Going to Texas? 5 things to watch out for
Texas can be beautiful
Really. Texas has the some of the most beautiful country you will ever find. Sure, it has parts that so flat all you can see for miles in any direction are miles of treeless, grassless dirt. Hell, 1/3 of the state looks like "No Country for Old Men". BUT, there are also parts like East Texas, with their beautiful "Piney woods ecoregions"; the coastal region of Texas, with cities like Corpus Christi and the armpit that is Houston and, of course, there's the beautiful "caprock" region of the Texas plains, right underneath the Panhandle.
Texas is also the birth place of "Six Flags" amusement parks. That's where the name comes from. There have been SIX sovreign flags fly over the skies of Texas: France, Spain, Mexico, Republic of Texas, Confederate States of America and the United States. Then, in San Antonio, there's Sea World and a gigantic waterpark called Schlitterbahn in South Texas. There's NASA in Houston, Art Museums in Dallas and Fort Worth, beautiful state parks and plenty of other things to do in Texas.
However, if you're planning a trip to Texas, there are some things you need to watch out for regarding the beings that live there. I would call them Humans or People, but they are too proud a people to be associated with something so simple as a "human". They are not Human, they are Texan. And this is perhaps the first thing to watch out for.
Texans are a Proud People
Texans will not suffer anyone that is not Texan. Not for long at least. You see, when you are not from Texas, you are inferior to a Texan. As I've already mentioned, I should know, because I'm a Texan.
But, we are proud for due reason. When the United States fought for their independence, they had 13 colonies all fighting together and had the financial backing of France to help fund the effort. They had alliances and a large army of soldiers, privateers and minutemen to take on the largest army in the world. Americans should have pride in their past, that's no easy feat.
But TEXANS were pioneering Americans that did the same thing to the sovereign country of Mexico; but by themselves! A ragtag collection of American farmers, hunters and cowboys declared their independence in 1836 and then proceeded to beat the hell out of an actual nation with an actual army and an actual economy. Then, as if beating the sovereign face of Mexico into a bloody and embarrassing mess wasn't enough, we held up our collective middle fingers to them and existed as their own Sovereign republic until 1845 when they negotiated annexation into the United States.
Perhaps now it's clear where the oft times lampooned Texas pride and bravado comes from: we were our own country, damnit! You weren't your own country, Kansas! Neither were you Oregon or Wisconsin! So suck it! At least, that's the way we feel deep down in our hearts. We allow the pride to shine through to a fault. What we are good at, however, is not letting you know just HOW inferior we believe you to be.
Texans are a Condescending People
So, you're at the Alamo. You're impressed. You're looking at a locket that belonged to Davy Crockett and it has a lock of his hair inside it and you stare in amazement that a biological snapshot of an actual American hero is looking at you from the other side of that super polished, super thick glass. There's his Davy Crocket's locket, that's James Bowie's Bowie knife, that's a musket used by Col. William Barrett Travis! That's when it will happen. An eavesdropping Texan will no doubt approach you and point out the fact that they, themselves, are from Texas, as if this fact alone associates them with the heroes at the Battle of the Alamo. They'll do it this way:
TEXAN: "Yup. Makes ya' proud ta be Texan, right?"
(The subtext being, "I'm actually from Texas and am therefore associated with all these heroes that you're so obviously impressed with. SINCE you're so exceptionally impressed, I'm going to assume that you are not a native to this state because, if you WERE a native, you would have been impressed by this when you were 7, not when you're 36 with a mortgage and hyper-active 4-year-old.")
(Also notice they don't want you to know that they suspect your lack of Texas heritage.)
YOU: "Well, I'm actually not from Texas. I'm visiting from Minnesota."
TEXAN: "Minnesota? 'Oh Yah, Eh?', 'doncha'know'. Ha. That's what you guys do up there, right? 'Eh?' That's how y'all talk? Yeah. S'pretty funny. (slap to the back) whelp, y'all enjoy your time learning all about TEXAS while you're here. We're a really great state."
(The Subtext being: "Minnesota? Jesus...The only good thing to come out of 'Minnesota' is the funny way ya'll talk. Thank god you came down to my superior state to learn about just how superior we are to you and, in the mean time, gave me something to laugh about because that's all your stupid little Ice Box of a state is good for: laughing at. Enjoy the superiority that is my state and, vis a vis, me.")
