The Year of Living Anxiously

Are We Having Fun Yet? Or is it just the jangly buzz of advanced urban stress syndrome?

Sound Smart Or Bust
The U of H Honors College threw a benefit dinner dubbed "The Great Conversation" at which professors, deans and administrators led guests at 40 tables in such discussions as "Fear of Physics" and "The History of Horror: from Dracula to Lorena Bobbitt."

Tony Vallone Was Home With A Headache That Night
Several Houston couples took over Anthony's restaurant for a private party at which 120 guests were entertained by female impersonators vamping as Dolly Parton, Diana Ross, Cher, Patsy Cline and Reba McEntire.

There's A Reason They Call It The Bounding Main
Stiff winds during the Lakewood Yacht Club's festive Harvest Moon Regatta drove five sailboats aground between Clear Lake and Corpus Christi; the Coast Guard had to tow in two more damaged boats and rescue five skippers who had lost their bearings.

If You're Black, Get Back
After the Rockets won the NBA championship, and while celebrants poured onto Richmond Avenue, police cars cruised black neighborhoods on the other side of town broadcasting the message "Stay out of the street! Stay out of the street!"

Don't Invitems
Comedian Jerry Lewis grew surly at Tony Vallone's Grotto when he couldn't get a table at a distance from other diners; early-to-bedder Bob Lanier turned down President Clinton's offer of a personal Oval Office tour, telling the leader of the free world, "I don't do tours at midnight"; and imperious visiting jeweler Nicola Bulgari declined to glad-hand the socialites who turned out to celebrate his store's grand opening at the Ritz-Carlton, irking potential clients.

QUIEN ES MAS MACHO?
As usual, the pretenders were many for membership in the city's popular testosterone club, but they couldn't lay a glove on the real paragon of local manliness: 45-year old George Foreman, whose comeback heavyweight title bout gave hope to broken-down baby boomers everywhere.

Sticks And Stones May Break My Bones, But Names Really Piss Me Off
Visiting state District Judge Jon Hughes stepped off the bench to punch out attorney Joseph Rumbaut after the two called each other liars in open court.

They're Great Wrapped In Bacon And Barbecued
During a manly dove-hunting photo op on the Hockley prairie northwest of Houston, gubernatorial candidate George W. Bush mistakenly murdered a killdeer.

Then They Both Went To The 20th Reunion Of Texas City High School's Class of 1975

During an Oilers/New York Jets game shown on national TV, then-Oilers defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan screamed that a play by his nemesis, offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride, was "a high school call" and proceeded to punch Gilbride out.

All That Free Coffee Takes Its Toll
Four Houston cops grew irritated when All-Star Florida Marlins baseball player Gary Sheffield banged against their International House of Pancakes booth. A struggle ensued, but charges against Sheffield (the latest in a series of dustups between Houston police and star athletes) were dropped.

She Had A Mean Right Fingernail
Houston Oilers linebacker Lamar Lathon pleaded no contest to choking a topless dancer at a local club. "I pushed her off of me when she attacked me," complained the 6-foot-4-inch, 240-pound Lathon, insisting that the dancer verbally abused him.

And Then He Showed Her His Glorious Gap-Toothed Smile
An Amarillo dancer said that Roy Stuart, suspected in a string of rapes and murders between West Texas and Houston, asked her for a date after splitting a cricket lengthwise with his pocketknife and squeezing its blood onto the table.

Have Gun, Will Whine
The Rockets' Vernon Maxwell, unsated by two previous arrests for altercations at Richmond Avenue bars, was fined $1,500 for carrying a handgun after a motorist complained someone in Maxwell's Porsche had waved a pistol at him in a cafeteria parking lot. Could it be the same someone -- in a sports car with Maxwell's license plate -- who fired a gun in the air after cutting off another area motorist? Maxwell said he was being harassed because, "I'm a black man making a lot of money in Texas."

OFFICIAL 1994 READING LIST

* Barbara Bush, A Memoir, by Barbara Bush: Our famously white-haired and stout ex-first lady tried to wrest the writerly reins away from Millie, with mixed success. She evidenced a marvelous memory for everyone who had ever supped at the Bush White House, even if the readers had to wonder who she was effusively thanking. And she also evidenced a curious bathroom fixation, pointing out that while she and Poppy lived in China their toilet had "The Victory" written in English on its side; noting that "we all remember the grim and minute details of Jimmy Carter's hemorrhoid operation"; and recounting a talk about the Kurds and the Turks with Danielle Mitterand in which she worried she would ask the French president's wife to "tell me more about the Turds."

* Done In Oil: An Autobiography, by J. Howard Marshall: Everybody's favorite bridegroom recounts his oil field triumphs (but not, alas, his amours with the late Houston stripper Lady Walker and his latest sugar baby, ex-stripper Anna Nicole).

* Dangerous Games, by Robert Bentley: The saga of transsexual and would-be Harris County Democratic chair Leslie Perez, who as a male transvestite prostitute shot a man during a three-way sexual tryst, went to prison, escaped from a mental institution, was caught while playing Bobo the Clown in a carnival, did more time, adopted the name "Perez" from a prison lover, had a sex change operation and ran for party office in the guise of a Hispanic woman.

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