Holy mothers of Cynthia Ann Parker and Sam Houston but do I love the Lone Star State. I don’t love everything about it [Sideways glances and middle finger salutes at the Texas State Board of Education–as the astronauts (Hello, NASA!) in Houston say, “Way to screw the pooch.” Man, just when you think it is safe to once again admit to being a Texan, these guys show up. I swear, if the Board had any brains they’d play with them.] [Additional salutes to the heat and humidity–Really, Texas, is it necessary to be hotter than the surface of the sun? I just don’t know why once the settlers got there in spring, “Oh, look at this land. It’s beautiful. It’s fertile. The weather is lovely,” that they didn’t pick up and say, “Screw this,” once the summer (In the summer of 1980, high temperatures in Dallas/Fort Worth exceeded 100 °F a total of 69 times, including a record 42 consecutive days from June 23 to August 3. D/FW reached an all-time high on June 26 and 27, when the temperature reached 113 °F on both days.)] hit. As my mom says, “Spring in Texas: One nice day in April. Fall in Texas: One nice day in October.” But I digress as I am wont to do but I do love it.
I was born in Baytown, Texas. I am a third generation Texan. I have lived in Texas, on and off, for most of my life. I tell everyone that no matter where I live, I will always be a Texan. Texans know that, “No, most of Texas isn’t a desert. There are the piney woods of East Texas, the flatlands of North Texas, the gorgeous hill country, the Gulf Coast, the tumbleweeds of West Texas, and the snows of the Panhandle.” I truly believe that “Don’t Mess With Texas” is absolute genius. Not only did it clean up our roads because Texans are a proud lot but it captured how we feel about our state. I mean, it’s like your family: YOU might be able to talk bad about it but don’t even let someone else start ’cause it’s ON at that point. I’ll defend Texas, and my family, until I die. Hell, you might even bicker with your fellow Texans about what’s happening in our state, but let someone from outside start in and we’ll beat your ass down, and then get back to our argument!
I love Giant. I’ve never read the book but the movie is near and dear to Texans’ hearts, even if the movie does get a lot of stuff wrong. What they got right, though, is this: The moment where Leslie’s father tells her, “You mustn’t speak that way to a Texan. They feel very strongly about their state.” Makes me laugh every time! And the cinematography is out of this world. If you ever have a chance to watch it at the theater, please do it.
And let’s not forget Lonesome Dove, just one of Larry McMurtry‘s books set in Texas. Please read the book and don’t forget to watch the miniseries. Both are fantastic.
I can’t even begin to tackle the food so here: Homesick Texan, kolaches, Kerbey Lane, Texas blood (aka Ro-Tel, Oh make sure you enter the Ro-Tel contest over here at Deep South Dish), to die for, mother’s milk, combo platters, Gulf Coast, and even though chili is the official state food of Texas I believe it is actually this: The beautiful, indescribably delicious, perfect-in-all-ways chicken fried steak! Oh my God, are you kidding me with that? And bitch, please. Don’t EVEN call it country fried steak. Damn! I wish I were in Texas right now ’cause I hongry! Oh, oh, if anyone should feel so inclined and generous, I would love to have this (in the Texas-shaped bottle, if at all possible. Yes, please, and thank yew!).
Now, let’s talk about the State Fair of Texas. [And that was a perfect segue from food because I mean, come on, how do you not LOVE a state that comes up with these: Fried Coke (though I would’ve preferred fried Dr Pepper as DP is from Texas), Deep Fried Latte, Fried Cookie Dough, Fried Banana Split, and this, the holy grail of fried goodness: Chicken. Fried. Bacon! ] I have been to other state fairs and fairgrounds and they are sad. They are small little affairs on small little fairgrounds and they make me appreciate even more the spectacle and ritual that is the great state fair of Texas. I don’t know of another state that builds in a day off of school in each school district just so that the kids can go to the fair. “Fair Day” is right up there with Halloween and Christmas for kids in North Texas. We got the day off from school and a free ticket to the fair. Shit, school buses were reserved to give us a ride, and if you were old enough and could talk your parents into it they would drop you and a friend off in the morning with a couple of twenty-dollar bills and you would tear up that midway! And when your momma would pick y’all up in the afternoon you were sunburned, sick to your stomach from all the fried food, and if really, really lucky, carrying a bunch of stuffed animals that would stay in your bedroom until you graduated from high school and your momma redecorated your room after you took off to college.
I don’t have a segue for this so I’ll just jump in with one word: Manners. Y’all Texans know EXACTLY what I’m talking about but for those of you unfortunate enough to be born elsewhere I will now politely school you. There are manners and then there are Texas manners. Manners dictate that when asked if you’d like some tea, you say, “Please.” Texas manners dictate that you say, “Yes, ma’am, thank you.” Texas manners mean that you fellas take your damn hats off indoors, and that means your gimme caps, too. (This has sadly been declining in my time. My PaPa would’ve died before leaving his hat on indoors.) You “Yes, sir” and “No, ma’am” everyone, even those younger than you because it’s polite. You offer to get your visitors something before they’ve even sat down. Men stand when a lady walks into the room. (This can be dropped with your friends and family but please stand when a lady not of your acquaintance walks up.) If I have to keep explaining this then you will just have to look it up on your own. Googling “Texas Manners” pulls up tons of article from other Texans who have written about them; obviously it’s important to us.
Before I finish my love letter to Texas, here are just a few more words for you: Football, big, boots, cowboy hats, Wurstfest, dance halls, C&W, Tito’s Vodka (feel free to send me some of that too), Hillshade RV Park (prettiest, friendliest little RV Park in the Hill Country) and finally, here are the Reivers, my most favorite band ever! Please, please check out their music.
So there you go. While I am driving along in the RV, looking forward to my next adventure, my heart is in Dallas. And in Austin. And in Houston.
Don’t mess with Texas. Y’all.