So, if ANYONE in Texas, while you are there, says or asks anything about where you are from, your answer is:
YOU: "I am a proud Texan."
Done. You've succeeded where thousands of others have not. And, as a Texan, I think it will make you feel a little proud to say it, even if it isn't true.
Texans will talk about their state incessantly
The pride of a Texan can also be communicated by an education of their state's superiority, not necessarily through quiet condescension like the above example at the Alamo. A true mighty Texan will try to adopt both methods of condescension and chastisement.
As stated above, Texans love their state and if they discover that you are not from their (my) state, they find that they immediately have the opportunity to educate you on the fact-based dominance of their state. They do this because it is a way to prove to you, the uneducated non-Texan, why you need us and why you should bow at the foot of the thrown that is Texas.
They will remind you of several things:
"You know, we used to be our own republic"
"You know what's great about Texas, we can revoke our statehood and legally secede anytime we want to."
"You know what's great about Texas, at anytime we wanted to, we could split ourselves into 5 or less smaller states. We're THAT big..."
"You know what's great about Texas, our flag is the only state flag in the nation that is constitutionally allowed to fly at the same height as the American Flag."
Or, they'll tell you all about famous Texans:
Carol Burnett, The Bush family, Walter Cronkite, Larry Hagman, Buddy Holly, Willie Nelson, T. Boone Pickens, Roger Staubach, ZZ Top.
Possibly, the worst kind of THESE Texans is the kind that loves Texas mythology and will tell you all about how Billy the Kid lived until 1950 in Hico, Texas or that Jesse James also lived out the rest of his life under a pseudonym in Granbury, Texas. They'll tell you all about how Bonnie and Clyde were from Texas. OR, if they're really good, they'll tell you the story of John Wesley Hardin who was so mean, he once shot a man just for snoring.
Now, what I'd like to point out to you, fair friend, is that ALL of these mythological heroes of Texas are criminals and mean as hell. BUT, to a Texan, that's what makes you a hero: your tough, hard to deal with, conniving, spirited, bold. But, more important than all of that, apparently, is that you kill people in the process. IF you can do this, you will be the most revered person in Texas. If Hitler had been a Texan, there'd be more than a few Texans proud that he's from Texas.
So, once more, if anyone asks you or suggests that you may not be from Texas, your answer is,
"I am a proud Texan."
Some Texans like to emphasize their accent
This is nothing to worry about, just a really REALLY annoying quirk of some Texans. These are the same people that, at Christmas, will put up a wooden cut out of Texas in their yard with the words, "Merry Christmas Y'all." As a Texan, I can honestly say I would love to burn these people with their stupid signs.
They will purposely say things like, "Y'all" and "Hurs the thang..." "fixin' to..."
And every time you DON'T say one of these words, they will further emphasize their accents and over utilize those words and phrases.
They will also do things like make colorful metaphors and similes.
"Well, you're nastier than a boot snake." (or a "snake in the booth")
"Well, shoot me sideways, you talk more'n a rabbit chattering on a carrot."
"Well, you've got more piss and vinegar than a hobo's wine cellar."
"Good grief, it's colder than a ditchdigger's tit down here."
I know, they don't really make sense, but that's how this brand of Texans talk.
It will sound ridiculous, but it's their way of proving their heritage. If you're not careful, you'll run into one of these people that will also either condescend or talk incessantly. Heaven forbid you run into someone that does all three.
Again, the best defense is to simply say, "I'm proud to be a Texan."
Some Texans like to pretend that they're cowboys. Or always Hunting.
You are staying at a motel in Fort Worth, Texas on your way down to visit NASA in Houston. Your significant other decides that they need some iceberg lettuce, some Energizer batteries, a DVD of "St. Elmo's Fire" and some Suave Shampoo. Where else can you go to get ALL of those things at the same time than to Wal-Mart. So, you go to Wal-Mart and that's when you see this guy.
He's wearing a red kerchief twisted to the side and a pearl-snap button up shirt. It's buttoned all the way up to make room for his sterling silver, cow skull bolo tie. He's wearing some tight jeans, most likely wranglers, and boots. If he's classy, the jeans cover the boots. But if he really wants you to know he's wearing boots, he'll tuck the jeans into the boots. He's definitely wearing a cowboy hat, a large cowboy hat, a very large wide-brimmed cowboy hat that is either brown, gray or black. His belt buckle is gigantic and most likely has the NRA logo etched into it somewhere. Despite this guy's blatantly suburban lifestyle, his love of hitting Starbucks and (ahem) going to Wal-Mart instead of his local General store, this guy legitimately thinks that he's a cowboy. Do not fall for this. He is not. He does not go out every day and wrangle cattle, he does not drive large, wooden posts into the ground to corral his cattle, he does not shoot coyotes off of his land or do any morning chores outside of pouring himself some Cinnamon Toast Crunch. He is not a cowboy.
