High on the Plains: Drunk and naked like Randy Travis


Chad Christensen, Columnist

I got this blue button-up shirt for Christmas from my wife. Nice shirt, but it was a bit small for me. I figured I’d just return it and get the next size up. No problem. But so many days and random things got in my way — I was sure as hell they wouldn’t let me return it. So now, I have this nice button-up shirt that’s too small for me.

My stepson has been growing like a weed lately. And because of this, he has these pants that are way too small for him — but I had him wear them the other day for school because it was 6 a.m., and we didn’t have very many options unless he wanted to go to school with no pants.

He understood this so he put them on and I looked at him. He definitely had the waiting-for-a-flood look. But then I realized he also had the Jackson 5 look so in the car I told him just to own it. That today was the last day on earth for these pants so he had better let them live it up. Give ‘em a day to remember. He gave me a goofy grin so I put on the song “ABC” by The Jackson 5 on the stereo and cranked it up. It was 6:45 in the morning and our ears were ringing. But it was good, goddamnit. It was necessary.

So, when I got home I figured I’d better get my life together and put some decent clothes on. Of course, I couldn’t find any goddamn shirts — and then, Christ, there it was — the tiny blue button up shirt. Naturally, I put it on. It was ridiculous, but I had no choice. I didn’t wanna be a hypocrite. I just sent the poor kid off to school wearing the damn high-water pants.

It was easy at first to get the one sleeve on, but the other one proved to be more difficult. And when I finally did get it on, it had the overwhelming feeling of a Chinese finger trap. Buttoning the shirt was out of the question. This was it. But as I started to flap my arms about like a crazy person, like a wild bird about to take flight, I began to notice it loosening up, that maybe I was wrong about this shirt.

That was 3 days ago and I’m still wearing the shirt. We’ve somehow bonded despite our obvious differences and we’re kind of a thing now. It’s acquired a few stains but nothing too serious except the one with soy sauce on the left pocket which I received from a disgruntled hibachi chef named Kenneth at the Kobe Japanese Steakhouse in west Omaha. Kenneth was upset about Michigan losing. But I explained to him that their inability to dribble may have had something to do with it. He began banging his spatula on the grill in an overly aggressive way and it pretty much escalated from there. Kenneth and I are no longer friends.

My family has finally started to warm up to the idea that the shirt and I are now one in the same, that this is a long-lasting friendship. The kind that won’t falter after awkward conversations about God and politics and bestiality. The shirt and I will overcome these difficult situations, no matter the cost. Of course, showering has become an issue, but after some deep contemplation and a bit of trial and error, we’ve discovered the miraculous powers of wet wipes and all the possibilities that come with them. We’re making it work.

Because it’s important to have good friendships. And it’s good to have clothes on, occasionally. Randy Travis understands this. He knows what it’s like to be drunk and naked and to have no one understand you. I have more respect for him now. I didn’t before, but I do now.