Rebelsportsman is coming back to Texas soon. That reminded me of a friend a long time ago, Chip. He was from New York City and moved to Texas for some reason he could never quite explain to his wife other than to say he wanted his kids to grow up in a wholesome place.
He was a retired fire fighter, a big rough, burly guy. Chip had been born and raised in NYC, as tough a city boy as they come. He grew up on the mean streets and had survived, made a good career, married and raising children. Then he up and moved to Texas.
When I first met him he had been down here for less than a week and was looking for a place to live. In spite of his odd accent and the chip on the shoulder attitue that they have up there, he started to settle in and make friends. He was a hard worker, hard drinker, hard cusser. He was well liked and brought a lot of amusement to us locals.
Chip bought a place out in the country, five acres, and started clearing a place to build a house. This was in August and it was as hot as usual. He comes in to work one day and starts telling me about clearing the land. First thing he did was cut down these fuzzy looking plants that were growing everywhere, using a machete. When he gets a bunch cut down he rakes and drags them into piles. It's hot, so he's not wearing a shirt. Instead of trying to load them into a wheel barrow to haul off he reaches down and grabs up a big armload and hugs them to his chest.
"Hot damn! All of a sudden my chest was on f'ing fire! I started burning and stinging all over my stomach and chest and arms and I threw them bushes down and ran to the creek and jumped in. Didn't help a whole lot either. The stinging was worse than anything I ever felt. Finally I decided I had to quit being a p...y about it and get back to work, so I grab those bushes up again and damin if that pain didn't just get worse. It took me all day to clean those up. I'd grab a bunch and run over to where I wanted to dump them, then run back to the creek. Then I'd grab another armload and start all over. Never seen anything like it. By next morning I had this big red rash all over me, but after another day it pretty much went away. You got any idea what happened?"
Well yes, I did. I explained about bull nettles. He was amazed that a little plant could cause so much pain. So, I explained. I don't think he believed me when I told him the best remedy was to put pee on the whelps.
The next weekend he came into work and had little blisters all over him. He had continued clearing the bull nettles, not touching them this time, and gotten tired. He sat down in the shade to take a nap and woke up "with these mean little ants all over me, stinging the crap out of me. What are those?" So I explained about fire ants.
I went ahead and gave him a pretty good descriptions of scorpions, fiddle back spiders, posionous snakes, poison oak, mesquite thorns, and anything else I could think of. I didn't cover it all though.
He went fishing the following weekend and at lunch the next monday was telling me he was damn tired of Texas. He said "Every fing thing here bites, stings or punctures. I went fishing and the first fish I caugh had a long mouth full of razor sharp teeth. Cut the sh*t out of my fingers."
"Gar", I told him.
"Is there any damn thing else I need to know?"
"Yep, you/ll probably want to stay away from tequila. Here try this texas pickle, we call them jalapenos."