and flow, depending on how local sports teams are doing in a given year, but the need for onion rings is a constant. Besides, a Dairy Queen burger basket has a heft similar to an offering plate, so it’s quite easy to combine the sensation of worship with the rapture of dipping chicken strips in a little plastic cup of bubbling gravy. Praise the Lord and pass the salt.


7. “The Flying J”

This is a fascinating complex just outside of Abilene, a combination of convenience store, restaurant and truck stop. I could get an entire blog out of the mesmerizing things to be encountered within, but for now I’ll tantalize you with just one thing. It’s not uncommon to hear something like this come over the intercom while you are perusing the beef jerky and the fishing lures: “Shower customer 64, your shower is now ready. Please proceed to shower number 3.”

Totally not making that up. It’s real, people. Real.


8. Okay, I lied, one more thing about The Flying J.

The pre-made chicken salad sandwich they have available for purchase? Don’t ever get it. I just sampled such, and it completely hit the failblog in ways that you cannot imagine and shouldn’t. Blech. I should have known something was up when I noticed that the expiration date someone scribbled on the package was still nearly three weeks away. For something that theoretically contains chicken and mayo, the two things that begin decomposing the very second they are exposed to air. Post-consumption, I still can’t confirm that either of those ingredients were actually in that mess.


9. Why are the barns so much bigger than the houses?

Sure feels like a violation of the laws of nature in some way. Then again, the same could be said of the haphazard set of teeth I just got a gander of in a passing truck. Bucky Don might never get married, but he’s got a grappling hook in his mouth that could rip a manhole cover out of the ground in two seconds flat. The Lord provides vocational skills in mysterious ways.


10. This part of Interstate 20 will suck the joy out of your life.

We have been driving in a straight line for what feels like 3 days. A straight line. As in no curves, no hills, no scenery, no validation that my life is worthwhile in any way whatsoever. I am quietly going crazy. Someone please help me by sending an amusing text or a naughty picture. Anything to break the monotony. Oh wait, scratch that. We still have to drive another hour to be anywhere near a cell tower before I can even get a weak signal. We are on the desolate backside of utter hell.

Anyone interested in half a chicken salad sandwich? I know it doesn’t taste right, but you might be here for a while so you should make do with what you’ve got. Interestingly enough, that last line is also the town motto of Big Spring, Texas, which we are currently passing on the left.

Keep your doors locked.


Originally published in “The Sound and the Fury” on 03/26/11. Considerable changes made, although I’m not sure that it helped in any way. It feels like I may have shared this travelogue before on Bonnywood, but I can’t find any trace of it, much like the questionable chicken in the salad…

Story behind the photo: Suffice it to say that a recent cleaning binge at Bonnywood led to a startling discovery. To share more would only increase the shame…


35 replies »

  1. That there Dairy Queen sounds scarily like Cracker Barrel to me. I had the joy of being served an entre at a Cracker Barrel in the wonderful town of Kingman Arizona. Ah, memories. Still, we made it out of town alive. Did they film ‘The Hills Have Eyes’ nearby, or was it just the vibe?. The delicacies were served on a platter, something about the size of an old washing machine lid, more tray than entre. The portions could have served Jesus’ multitude until the Rapture. Mind you, with all the cholesterol I would’ve been in Christs company in a flickering heartbeat. And that was merely an appetizer. Another entertaining and informative post.

    Liked by 3 people

      • I received a stack of pancakes amongst many things. The offering was put down on the table by a straining whey faced waitress. The table, I swear, groaned. The maple syrup was more a puddle than a light drizzle. Can’t complain about the portions though! And don’t worry about digestion, all fare from Cracker Barrel becomes a smooth glaze on the arteries, bypassing the normal digestive process.

        Liked by 3 people

    • obbverse: The two establishments have many similarities, with two glaring exceptions. One, Dairy Queen is for the budget-minded, whilst Cracker Barrel will snag a significant portion of your food budget without even blinking an eye. (I say this based on past remembrances. I have boycotted The Cracker since they fought all the way to the Supreme Court to defend their right to fire an employee if they happened to be gay. They lost, but still, no more money from me.) Second, entrees at The Queen, while still proffering more than a human should eat in one sitting, do not begin to approach the burgeoning entrees served at The Cracker, ginormous plates, as you have pointed out, that test the structural foundations of the building.

      CJ: Remember that conversation we once had wherein I was amazed in how you have traveled wide and far in your life adventures? It’s happening again… 😉

      Liked by 2 people

      • Ah, sorry, I’m not up with the social standings/class divide between the two. I was a mere poor tourist and waved the plastic at it with the usual befuddled tourist’s lack of understanding. This was about ten years ago, and so its only now I’m paying that bad debt back. No, that’s an exaggeration… It was two years ago. I hadn’t heard about the Supreme Court case, seems like they’re taking the old world theme/decor/ambiance/attitude back obnoxiously far.You say they lost the case, they’ve also lost my paltry custom should we return. The post prodded my memory more than a little, so I’m now revisiting some of those events, so thanks, America sure is a conundrum wrapped up in so many mysterious contradictions.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Texas is the kind of place where good people go to get weird. This is a state that produced “Austin City Limits” and the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders — at the same time. I have never met a Texan I didn’t like but I’ve only met a couple that I actually understand.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Didn’t recognize this one and it still rings true, so you could have passed it off as a new post. Your honesty will be your downfall, Brian.
    I may have said this before but there’s a Presbyterian seminary in Austin and several people had recommended to my husband that he’d love it there, but I told him, and this is a direct quote: I’ll live anywhere but Texas. People said, “but Austin is different!” and I said, “yeah, but you have to drive through Texas to get there!”
    Really, my problem wasn’t so much Texas, it was the drive (#11)! It never ends!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Honesty has always been my downfall, ever since I shot out of the womb and immediately complained about the lack of a welcoming gift.

