Our list of “who to shop for” has decreased substantially in the last year, due mostly to the fact that we’re too far removed from our old SJ cronies to have to buy for them, and not close enough to anyone here in Mexas to feel obligated to buy for them. Also due to the fact that the radio station refuses to continue sending me checks for “just being awesome” and my inability to write and publish that best-selling novel I’ve got in the works (when I say “in the works” I mean I’m thinking really hard about the possibility of it someday existing). Thus, it’s mostly just kids and teens (siblings, nieces, and nephews) that we’re buying for this year.
It seemed so easy when we were hashing it out a couple of weeks ago. Toys, gadgets, etc… We can do this, even with the meager commercial offerings here in Small Town, TX.
Turns out, though, that there’s only so much meaningful shopping one can do at WalMart. We tried a stop in Kohl’s, but clothing and home decor simply do not mesh with our gifting demographic this year. The “mall” is essentially an indoor flea market, filled with stores that used to be a chain something, but have changed hands several times and now boast temporary store signs like “Boot Village” and “Chinese Connection,” where an avid fan can purchase the latest in lasso technology, or some authentic kimonos, handmade in Maldives. There’s apparently a big market for kimonos in pre-Mexico.
With all this on the plate, we decided a trip to San Antonio was our best option. On the way (Sunday), we encountered a cop car, parked on the yellow line which divides the two lane highway towards SA. “Tractor-trailer caught on fire,” the cop told us, “have to turn around, head to the nearest town, and take the main highway in from there.”
In Texas, even the detours are bigger. 27 miles bigger.
Fortunately for us, however, while driving along an even smaller two-lane highway towards the nearest town, we noticed what looked like a dog in the middle of the road (this is not uncommon, there are packs of feral dogs everywhere). As we passed it, though, we realized it wasn’t so much a dog as a full grown coyote. One point five feet from the car. In broad daylight.
This was the first Christmas of really shopping while living out here. Last year Hubs was still in training, and I was only freshly moved from SJ. I even did some Christmas shopping after Christmas, when I went to SJ for New Year’s. I was still in “gathering” mode.
I learned on Sunday, though, that our lives pretty much necessitate “hunting” mode from now on. We can’t spend a week or so browsing all of the malls and shops in a big city. We have to know what we want before we get there, run into the store, slaughter the gift, and drag it home before dark. Hubs tried to console me as I slowly came to this realization, threw the adult version of a hissy-fit (it’s not fair) and then finally collected a few gifts before we drove home.
Even without the gifts, though, it was a productive trip. We saw a real live coyote. We discovered a new rest-stop (very clean, and without the signs directing toilet paper into the waste-basket). We spent a good hour in a huge bookstore. We ate some sushi. We spent the day together, without interruption. And I learned an important lesson about geographical effects on hunting and gathering.
On the drive home, we passed the burned remains of an 18-wheeler on the shoulder, brightly lit by rescue trucks, still tending the mess 10 hours after it had begun. We spent the next 3o miles discussing what cargo load could have possibly ignited a firestorm of fury that would consume a whole trailer and part of a cab.
Not a bad day in Mexas, all in all.