Welcome to Texas!

texas starevery now and then we get these little unexpected cool things that happen out of nowhere.   that happened to me this week.  an old friend of mine moved to ft. worth.

it seems odd to refer to blair as an old friend,  but it just seems kind of disrespectful to refer to him as a “kid” from my old youth group in huntington beach…seeing that he’s a card-carrying member of the over-40 club.  how weird is that…for me?

blair is the new director of communications for a church down near TCU, after spending most of his first 40 in shiny orange county, california.  geez…talk about following in my footsteps!

on my way home from our first lunch together here in the great state, i started thinking about things i’ve learned in my years in texas that might be good for him to know…maybe even some things i wish people would have told me before i showed up here at my new home on the range:

pay careful attention to the service, or frontage, road.  those are the roads that run immediately parallel to the the highways.  you didn’t have anything like these in california.  they only go in the same direction as the highway traffic on that side of the centerline.  usually.

when there is serious traffic congestion on the highway, texas drivers  often make their own “off ramps” through the grass and onto the service road to avoid the traffic jam.  i think it’s illegal, but people do it all the time.  proceed at your own risk.

make sure you check the weather channel every morning…and then multiple times during the day.  yes.  the weather changes that much.

it will take some time to get used to prime time television starting at 7:00pm and not 8:00.  once you get used to central time, though, you will never want to go back.

tex-mex is not the mexican food you grew up on.  you will grow to like it, but it will never replace the flavor and experience of the northern baja flavor sensations.

be careful of buying a fish taco here.   a few places are good.  most are bad.

don’t ever invite people over for a backyard barbeque.  you’ll be laughed at…especially in fort worth.  barbeque is a food group here, not an event.

not everybody in texas is sports-crazy.  but almost everybody…and everything…is crazy competitive.  if there is not a winner and loser, there is generally no point in doing it.

there is no match for a long drive on a two-lane country road that ends  with lunch at a little gas station diner.

the love-affair with the “lone star” is genuine.  you will hang a star somewhere at your house eventually.  you might as well do it sooner, than later.

you and your wife may never say y’all.  but get ready.  your daughter will.  and she may eventually like country music… and it probably won’t be nashville country.  you live in fort worth.  it will be texas country.  trust me.

blair, you are not a sports fanatic, but you really need to spend some time listening to randy galloway.  just ask a sports fan at your new church.

don’t wait too long before you vist the fort worth stockyards.  i wish we would have gone years earlier.  it is a cool experience…and you don’t have to wear boots.

don’t let them fool you.  deep in the heart of every true texan is the desire and willingness to secede from the union.

you will always be referred to as the guy from the land of fruits and nuts.  speaking as a fellow former californian… don’t do anything stupid to reinforce their belief.  there’s enough of that already.

i was surprised at how many men dip.  you probably will be, too.  always double-check your dr. pepper cans and plastic bottles before you drink from them.

texas history means something here.  don’t ever disrespect it.

pool water in the middle of summer can reach the mid 90’s.  it is not refreshing.

malls and movie theaters will be your best friends during the summer.  you might even pick up bowling like we did.  those three places have the best air conditioning.

friday night high school football games and half-time shows by the bands are bigger deals than you have ever experienced in your life.  embrace them as part of the culture.

i apologize, in advance, for the phenomena of homecoming mums.  do a google image search, if you need to…but don’t say i didn’t warn you that your head will explode when you see some of the winners.

take a tour of the deathstar.  it will help you understand a major segment of life here.

these are just a few of mine.  no doubt i will think of more to pass on to you.

here’s a challenge to my adopted texas family:  for the most part, you guys have been totally lame over the past six months when it comes to commenting on my blog.  maybe i’ve worn out my welcome.  maybe i’m no longer interesting.  maybe you’ve been cheating on me with another blogger.

whatever.  it’s now time to man up.  what’s some texas advice you want to pass on to my friend blair…to educate him in the ways of his new home…to prepare him for the reality of life in a foreign land… to give him some tools for passing part one of his entrance exam to the texas militia?

come on.  help him learn to be one of us.

don’t make me hunt you down.


18 thoughts on “Welcome to Texas!

  1. When you walk into any type of retail store in Texas, and some staff member asks you, “Y’all doin’ OK?” That translates in the rest of America speak as, “Can I help you?” It’s not a rhetorical,question. Expect a response.

