She hates Texas.
She married a Soldier and bravely moved away from all kith and kin. I salute her grit for sticking it out this long. I wouldn’t let any man take me out of this great state (did it once; never again), so I can imagine what it feels like to leave a home and a culture you love.
Texas is not for everyone. I get that. Some folks feel about Texas the way I feel about New Jersey: blow it off the continent and good riddance.
Many of you reading this little pearl of Texas wit and wisdom need help in finding meaningful existence while exiled here.
Perhaps I can help.
You’re gonna have to work with me here and understand that Texas is what it is: big, wild and…well…Texas.
You’re gonna have to find one thing you like and start from there. For many Texas transplants, all it takes is finding a place in which time spent there is a pleasure. My friend likes Austin. The state capital is her little oasis of urban living replete with hippies, hybrid cars, Seattle-based coffee shops and politicians. She’s able to overlook the city’s many faults and find some solace there.
She’s not alone in her appreciation for that strange municipality. I understand quite a few people just looooove Austin. I’m not one of them. I think the town puts too much stock in “weird” and it’s not even a cool weird anymore. It’s a pretentious weird, lacking originality and rife with one-upsmanship in the pursuit of weirdness. It is no longer “weird” for weird’s sake. It is now “weirder-than-thou.”
Speaking of weird, I got thrown out of an Austin whole-paycheck foods market once. I can’t remember why I was there, but I was up to my Justins in people wearing clothing made from hemp. Just for grins, I stood in the deli section and hollered, “Where are the pork rinds and the skirt steak?”
You could have heard a pin drop after that one and they weren’t real polite in asking me to leave.
I despise Austin, especially driving in it while trying to find events or attractions. Finding anything in that city requires a crystal ball and Ouija board, and the tell-tale reek of patchouli will make your eyes bleed.
If small-town Texas is not your venti cup of herbal tea, I suggest you visit to Austin. You will forget you are in Texas completely, I guarantee it. Our capital is the least Texan city in Texas, followed closely by Dallas, which is another choice “less-than-Texas” escape.
I don’t care how many episodes of Dallas you watched in the 1980s, that was NOT Texas. If it had been, Sue Ellen’s brothers would have made short work of J.R. and the series would have been over before it started.
Texas newspaper magnate Amon Carter hated Dallas. The father of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram called it “Baby Manhattan” back in the early part of the 20th century. Many Texans say Fort Worth is where the West begins and Dallas is where the East peters out. And the city has been all highbrow about itself ever since that Neiman-Marcus department store opened up there in 1907.
There are trappings of Texas all over Dallas, but honestly, there is nothing really Texan about the city except it is actually in Texas. And frankly, there is nothing more ridiculous than a Dallasite dressed “cowboy casual” or "western chic" whatever the heck that means.
I lived there for 7 years and loved it. There was always something to do or see and the cultural events were fantastic. And, as always, what Dallas lacked, Fort Worth certainly had because, truth be told, Fort Worth actually has more cultural and arts events than Dallas.
Don’t say that out loud in Dallas. You won’t get on the A-list for parties if you do. You could go to Houston, but I don’t recommend it. I do, however, recommend we build a high-security fence around Houston, drop Kurt Russell in it and see how long it takes him to escape.
Nobody likes Houston, not even Texans.
At some point, however, you are going to have to come to terms with being in Texas. In that case, I suggest you go to San Antonio, which is urban, chic AND Texas all in one. It’s Texas on steroids and chili powder. I get all weepy at the Alamo and I can get an awesome cup of Seattle-based coffee shop caffeinated-anything just down the street on the Riverwalk. San Antonio just might help you make peace with your anti-Texas demons.
Other than that, I can’t help you. You may well have a case of TTRD or terminal Texas revulsion disorder. You can try chili transfusions, big hair teases and rodeo gestalt therapy, but ultimately you might just have to excise the problem at its source and hie-thee-hence to your home state. Texans won’t be offended. But we’re sure not gonna do an intervention, either.
Update: I wrote that column back in 2008. Since then, I've come to like Austin. In small doses, mind you; but it has gotten a lot less "hempy" in recent years. According to some Austin residents, there's a move on to lose the "small town boutique weird" identity. And honestly, I'm a little sorry about that. I don't want to see Austin become another "Dallas." Ever.