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Homeless Longhorns

Dear Rudy,

While on a business trip to El Paso, my host took me across the border to visit a friend of his who was in the souvenir business. We drove through Ciudad Juarez to a dusty suburb, where we pulled up at a spacious ranch-style house. We drove behind the house to a double-wide garage that was used as a warehouse. Inside I walked between tables of serapes, blankets, and rugs of every size and color. I picked out several items, and then while I was waiting as my host and his friend chatted in Spanish, I noticed a dusty set of longhorns. The horns were six feet from tip to tip and affixed to a small wooden plaque. I imagined them hanging over a western bar in some John Ford movie.

The proprietor noticed me and asked if I liked the horns. I told him they were magnificent. They were, but I had no intention of buying them. I was prepared to say whatever price he quoted was too much. Instead, he replied, "Take them. I am glad to be rid of them. These days I handle only textiles." My father taught me that if one turns down gifts, pretty soon people will stop offering them. So I left with the longhorns.

Back in the motel, I worried over how to bring them home. The airline would not take them as carry-on or checked baggage. Land-based delivery services also turned down the opportunity to transport the mounted horns. Finally, in desperation, I dismantled the mount to halve the size of my package, and took the horns back with me on the plane.

At home, after re-assembling the mount, I tried to hang them over the fireplace. Easier said than done. The hook on the plaque was installed so the horns would roll over on the wall to face the floor. The only apparent solution was to drill through the plaque and screw the display directly to the wall * a commitment I wasn't willing to make. So, for the past six years, the longhorns have been drifting about from one storage closet to another gathering American rather than Mexican dust.




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