Being Texan is great. It’s almost like being in an exclusive club where everyone goes around constantly talking about how awesome the club is. Maybe some of the things we do around here are a little weird to outsiders, and that’s okay. Just remember, when your friends and relatives from out of state come for a visit, there are a few traditions you might have to explain to them about how we do things around here.
These are called “homecoming mums” and, like everything else in the Lone Star State, the bigger, the better. They started out as real chrysanthemum corsages adorned with ribbons that high school boys would pin on their dates to celebrate Homecoming. They have since evolved into monstrosities so enormous that at times all you’ll see is the top of a girl’s head as she struggles down the hall behind a massive wall of fake flowers.
Texans like big things. Our state is big. Our hats are big. Our egos are big. Our capitol building is big. In fact, it’s taller than the United States capitol building in Washington, D.C. The U.S. capital is not the only national monument Texas improved upon. In Houston stands the San Jacinto monument, an obelisk that closely and intentionally resembles the Washington monument, except it’s 13 feet taller.
Every spring the highways and fields of Texas become filled with the blue lupin known as bluebonnets, the official flower of the state of Texas. During this time of year, the highway department stops mowing the grass, and many people don’t mow their lawns. Instead you’ll find groups of Texans stopped along the road sitting in the flowers to take pictures.
Chili is the official dish of the state of Texas, so we take it very seriously. Authentic Texas chili doesn’t have beans, and if you add beans to yours, you’re going to get an earful. We take chili so seriously that we even have weekend-long festivals devoted to its creation. Chilifest in Snook, and the annual chili cook off in Terlingua attract folks from all over the state as well as out of state.
SEE ALSO: 10 Tips for Making Perfect Chili
Winter isn’t always an annual event in Texas, sometimes we’ll just skip it and have a second summer instead, so sometimes we don’t have the right attire when a cold snap hits. It’s not too uncommon to see a person in a parka and basketball shorts, or a hoodie and leggings, and flip-flops with both of those outfits.
Everyone knows it’s about 12 hours across the state, whether you’re traveling north to south or east to west. It’s about an hour from Austin to San Antonio. Five hours from Houston to Dallas. Don’t ask us the miles, what do we look like? Google maps? This is how long it will take you to get there.
We are very proud of our flag. The Texas flag is where the term “lone star” came from. It’s the remnant of those ten years when we were our own nation, and it reminds us of our fierce independent streak. So we use it in logos, we stamp it on letterheads, we put it on our license plates, and we even sent our delegates to the 2012 Republican National Convention in it.
Anything that doesn’t have our lone star flag on it probably has our state’s shape on it. It’s a pretty recognizable shape, and we love it. We turn it into erasers, stepping stones, and waffle irons. We make Texas-shaped cookies and cakes, and obviously we all know how to draw it by the time we can hold a pencil.
Because Texans drive everywhere within our own cities, we pretty much don’t board an airplane unless we’re leaving the state. Texans have pretty much perfected the art of road tripping, and we don’t even need to leave the state to do it.
We don’t even need actual snow to close our schools, the mere threat of it will be sufficient. There’s a good reason for this though, it snows so infrequently in Texas that it’s actually more costly to keep the infrastructure in place to deal with real wintery conditions than it is to simply shut down when it snows. A snowplow in Texas would probably die of loneliness. In fact, I think that’s a great new saying to add to the Texan repertoire. “As useful as a snowplow in Texas”.
You will never have Mexican food anywhere else like we have in Texas. We love Mexican food so much that we co-opted it as our own and renamed it “Tex-mex.” So welcome to Texas where we have breakfast tacos in the morning, quesadillas for lunch and fajitas for dinner, and don’t forget the dessert, sopaipillas.
If you want to know what football is like in Texas you need only consult the documentary films Friday Night Lights and Varsity Blues. Okay, so those aren’t technically documentaries, but they are so accurate that they might as well be. Our high school football stadiums are as expensive as and on par with some professional stadiums. For reference of how quarterbacks are treated like gods here, google “Johnny Football.”
Generally speaking, carbonated beverages are called “pop” in the Northern United States, while down south they’re called “soda.” That’s not true in the Lone Star State. In Texas, if someone offers you a pop, you’d better duck, because they’re about to backhand you. On the other hand, if they offer you a soda, it’s not coming with any flavor. Soda in Texas is soda water, otherwise known as Schweppe’s.
Texans are taught to be polite above all else. We may not like you, but we’re damn sure going to be polite to you, regardless of who you are, because that’s how we were raised. Texans even say “Yes, Ma’am,” and “Yes, Sir,” to children. It’s a way to teach them how they should respond to everyone else. It may be a term of respect reserved for elders in other parts of the country, but we extend it to everyone, so they all feel respected.
Texans are notorious for creating our own pronunciations for words. Many city names in Texas are of foreign origin, and we are just not super adept at proper foreign pronunciation, so we all agree on how to pronounce a word and stick to that. Here are a few more Texan pronunciations:
Pedernales in Texan is “Perd-nales”
Manchaca (in Austin) is “Man-shack”
Palacios in Texan is “Puh-LASH-iss”
If you are heating up a little round Webber to cook some hotdogs and hamburgers, what you’re doing is grilling. Barbecue constitutes an all-day effort that starts before dawn and doesn’t get eaten until probably 6 pm, and consists of brisket, ribs, sausage and the like. And don’t you dare get near it with any ketchup.
Chicken fried steak doesn’t contain chicken. We incorporate tortillas into most breakfast dishes, and if you can eat it, we will fry it, and it will be damn good.
As stubborn as we may be about things, we still love guests. We want you to come over, and we want you to come on back now, ya hear? It’s not uncommon to be wrangled into staying for dinner if you drop by someone’s house in the afternoon. Texans take Matthew 5:41 pretty seriously and will go the extra mile to make you feel at home. Hospitality is something we pride ourselves on.
Because of the miles Texas highways that are constantly being traveled, we need substantial places to make a pit stop. If you’re ever traveling through Texas and you see a sign with a cartoon beaver on it, that’s Buc ee’s, and it’s a great place to stop for anything from a Coke to a quart of oil or an inner tube, in case you’re headed to the river for a float. Our proper grocery stores cover acres of ground and many operate 24 hours.
In Texas public schools, Texas history starts in Kindergarten and continues all the way through high school. Texas public schoolchildren can tell you the state bird is a Mockingbird, the state motto is Friendship, and the first President of the Republic of Texas was Sam Houston. So if you move here from out of state with your family, just know that we’ll be indoctrinating your kids with our Texan pride.