Texas is an amazing place. I fell in love with it the first time I ever set foot in the state. There’s a mindset, a culture, and a pride that I deeply love. I tell my girls to never forget that they are half-Texan, and I consider myself to be Texan by marriage.
Texans love a lot of things. They love football. They love beer. They love pickup trucks. They love good music. They love their mamas. And they love barbeque.
Which is why, I suppose, that every time we go down to Texas to visit my in-laws, we have barbeque at least once at a little place called Cele. Cele used to be a town. Now it’s pretty much just an old general store that has been converted into a barbeque “restaurant”. I use quotes because they’re only open Friday nights and Saturday noons. It’s decorated pretty much like an old machine shop would be, and their tables are old tables that have been salvaged from basements and garage sales. There’s no air conditioning, and the curtains–once white–have become a rich chocolate brown from the years and years of barbeque smoke.
When we go, my in-laws know most of the people in there. There’s talk, there’s laughter. But some pretty famous people have eaten at Cele, too–Clint Eastwood, Kevin Costner, and probably Dolly Parton and Burt Reynolds (Cele is not far from the house where they filmed “Best Little Whorehouse in Texas“–the house, by the way, was built by M’s great-grandfather and until recently his dad’s cousin still lived there. We had a wedding shower there. Here endeth my connection to Hollywood.). But it’s nothing fancy. Just simple people, getting together in a simple place, to enjoy a simple meal: meat, bread, pickles, cheese, and some of the best barbeque sauce you will ever have in your mouth, all served up on butcher paper.
This visit was no different. FIL loaded up his wife, children and his grandchildren, and off we went to Cele to gorge ourselves on barbeque. The waitress took our drink orders, starting with the little girls. Katy, age 4, asked for a Big Red. Suz, age 3, asked for an iced tea. And what did my sweet Nea order? My sweet, lovely little girl who has never even had a soft drink or a piece of gum in her entire life? She quite proudly (and quite loudly) stood on her chair, looked the waitress in the eye and said, “I’d like a beer.”
The entire place errupted into laughter. I felt my hair go slightly curly, as I wondered what in the hell had prompted her to say that. Then I decided it didn’t matter what made her say it. It was funny. It was damn funny. And, I supposed I couldn’t very well fault her for ordering beer when I’ve spent that last four years telling her that she’s a half-Texan and everyone knows how Texans feel about beer. So we compromised. She got to have a Sprite. I was willing to let her have her first soft drink, if not her first Shiner.