    On Texas highways the left lane is owned, deeded and occupied by the person in front of you. It doesn’t matter if they are traveling at speeds of 8 or 80. They own it and do not expect them to move over for you to pass.

    If you have been here more than 3 yrs and you have never killed a feral hog, then you aren’t a man and will be public chastised. It’s something akin to living here and still professing your love for the San Diego Padres.

    There is a second stop sign in Texas and in the rest of the world it is known as the yield sign. 85% of Texans stop at these no matter the traffic situation.

    Merging is another foreign phenomenon in Texas. Two problems exist. Either the coming traffic behaves as described in my 2 paragraph or the car in front of you believes that making a full stop on and on ramp is the appropriate safety manner when entering a highway.

  2. Whataburger is superior to all other fast food hamburger establishments (yes, even that In-N-Out place)

    No matter what anyone may say to the contrary, it is NOT required to own a gun in Texas

    Texans LOVE tradition, even it means re-electing (to record levels) incompetent state politicians (even when they embarrass the entire state on the national stage)

    You might notice what looks like male genitalia hanging beneath some truck bumpers. It is.

    Texans eat the WHOLE animal, but not so much for the same reasons Native Americans did. We think of it more as total domination over nature.

    Boots are practical, sensible and can be very comfortable (they even pass for “dress shoes” paired with a suit).

    Austin, the capital of this great state, is an interesting mix of liberal-minded vegans, street punks, tattoo aficionados, intellectual yuppies, scenester hip kids, and tried and true cowboys. It’s unlike any other city in Texas.

    The Bush family are not native Texans.

    Texans will complain about the heat from March through October (and most likely you will too if only in your head).

    Bass Pro Shop is Mecca to many Texans. It may look intimidating, but you must go at least once. Get yourself some beef (or deer – another favorite) jerky, a “trucker” hat with the company logo emblazoned across the front, and mosey through the taxidermy display like you know what you’re doing. You’ll be fine.

    If someone asks, you like Texas country, not that pretty-boy Nashville crap.

  3. Texans are generally friendly, unless you criticize Texas.

    Don’t ever comment on how we sound weird. Just listen slower or faster.

    Start now cataloguing the Texanisms and ask your close friends what they mean. You’ll need to refer to them often.

    If you ever visit Houston and drive down 45, remember to salute the Sam Houston statue near Huntsville.

    Equally important, if you ever visit the Alamo in San Antonio a moment of silence is required before you enter.

    While most Texans love the great state, don’t ever assume we feel that way about all Texas teams. Just ask an Astros fan what they think of the Rangers or vice versa. We have an opinion.

    However, we will stand together against the Yankees or Giants.

    There is a high percentage of fans who still believe in the Cowboys. Nobody supports Jerry Jones. He needs to retire.

    While speaking of the Cowboys, Tom Landry is remembered with reverence and awe. We feel the same way about Nolan Ryan.

    Texas heat is really a killer…that’s no lie.

    We know the beaches of Texas don’t hold a candle to those of California.

    The hill country covered in wild flowers is worth a visit.

    The state is a collection of beauty and miles of nothing. We just accept this fact.

    And…I would give Blair and his family a great big Howdy and Welcome Y’all. (by the way…y’all can be used to refer to one person or a crowd)

  4. My advice is the same as I gave you in that first youth leader’s meeting 18 years ago: Don’t try to make this “California East”…

  5. They are all cokes, no matter the brand. They are not soda or soda-pop or pop. If someone askes you if you want a coke, it will be followed by, “what kind?” or something of the like.
    When you order tea in a restaurant, it is iced. If they offer sweet tea, they will ask if you want sweet or unsweet. The sweet tea is usually rot-your-teeth-sweet. You will have to specify if you want hot tea.
    Yes, it’s HOT here in the summer. And people seem to forget it every year. And tornado season is rough. (if you’ve been here the past 2 weeks, that’s pretty much what it’s like) watch the weather closely on those days. It can change at a moment’s notice. Have your plan with your family what to do in case the worst should happen. Learn what charities are around you for disaster relief. It will happen. And Texans help Texans.

  6. I’ve lived in Texas most of my life and I DO NOT have a deep desire to secede from the US. Not all of us view Texas as it’s own country (although many do….many, many do)

    You should water the foundation of your home. It might help prevent your foundation from breaking in half (MIGHT is the key word). Welcome to the worse soil in the country for building homes.

    Public school children in Texas recite an additional pledge of allegiance to the state of Texas. No, this is not a joke.

