When it comes to eating at a barbecue joint there’s an unspoken code of conduct. You don’t order salad, you don’t use a fork and if you’re a cross-dressing cowboy with an affinity for stiletto heels – you don’t use the ladies room.
And that brings me to a story from the pages of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram about a small-town barbecue joint that inadvertently found itself right smack in the middle of the big debate over transgender bathrooms.
John Sanford owns BBQ on the Brazos – located about 30 minutes or so southwest of the stockyards in Fort Worth. It’s the place to go for brisket in Cresson -- population 741.
A few years back, a truck driver, who also worked as a rodeo cowboy, would show up to order a plate of barbecue.
Now, that in and of itself would not be terribly unusual or newsworthy.
But this particular cowboy was partial to wearing ladies garments. He was a cross-dresser.
“Sometimes he’d have on hot pants, a mini-skirt and six-inch stilettos,” John told me matter-of-factly.
It really wasn’t that big of a deal until the cross-dressing truck driver and rodeo cowboy used the ladies room.
Let’s just say his powder room preference went over about a well as a plate of barbecue tofu.
“I have no problem (with cross-dressers) – doesn’t bother me a bit,” John said. “But he can’t go into the ladies room.”
“We just prefer that everybody use the right restroom,” he added. “That’s the nicest way to say it.”
So they put a sign on the bathroom door clearly explaining bathroom etiquette at BBQ on the Brazos: “No men allowed in womens bathroom please.”
The cross-dressing trucker told the staff that he felt uncomfortable using the men’s room – but agreed to comply with their wishes.
“If you are a man you can’t go into the ladies restroom,” John said. “I don’t know if it’s a Texas thing (but) it should be a world thing. I don’t know what all the debate is about.”
That’s because folks who live in the Lone Star State were blessed with a double-dose of common sense. They understand that you’re supposed to use the bathroom that corresponds to your God-given plumbing.
Meanwhile, New York City liberals are so confused over politically correct potties, they can’t figure out if they’re supposed to stand, squat or lift their leg.
The NYC Commission on Human Rights just spent $265,000 in tax money to let folks they should “Look Past Pink or Blue” and use whatever restroom they so choose.
So how did the BBQ on the Brazos bathroom policy become national news?
Well, it turns out a reporter for the Star-Telegram is a regular customer – and one day he noticed the bathroom sign. Questions were asked. Stories were told. And before you could say, pass the barbecue sauce, the tiny barbecue joint in Cresson became the lead story around the water cooler.
“Cross-dressing cowboy not welcome in ladies’ room at North Texas barbecue joint,” the headline screamed.
John said the sign had nothing to do with politics and had absolutely nothing to do with the transgender controversy.
“It’s not whether you are gay or transgender or black or white or yellow or pink. To me it doesn’t matter,” he said. “If you walk through my door I’ll be happy to fix you a plate of barbecue.”
“But if they come – be sure to use the right restroom,” he added.
As for the Texas cowpoke with a fondness for hot pants – John says there are no hard feelings.
For what it’s worth barbecue-lovers across the fruited plain come in all colors, shapes and shoe-sizes. And John said it’s not all that unusual for cross-dressers to feast on his ribs and smoked turkey sandwich.
“I guess stranger things have happened,” he told me.
I paused for just a moment – but quickly decided not to ask a follow-up question.
Some things are best left unspoken.
What happens in the barbecue joint should stay in the barbecue joint.