Why nicknames? Because privacy is important, but talking about people using just their first initials is boring. Here’s a brief guide to who’s who on Texas in Africa (n.b. This is only a list of recurrent characters. Others come and go as the circumstances require.):

  • Adorable Mike – colleague and friend who claims he can get away with saying anything. He’s right.
  • The Advisor – is just that.
  • The Attorney – friend from Austin, on retainer for all Texas in Africa libel/breaking & entering cases. Composes unique musicals with Miz Boyd (see below) in spare time. Married to the Librarian (see below).
  • The Bad Historian – self-christened himself with that name. Has the goal in life of writing bad, popular history books, which tend to sell a lot more copies than good, academic histories. Wants to be Doris Kearns Goodwin, sans the plagarism.
  • The Blog Stalker – until recently, a perfect stranger. Friend of The Intrepid Lobbyist (see below) who read my blog before we knew each other. Perfectly normal and entirely delightful.
  • The College Family – friends and church adopt-a-student family from church in college.
  • Committee Members 2-5 – Dissertation committee members other than The Advisor (see above).
  • The CPP – close friend from college. Future president (of either the U.S. or the Junior League) or Supreme Court justice. Planning the Wedding of the Century to SAM (see below).
  • The D.A. – is just that.
  • The Diplomat – is just that. The most Southern gentleman I know.
  • D-Line – professional colleague, co-football season ticket holder, former college defensive lineman.
  • The Doctor – close friend from college, chief resident, all-around good guy, and new daddy.
  • The Drama Queen – friend from college, currently of Nashvegas. Always a source of amusing dating stories.
  • The Ex-Officemate – colleague, friend, and the best officemate I’ve ever had. Soon to be a professor extraordinaire at a school whose football team never deserves its top 10 ranking.
  • The Ex-Roommate – roommate and friend from college and Austin. Will be a teriffic game warden one day, assuming that hunter education course goes well.
  • Professor Deutsch – friend from Austin, now professor to lots of homeschooled Baptists, German birthday card translator extraordinaire.
  • Favorite Kids #1, 2, & 3 – friends and occasional babysitting charges. Ranked in order of birth, not preference. Masters of plotting and executing unbelievable practical jokes.
  • The Great and Powerful Ploz – roommate and friend from college. Insists on being called Dr. Great and Powerful Ploz since she finished her degree. Don’t mess with Ploz.
  • The High School Best Friend – is just that. We also have the exact same first and middle names – oooooh, freaky IMHO, OMG, ROFL, BFF!
  • The Intrepid Lobbyist – summer camp friend, now working as a lobbyist for the good guys. “Gets” to take state legislators to boxing matches to convince them to do the right thing. Not to be confused with The Lobbyist for the Dark Side (see below).
  • Laura the Elder – college friend/across-the-hall neighbor in the dorm. Now a professional Baptist. We were friends in college, lost touch for several years, and reconnected randomly in Kenya. ‘Cause it’s a small world after all.
  • The Librarian – close friend in Austin, now working as a Librarian at a middle school for sheltered suburban children. Partner in crime, companion for Nervous Breakdown Lunches, and general mayhem. Married to the Attorney (see above).
  • The Lobbyist for the Dark Side – college and grad school friend, now working for The Man. Had a party when one of his projects was mentioned on the floor of the House as an example of pork-barrel spending. Yeah, it’s like that. Loves him some line dancin’. Not to be confused with The Intrepid Lobbyist (see above).
  • Mark not the Methodist – professional colleague, co-football season ticket holder. Excited to be moving to West Texas to be a professor with a triple-wide. Not to be confused with Mark the Methodist (who is No Longer In The Picture).
  • Melissa the Missionary – friend from college study abroad. Former missionary, current grad student, archnemesis in the War of Inappropriate Christian Products (8 years and counting). Reason I own a 13-inch Jesus candle and a Not-so-Precious Moment figurine, among many, many other inappropriate gifts.
  • Miz Boyd – friend from college and Austin. Neither an Austinite nor Miz Boyd anymore. Tells the Best Stories Ever. Origin of the verb, “Boyd it up.”
  • Mommy of Twins – doesn’t get enough sleep. If she can make it through the terrible two’s, she can make it through anything.
  • Mr. Florida – professional colleague, conducted dissertation fieldwork simultaneously in the middle of a lawless province.
  • P – friend from church Up North. Her collection of stolen hymnals is almost as impressive as the fact that she is a former State Bible Drill champion. Married to Preacher J (see below).
  • PhSquared – professional colleague, co-football season ticket holder, tailgater extraordinaire. Obsessed with a band that no longer exists.
  • The Pastor – current, not former. Preaches like an English major. This is a good thing.
  • Preacher J – associate pastor in Up North, moved to the motherland just in time for his son to be born a Texan. Married to P (see above).
  • Sam – actually a missionary. Friend from Africa, source of ideas about modern missions & social justice, source of knowledge about different types of geckos.
  • SAM – Engaged to the CPP (see above).
  • The Sister – blood, not sorority.
  • Skip – close friend from college. Partner in all things prep, standby date for functions requiring Good Manners, international travel companion (3 continents & counting).
  • Steve the Lawyer – friend from Up North. Taught me that there is no word to describe a person from Connecticut except “Nutmegger.” Has the worst job in government, defending an indefensible policy. Not to be confused with Steve the Lawyer (No Not That One, the Other One) (see below).
  • Steve the Lawyer (No Not That One, the Other One) – not to be confused with Steve the Lawyer (see above). Also named Steve. Also a lawyer. I have too many friends named Steve who are lawyers.
  • Steve not the Lawyer – Technically is a lawyer, but doesn’t work as one. Practical-joke nemesis of self and The Librarian (see above). Interests include the 2000 BFM and tropical-weight linen suits.
  • The Truly Obsessed – is. With Wilco. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
  • 23 – is a child. Professional colleague, co-football season ticket holder, Football T-Shirt Committee Chair, Secretary, Sergeant-at-Arms, etc.
  • The Youth Minister – former employer. Other practical joke nemesis of self and The Librarian (see above). Came home to find kayak on his roof one day (see post #1).

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