    Visit Sundance Square soon. It, like the Stockyards (but with less authenticity and history) is a fun place to spend the evening.

    Willie Nelson is king, now and forever. Even those Texans who don’t like country music adore him.

    Invest in sunscreen!

    Unless you’re independently wealthy, Walmart will inevitably become a necessary evil.

    Camouflage and animal fur prints are the patterns of choice for clothing, tapestry, and automobile seat covers.

    While Texans love hot rods much like people in Southern California, we also LOVE trucks…big, loud, jacked-up trucks.

    Unfortunately you’ve traded Pacific Beach for lake beach (really not a beach at all).

    Don’t buy a boat, make friends with people who already own a boat.

    Making the perfect Margarita is a competitive sport. Many Texans will judge a Mexican restaurant based solely on their Margarita recipe(s).

  7. I lived in LA for 14 formattable years and have been in Texas for the last 19.

    You know how in LA when you are making a left turn that its required to pull out into the intersection with one or two others wanting that same left turn. Not a good idea here in texas. Actually I think it’s against the law here.

    Unlike in LA a stranger of either gender in Texas may make eye contact, smile and say hi for the only purpose of being friendly for that moment. It’s okay to smile back.

  8. Texans believe they are all competitors in NASCAR (if you listen to Jim Rome, it’s “Neck Car”) because they will “draft” you while going 80 on the interstates. Don’t leave space betwen the car in front of you…that’s open ground.

    Texans still dress up to go to church. (thank god I found a church pastored by a californian – this is coming from a HB Oiler).

    Eventually 85 degress will feel comfortable. And you will be thankful.

    Texans love cheese. Queso, cheese on hash browns, and a myriad of other dishes.

    Transplants live in Dallas area. Old time Texans live in Ft Worth where people make fun of the women’s big hair.

    Tejanos music exists. It’s ok but I’m not giving up on the B-52’s and Oingo Boingo.

    You will sweat during September high school football games.

    You will also be embarrssed by what some high schools force their dance teams to wear. skirts and cowboy boots takes a while to get used to..not to mention the sequin cowboy hats.

    If you have a disagreement with a Texan and they’re smiling, it means they’re carrying.

    The largest building in any small city in Texas will be the football stadium. Not to mention the 60 million dollar stadium in Allen, TX.

    Yes, there are different types of Baptist :-).

    Houston is pronounced with a “y” as in “youston”.

    If you want good chinese food, you have to go to Richardson and don’t ask a Texan what good chinese food is..they’ll say PF Chang’s.

  9. OH and BTW…
    Quick language prep:
    Ur = You’re.
    Yall = You all.
    Git = Please get out of the way (Please optional).
    Takim = “Take Him”. Common phrase spoke to your buddy next to you in the Deer blind emphasizing that he should shoot that Deer!

  10. Hi Blair! Ocean View Seahawk 1985 here. I’ve been here since 1999. Before that I’d never lived anywhere but SoCal. Oh, and I know Gayle Henderson Exton…doesn’t everybody?

    Let’s see what I’ve got for you:
    The traffic here can be bad. The people here think it’s real traffic. Whatevah! When there’s an accident or a.slurpee spilled on the highway they shut it down. I mean CLOSE THE WHOLE DANG THING. It’s dumb and I don’t get it. Do it like CA. Scoop and go!

    Oh, pie. You won’t find any Marie Callender’s in the DFW area. I’ve written them and begged to no avail. There are “fried pies” available but it’s just not the same. You’ll have to fill the void with Blue Bell. There are other ice cream brands you will know, but Blue Bell is the end-all-be-all in Texas. (It’s pretty darn good).

    There are issues with the roadways here. They are “highways” not freeways. Also, a lot aren’t free so user beware. The highways have many names. By that I mean more than “the 405 or San Diego Fwy”. They have names and numbers and sometimes more than one for ONE highway. Confusing as can be sometimes to get directions. Especially if the person calls it by a name that’s no longer used. Sheesh, help a girl out here so I don’t go all CA road rage! And direction is a weird deal. The main highway(35) runs north and south but it’s possible to get stuck going north on highway 35 east. I don’t get it, I just make sure my GPS knows what the heck she’s doing.
    And then there’s the THE. None of the highways here are “The 35” or “The 635”. It’s lame. The locals think you’re a fool if you put “the” in front of the highway name/number/nickname/identifier. They laugh when you talk about “the 405 or the 55”. That’s OK. You’re turn will come when they go visit CA and don’t say “the”. Who looks silly now?!?!?

