Friday, March 30, 2007

Texas History 101

Last night, I called my husband.

Since Monday, he’s been in Corpus Christi, Texas with a co-worker for business. On Friday, he is heading back to San Antonio for the flight home. His co-worker, Cesar, is absolutely thrilled about the trip back to San Antonio because they are going to see The Alamo.

“Cesar is beside himself right now because he’s so excited to see The Alamo,” Chris said. I pictured Cesar giddy with his own glee, running up and down the halls of the hotel banging two pots together shouting THE ALAMO THE ALAMO while Chris stands there in his business suit shaking his head.

“Ten bucks says he shows up tomorrow morning wearing a cowboy suit,” I said. Right after saying it, though, I realized I had gotten my Texas history a little crossed. This is not uncommon. Along with visual-spatial skills, science content, and most math, I am totally inept when it comes to remembering historical facts and events.

Not sure if The Alamo had anything to do with cowboys, I decided I should confirm or disconfirm this with Chris. Surely he would know. He’s one of those annoyingly accurate and knowledgeable people with a knack for knowing something about everything in way more detail than seems necessary. Yes, I love my husband.

“So what is The Alamo?” I asked. Really, I had no clue. Other than a reference to a car rental company, I wasn’t sure what happened in, at, or around The Alamo.

“The Alamo is a fortress,” he said. A fortress? That’s not what I expected. The Alamo sounds like a saloon in a dusty old town with those cool saloon doors that I always thought would be a fabulous idea to have in my home. How fun would it be to bust into a room through saloon doors shouting YEE HAW or who wants some PIE!? Saloon doors in my kitchen would be an immediate portal to fun – you’d walk through and enter yourself into a world of bar brawls, shots of whiskey, a shady card game in the corner – all in my kitchen.

In the midst of my cowboy-induced saloon door fantasy, Chris continues….

“It was the fortress where an important battle took place,” he went on to explain. Oh, do tell. Clearly this is going to be a most scintillating story about a slice of Texan history. And we all know I love Texas, and everything is bigger there, so perhaps their historical stories are bigger and better too. I was just hoping he would say ‘and then they busted through the saloon doors' at some point to feed my fantasy about those swinging doors.

He went on about this important battle: “Some civil soldiers headed down to Texas. At that time, Texas did not have the support of the United States. Part of Texas was owned by Mexico, which was Spanish, and so the Spaniards sent Carlos Santana to The Alamo to claim it and take it from the soldiers,” he explained.

“Wait a minute, Carlos Santana?” I asked. As in, master of guitar, Oye Como Va, that Santana? NOW we’re talking, now this story was getting good. But that can’t be right. I don’t know much about history, but I do know that the timeframe was a little off. The Civil War totally predated Santana.

“No, not Carlos Santana, Captain Santana,” he said. I could swear he said Carlos. NOTE: His name was actually Captain Santa Anna but you must agree Chris combining the two into Santana is too entertaining to correct at this point.

“Oh, but he was from Mexico, right?” I asked.

“No, Spain. Anyways, the civil soldiers fought against Santana at The Alamo.”


Details, details….see what I mean about the details? Just tell me the end of the story. And tell me who got thrown out through the saloon doors. And make sure he’s wearing a cowboy hat when you tell me that part.

“So who were these soldiers?” I questioned.

“They were civil soldiers, like David Crockett, David Bowie…..” he mentioned.

David Bowie?”
Was The Alamo some rustic Texan compound where all of history’s most influential musicians hiding? Santana, Bowie, just who else was in there? Hendrix? Joplin?

“No, Jim Bowie,” he said. I could swear he said David Bowie. But that’s what I get for marrying a fast-talker. We often have confusion like this.

“Ok, so Bowie fought against Santana and who won?” I asked.

“Santana won,” Chris noted.

“So what is the big deal about The Alamo then?” I wondered. If the soldiers lost, and the Spaniard won shouldn’t we be saying hola in Texas instead of hello?

“Well, the United States realized that if soldiers were willing to fight to their death for Texas than it might be worth standing behind and supporting.”

Oh. So there was a moral to this story. I get it. Something you believe in is worth fighting for. Got it. And this story would have gotten much better with saloon doors. That would have been something worth fighting for. In fact, let me rewrite this history in a much more interesting way; whatever you do please do not break my saloon doors, Bowie said and with that Santana slammed open one of the saloon doors sending it hurtling across the dusty old bar and immediately sending the entire saloon in a brawl.

I thought about this historical lesson for a moment, and then thought back to where it began. With Cesar dressed – inaccurately – like a cowboy.

“So then it would be safe to suppose that Cesar will show up tomorrow dressed like a Captain and not a cowboy,” I added.

“Yes, I suppose,” Chris said. He got the logic. If Cesar was so interested in The Alamo and its history, he’d be dressed either like a captain or even a solider. But still likely to run up and down the hotel hallways shouting something about The Alamo no matter what.

“What do you think a Captain would wear?” I asked. “Would they be dressed like a pirate?”

I could see it - Chris walks out to the lobby and Cesar jumps out from behind a plastic plant while shouting ARGGGH it’s time to go to The Alamo, matey! ARGH! And he’s wearing a black long coat with white frilly cuffs, a peg leg, and hook for his right hand.

Obviously Chris didn’t share my same entertaining vision. “A pirate?” he asked.

“Yes, like Captain Morgan on the bottle of rum. He’s a captain and he’s dressed like a pirate.” I proudly explain.

“No, Liz, that’s a sea captain. Captain Morgan was a sea captain. Santana was a military captain. Cesar will not be dressed like Captain Morgan,” Chris verified.

Sea captain, army captain, details, semantics. A captain is a captain is a captain. But if it must be a military captain, well then, suit yourself, I thought. Better yet, suit up like my newly invented Captain-Santana-of-the-Sea and I bet you’ll have a thousand times more fun at The Alamo. I can see it now – Cesar and Chris – dressed like pirates – ready to take on The Alamo with swashbuckling swords and a strange language where everything is preceeded by the letter "A" – Argh!, Ahoy!, Avast!; enter Captain Carlos Santana and his first mate David Bowie. History will be rewritten indeed.

But I didn’t say that. I decided to keep that entertaining vision to myself.

“Have fun at The Alamo," I said, "and say hi to Bowie and Santana for me, will ya?”

Chris laughed, I said good night, and with that I looked forward to his return tomorrow night to hear all about his trip to The Alamo and to learn a little more about Texas history.


And maybe if I’m lucky, he’ll keep his captain suit on for me.

2 comments:

Paulie said...

OMG! This is so hilarious.

Spokane Al said...

If you are looking for a movie to rent you could do worse than 2004's The Alamo. Billy Bob Thorton is absolutely excellent as Davy Crockett and the movie gives a good perspective on the politics and the issues that led up to that episode in American/Mexican history.