Thursday, July 5, 2007

Cue Theme Song

In my early 20s I went backpacking around Australia. I went alone although originally I was supposed to go with a friend from college. She had some sort of personal crisis on a camel ranch outside of Alice Springs during the first week so I spent the rest of the trip traveling solo. I don’t think I’d ever have had the nerve to do it on my own unless I was forced to do so, but I was surprised to discover by the end of the trip that I’d had a marvelous time. I met lots of interesting backpackers from around the world. I trekked through a rainforest and saw a platypus swimming in the wild. I watched the opening ceremonies of the Lillehammer Olympics with a group of international backpackers in Queensland, and participated in an on-the-floor demonstration/analysis of how camels walk compared to other four-legged animals (both left legs, then both right – it’s very awkward).

I also discovered that being from Texas means people have already assigned you your own personal theme song. Many people would start humming the “Dallas” theme song as soon as they learned where I was from. One happy lady started clapping loudly about 2 inches from my nose – nearly scared me into a fit – and only after she started singing did I realize this was my cue to start in with “Deep in the Heart of Texas”.

While I was on the Queensland Coast near the Great Barrier Reef I decided to take a 2-day sailboat cruise out to see the Reef. This was sheer madness in a number of ways, the most obvious being that I’m no sailor. I’m a land-lubbin’ girl from the prairies, and I get seasick even sitting on a dock. But traveling alone must have buoyed my confidence to levels of insanity because I signed up for the trip and found myself on a sailboat with 8 other tourists, plus the captain and his crew of 2. There was the hairy lonesome Frenchman who was pathetically grateful for my attempts to revive high school French for conversation. The two Swedish girls who didn’t need the rest of us. A couple of people from Ireland and England and Germany. Me. And the Australian crew. We got the initial introductions – and my denial of being a cowgirl or related to any cowboys – out of the way, set sail, and then I turned green. Never had Kermit the Frog’s theme song been more true – it is seriously difficult being green. Trying not to throw up on that nice clean boat – or over the side onto one of the world’s natural treasures – was a major effort. I’m not sure how I managed, but eventually I came out of my haze enough to realize I was sitting at the back next to the captain. Everyone else was up front with lunch. (Shudder.)

The captain did some fiddly professional thing with the wheel, squinted at the horizon in convincing way and said, gruffly, “Does it bother you?” Now, this was completely out of left field. I hadn’t spoken or been able to process others speaking for a couple of hours.

Me: “Does what bother me?”

Captain: “Being that size.”

(Digression: Being all of 21 at that time, I was a svelte little nymph compared to my current size and shape. Nonetheless I was probably about 5’4” and definitely cleared 110 pounds.)

Me: “Um, no.”

Captain: “It’s just, I’d heard everyone in Texas is really big. And you’re not big.”

Me: unspoken signs of disbelief

Me: “We’re not GIANTS! We’re Texans!”

Captain: embarrassed silence and more professional squinting

So that was how I discovered first-hand that being from Texas means all sorts of things to people overseas, and that sometimes it’s best not to ask or assume what they might be. Let them think I’m a lassoing, steer-branding, JR-shooting, NASA-tech, cheerleading, boot-wearing, high-kicking, hair-spray addicted, rhinestone encrusted oil tycoon with my own personal corral full of plaid-wearin' fellas named Slim or Hank and a theme song that orchestras love. I’m fine with that. They'd be wrong about everything but the rhinestones, but hey, let them have their dreams.

Do any of you out there have your own personal theme song – either self-chosen or assigned to you by the general public? I’d love to hear about it.


Jeana said...

I usually get the theme song from "Dallas". And now that will be stuck in my head all day.

Anonymous said...

Before I was married, my maiden name was Adams and I always got the Addams family theme song. Of course, everyone thought they were the first to think of it.

LaLa said...

I can handle having the 'Dallas' song stuck in my head - it doesn't involve snapping. 'The Addams Family' song would interfere with my productivity because I'd need my hands free all the time!

Pumpkin said...

Being from Scotland, I don't have a theme song....but I do get a re-run of the famous line from Braveheart whenever introduced to someone new (you may take our lives, but you'll never take our freedom...blah blah)..........I used to like the film...