… I met Linda … well, truth be told I am not sure when I first met Linda. It seemed that no matter where I went, there she was.One time early on, I was in a social club which I had helped to found years ago. Talking with a group of friends, I glanced over at the entrance.
In walked a wizened bent old black man, who in truth was only a few months older than I, followed by a dark-haired fiery eyed woman. She seemed troubled, but silent. Little did I know that was one of the very few times I would ever see her that way.
The old man walked up. “This is Linda. She is our friend.” This introduction allowed no question as to her acceptance and we quickly struck up a conversation.
As we sipped coffee and got to know each other, I was struck by the lilt of her voice … something not usually heard in these parts.
“Texas” she said, on seeing my look. “Galveston Texas. Right on the Gulf. Beautiful. And flat. Texas is flat on the Gulf Coast. There ain’t but one fence between there and Dallas and its down”
The last was said with a decidedly Texan twang which I highly suspected was made stronger just for my benefit.
“Used to be a country, you know. Y’all ever been to Texas?” she asked.
“Well I can’t speak for the rest of them, but I have” I replied.
“Oh I wasn’t asking all y’all, I was just asking y’all.” And I learned my first basic lesson in speaking Texas. Y’all is singular. All y’all is plural. Who knew?
The more we talked, the more I learned about her. Quick wit, sharp tongue, friendly to everyone and a great laugh. And she was a great storyteller. Reminded me of someone else I knew.
In short order I learned that she had worked as a waitress, a Sam’s Club employee, a costume designer, and a whole host of other things. She had four children, four marriages to three men, thirty minutes of wonderful … and one property tatoo.
At the time she was, shall we say, of a certain age. You don’t see many property tattoos on … well you just don’t see many property tattoos. Period. I knew there would be a story behind that.
Somehow I knew that by growing up in the sixties, she probably had more than a few stories … and judging by her tendency to talk, there was a fair chance I would get to hear a few.
I was not mistaken.
I quickly discovered we shared a great admiration for a former woman Governor of Texas … Ann Richards. At the time we met, Ann Richards was still very much alive.
Governor Richards had long been one of my role models as a woman, and a personal hero. I had bought her life story and read it taking note of what I could apply to my life.
You may recall her various quotes from conventions and speeches. Some of my favorite quotes are by her. So when Linda quoted two of them in back to back succession, I could see she might become a good friend. Many people know both quotes.
If you give us the chance, we can perform. After all, Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did. She just did it backwards and in high heels.
And when she quoted the other, more famous Ann Richards line about a fellow Texan, I realized we might just have a lot in common.
Poor George, he can’t help it. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth.
And of course she then proceeded to tell the story of the other politician in Texas that she had met. Perhaps I should not mention his name.
Well, it seems this unnamed prior President and his wife were shopping for various and sundry everyday items … parachutes, pearl cleaners, and the like at the Sam’s Club where Linda worked.
When it came time to check out, Linda was asked to do the honors as she was the one with the proper authorizations.
Mrs. President had a cart full of items, while the President had only one or two items to buy. At the checkout, he turned to his wife and asked “Can I have some money, please?”
She doled out the twenty dollars to him … the items were rung up by Linda … and when change was made Mrs. President reached her hand out to take it and return it safely to her purse.
“I always wondered” Linda mused. “Here we trusted him with the economy of the nation, and she doesn’t trust him with Twenty Dollars?”