On Being a “Yankee” in the Heart of Texas.

6 05 2013

I’ve been called a “Yankee” many times since moving to Texas about 9 months ago.

A few weeks ago, I was called a Yankee 8 times in just a few days. I found  it slightly disconcerting to be so obviously an outsider in the state I now claim as my home. Growing up in Illinois and Minnesota and then attending to college in California failed to prepare me for the reality of the “glorious South”, I guess.

With my husband at the Texas State Capitol in Austin...

With my husband at the Texas State Capitol in Austin…

Which means I’m pursuing my Texas education in my own way, as a an intrepid and bespectacled scholar might study a native tribe in the wilds of Madagascar.

Do they have native tribes there? I don’t know. I don’t have time to consult Wikipedia on this one, so just go with me on it.

Without further ado, here it is…

Various Things this Yankee has Learned from Living in Texas:

  • Everyone really does say “bless your heart” and “y’all” and “fixin’ to”.
  • Yes, I have to be instructed on how to use a bootjack. And what the heck it is.
  • I’m open-minded when it comes to barbecue. I’m not ready to stab someone with a pitchfork when they claim that my homemade BBQ might not be the best they’ve ever tasted.
  • No, I don’t have a clue what “pearl snaps” are (to the rest of the world, it’s a complicated name for what appears to be fake pearl buttons on a western-style shirt).
  • Everyone has handled guns from a young age, and pretty much everyone owns one. And it’s not unusual to keep yours in your vehicle–even at church.
  • People dawdle on roadways, usually driving a few miles under the speed limit no matter if it’s 55 or 80. I wonder if it’s a holdover from galloping horses over the trails?
  • Two-stepping? I thought maybe it was a move you did to step over a rattlesnake.
  • Speaking of rattlesnakes, every single person in this state has had a close call with one…at some point. Supposedly.
  • The state capitol is holy. Even the grass, I’ve been told.
  • High school football is possibly even more holy than the state capitol.
  • I didn’t know what they did to the horses and bulls to make them so angry at the rodeos. Yes, I had to ask. The answer made me blush.
  • It’s apparently normal to have dinner at someone’s house and then spend the dessert hour perusing their gun collection.
  • People know livestock here. Even the city “folks”. Who knew how many people could factually instruct me on the finer points of a longhorn?
  • It’s socially unacceptable for a woman to drive a large pickup truck. My first vehicle was a pickup truck. Gulp.
  • There’s no such thing as a universal salsa or queso dip anywhere. Every restaurant and/or household has its own unique concoction, and each one is proud to proclaim their creation as the best.
  • Texans are serious about being a republic, and if this country ever falls apart, I’m pretty sure they’ll go back to defending it as such.
  • They consider it chilly when it hits below 70. And it’s incomprehensible to them that that used to be a nice summer day for me as a Minnesotan.
  • Hot sauce is served universally at every single restaurant.
  • Water moccasins do inhabit every lake, and they do swim towards your boat. And yes, it’s terrifying when you’re  alone in a kayak.
  • Everyone does own cowboy boots, regardless of age, race, or gender.
  • In the summer, the streets are devoid of life. Except for fire ants. They rule every inch of sod in this state all summer long.

However, there are some uniquely Texan claims that I must (somewhat begrudgingly) admit are true…and better yet, I actually enjoy…

Surprisingly True Things About Texas that I Love:

  • Spring in Texas–particularly the fields of gorgeous wildflowers dotting the landscape– is indeed the most beautiful thing in the world.
  • Without a doubt, the best ice cream in the country is here. And it is Blue Bell.
  • Men are more chivalrous. I don’t think I’ve ever opened a door on my own when I’ve been with a man.
  • Prickly pear juice is real–and delicious.
  • Children are incredibly well-mannered (“Good morning, Ms. Cassie” and “Yes ma’am” are phrases I’m still getting used to hearing on a daily basis)
  • Food is spicier, but a thousand times more delicious than any other state I’ve lived in.
  • The Texas state flag does indeed fly as high as the national flag. And it’s treated just as reverently.
  • It’s normal to eat tacos for breakfast. And every gas station and fast food joint has its own style of taco.
  • People love it when you play the banjo and/or harmonica in church.
  • There’s more fierce pride in Texans than any other state I’ve ever lived in. And it’s well-earned, when you manage to survive summer here.

As for what I’ll learn in the next few years? Well…I guess you’ll just have to wait and see how countrified this “Yankee” will end up being.

Bless your purdy lil’ heart…