Before I came to Texas, I was terrified of flying. No joke. I am no longer so afraid, however, and maybe that has something to do with becoming a Texan, who knows? But that’s not where I’m going here.
In those days I did not fly, period. Thus it was that I arrived in Texas at the Amtrak station in Fort Worth on a hot day in May of 1989.
Now I had heard lots of stories about cowboys and cattle drives and the wild, wild west. My bosses at the Super Collider had heard the same stories, which was why they had sent me, a relatively low-level person, to help set up the laboratory in Waxahachie; the lives of physicists were not to be risked. But even so I was hardly prepared for what happened next.
I had stepped down from the train with the aid of the kindly conductor, who had just placed my bags on a cart so I could wheel them into the station, when I heard a distant thunder, a strange sound that had nothing to do with the clear blue day. Before you could say “Omigosh, what’s that?” the thundering grew closer and there came into view a huge dust cloud, and it was moving toward us.
“Omigosh, what’s that?” I exclaimed, then out of the dust there materialized a mighty herd of red-eyed cows, goaded on by cowboys on horseback, whooping and hollering and cracking whips and firing pistols. And the whole doggone bunch of them was headed right toward me!
“Quick!” yelped the conductor, as he grabbed my arm. “We’re gonna have to run for it!”
This wasn’t supposed to happen in a modern city like Fort Worth, right? Yet closer and closer they came, their hooves on the pavement sounding like steel; their horns were black and shiny and, for just an instant, I could imagine their hot breath, so close they came. Then I ran. Seriously.
Without my luggage, and without much dignity, I let the conductor pull me across the track and into the station.
The ruckus went past us, and I could breathe again.
Now, you can say what you want, you can be skeptical. You can say cowboys don’t drive thundering herds of longhorns through downtown Fort Worth at midday anymore. You can even accuse me of making it up. But I remember it that way, and I’m sticking to it.
Unless, of course, that’s not what happened that day. In which case, all I can say is “So? So I made a mistake, which just shows I’m human.”
Truth to tell, lots of us have memories, or so we think, of events that may have happened differently. And sometimes some of us elaborate, even make things up.
So. I made it up. But you know what? It doesn’t matter, because I’m just having fun with you, and when a relatively insignificant person like me makes things up, it doesn’t matter. Or maybe it’s to make a point.
When you consider Hillary Clinton’s description of arriving in Bosnia with her teen-age daughter and the two of them having to flee sniper fire and duck and run for cover the moment they disembarked from their plane, there is a problem. It’s been shown to be untrue. And for that problem there seem to be only two possible explanations.
She may have made it up out of whole cloth (see above), which is troubling in a potential leader of the free world, or she may have come to believe it herself, which is even more troubling.
That’s why it’s a story that matters, and one that won’t go away.
Nathalie Guyol is a contributing Monday columnist for the Daily Light. She is an essayist living in Waxahachie. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.