Same Wal-Mart scenario. You're looking through the racks for St. Elmo's fire and then this guy comes around the corner. He's wearing camo pants and a woodsy camo thermal shirt. It's not even that cold outside, but he's wearing his thermal shirt. He's got on a neon orange vest with one hundred thousand pockets on it. He's wearing a black ball cap with either a John Deere logo, Dale Earnhardt, Jr #88 logo, Richard Petty #42 logo or some ridiculous UFC logo. There's a chance that they might be wearing a pair of rubber waders, the straps over his shoulders holding up the waders that he clearly does not need. This guy wants you to know that he is a hunter or fisherman or both. But, don't worry. He's not hunting now. He's not fishing now. He just wants you to know that, at some point in his life, he has worn those clothes in the wilderness to kill an animal.
Texans are the worlds best "bullshitters".
Watch out for this fact. Texans have cornered the market on tall tales. This is due to a few different factors: their spirited telling, their natural charm, their seeming veracity and just how big this person most likely is. The common misconception is that ALL Texans are giants: "Everything's bigger in Texas". This is only partly true. Most of what makes Texans seem so much bigger than everyone else is their gigantic egos combined with their gigantic personalities.
If a Texan once, legitimately, had a beer with President Bush and all they said to him was "My favorite beer is Shiner Bock", the story they will tell you is:
"Let me tell you somethin'. That Presiden' Bush is a good guy, he's jus' misun'erstood. Here's the deal, I had a beer with him. Turns out his favorite beer is Shiner Bock, which, you may not know, is a delicious Texas beer. Figures he'd love a Texas beer, he's a good guy. So, he and me had us a beer at this local bar and I said to him, "Say Mr. Presiden'? Why ain't we found that camel jockey Osama?" Hand on the good book swear to ya', that's what I called him, I said "Camel Jockey". Bush just threw his head back and laughed, thought it was pretty funny. And, I gotta say, it kind of is. Anyway, I asked that to 'im and you know what he told me? He said "Listen here son, we're the United States of 'merica. We have the best army in the world. We have the best Air Force in the world, the smartest generals and smartest sci'tists in the history of the world. We're gonna get 'im and then I'm gonna tie him up and drag him across the entire nation so ever'one can throw dirt and onions on 'im. Hand on the Bible, that's what he told me."
If a Texan tells you ANY story, even if it's the story of how the Roman Scipio defeated the Carthaginian Hannibal at the battle of Zama, don't believe it. It'll somehow end up as a lie and it'll somehow end up showing how amazing Texas is.
There's really no way to avoid them once they've sucked you in. Best thing to do, listen to their one story and then say, "So proud to be Texan. Good talking to you." And then leave.
Two More things to watch for
First of all, Texans LOVE their beer. More than that, they love domestic beer. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT drink any forgeign beers in the presence of a true Texan. Even though they think they're the best state in America, they are very patriotic and very proud Americans. It's being in America that allows them to be the best state in the Union. Without the union, the possibility for superlatives does not exist. Do not drink Newcastle, do not drink Guinness, do not drink any Heineken or Kirin Ichiban. You will be stared at and you will stick out like a sore thumb and attract ALL of the attention you don't want. Stick with a Coors or a Miller or a Bud. You'll be safe.
Secondly and very important, Texans, in general, are VERY religious. Even the Atheists in Texas will tell you about Jesus. More important than this, though, they are not only religious but they are usually VERY evangelical. They are militant in their desire to convert you. They will hunt you down and pull out a pocket Gideon's Bible and make sure that you take it from them. They will hound you and pound you until you can quote John 3:16 to them by heart. Old ladies with gigantic white hair will pray over you if they get the feeling that you don't know Jesus. Be careful with this. While it can be entertaining if you happen to find one of the Texans that's ALSO Pentecostal and they speak in tongues over you, it can also get you in a trap where you can't leave the Christian's side until you've spoken the Sinner's prayer.