| I"m now in Austin (unsuccessful in my bid for the Lege) and working for the 1982 coordinated campaign. I"m working for Jim Hightower, and the other great team that year (Richards, Mauro, Mattox, et al). Erma Jefferson and friends show up in Austin. They've come with a gift for Ms. Richards. And they asked me to deliver it. When I did, and Ann opened the velvet box, it held a real set of jewels. There on the velvet pillow were two balls accompanied by a note:
You can't win in Texas without a set of balls.
We hereby donate Glen Maxey's balls, since he doesn't need them.
The Women of Brazos County
Well, I don't know who laughed the hardest -- me or Ann. I know I was probably as red as I'll ever be. (I was still very much in the closet as a gay man at this point in my life!)
So the saga began that continued over the next almost decade. Every time I was in a room with her, Ann Richards would say to whomever was there (and once this was to a group at the National Women's Political Caucus in San Antonio which included Geraldine Ferraro, Olympia Snowe, Bella Abzug and others), "Do you know what this man did for my campaign? He donated his balls. I've had my pants tailored, and it has given me a whole new outlook on my political activities!" She'd go on and on about my manhood and her career. Always to my great embarassment, and to everyone else's glee.
Well, Ann went on to run for Governor. I served as her Travis County campaign coordinator (69,000 vote margin in Austin, thank you), and upon her election decided to run for a vacancy in the Legislature. It was truly a amazing campaign and when I won that election as the first openly gay official in Texas, Ann was the first to call to congratulate me. And then, almost as an afterthough, she asked me for a favor. Of course, I said I'd do anything she'd like. She said, "Would you give me the honor of swearing you into office?"
By tradition, the Speaker of the House usually does this chore, but I certainly was almost bowled over by her request. And so it happened...
Hundreds of folks packed the House Chamber that night in 1991. TV cameras were rolling, and I was nervous as hell. I sat on the podium with my mentor, Senator Oscar Mauzy (then Supreme Court Justice Mauzy), Governor Ann Richards, and my mother.
As I'm trying not to obsess about a speech I'm going to give in my biggest "prime time" engagement, my 70 year old mom and Ann talked about fishing for flounder and red fish in the Gulf. And I recall Ann calling my mom a liar for telling a "fish story". I had to tell them both to be quiet and then had to interrupt them to make Ann pay attention to Mauzy's introduction of her to swear me in.
So as I put my hand on a Bible held by my mother, and repeated a solemn oath to uphold most of the laws of Texas, I became a member of the House. At that moment I turned and kissed my mom, and Ann leaned over to whisper something in my ear.
The crowd's thunderous applause filled the Chamber at that moment. Most everyone was watching Ann Richards congratulate me on this high achievement.
But what no one really knew was what Ann Richards would choose to say to me before I had to deliver this speech of my lifetime:
She drawled in my ear, "Now Glen, I'm going to do someting now that I promised myself I'd never, ever do. I'm giving you your damn balls back. Because whether you know it or not, you're going to need them more than you can imagine to work in this damn place."
And that, my friends, was the best gift Ann Richards could ever give me.
She game me and thousands of people like me the balls to go do things outside our comfort zones, to take on challenges everyone says we shouldn't try, and to always get up off our butts and take charge when we see things that need to get done.
So don't mourn Ann Richards' memory. Celebrate Ann Richard's life by taking on the bastards and fighting back. One vote, one precinct, and one day at a time.