Of course, they must from time to time get officers altogether unfit for the post—men whose nautical knowledge dated from yesterday, and who, moreover, had no notion of dealing with human beings. It would be very odd if this practice of sending out people ignorant of the sea and unknown to the folk of the country did not lead to some catastrophe. Callicratidas at once summoned the Lacedaemonians there present, and addressed them in the following terms:—“For my part,” he said, “I am content to stay at home.”
The first thing I did as a college freshman was hang a map of Texas on my wall. I wasn’t from Texas, nor was I pretending to be. I’d bought the map—handy, easy to fold, no bigger than the windshield of a Greyhound bus—on a road trip that summer with my best friend. Having proceeded too slowly from Connecticut to Florida, and having tarried too long in Fort Myers and New Orleans, we got to Texas just as our money gave out. We stayed for two nights and then drove home in a straight shot. The map, my only souvenir of the state, was also a standing challenge: Texas was as far west as I’d ever gone. The map’s sun-baked yellows and oranges, its craquelure of highways, back roads, and rivers, spoke of America’s inexhaustible splendor, of all that remained to explore. It also made me think of getting coldcocked in a honky-tonk, with Doug Sahm singing “Why? Why? Why?” from the jukebox.
Later in freshman year I met a girl with a map on her own wall, a map of Ohio. She was from Ohio and didn’t care who knew it. Her map looked not to a frontier but to home and hearth. It hinted at small-town tedium. And there was something decidedly small-town about Sarah. She had grown up in her father’s childhood home. She was valedictorian of her high school class, and held many track and field records. Her comprehensive ignorance of movies, music, and pop-cultural ephemera suggested a strict or at least unnervingly wholesome upbringing. It didn’t occur to me back then that small towns in Texas might also produce girls like this. Toponyms like Cut and Shoot, Gun Barrel City, and Point Blank made it hard not to think of Texas as a state full of Annie Oakleys. Of course, Annie Oakley wasn’t from Texas. She was from Ohio.