Sunday, July 17, 2011

Amor Tejano and other close encounters

Growing up in South Texas often makes it hard to be romantic.

The landscape is full of creepy crawlers from spiders to scorpions, armadillos to snakes, possums to javelinas and mosquitoes to bees....just to mention a few.
Of course, if you live in the Brush Country of South Texas, there are stickers and burrs, jagged rocks with edges and prickly pear cactus and Spanish daggers to contend with as you try to take a romantic walk in the country.

Everything around you seems to bite or stick or prick. Yes, it's hard to be romantic in South Texas.

And then there are the cows . . .

Cows? Well, yes, and they can be a nuisance. Any red-blooded Tejano will tell you that it's hard to whisper romantic ramblings to your date when the mooing of cows can be heard in the background. Not even a full moon on a semi-starry night full of comets blazing through the night sky will salvage the moment. Trust me.

One particular warm summer evening I decided to take a girl friend "parking." That's what we called getting about a mile or two out of town, parking by the side of the road near a huisache or mesquite tree - an oak tree if you're lucky - turning the car off and hoping for a romantic interlude under the night sky. The air is usually warm in summer, but not hot. It's a perfect time to talk, hug and cuddle. I had cleaned my aqua blue 1959 Chevy Bel Air like seldom before. It was sparkling in the night sky as I drove up to the tall mesquite on the road to a neighboring town. As I turned off the car, I revved the engine - vroom, vroom.

"Why did you do that?" she asked.

"Just to make sure that the battery is charged," I answered. "We don't want to get stuck out here in the middle of the country, right?"

Little did I realize how prophetic that statement was. But, I only revved the engine to send a message to her that I too was revved up. You know - vroom vroom. Girls don't get that to this date. Still, the night was young and she was beautiful and I was, well, you know.

"Ay, baby, I love you," I was saying to her as the warmth of the South Texas night on the outskirts of my hometown enveloped us. Suddenly, but not surprisingly, from deep from the nearby mesquite grove and pasture came this distinct bellowing of a cow mooing close by.

"Mooooooooooooooooooooo!" the cow said.

"What was that?" she asked.

"Es una vaca (It's just a cow). There's a dairy nearby here. Don't worry," I said, cradling her neck with my right hand and getting closer to her.

Just then, the plaintive cry of the coyote echoed through the night air. The howl was piercing and seemed to be closer than the furry critter probably was.

"Is that a coyote?" she asked. "It's close. I hear they have rabies."

"Ay, baby, don't worry. It's probably at Raul's rancho and it's at least two miles away," I said.

"Two miles? That's not that far. They run fast, right?" she asked again, definitely feeling bothered by the noise.

"No really, it's far, it's far...the coyote (pronounced the Tejano way: co-yo-te and not the Texan way ca-yow-tay) won't bother us," I said.

She finally calmed down. The warm southeasterly breeze from the Gulf of Mexico was as mellow as melted butter on a tortilla and she was finally responding to my amorous advances. The night was young, and so were we.

Under the moon-lit sky, it was a precious almost perfect moment for romance. The two of us were cradled in the cab of my harddoor 1959 Chevy with the moon peering at us from above in an almost embarrassed sort of way was just how I imagined the night to evolve.

The night was young, and so were we.

Somehow, the mosquitoes and flies had left, gone to sleep I guess after getting their belly-full of blood and other succulent things around the brush. Then, the wind stopped. We could hear the crickets chirping around us. A covey of fireflies flew past by my 1959 Chevy Bel Air. Their light illuminated her face. It was gorgeous. Youth is a wonderful thing, even in a South Texan night scene. I reached up to caress her lovely face and was about to say . . . . when it happened.

"Mooooooooooooooooooooo!" the cow said.

She screamed at the top of her lungs as if she had just seen Count Dracula and the Wolfman materialize in the car.

My ears were bursting with pain as if they had been pierced with a sharp needle. I jumped back and shouted "Que paso? What's wrong."

"Mooooooooooooooooooooo!" the cow said.

I looked at her face. She was definitely terrified and, who could blame her. The cow sound close, real close.

"Mooooooooooooooooooooo!" the cow said.

I turned around and there, to my horror, was the huge head of a Holstein cow inside the cab of my car.

"Mooooooooooooooooooooo!" the cow said.

I reacted like any proud Tejano from the Brush Country would have. I screamed.

"Mooooooooooooooooooooo!" the cow said.

Then I went into macho man mode....yelling "Hey-ah, Hey-ah, Hey-ah, Hey-ah!"

I don't know what it means or what language it is, but I had heard the vaqueros yell that at the cows during roundups so I figured it was a language the cow would understand. It didn't.

"Mooooooooooooooooooooo!" the cow said.

My girl friend was screaming again. My other ear burst. She opened the car door and took off running through the knee-high bufflegrass on the side of the road and looking back every now and then to see if the cow was chasing her.

I called out her name after another round of "Hey-ah, Hey-ah, Hey-ah, Hey-ah!"

I told her to stop. She yelled back, "Take my home! Take me home, now!" The last word was as piercing a sound as I have ever heard to this date.

The cow still had its head inside my Chevy.

"Mooooooooooooooooooooo!" the cow said.

"Hey-ah, Hey-ah, Hey-ah, Hey-ah!" I answered as I got my baseball cap from the car and slapped it against the cow's nose.

"Mooooooooooooooooooooo!" the cow said.

"Hey-ah, Hey-ah, Hey-ah, Hey-ah!" I answered and gave it one more solid swat with my high school baseball cap. It was my prized possession from my high school baseball team - black cotton with a striking white Old English letter representing my hometown.

The slap loosened the snot on the cow's nose and saliva from its tongue swept around the cab of the aqua anterior in my Chevy. The slobber covered the front of my cap entirely.

"Hey-ah, Hey-ah, Hey-ah, Hey-ah!" I yelled with a growling sound.

"Mooooooooooooooooooooo!" the cow said.

"Take me home, now!" she yelled again. She seemed further away from the car now. I really hoped that coyote wasn't nearby.

Her scream must have scared the cow, 'cause it took off south toward the fence line that had somehow fallen and allowed it to ramble into the street and toward my car.

I got out of the car and ran toward her. I gave her a hug and told her, "It's okay, baby. It's okay."

She answered, "No it's not. Take me home. Take me home, now!"

I did. The date was over. That night I found out that parking on a South Texas road outside of town and hoping for a romantic interlude could be hazardous to your health. I did this only 'cause there's not much to do in a small town..oh, wait, I should not say that.

As I let her out of my car, I tried to hold her hand. She said, "Don't touch me."

I realized then I had some cow slobber on my hands and arm and pants.

She ran to the door. Her mother was waiting for her.

"Mija (Daughter), que paso (what happened)?" the mother asked.
She burst into tears. I would see her again in better circumstances, sans cow.

In the distance, I could hear the sounds of various wildlife enjoying the night in their Brush Country environment. I heard the coyote's wails, the hoots of the owls, the croaking of the frogs at a nearby creek and chirping of nightingales. I even heard the neighing of horses at nearby ranches. As I listened closer and more intently, I felt certain I heard that darned cow laughing at me.

"Mooooooooooooooooooooo!" the cow said.

1 comment:

  1. Hey brother.....I loved your story!!!!!