posted on Dec, 3 2011 @ 01:34 PM
Howdy, y’all. Greetings from Texas! As the old saying goes, I wasn’t born here, but I got here as soon as I could. I’ve been here 10 years
now, married to a long, tall Texan (ladies, take note: Texas has some of the tallest guys I’ve ever met), and I’ve become thoroughly Texified.
I no longer say “you guys”, I say “y’all”. Instead of saying “going to” I now say “fixin’ to”. Instead of getting mad at
somebody and calling them a derogatory name, I now smile and say “Well, bless your lil’ heart”.
I am what they refer to out here as a “Left Coast Side Transplant”. I grew up in Los Angeles. We would go to the beach almost on a daily basis
during the summer, go on teenage dates to Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm, and Magic Mountain. We would cruise Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood at dusk
to make fun of the hookers (male and female) on every corner, and try to find the star’s houses. We even climbed as close as we could get to the
Hollywood sign. I realized then why it was never vandalized, it’s impossible to get right up to it without mountain climbing gear, and the cactus
and sticker bushes, along with the occasional rattle snake, make it downright inhospitable.
My husband, who grew up in west Texas, had a different upbringing. Out here, it was shooting things with the old .22, cruising over to a liquor store
on the New Mexico side that would sell them beer, sneaking around with friendly girls who were on birth control (and sometimes not), smoking
cigarettes starting at 14, and playing with explosives, found on most farms. Here’s another tip, ladies: Country boys are better lovers, simply
because there is less to do out in the sticks, so they get a lot more practice.
After an absolute train-wreck of a divorce, my brother, who was living in the Dallas area, told me I should pack up the kids and move to Texas. I
laughed and told him no thanks. I couldn’t imagine why anybody would want to leave the best state in the Union. I had a home up in the hills of
the central coast mountain range of California. It was pure bucolic splendor, with deer grazing, tall oaks, and every spring when the rains came, the
hills burst forth the most beautiful green grass with bright orange poppies, tall bluebonnets, and all sorts of other wildflowers. A little creek
would run through my property, and the wind would make the tall grass look like waves on the ocean.
Later, when I couldn’t find a job because I wasn’t bilingual, I found myself backed into a corner financially, and I had to move. The Lone Star
State as I learned about it from books and movies began to beckon me. Stoic cowboys, tall in the saddle…big cattle ranches…..everybody wears
Wrangler jeans…..the men are polite and call you “ma’am”. Visions from the movie “Giant” sprung into my mind. Oh, to find a tall,
handsome, lanky Texan! Somebody not afraid to slug it out in a cheesy diner with a big gorilla named Sarge, while The Yellow Rose of Texas blared
from a juke box.
So I moved out here. About that same time, a good friend of mine moved her family out to Alabama from Salinas, California. After I arrived in Texas,
I drove the 750 miles back and forth between her place in Dothan and mine in Dallas. I began to find that some of the stereotypes about the south are
simply not true, while a few others are right on the money. There is a part of Dallas that is much like the old TV show that goes by the same name.
There are JRs out there, sleazy cut-throats in the oil industry, and their spoiled, snooty wives. If you want to drive the Dallas freeways, make sure
your life insurance is paid up. People out there drive like it’s their last day on Earth. To be fair, there are a ton of Left Coast Transplants in
the area, and I’m pretty sure we brought our road-rage driving habits with us.
Once you get out of the metro area, though, the people are some of the friendliest on the planet. For example, in California, grocery clerks are
unfriendly and hardly look you in the eye. In Texas, they look at you, talk to you, and are so sweet and congenial. That was my first “Ah ha!”
moment out here.....the direct openness of the natives, and that warm southern hospitality that outshines the sun.
Driving into Louisiana, the woods are deep and dark, and the humidity hangs thick in the air. Low fog hangs over the cypress swamps at dusk, giving
them an ethereal beauty. I would stop and eat at the Waffle House in that state. The people were so laid back and relaxed, it really contrasted with
my West Coast hyperactivity. They seem to say, “What’s your hurry? Sit back, relax, and enjoy your grits, darlin’!”
Mississippi’s forests in the springtime are bursting with Dogwood trees and magnolias, and their blossoms make the forest look like a fairy tale
land. Some of the southern mansions are right out of Gone With The Wind, contrasting the single-wide trailers and tar-paper shacks just down the
road. Again, there was no rudeness and no hidden animosity.
Cruising into Alabama, I had to leave the main highway and follow a two-lane road through the entire state in order to get to Dothan. I felt like a
time traveler who had gone back in time to the 1930s. Some of these small little hamlets saw their heyday long ago, but they are still inhabited.
Old brick buildings, small little town squares, and everything feels a little surreal. It’s like the movie Fried Green Tomatoes in real life, and I
could swear I saw ghosts in the old buildings and abandoned gas stations.
Alabama is chock-full of natives who are proud of their southern roots. They are friendly, polite, but a little on the wild side, and parties just
seem to happen. As I was sitting with my friend on her front porch, sipping a little beer and talking about old times, along comes a neighbor and her
husband. They bring a bottle. Here comes another neighbor and his relatives. Things start getting lively. Then along comes some more folks who
were just driving in the neighborhood and thought they’d stop in. Round about two in the morning, this West Coast gal was all in, but the party was
still in full swing.
Let us not forget Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee and Georgia. All beautiful states with wonderful people. A special "yee haw" to all y'all!
I wrote this as an ode to the southern states, to let them know I appreciate their honesty, friendliness, and sometimes orneriness. You never have to
guess where you stand with a southerner. The Confederate “Stars and Bars” doesn’t offend me one bit. It is part of their culture and who they
are. This region has been disparaged as the home of the redneck, inbred ignoramus, but I haven’t met any of those yet. I’ve met a lot of
rednecks, yes. Their necks are truly red, because they work outside all day on farms, ranches, or oilfields. If I were in distress, a redneck would
jump right into the fray, whereas somebody from, say, Silicon Valley, might stay in their car and mull over whether or not they might get sued for
their actions. We got each other’s backs out here, and I don’t feel that I have to check mine for knives.