My stetson has become a little bit of a trademark, so much so that during the hot summer months, when the need for such an item of clothing is unnecessary, I am often asked, 'where's the hat?' We were once welcomed to our favourite Mexican restaurant by one of the Managers, who greeted us like long lost friends and asked, 'where's the hat'? Rather bemused, I told him that it was too hot, to which he replied, 'ah ha....the staff know you as the lady with the hat!' Fame at last!
However, on my return home, wearing such an article around Sainsbury or the Harlequin (supermarket and shopping mall), I quite often hear comments such as, 'where d'ya leave yer 'orse?' I have taken to turning round and, smiling, answer their rhetorical question; 'In Texas, where I live!' The ensuing apologies are accepted as unnecessary, and I am usually assured by the offender, that it was 'only a laugh'. I don't take offence. Wearing cowboy attire in the middle of Watford, or anywhere in England, other than a line dancing class or convention, can look rather precocious.
The hat has not, as yet, been accompanied by the boots, but that is soon to be remedied, not necessarily for the look, but for the comfort. Slowly, very slowly, I am fitting into this new life. Wearing the same attire as the locals does not a Texan make, but as I have said before, saying 'hi' to strangers, and passing the time of day with strangers has become the norm.
There are, of course, some occasions when I do not quite understand and despite my half century, I can be somewhat naive. When asked how I am doing, I generally reply that I am doing very well. Normally, the person asking walks on their way. Sometimes they stop and continue a conversation. Normally it is perfectly innocent. After all, as the saying goes, only in Texas can you have a full conversation with the wrong number!
Working downtown is probably the best place to people watch and there are a lot of different people to watch. Sitting on the steps of our office, which during the summer is quite often a pleasant past-time, I can watch the world go by. There are those with no fixed abode, and those who purport to be of no fixed abode, making more money panhandling in their lunch hour than they do at their regular jobs. With all the tattoo and piercing parlours around, bejewelled and painted people are more 'in place' than those who are not. Ladies who are employed in the oldest profession are, apparently, mingling with the crowd during the day, as well as at night. Then there are those who go to work wearing a smart suit and a Stetson. Despite the diversity of the inhabitants, I feel very safe walking through the streets (or sitting on the steps) of Austin.
There was an occasion, however, when instead of watching the world go by, I decided to take my book and take a break. I do not often take breaks during the day, (yes, my name is Tracie, and I am a workaholic,) but I had a few pages left, and was desperate to find out how the main character would survive the unsurvivable situation. Sitting on the step, wearing my usual attire of smart suit and Stetson, I opened my book and started to read. Before long I was interrupted by a gentleman (to use the term very loosely), who asked how I was doing. He was dressed rather casually, but carried and attache case, which combination is not uncommon. He pointed in the main vicinity of our office and asked, in not so many words, if this was my place of employment. Not wanting to sound rude, I told him that I was employed at this location but I was taking a break. I was rather curious as to why he needed to know where I was employed, but chose not to continue the conversation. Unfortunately, he wished to continue, and once again, not wanting to appear rude, I placed my book in my lap and looked up with a look that should have read, 'I'm busy'. Obviously illiterate in reading faces, he once again asked the question. Once again, I told him that I was employed here, but was at the moment taking a break. The next comment was rather odd, but I would imagine that most of you are by now wondering how I could be so naive. The 'gentleman' said he was looking to 'employ' someone, and was I sure that I was not interested. I replied that I already had a job, but thanked him for his interest. Eventually, he bid me good day and left. On re-entering the office, still not having discovered the fate of my book character, I announced to those inside that I had just been offered a job, and relayed the story. After everyone had stopped rolling around laughing hysterically, it was explained to me that the said 'gentleman' was, in fact, propositioning me. Absolutely horrified, then absolutely furious, I ran outside to scream obscenities at the, by now. invisible man. Everyone inside was still trying to regain composure.
Wearing my hat, fortunately, does not always have the same effect, although I was recently told that I could make a lot of money at a men's club, which at my age, I suppose I should take as a compliment, unless of course the men's club is for pensioners!
Looking back, I am not sure whether my horror and anger was at the proposition or at my naivety. Either way, the story has been repeated many times and always causes a snicker. Welcome to Texas!
Just a short post this time, but another tale to add to the colourful life I lead, until I have time to write....another story.