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Lone Star State
by Vincent Barry

. . . It is not alone in this regard, mind you. Still, Texas alone is called the Lone Star State. A colorful sobriquet for what many Texans fancy, as do many Americans: defiance, independence, individualism, autonomy, even, I’m tempted to say, aristocentrism. And those who do, acutely and doggedly guard this illusion of separateness from the rest of the U.S., the world, indeed the universe. But—well, we’re talking here the Lone Star State. . .  So, where but in Texas would the governor send the State Guard to monitor the activities of a joint exercise of Green Berets and Navy Seals lest they be part of a federal invasion coming to take away guns, even—who knows?— ship their owners off to work as slave labor in, perhaps, a WalMart in, heaven forbid!, Galveston? . . . Speaking of the slave trade holdout, did you know that in Galveston you can be fined for strolling on a beach during a hurricane? Even if you’re not black? Now you wouldn’t think that, would you? I mean in the so-called Lone Star State of defiance, individualism, etcetera, etcetera. . . . Of course, you must be dressed up as the horror movie character Michael Myers—you know, from the Halloween franchise? Right, that brown-haired Michael Myers . . . and, oh yes, also be wearing a blank, expressionless, white latex face— and, oh I almost forgot, you also must be carrying a bloody knife. . . . “Scary character! Scary character!” a 9-1-1 caller shivered with fright at the sight in the dim light . . . Responding officers stopped and cuffed the aforesaid Myers look-a-like, charging him with disorderly conduct. Of the illegality of his action—“taking a silly walk down the beach during a storm in a costume”—the accused said he was “fuzzy,” as, frankly, was I till I read his post. His spectral appearance, he explained, was about “bringing positive vibes to the gloom and doom out there, generating some laughter, helping people crack a smile, and restoring our faith in humanity through humor.” It took a reread before these words sank in. But when they did they hit me like a Category 4 ripping through the Oleander City. “Out there.” I mean, where’s that? And what is this “faith” stuff all about? “Humor” I’ll let pass. But not the kicker: “humanity.” Why, that’s as wacky as all git-out. Worse even— for fixin’ to mess with Texas, I mean the whole mythology of the “Lone Star State,” it might could.  . . . No wonder, dad gum it, sure ’nuff, the sorry excuse for an island attorney was right quick convicted. . . . Remember the Alamo!