Who needs memes? While walking and driving around The Lone Star State this past and pleasant October, I was intrigued by reading signs that revealed a certain something about the place. I don’t know if it’s the mentality, the mixed cultures, humor, a form of irony, or what natives might call, “a Texas thing.”. But, I sensed a latent message. I’m still uncertain exactly why I felt the vibe I did. Maybe it was me. At the time, I was trying to make an important life decision.
Signs convey messages. Texas may have more highway signs per road mile than any other state. Speed limits range from fast (70MPH) to ridiculous (85MPH). Ubiquitous municipal signs warned of rules (some designed to aid the foolish or intoxicated). I found humor everywhere I looked.
Squeezed into a few square miles of New Braunfels, Texas, is a huge waterpark (Schlitterbahn was closed by October), and two rivers used for floating on tubes while getting shit-faced-drunk (the Comal and Guadalupe rivers). It all happens between May and September when the temperature has the natives counting the number of days in a row over 100-degrees Fahrenheit. It’s hot. Even the water is too damn hot to feel good. The thousands of visitors must pay to park in huge lots or obtain city permits to park on the streets because it is so congested with fun seekers during the hot summer months.
What can I say? It’s Texas. I married a Texan and technically, I suppose I am one, albeit an unwilling transplant from Yankee-land. Our three young’uns (and a passel of grands) were all born there.
Even though I’ve lived in Texas more than half my life, the state and many inhabitants continue to mystify me. While I don’t currently live between the Red River and The Rio Grande, I now plan to move north of Austin in less than a month (reason for blogging about it).
Native Texans, and many transplants, love the state. My wife likes to tell me, “you can take the girl out of Texas, but you can’t take Texas out of the girl.” She sees that as a good thing. I think she’s brainwashed. I confess that the state and its inhabitants pose a certain mystique, but I don’t buy into the Texas is special nonsense.
In 1964, I asked a friend who was home in PA after Air Force Basic Training in San Antonio (where I was soon headed) what he thought of Texas. He replied, “I think we should give it back to Mexico.” I won’t go that far. But there have long been grumblings among some Texans favoring secession from the Union and returning to the status of an independent Republic.
Grin and roll your eyes (I do), but some Texans consider that rational thought. How secession worked the last time apparently notwithstanding. I refuse to ponder the complications of such foolishness. But, all the noise makes for good news and political fodder. It’ll never be more than that, even if some are serious.
As the USA’s second largest state, in land mass (behind Alaska) and population (California is first), Texas has an interesting history. A little over 180 years ago, it was Mexico. The people living there at the time, along with many additional (illegal?) immigrants from the United States, successfully rebelled and it became an independent Republic. The irony of the times was that the Mexican government was trying to end all the immigration into Mexico of people from the USA. The eventual annexation of Texas as the 28th state in 1845 led directly to the Mexican-American War (1846-1848). Mexico was pissed. I think they still are.
I want to dispel some myths about Texas.
It is not a law that all Texas public school students stand and recite a pledge of allegiance to both the American and Texas flags, but many Texans believe it is and should be. Texas did not add “under God” to their pledge to the Texas flag until 2007, and while the pledge says “indivisible,” it’s sort of true that Texas may choose to divide into several states. Maybe someday, but don’t hold your breath.
The Texas flag is a big deal. That seems odd, since they did not have an official state flag from about 1879 until 1933. Many Texans believe before then only six flags flew over Texas, maybe because of the name of the theme park (Six Flags). It was nine. There were others (unofficial) here and there, but nine flags.
Many Texans also think theirs it is the only state flag allowed to fly at the same level as the USA flag. Not true. Any state flag may be flown at an equal height to the American flag. The US flag must always be to the right (viewer’s left) of the state flag, per normal flag etiquette. It’s common to see the Texas flag being displayed with no US flag in sight. I never ask why.
I developed a pet peeve regarding the Texas flag. When I see it flown upside down, especially by a native-born-and-raised Texan, I want to fix it. It happens more than you’d think and in places it shouldn’t. I have had people argue with me about it, insisting the red stripe goes up and the two star points up were correct. The white bar goes on top of the red – up. The single point at the top of the star should point up, not look like it’s standing on its dang head. And yes, I have pulled off the road to tell them: car dealerships, housing and apartment developments, and (my favorite) schools.
I’ve no idea why some folks think it more patriotic to fly dirty, old, torn, and ripped flags. It is not. It is bad taste and poor flag etiquette, but I will not go so far as to try to convince those people of anything. Many of them recently thought America was invading during a military exercise and was coming to take their guns. Speaking of guns, getting shot happens a lot there, but that is due to the large population.
Texas is second, behind California, in the number of murders. Texas has a slight edge in the per capita murder rate. To be fair, things seem to be somewhat under control even with several major mass shootings. The fact is that Texas ranks only 30th among states for gun ownership. With only about 36% packin’, it’s a good deal safer than many other states. Texas has stricter concealed carry requirements than does Washington State, and probably takes this subject more serious than many give them credit. Especially now, following the shootings at the church in Sutherland Springs.
One last interesting comparison between Texas and California is in the use of capital punishment. Texas leads the nation in executions while CA has the most people on death row. I suppose somebody must be number one, but I am mystified as why anyone would take pride in either statistic. Some do. Not me.
Ok, last two have nothing to do with Texas.