“Boys State,” Brazos Beef and Dr Pepper Buzz. I am amazed how I can put all that into one Tall Tale.
First, “Boys State.” It’s the movie to see this fall. A documentary about teens forming their own government. Not a “mockumentary” but budding political teenagers captured on film by a couple of young filmmakers who followed a thousand Texas teenagers in Austin attempting to form a more perfect union.
Where were those filmmakers back when I was part of a group of young men trying to form a more perfect union, too? “Nebraska Boys State?” Those filmmakers probably weren’t born when my hometown chapter of the American Legion chose me to be their rep at Nebraska Boys State. Legionnaires all over the state, all over the nation, chose a high school junior to represent their chapter.
That whole fascinating experience had fallen out of my brain until I saw the reviews for “Boys State.”
“Couldn’t be?” I thought. But there it was, streaming away. A modern replica of what I went through years and years and years ago.
For those not into politics, Boys State is a weeklong exercise in building a state government. Each American Legion Club selects a young man to represent them. All those young men come together to the state capital where they split into two parties to run political campaigns and get elected — or lose.
One of my classmates was expected to be selected. I went through the interview anyway, a pretty intense interrogation, because I wanted the interview experience. And I thought I might get into politics. Yes, I was a weird teenager. A policy wonk before that phrase had even been coined.
Staring at me as I entered the windowless conference room were three hardened military guys, all staunch Legionnaires, who had served in World War II and Korea. They asked me what I thought about arms control, the draft and the Vietnam War.
I could see in their eyes what they wanted to hear and that is exactly what I gave them. I’ve always felt uncomfortable about what I said because that wasn’t really who I was. Guess what? All these years later, at that Texas Boys State on film, a young man running for governor confesses that he “read the room” and fabricated a speech that the boys in the room would love — so they’d vote for him.
Just like real politics.
Somehow, I was nominated for governor — and lost. But I made some great friends and sealed the deal that I would never, ever go into politics. It is a contact sport. Rougher than rugby. You are a moving target. Half the people love you and the other half hate you.
Which leads me into Brazos Beef. I hate that nobody local won the “Beef on the Brazos” fundraiser that I wrote about a couple of columns ago. Purchase a raffle ticket — only 2,000 were sold — and get a chance to win a herd of cattle. The proceeds benefit the Washington on the Brazos State Park and the champ “wins” 20 heifers to keep or sell at the auction in Brenham. What a deal!
A tip of the hat to fellow Tribune columnist Julia Nation who reminded me to check who won the steers. I am happy to report to Julia that the park webpage says a Fairfield resident won the herd, darn it, but a Conroe resident won $1,000. That is close enough.
And one final item, and then I am all caught up. The Dr Pepper Buzz. Cynthia Calvert, who knows me oh, so well, informs me there is a Dr Pepper shortage. Now, I can handle no toilet paper. And we look every week but haven’t found a spray can of Lysol since March. But no Dr Pepper? Say it isn’t so.
Cynthia sent me an item from Eater.com, experts in all things related to food. They report it is a combination of an aluminum can shortage and increased demand from “ … customers who loaded their pantries with canned drinks in the spring.”
I am devastated. I can find substitutes for toilet paper. Don’t ask. And Walmart periodically has an imitation Lysol that we’ve been able to snatch. But that sugary, spicy throat-burn that is oh, so unique to Dr Pepper? I am devastated.