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OPINION | LET'S TALK: Restless Talkmistress is grateful

by Helaine Williams | February 28, 2021 at 2:04 a.m.

There was a lot running through my mind during the scandal surrounding U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz's would-be trip to Cancun, Mexico, during record cold and snow that left millions in his home state of Texas without power, heat and water.

I confess that the one thought running as an undercurrent to all others was this: Boy, would I ever like to be back in Cancun right now.

Not to blame Cruz for polluting my thought life. I'm subject to thinking such thoughts around my birthday, which is Feb. 17.

It's no surprise that those of us born in areas that are customarily cold in the dead of winter dream of being able to spend their birthdays in warmer locales with plenty of sun, sand and sea. Those who have been short on travel funds may have found themselves in envy of better off fellow winter babies who post pictures of their warm-weather celebrations on social media. In our case, Dre and I have traditionally taken what money we could scrape together and used it for wedding-anniversary trips in May, then spent our birthdays at home.

At least his birthday is in June. Mine falls less than two weeks after Punxsutawney Phil does the customary Feb. 2 check for his shadow ... and, this year, gave us the Understatement of the Year that we were going to see six more weeks of winter.

This month the weather reminded us Arkies, and especially Texans, that living in the South is no guarantee of escaping bone-chilling cold and a ton of snow. And these days, any disruptive occurrences such as the Southern "Snowmageddon" that happened the other week, and took the lives of some, are in addition to the world's ongoing pandemic woes.

The latter has led to many travel precautions and warnings. Any desire on my part to venture out on at least a short a road trip in the past year-plus has been shot down by Dre, who will have to be persuaded to travel anywhere — including Ghana, where we'd harbored a bit of hope of spending his 60th birthday — even when we do manage to get vaccinated. (A road trip a couple of co-workers and I started to take to the Alabama coast last summer, without our guys, was canceled ... much to Dre's relief, I suspect.)

My birthday this year happened to be the day we saw the worst of the snow. It wasn't a dismal day. Due to some pre-event planning, there was a Mardi Gras-theme birthday cake. There was even a birthday glamour shoot — an idea borrowed from others on social media — out on our snowy balcony; I got gussied up in formal wear not worn since covid-19 wiped out all the face-to-face soirees I've helped cover for this newspaper's High Profile section. It was a regular work-from-home day but luckily, there wasn't that much work to do. And the birthday wishes on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn kept coming.

I was fine until I started to hear about that Cancun trip and saw onscreen scenes of Cancun, which I'd visited with a girlfriend in the summer of 1997.

The memories, and the "covid-fatigue," started to kick in bigtime. By Sunday, I was fighting the Sunday Scaries as well as general bummed-outedness.

I have scolded myself appropriately. We have had no close friends and loved ones lost to covid-19, a virus whose death toll reached has reached 500,000. Unlike some Arkansans, let alone Texans, we did not lose power, heat or water to the ice and snow that fell multiple days. We didn't have to get out on the treacherous roads, and when we did choose to drive to the store during the start of the meltdown that began a week ago Saturday, the car cranked up. The worse thing we suffered? A few late package arrivals. And, geesh, our uninterupted electricity didn't result in a bill of over 16 grand, such as what was deducted from the bank account of that poor man near Dallas whose electricity bills were based on fluctuating wholesale prices.

I wrote this column on a cloudless, much-warmer Monday, looking out our condo's wall of windows. The phone thermometer read 55 degrees, but it did not yet look as if nothing had happened. There was still a fair bit of snow lining sidewalks, shady spots and roofs. But that didn't seem to bother the two people walking down the street ... in shorts.

I couldn't help but wonder if they wished they could go to Cancun.

Looking to help our Lone Star State neighbors still dealing with a lack of such essentials as food and clean water? "The charity-rating site Charity Navigator ( has compiled a list of vetted national charities providing winter storm relief in Texas and across the South, and will continue to update the list," according to an story.

Meanwhile, hit me at:


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