As a married man of a certain age, one expects to be given Yuletide tasks. It is a given that your regular round will be interrupted with missions for which it could be said you are not the most adapted member of the family. But it came to pass this holiday season that my dear wife provided me with one of the most extraordinary chores I have ever had to perform at this or any other Christmas. It involves flying pigs at the Mexican border.
Lowes at IH10 and Callaghan happens to be one of the closest stores to our house. While perusing for seasonal ornaments my wife espied some large ornaments in the form of pink flying pigs, with flapping wings no less, an important aspect in her desire to display the creatures on our lawn. What exactly they have to do with Christmas is, apparently, on a need to know basis and I am not on that list.
Suffice it to say, however, that immediate purchases were not made. While I would have told her, as a veritable professional purchaser of Christmas themed decorations for the huge “Santa’s Railroad Wonderland” event at the Texas Transportation Museum, had I been asked, that such items go quickly and should be purchased right there, right then, she believed, once again, that they would soon be on sale and, therefore, delay should be the order of the day. By the time she went back, which is to say the afternoon of Wednesday December 23rd, they were gone. Who else wanted such items or why they were ever made in the first place is a mystery to me, but as a buck private who am I to question the general in charge?
A store check revealed three flying pigs were still available in Eagle Pass. And so, on Christmas Eve, I found myself, alone, on the road to the border; a mere round trip of 300 miles, five hours of driving and one additional for various stops. Actually, as the alternative most likely would have entailed visiting malls and other stores I do not visit 364 days of the year, it was, actually, a fairly pleasant diversion. I am familiar with the route, having plied it fairly regularly when I drove for the Union Pacific back in 2003.
Highway 57 is mostly long, straight and very dull, almost mesmerizingly so. And it would be hard to say whether Batesville or La Pryor, the only two towns along the ninety-five mile road, looks the most blighted and abandoned, even on Christmas Eve, though the howling wind did not help much either. From a historical point of view it is probably Batesville which was once the seat of Zavala County before it lost its position in 1927 when nearby Crystal City gained railroad service.
Mission half accomplished, I, as a fur’ner, had an amusing encounter with the Border Patrol inspection station on the way back. “What was the purpose of your trip?” I was reasonably asked. “I’m almost frightened to tell you in case you think I am on drugs or something but I came here to pick up some flying pigs from Lowe’s,” I awkwardly replied. “They don’t have them in San Antonio?” he queried, incredulously. It was obviously the most original reply he had heard in some time. “It’s a long story, “I sighed. “My wife thought they would be on sale so didn’t immediately buy them when she saw them so, here I am.” Pigs duly inspected, the agent grinned and said, “Dude! You are so married!”
Yes, yes I am, quite happily as a matter of fact. My spouse is many things but dull ain’t one of them. That we ended up delivering gifts at the city jail in the wee hours of Christmas Day was not all that surprising to me, frankly, but it is a whole nuther story.