    And welcome to the land of F.M. That’s “farm to market”. Us beach kids don’t have weird streets like that. Heck, only a couple places in HB even had horses and here you find them standing in front yards.

    I brought my CA paranoia with me. It has both hindered me and served me well. When I first moved here I was nervous driving because people waved (with all their fingers). I don’t know why. They just do. It’s strange, friendly behavior. Uncomfortable. Soon, I realized they didn’t want anything and I could make eye contact and even wave back. I sometimes smile and wave now. In CA you don’t make eye contact because you might offend and get shot. Hmmm.

    Around here when you travel, to the locals going anywhere is “far”. “I have to GO INTO Dallas today.” Like a 20 minute drive is a day trip. Heck, in CA a 20 minute ride is a short trip or maybe a traffic filled trip to South Coast Plaza! If I have to pick up something in Ft. Worth I just go do it. Locals respond with “oh, you have to go alllll theee wayyyyy to Ft. Worth?”. Nothing is very far here if you’re from CA. I used to commute from Hemet to Newport for work. Blech. I can drive anywhere here and it be a quick trip.

    Texas has grown on me. I refuse to say ya’ll because it’s not a word. I laugh at my native Texan children when they toss it out there. My husband is local but doesn’t have a Texas accent. He says ya’ll but it’s not often. He was born in Northern CA and raised here. He doesn’t get the “the” thing. We argue about it.
    He thinks traffic here is the end of the world. I laugh a lot. I used to eat my cereal and do my make up on my way to work because in traffic I had that kind of time. Ugh.

    You will find that, like Mike said, BBQ is a food group and everyone eats some and has opinions on it. What we do here is have people over to “grill”. “Do you want to come over, we’ll grill and swim?” Not over for a BBQ. That’s what you eat, not what you do. Brisket is another novelty. We had ribs and chops in CA but a brisket looks like a half of a cow until you get used to it. I think you still have to special order the cut in CA. Here, Walmart carries them. Smoking meat is the form of man-cooking here. Grilling and smoking. That’s what is done. It’s good stuff.

    The State Fair. It’s nothing like the OC Fair. It’s bigger. An event. A one day thing(it’s too costly to go more than one day). The fried oreos are a thing to behold and savor. O.M.Geee. There are hats and boots there. There are cowboys there sometimes. It’s an experience.

    Have you noticed that there are a lot of hats here? Baseball caps are everywhere with all kinds of stuff not baseball on them. Not as many cowboy hats as you might have expected for Texas.

    OK, so the basics are weird driving, no “real” Mexican food only Tex-Mex. No pie. And friendliness. It’s a pretty good tradeoff. I miss the beach sometimes, driving down PCH with the windows down. Here, you take a country drive and see nature…it’s a nice substitute. Relaxing. Pretty.

    I hope you enjoy Texas and it’s quirks. Come visit at North Point and come for bowling nights. They are fun even if you don’t bowl. Welcome to the Great State!!

  11. ALL SO SPOT ON! 20+ year transplant here. It (Texas) does grow on you. Shame what those who only gave it a year or so have missed.

    Can only reinforce a couple things right now:

    Learn the I-35 thing, please! It will save you hours & gas money, not to mention frustration. Have a friend who got lost, ended up driving to the Louisiana border when she first moved here, no really, she did!

    Fut Wuth is a WONDERFUL CITY! Experience immediately and keep doing so. (Dallas……Fort Worth: um, two completely different characters!
    And that’s okay.

    You will find there IS a difference in 96 degrees give or take and 105 degrees. Really, you will. 85 as mentioned above is heaven. You will soon come to appreciate the “cool down” to 95 after 40 days of 100 plus degrees. Not to mention, a “cold front” might just be temps dropping to the 80’s. But, can’t emphasize enough what everyone says ” If ya don’t like weather today (even this morning), don’t worry, it’ll be different tomorrow.

    Maybe one slight addendum related to traffic. DON’T take the “black ice” for granted. Believe me, no matter how experienced a driver you are, it’s for real. I think it’s something in the water! This coming from a Yankee who grew up driving on snow/ice–oh, yeah, another thing, even if you live here the rest of your life, you’re still gonna be considered a transplant by the born/bred.

  12. Thank you all for the amazing advice! I have been laughing out loud reading it. I love how much you all love this great state and I look forward to living here for a long time!


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