I have spent this Sunday afternoon in the barn, disassembling a Husqvarna 7.75 horsepower mower that wouldn't start at the worst time --time to make firebreaks on a dehydrated prairie in California. Machine's only 2 years old and I'm danged if I'm going to call in the 3-year warranty because...because, well, I'm a guy and we don't do that. Guys fix things, even if it takes all afternoon and turns out to be a bit of crud in the carburetor pilot valve. Runs fine now but it's too late to do any mowing. Warranty...Horsefeathers!...that'd be like asking us to use coupons at the grocery store. So, somewhere between 3 pm, when I was weeping softly over stray parts and disintegrating gaskets, and 5 pm, when I pulled the cord and the engine started right up and purred, I thought of Tex and Rosie. I wrote about them and the Driscolls 3 years back and decided to put my tools and chemicals away, relax with a glass or three of good cabernet and repost The Rose.
The rose is a very dramatic flower.
am a typical American of my time, who grew up watching oaters on UHF
(ultra high fructose) TV stations full of strong, silent role models.
Drama was left to the female lead, whose difficult job it was to elicit
heartfelt responses from Gary-Cooper-quiet heroes who often really were
Gary Cooper. It went like this:
Rose: Don't go, Tex, oh don't go.
Tex: Gots to go, Rosie.
Rose: But the Driscoll gang'll get you.
should mention here that bad-guys were pretty much always Driscolls in
old westerns, and the most repeated line was,"C'mon out, Driscoll!" Then
you'd get 15 minutes of bullets ricocheting off a big rock in the dusty
yard of a clapboard cabin. My theory is these scenes have historical
root in a real Driscoll family that conducted a similar argument in Ogle
County, Illinois, in the 1840s. It is a cautionary tale, like the
Bible's story of Rebekah's contentious twins, of what can happen when
family counseling is delayed.
Rose: But Tex, I...I love you, you big galoot.
Tex: Aw, Rosie.
Rose: Just come back to me.
Tex: Aw Rosie. Yuh give me the goldurned emotions!
rides away, of course. Rose clasps her little fists under her quivering
chin and walks back to the one-room school house --Rose is always the
schoolmarm. We follow Tex into a chaotic universe, but Goethe and Rollo
May have assured us nature throws its assisting forces behind the
individual who begins a constructive cycle. Tex enters the fray, same
fray I saw in most every western that raised me, and brings himself
back. We're not so sure his methods were suitable for a general
American, or global, rosy future, but he won and he's a hero. I'm a
little male kid and think, "Wow, we're not so different: he puts his hat
on one leg at a time, just like me!"
The rose is a
beautiful, dramatic flower. But beauty and drama can cover the secret,
injurious nature of reality. The hero is quiet, strong, possessed of an
uncomplicated mind, a mind in which secrets are safe. But what can be
more dangerous than what we withhold from each other --perhaps secrets
the mind keeps from itself? Ooh ooh! He's riding back up to the school
house. Rosie runs out. They share a long mindless period of eye-contact.
Tex: Aw, I reckon I love you too.
Now what was I thinking about drama, vigilantism, morality and the mind? I forget.