Sometimes You Talk About Idaho Summary

Pam Houston


In Pam Houston's "Sometimes You Talk About Idaho," which was published in her best-selling first short story collection, Cowboys Are My Weakness (1992), the narrator has lunch with her father in New York City. The narrator claims her father is the man she most admires in the world. While at lunch, her father suggests a blind date for her. The man is someone her father knows and highly recommends. He is discouraged about his daughter's poor choices of men and worries about her living alone. The narrator claims that many topics that she and her father discuss become too abstract. But they can always talk about Idaho. Idaho is concrete.

However, her father continues to tell her about this man. The man he wants her to meet, he claims, is "both smart and very masculine," as if this sums up the requirements that are most significant. The man writes poetry, plays the piano, and stars in the role of a cowboy in a television soap opera. He is also liberal, knows several Native American languages, and is concerned about the environment. On top of that, he loves dogs. His name is Evan, but everyone calls him Tex because that is what he is called in the soap opera.

The narrator agrees to go on the blind date, which turns out fairly well, although it does not develop into a relationship. The narrator enjoys the man's company, and they follow up with several more dates, but when the narrator manufactures a reason to go back to Tex's condo a few days later, Tex is not there.

The narrator flies back West to her home alone. In Tex's absence, she dreams of falling in love. She convinces herself that Tex is the man for her. But on the third day home and with no phone call from him, the narrator goes for a long hike to get over Tex. When she gets back from the hike, she realizes Tex is never going to call.

She meets with her father later and tells him what has happened. As she relates the story about her and Tex, she starts to cry. Although she realizes she is being overly dramatic, she cannot help herself. She performs for her father; that is her role. Her father, in response, pats her hand and assures her that one day Tex will call. That is beside the point, she realizes. She has endured the blind date and the disappointment because she loves her father.