      But yes, the drive never ends. As they say and as has been proven, El Paso, Texas, is actually closer to California than it is to Dallas. There’s a whole bunch of nothing to drive through in order to get anywhere in this state. Well, I shouldn’t say nothing. There’s a whole bunch of conservatives everywhere you look.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Okay grab your hat and hang on. This may prove to be one of my wordier responses.

    #1. My take on that? Someone hadn’t gotten laid in a long while and titillation, ANY at all, is better than nothing. At least they hit the hole…
    #2 There is only one left that can become pregnant. All the other females (and a goodly number of the males too) are so cross connected via DNA, that trying to make one more connection is just a waste of good by products of the sexual kind..
    #3 I love cows too. Except on those days when a stiff wind is blowing out of the west and there are cows situated to the east. That down draft can burn the hair right outta your nose. And bellowing “MOOOOOOO” at them, and having one of them “MOOOOOOO” back? Priceless. Even though the cow is probably saying “f*ck you Jed”.
    #4 Of course they love them some Jesus. He’s the only man for miles around who isn’t related to everyone else. AND. He forgives everyone, even Bubba who farted at the local Hayrick Barn Dance and lit the place on fire..
    #5 Someone on our police force apparently read this blog and took offense at your remarks. Now they’re hassling the locals and writing speeding tickets, even though the tradition has been, til now, that one could rip through town at 60 mph, sending old ladies and boy scouts flying in their wake; while fixing their make up and hair, and doing their 2018 tax returns at the same time. Thanks. A. Lot. Killjoy.
    #6 You forgot one element of Dairy Queen…the ICE CREAM. Maybe that’s only a bigger draw than saturated fat in Utah, given we don’t have many vices, but danged it all, we got ice cream addiction. The variety of lactose imbued treats are vast and have made many a youngster in danger of type II diabetes from imbibing.
    #7 Flying J is a savior of many a long distance trucker’s relationships. The drivers flock to the J to shower and scrape off the travel dust and crud, but most importantly, wash away the scent of cheap perfume because the trucker may have indulged in a little outside the marital bed dalliance with one of a number of lot lizards.
    #8 You ATE that thing? Even Bubba, he of the firey flatulence, knows better than to eat chicken salad out of a truck stop ‘cold’ case. Stick to the turkey. It might be a little old, but it’s a lot less lethal. This is for your future and continuing good health and safety.
    #9 Because of all the cows. People can live en masse and not many problems will arise (save in Bubba’s household), but cows? Nope. The methane expulsions will cause a lesser building to destruct in a variety of horrible ways. But you will get steak for dinner. Always a silver lining, hummh?
    #10 Try Route 6 in Utah. Worse, I’m betting, far worse. PLUS. Part of Route 6 goes through some mighty twisty canyon country and I do believe (not verified of course) that “Blood on the Highway” was filmed on some portion or other of that road. And going from Price, Utah to Moab along that route? Is guaranteed to make the term “drowsy driver” a real, dangerous thing. There’s NOTHING out there but some emaciated coyotes, a lot of scrub brush and tumbleweeds, and a desert of sand. The odd vulture or buzzard who found one of the coyotes, who had turned up their toes at last. There’s not even a big barn to break up the monotony of the place. Count YOUR blessing!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I will bravely attempt to respond to all of your points:

      #1: The fundamental failure in most societies is the inability for all citizens to find sexual release…

      #2: This is why genealogical research in West Texas is almost always inconclusive.

      #3: I want a t-shirt that says “F*ck You Jed”.

      #4: That poor barn is still burning…

      #5: This is not the first time that I have been guilty of offending someone…

      #6: Yeah, the ice cream at Dairy Queen isn’t quite what it should be. It’s soft-serve, you know, which in the Texas heat becomes vanilla-flavored water within two seconds…

      #7: Yes, Flying J is often referred to as “that place where we splash away our sins and pretend that we can actually get clean”…

      #8: It was a moment of weakness. I was hungry, damn it.

      #9: Interestingly enough, and we may not have discussed this, I am not a fan of steak. My partner? He goes after a prime cut like I go after a Michelob Ultra on a hot day…

      #10: I can’t even compete with this one. You win.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Well, the things you didn’t know you didn’t know. Or rather, the things you didn’t know that you thought you knew. I’ll elaborate. (Please). Whenever I hear mention of Dairy Queen on an American show, I clearly gloss over the context, because I always assumed it was a person! Crowned on the day of the local harvest festival. Like a Prom Queen or a…….whatever those other ones are called. And thankyou Melanie for mentioning it does in fact sell ice-cream, otherwise it would really make no sense at all. And now I just want to stuff my face with a grotesque amount of unhealthy fried food.

    Liked by 2 people

    • To be fair, I don’t know where the “Dairy Queen” moniker came from for that particular chain, as there’s nothing royal about anything they serve, drenched as everything is in fried fat and/or enough sugar to put the world in a glucose coma. It’s a guilty pleasure, I suppose, which explains a lot about America, where so many folks don’t want to take responsibility for what they do. Which means Dairy Queens will live forever, even if we don’t…

      Liked by 1 person

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