For an answer to the question why many Texans find Californians so damned annoying, one only need to check the row in front of mine and Scott’s on our flight to Vegas. The 7:25 flight from Austin often continues on to somewhere in California – this time to Sacramento – and the three seat holders in front of us would be seeing the plane through the end of its journey. Strangers when they boarded, by the time cruising altitude was reached they were well on their way to friends. Loud friends. Loud friends with opinions.
For some reason I decided to make this the one flight in the past two years that I didn’t take any sort of medication prior to boarding. Maybe it’s because I was with Scott, who had asked me daily for the past two weeks if I had found the Southwest drink tickets. My roommate receives them as a frequent flier and never uses them, instead almost hoarding them for just such an occasion. Yet knocking back little airplane bottles of whiskey didn’t appeal given the tail end of the corporate cold I was still getting over. (Taking a deep whiff of the bottles of did.) With nothing to knock me out, I had no expectation of sleeping on the flight. I thought I’d sit back, relax, catch up with Scott, and maybe close my eyes and rest a bit.
Instead of resting my eyes they spent a great deal of time rolling at the stupidity being spouted in the seats in front of me and sharing “the look” with Scott. Two girls, one guy. One of them now living in Austin, the other two living in California coming back from visiting in Austin. So many dumb things. I think our personal favorite was the one about how Texas wasn’t “European enough” to have a state-wide high speed rail system. As Scott pointed out, “Texas already has a high speed commuter system – it’s called Southwest airlines!” And personally I can’t think of a better place to compare Texas to Europe (and find it wanting) than a plane full of cowboys. For that reason and many, many more no less than twenty times did I turn to Scott and utter the plea “Sweet Baby Jesus.” I thought I was quiet(ish). Apparently not.
At the end of our row was a typical Texas cowboy. In his 50s, quiet and tall, decked out in Wranglers and boots, with hat in the overhead compartment. He and Scott would occasionally chat about things poker and where they were from, but he and I hadn’t spoken. As our plane was finally landing and taxing to the gate, the row of annoyance was getting louder and I, once again, turned to Scott and said “Sweet. Baby. Jesus.” To which our cowboy friend then replied with a chuckle “Ricky Bobby!”
The next morning, at lunch at the Flamingo with JoeSpeaker and Heather, I told them this story right before we spied what JoeSpeaker called “the oldest stripper I’ve ever seen” at a table next to us. Once Heather turned around and saw the octogenarian’s cotton-candy gold sprayed hair she yelled “Ricky Bobby!”
And a new catchphrase was born.