During the ice age of 1980, I left Illinois bound on a self-discovery quest to sunny Southern California. Somewhere in the middle of Texas, I was pulled over for exceeding their state speed limit. It had snowed across the middle of the panhandle- a dusting of a couple inches considered minor by Illinois standards though near historic by Texan reckoning. I was westbound out of Texarkana, doing a wee-bit over seventy-five mph while reading a highway map spread open across my steering wheel. Surprisingly, an eagle-eyed state trooper traveling in the opposite direction in a "brown wrapper", spotted my casual style of driving.
My head jerked up from the map when I heard the screech of g-force strained tires. Through my rearview mirror, I watched as the unmarked police interceptor pulled a "U-ey", cut across the median-gulch and chased after me at well over a hundred miles an hour. As the cruiser pulled tight behind my vehicle with it’s lights exploding red, I obediently pulled over.
I was pleasantly surprised to see what I mistook for a state trooper, actually turned out to be a Texas Ranger. I had heard of these fabled fellows. I always liked the cute and fuzzy portrayal Chuck Norris gave the Rangers in his movies. This Ranger however, was NOT the cute and fuzzy type. He wore a white Stetson atop an estimated six-foot-four frame. He was clean-shaven, square-jawed, skin as hard as saddle leather. On his lean hip hung a cannon-sized revolver. I rolled down my window for the usual conversation but didn't even get a chance to speak.
The Texas Ranger sized-up my out of state license plate, my green Nissan 280Z sports car, and my long, over-the ears-past-the-collar hair in one quick glance. I offered a smile as he bent at the waist and looked inside my car for contraband. His desert-sun-steeled eyes penetrated even the mirror coating on his sunglasses. As I opened my mouth to speak, he interjected and tautly asked if I knew how fast I was going. When I tried to cooperatively answer, the Texas Ranger flew into a verbal pistol-whipping, the likes of which I survived like a wad of Bull Durham being chewed-up and spit out.
I could tell it was all he could do to restrain himself from reaching inside my car and pulling me through its window like rope through a knothole. That's when I learned the hard way, that any question asked of you by a Texas Ranger is strictly rhetorical... don't respond, don't even think about looking him in the eyes; just sit there, head in a penitent bow and pee your pants in silence.