“As The Sun Sets…”was published in The Observer in the

August 5, 1993 edition.  I had been in San Antonio for three years at that point, and was still trying to acclimate.

 

As The Sun Sets Over the Cactus

          It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost two years since I made the transition from Scituate, a small town in the northwest corner of the “Biggest Little State in the Union”, to San Antonio–part of the Lone Star State where everything is large and the population is the same as the whole state of Rhode Island! 

          To say that it’s been an experience would be an understatement!!

          For the most part, people out here are very cordial…but every time I’d meet someone new that same question would, invariably be asked, “So where ya’ll come from? That ain’t no Texas accent.”

          At the beginning I would answer, “Rhode Island” and almost always got the same quizzical expression in return—then the lightbulb would go on.

          “That’s part of New York, right?”

          “No, that’s Long Island.  Rhode Island is about an hour south of Boston.”

          “Heck, ah know where Baston is.  Why’jnt ya say that in the first place?”

          What more could I expect from a place who’s birth certificates came with names like “Jimmy Lee”–I have yet to meet anyone here named Anthony—or who’s interpretation of the English language would have me repeating English 101…twice.

          Of course, thanks to actor Joe Pesci, I have no grounds to poke fun.  After the movie “My Cousin Vinnie” was released I took some pretty hard ribbing about being a Yankee.  I thought the the wind had shifted from the Johnston Landfill when people kept coming up to me at work and asking me to say the word, “youth”. 

It always seemed there was someone who wanted to hear me say the word “Bahston” or “to go pahk the cah and get a beah afta work.”

          Speaking of “beah”, the cuisine in the Lone Star State is another thing entirely.  You can  forget all about doughboys, grindas, coffe cabinets, or cabinets of any kind.

          Asking for a stuffie or a weiner with the works could probably get you arrested around here.                                     

          The four main food groups in San Antonio appear to be beer, tacos, beans, and jalepenos…in that order.  There are jalapenos in just about everything here, from salads to ice cream at Fiesta time.   Beans of some size, color, or variety usually come as a side dish to any meal you order.  And ther’s a 24-hour fast food joint on almost every corner!

          I have no doubt that the makers of Rolaids could market an economy pack here!

          But I think that of all the things here in San Antonio that differ from Rhode Island, it’s got to be the climate.  “Heat” is one thing. You can learn to deal with 80 degree temperatures at eight o’clock at night, but when humidity reaches 95% and it’s as thick and immovable as an early morning fog bank off Block Island, you’ve got a problem almost as bad as the five o’clock traffic on the Thurber’s Ave curve.

          As I sit here, watching the last glowing embers of sunlight wash over the cactus, I close my eyes.  Like a child on Christmas Eve, I dream of a place where you don’t have to drive for hours to hear waves breaking on the shore.  Where you can grab a Del’s and a couple of weiners on a hot summers night, and where there really are guys named Anthony who visit the Condom Hut.

                                         –Doug Clark