Chapter 43
The Big Sneezy
The Tales of Texas

1a - The Mysterious Ski Rack
1b - Wheres the Other Half of That Moose
1c - The Waiter Who Didnt Yall
1d - Scorpions, Scorpio
2a - Diet Soda
2b - Riding into the Sunrise
3 - Modest Magazines
4 - Down to Houston
5a - What Does That Sign Say
5b - Just Follow Your Nose
5c - They Call It the Sunbelt
5d - The State Tree
6 - The New House
7a - Billboards
7b - Billboards Again
8 - Stereo Upgrade
9 - Wineries
10 - Unintentionally Left Blank
11 - CBW in TX
12 - Ice House Radio
13 - Goats and Cotton
14 - Dig We Must
15 - Dan Moody
16 - Dry Heat
17 - Dead Animals
18a - Bookstore Culture
18b - On the Open Road
19 - Weather
20 - Sightings in Bertram and Buchanan
21 - Too Many Birds
22 - Road Hazards
23 - Sightings to and from Houston
24 - The Great Wall of Train
25 - In the Heat of the Day
26 - Bite Me
27 - Bid on This Skeleton
28 - Willie
29 - Rural Countryside
30 - SUV SUX!
31 - Kinky on the Texas Monthly Hour
32 - Strange Yellow Sky
33 - Football is a Serious Enterprise in Texas
34 - Remember the Alamoo!
35 - What's That on the Radio
36 - Trip to Houston through the small towns
37 - Shoe Story, an Austin Anecdote
38 - Unintended Fireworks
39 - Flash Flood Warning
40 - Sin City
41 - Live music in Austin, but in theaters not in clubs
42 - Fear of Overpass
43 - The Big Sneezy
44 - New Texas
45 - Front Ended by the French Fry Mobile
46 - Dirt Farm
47a - Heard at the Texas Book Festival 2008
48a - Texas Book Festival 2009
49 - Central Time Sucks
50 - Temple Texas
51 - Christmas in Austin
52 - Pennants in the Wind
53 - The Road Less Traveled
54 - Texas-size Thunderstorm
55 - Cool Van
56 - Your New House Is That-A-Way
57 - C.S.I. Austin
58 - New MTV Game Show
59 - Equine Technology
60 - Look at That Prairie
61 - Get Your Water Here
62 - Corporate Anniversaries
63 - College Sprawl
64 - Hire These Guys
65 - Preparing for Winter
66 - Careful What You Overhear
67 - Bonnie Raitt
68 - Perfume
69 - Questionable Skills
70 - All-American Day
71 - Read Me
72 - Weird Fog
73 - Overpackaged Food
74 - What Town Was That
75 - Texas Book Festival 2010
76 - Bulletproof Roof
77 - The Oldest Photo
78 - Cheesesteaks Part 1
79 - Cheesesteaks Part 2

The Big Sneezy

April 2005

I have allergies to some plants and some foods. A lot of people do. Difference is, down here, everyone does.

Austin is known to doctors as Allergy Central. Local magazines call Austin "The Big Sneezy." The area, agriculturally, is a transitional zone between the humid, rainy plains to the east and the almost-desert hill country to the west. I think it's on the seam from zone 7 to zone 8, with zone 9 only a few miles away. So we have everything here for folks to be allergic to, something for everyone.

It takes a year to become allergic to the local plants. Allergists will not treat you for the first year. They tell you, Wait until you have been here for at least a year, to see what you become allergic to.

I had the local allergy called Cedar Fever in December, oddly. Never had it before. This is the fifth winter here and the first time I've felt it at all. Usually I've just watched others suffer through it. This year, I can't breathe, my nose runs constantly, I have coughing fits that last for minutes, you know, the usual stuff.

The last few days were very warm, over seventy degrees. Apparently what this does is help the plants to make much more pollen than usual. Oh, goodie. The newscasters take sadistic pleasure in announcing that the pollen counts are at new record levels.

So I was in the drugstore shopping for some antihistamines. The man standing next to me was looking for Claritin specifically, the most popular and most expensive allergy med over the counter. And there isn't any! The store -- the largest Walgreen's in the area, not some Mom & Pop outfit -- is out of stock of the most popular allergy drug! Maybe this is an indication of the severity of the problem. Everybody's on this drug, and no one has a spare pill for a friend.