Texans are proud of themselves and their pride. Well, there is no other way to describe a social phenomenon where no one questions why Dallas exists, or why native Texans drive like they do. Actually, Texans aren't bad drivers, unless they are in a hurry and then they act like the only driver on the road, or median or grassy knoll.
When I lived in California, I remember watching travel adds that said "visiting Texas is like being in a whole other country," I thought that catchy slogan was a marketing blurb, I didn't think it was true.
If you visit Texas people will be kind, especially when you buy souvenirs or food. As they hand you change you'll hear "Ya'll come back," as they turn to the next customer. Suddenly I'd become plural in their English laguage. I wondered if this salutation was drilled in Texas high school vocabulary as one loooong word.
People marry early in Texas, giving Dallas metro the youngest average age of newlyweds for a city this size. My neighbor, Harold Haney and his wife Millie married when they were both 16.
Texans are all weathermen, they know what the weather will be long before the forecasters. Haney came by yesterday to tell me we were in for a storm. He said, "bigest Texas storm since '77." He was right. Although I was not living here in 1877... I could only agree with him.
I think Texans are amused by those of us who move here from other states. While they are often fantasizing about going to the places we came from. But the almost perfect climate, pleasant terrain and plentiful resources attract those of us in search of a sainer life.
The influx of people from both coasts has challenged Texas' social consciousness that Texans never thought needed explaining. Thank God for New Yorkers who introduced coffee houses and the idea that their is more to life then late night television. Dallasites pride themselves on having the highest number of restaurants per person. Looking at the table wait on a weeknight leaves me wondering whether anyone knows how to cook at home.
Texans profess a wholesomeness in their football star sons and pigtailed daughters, probably through the vast religious influence.
The social caste and gender gaps are as wide as Big Bend Texas. A growing trend in Dallas women is a conservative stance on their rights, and I see a hesitancy to challenge male counterparts. Men still rule in all parts of Texas society except for one; former Governor Ann Richards. Even her status was short lived by the religiously conservative George W Bush. The majority of voters viewed Governor Annie, as the lesser of two evils, even though she holds her own in the traditionally WASP political system. She lost the vote to Bush by a slim count.
Once rich, always rich and the same if you are not. In Los Angeles, anyone can be a star. In Texas personal notoriety is privileged for those who have been chosen by the ruling class. The Kim Dawson agency won't talk to you about your talented child unless he or she has already starred in a feature film. In Texas, an employer doesn't need a reason to fire you.
Black people are not permitted to live in Highland Park, a pseudo upscale community in the heart of Dallas. The only reason for blacks in the town's limits is to catch a bus home after cleaning floors. Everytime I question this I get shushed and I'm told, "This is the South, its always been like this." On the other hand, a stroll through Dallas' City Hall works your eyes to find any white people.
Attending church on Sunday is as common as greeting "Hello" to answer the phone. In Los Angeles, Sundays are just another workday, and we'd schlepp hours in traffic to visit friends or relatives. Texans attend church and a leisurely brunch, and plan an afternoon in front of the tube.
Texans will not discuss personal problems, instead they'll talk in riddles. "My wife is like a cactus shedding it's needles," Haney told me. I didn't want him to clarify. Texans think psychologists are for characters in a movie, breaking family secrets are as much a crime as murder.
Culturally, Texas has its share of talent. However, the culturally elite often look to other larger cities for art work and entertainment. Texans give new meaning to the term "struggling artist." They will follow your career and claim you're a Texan after you've made it big. But no grousing, as the Dixie Chicks recently discovered. While their music sales halted in Texas after a negative George W Bush comment, they became new sensations in other states and countries.
The irony, if you find a Texan who will disclose, is they will agree with my observations. But they remind me that I can't complain -- just as one can't complain about the earthquakes after moving to California. "We told y'all, Texas is a whole 'nother country.