I’m a Texan – 5th Generation, which puts part of my family here some 30 years after the state gained its independence – an independence hard won through the sacrifice of some of my family (if you really stretch the term “relative” and ignore some basic genealogical truths, but I digress (or I rant, one of those)). I grew up Texan. I will die a Texan. And the truth is I don’t understand how not to be a Texan. I can’t throw on your Idahoan shoes to see things through your Idahoan eyes, and in truth, as a Texan, I imagine there’s not much of a perspective there. (And that my friends, is what it’s like being in a Texan’s brain – that pride or arrogance or that hubris, if you prefer.)
And it’s not that Texas doesn’t deeply embarrass me on occasion. There are times now and again where I’m not actually bursting with pride. For example, anytime Texas makes the news, I know it’s going to be cringe worthy. When Brian Williams comes out and begins with, “In Texas today…” it’s not going to be because we did something awe inspiring. In fact, those words often herald some announcement that at best will place us barely above Arkansas or West Virginia in some awful competition for “worst” in something and at worst, well… let’s just say it can get ugly. Then there’s those wonderful times when one of us escapes the borders to find a microphone and a national listening ear. That’s usually time to grab a maple leaf pin and say, “what buffoons, ay?” But by and large, despite the headlines, my Texas soul remains intact, even if it’s a bit dinged around the edges.
Plus, there can be those moments that make me proud – where we as Texans surprise even me and I can take pride that we did something better – something right: Any time we can say, “in your face, NYC!” is a good (albeit rare) day.
Now we as Texans are all different. We hail from different regions with distinctly different cultures. We’re not exactly a hive mind unless you’re talking about our pride. And despite our difference, the truth is if you’re going after a Texan for a Texas thing and you’re not from here, well I’ll stand with the Texan every time. We “get” that you don’t get it, but we’re not joking when it comes to our feelings about our state. We’re not playing. Make a light-hearted jab about our pride and you’ll hear a room go very still. You probably know about Texans and their notorious love for football. Well, swap out “football” for “state pride,” and you might begin to understand where we’re coming from.
We also take small (and by “small” I mean “gigantic”) exception to the idea that we’re a gigantic pack of bumpkins, especially when you talk about how great it would be to do a bumpkin study on us to measure just how deep our bucolic bumpkiness goes. Always keep in mind, we have urban areas, too – some with more than two major streets. Many of us grew up away from livestock and have never ridden a horse. Heck, did you know we even have some of them schools fer book learnin’? And there’s a pack of us who made it through all of the grades and have us-selves one of them fancy de-grees. I heard tell that some even have advanced de-grees from them prestigious schools that y’all are so proud of. Our men don’t always swagger and our women aren’t always politely demure. If you want to see a Texan get all Texan on you, make the generalization that we’re all backwards idiots stuck in a 1950’s mentality. Save that for your friends in your other state that you can’t say you’re even proud to be from.
All of this started rattling around my head recently when I was sitting outside at a local pub daydreaming (I mean, paying close attention) while some non-natives were mocking Texas in some way. Well, my go-to reaction whenever this comes up is “leave,” but I suppose curiosity won out and well, I do like them despite their obvious poor breeding, so I listened. The gist of it was “even when Texans take a crap, they think it’s better.” My knee-jerk reactions to that: 1) Do you kiss your out-of-state mother with that mouth? and 2) Ummm… is there a question in there? Despite the crassness, I would say we don’t “think” it’s better, without any doubt we “know” it’s better. As I thought those words, and may have even lent them a voice, I knew I believed in the truth of that statement 100%. We have no doubt that everything is better, even when it’s not. Call it a “faith” of sorts. The conversation continued and danced around my statement being a perfect example of the sheer obnoxiousness of our state’s natives, so I had to follow with, “it’s not my fault your state didn’t raise you with any sense of pride.” It’s not my fault that you don’t have anything to be proud about. Hell, if I came from Ohio, I wouldn’t mention it either. They don’t even have a proper flag.
I don’t know why we have that pride. Maybe it’s all of the classes we have to take on Texas history and Texas government as we work our way through the one room school system. Maybe it’s subliminal messages from some insidious Texas PR firm, or it could be something in the sweet tea or possibly the BBQ, but it seeps in at some point and it grows (no, it doesn’t “fester”, it “grows” – sheesh).
I saw a movie the other day depicting the door to a Navy Seal’s room who was from Texas. On the door hung the state flag. That one small attention to detail rang so true to me, Texans I’ve known away from home displayed the Texas flag, wore their Texas shirts, and donned their cowboy hat as a way to let everyone know, “I’m a Texan” We wear our pride.
It’s a way we let you know that despite its flaws and sometimes its history, we stand proud – Texas proud. And so I’m just here to say that…
I’m a Texan, from the best state in the country! (Especially if you steer away from studies and the news and such.) If you don’t like our state, you’re welcome to leave – ain’t nobody stoppin’ ya. Don’t let the door…
Oh, and let’s end this with a song from a Texas boy who they just announced would be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame along with his band, Double Trouble