Tina told me sheâ€™d sip at her Tia Maria, respectfully distanced from participating in the under the table groping she knew to be going on just below. Sheâ€™d smile. Laugh. Tell a joke. She said the end of the table was a fine place to be, four to ten tenured professors between herself and the dashing doctor of education she married as a teen. And it was lone star brilliant. Houses, cars, horses, class. And then, it wasnâ€™t. Some silly, otherwise casual glance turned out to be premeditated. One of her husbandâ€™s minor students experienced grade enhancement. People knew. They told Tina. The bandied about possible divorce was averted when she took to drinking Tia Maria as if it were sweet tea. Until the next time. Another minor. Another student. Then it was an adjunct of pain, and Tina was reduced to tippled tears.
Southern charms would have her cleave; Southern Comfort made her clear out his closet and golf clubs onto the dewy lawn. Unsatisfied with this, she sat on the bed and tried to think of why it should be that way. She tore out of the driveway in the pearl grey Cadillac and ended up sobbing in front of a motel clerk in Arkansas. From there on, she weakly flowed soberly northward until she bumped into the Canadian border. She chose not to take things quite that far. She settled into the cooler climes and learned to shoot harts, can tomatoes and sing karaoke songs, but never country or those ubiquitous jukebox lyrics about the state sheâ€™d left behind. Tina had intuited that no one cared about her tears for Texas. â€œTexas didnâ€™t cry for me,â€ she said as we eyed the man doing the sound check. On the other side of the bar, I poured her a Tia Maria for old timeâ€™s sake. She smiled as wide as the Rio Grande before she spat it back out into my face.