Driving home from Dallas to Houston after a family Thanksgiving dinner is a task. I don’t mean the traffic, but I mean the effort itself. A Thanksgiving dinner tradition my late grandmother established over thirty years ago still holds (in its bare bones) today. So four hours from Houston to Dallas in a car, and four hours upon return must make it worthwhile in order to hold up a thirty some odd years tradition.
When, on the Friday after Thanksgiving, my older cousin takes the kids to his Texas “ranch” near Honey Grove to feed his black Angus cattle, the trip seems worthwhile. The kids—my niece and nephew—love it. But outside of this trip to the “ranch”—i.e., the nice meal on Thanksgiving with nice people and turkey and stuffing—it makes one wonder of the significance of the overall effort of driving to get there.
My elder cousins take it seriously, but then despite their immense personal efforts, they never seem to take anything seriously. In their personal success, they are experts at the art of wry comments of one’s own failures—an art form with which I could never respond to other than the appropriate level of keeping up appearances. Yes, I could respond to their humor with mean one liners to shut them all up for good, but if I did so, I would never return. So I generally laugh along and have nothing to say seriously with my own family. My brother in law, in his success too, only wants to talk business—24/7. So this is my Thanksgiving—nothing to say to family members in a way that seems important, and that, in the memory of my grandmother, I will hopefully continue to next year.
I say all this for the radio I listened to on the drive home. I was listening to satellite BBC, and there was an open forum with John Lydon (“Johnny Rotten”). What luck! I had something entertaining to listen to between Fairfield, TX and Madisonville, TX on I45—a most boring drive. But that said, it was an unsatisfactory radio event. Why? Well, Lydon both claimed to be a nationalist and a cosmopolitan, a monarchist and a republican. He made political statements while claiming to never have been political. He was angry that people took him to be taking the piss out of things when he truly meant what he said, but then again he wanted to have his ironic side too. He was angry when the audience made a big deal about the Sex Pistols, but then he claimed to be the emblem of the most important thing that had ever shown itself in popular culture through the Sex Pistols. While he was a big promoter of humanity and the importance of love in general, he also wanted the audience to know that hate too was important. In other words, Johnny Rotten was as deliberately confused as he ever was. His band PiL had a new album, and the BBC played a song. Despite Lydon’s talk of exploding all forms, it was a reggae diddy with the typical PiL sound—which ain’t bad.
But Lydon came across as a caricature of himself on the BBC, whining about the ways in which the BBC distorts the reality of which he thinks he speaks. He wanted to have it both ways, and still be taken seriously.
I guess when I encounter the great wits of my family, I feel like Johnny Rotten too. I want to be critical, but for thirty years I have gone out of my way to suffer their wit—a wit I do not feel the equal too. At least we go to Honey Grove and feed the cows, and a good time is had by all.
It is something to be thankful for. That, and also going to the community of Bug Tussle, Texas.