Don’t Let the Door…

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

10 thoughts on “Don’t Let the Door…

  1. hrhdeanne says:

    Fucking right, every word of it. Even though I’m not a Native Texan (due to my parent’s ignorance), I lived there long enough that I was honestly surprised that kids up here in Ohio learn OHIO history. As though anything noteworthy (other than the Underground Railroad) happened here. It’s so cute that they think Ohio matters.
    Texan till I die.

    • Beth says:

      I can’t tell you how excited I will be when you make it back here. I still love it that you celebrated Texas Independence Day up there. 🙂

      On Wed, Dec 17, 2014 at 12:16 PM, The Big Blue Mess wrote: > >

  2. Charles and Gina Harris says:

    Here is Beth’s latest post if you’d like to check out her writing.   Wish you were here, but I know you’re having fun with Sydney.  I sent her and Julie’s gifts to your house so she can take them home in her suitcase! -Gina

  3. Thank you. My family left the East coast/US because it was getting too crowded and the government too intrusive….they became Catholic, learned Spanish, became Mexican citizens and were in Austin’s Old 300 Land Grant families. We have journals – settling here wasn’t easy before or after Texas became a country (with foreign diplomats and foreign embassies).
    As a child, I lived in other states” Virginia and Massachusetts as a couple. In my experience, Texans are pretty polite, welcoming, and accepting. At first I didn’t understand why other families wouldn’t sit with us in the back of the bus with my dad’s big name brand open minded university classes’ field trips and social outings. The back of the bus is fun – all bouncy. My older brother shusshed me and whispered “It’s because the family with us is black and those guys up there think they are better than any of us.” Educated folks and their families would NEVER sit with the nice black family at picnics – only the men and families from the South, SW, and West did.
    Which I really didn’t understand. But I did understand all their kids thought we lived on a ranch and road horses to school and shot Indians who raided our place all the time….finally I have to say I did start telling the kids, sure all that was true – they were so happy and smug then…my mom went nuts over it.
    As a teen I though the East Coast cities were as sophisticated as advertised – until being up there more. So disappointed. So often provincial. So few had traveled or had any desire to explore outside their blocks or where their family had been for years. Daughters were so subdued and expected to live at home until marriage. (Just learned to smile at it.)
    As an adult, well, always glad to get back to Texas. It’s just different here. (and the women are prettier, as older brother – he would know from living/working in other states)
    Every state has history which should be taught in elementary school ( geography, products, and history at appropriate level) and again in secondary school where more historical topics can be covered and discussed with students able to see how things are connected/understand. (Neglecting local/state history is part of the problem with CORE education). Learning about your state give an individual a frame of reference and a sense of belonging and pride.
    Texas is a whole different world. There are mistakes and problems, but we try to fix them…loudly sometimes…we are not shy about showing up on elected officials’ doorsteps.
    (And all of you, the textbook “battles” are all great street drama – mainly driven by edu. publishing companies. Was in that industry and know the game well. Prior to that, served as a member on one of the regional review/selection committee Textbook process is quite lengthy and involved here. Publishers who aren’t on approved list loudly proclaim/exaggerate to sell in other states “You don’t want to be like those Texans and buy those books do you?” Be assured that the Board makes a recommended list of multiple titles and school districts can choose one – or choose none. Keep the old texts or buy what they prefer. No text is mandated. Teachers for decades have added supplemental materials as desired. Lots of noise is great for media.)
    In Texas if you work hard and contribute and you’ll get along fine with everyone here. We’re a place of proud scrappy mutts.
    Ditto with that next to last paragraph.
    God bless Texas.


    • Beth says:

      Wow! That’s an amazing history to be part of Stephen F. Austin’s 300 land grant families. The depth of history around the country, especially the original 13 colonies is amazing (I love the architecture), so I’m always surprised they don’t have that crazy sense of “we’re Marylanders!” like we do. They’ve got a lot to be proud of even if they can’t be from here.

      I applaud your parents for sitting in the back of those buses and sitting with the black families at a time when that wouldn’t have been looked upon favorably. It says a ton about their strength of character. I feel the video I posted regarding the gay families also reflected that same kind of Texas sense of fairness. (I have to say the premise also irritated me a bit. I felt feel the reason the major network picked that small Texas town to set up their hidden videos was to show embarrass Texans. I think they expected to show a more stereotypical reaction. So when person after person stood up for those families, I was so proud. We may not always agree with our neighbors, but we’ll stand with them when there’s an injustice.)

      Great point also about the text books. They said the same thing on NPR about school districts not being forced into adopting the recommended texts, but that part of the story seemed to get glossed over by the more sensational bits. People do love a good headline.

      On Thu, Dec 18, 2014 at 9:30 AM, The Big Blue Mess wrote: > >

      • My sister-in-law is from Maryland. Some of them do have journals and family stories passed down creating a sense of pride and connection with the past and the efforts it to get us where we are now.
        How can anyone from any place be proud if they don’t know the stories – and touch items from that era making it all real? Sense of self and place. So important.
        People still don’t get Texas – many prefer the stereotype to suit their purposes.
        Give me a good ole boy anytime.

    • Beth says:

      You reminded me that one of the things Dad suggested I do whenever I was outside of my city for any length of time was to spend as much time learning about the history of the new place as possible. I think he’s more skilled at this than I, but it still helps me get a better feel for where I’m at and its history. I really would love to see more states embrace their history and one day be able to say, “Oh my, those West Virginians are always carrying on about how great they are!”

      Hope you stay warm this weekend and have a Merry Christmas!

      • Dreary today, maybe 70 tomorrow…but where’s the sun. If I can’t have mountains and snow, at least some sun?
        My husband’s grandmother had some tales about life in West Virginia. She was the first woman reporter on a news paper in St Louis – her husband was a Pinkerton man who was shot leaving her with 3 young children. Hired to do “woman’s page” with fashion/home/cooking – but that was sooo not her and shortly they realized she was a tough reporter and changed her assignment. She never had much interest in those women who sat in elegant parlours drinking tea and chatting about women’s suffrage.
        It’s a worry people don’t hear the family stories and community histories. “Those who do not know history are doomed….”
        Does it make sense to suggest elem. schools go back to studying local geography and history in 3rd grade, state geography/history in 4th grade, US geography/history in 5th grade before world geography/basic history in 6th? Geography – capitals, cities, products and industries – those mean something to elementary kids as there are solid definite things you can point to and hold. Kids have to move from concrete facts before abstract concepts and ideas. Historical stories are the bridge between the two. Hard to develop pride in anything there’s no object, place or story you are actually connected to. And those who do not know…
        Let’s hope there’s the new year’s more positive in direction…and people get a clue…otherwise, I’m hangin’ with the critters. (giggles)
        Merry merry and onward to jingle! Peace and joy to you and yours

  4. “Excellent post,” says the guy from nowhere nearby.

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