After living in Iowa all my life, I recently moved to Texas (the Houston area – Katy, to be specific) for work. I had only spent about 12 hours in Texas in my entire life, so I didn’t really know what to expect. Of course there are a lot of new things to get used to, but one thing that is clear is that the cliche is true: you don’t mess with Texas. Here’s why:
1. Everything really is bigger.
Seriously. Hardly anyone drives a normal car around here – I’ve never seen so many monstrous pick-ups and SUVs in my life. I thought those trucks with the dual back wheels were a passing trend of the mid-90s, but they’re still out full force in Texas.
Other notably large things include, of course, food and drink. Serving sizes are generally larger all around, and I find myself getting what is clearly a LARGE soda when I order a small. Why? Because it is literally like that episode of Parks and Rec, where large drinks are ““roughly the size of a 2-year-old child, if the child were liquefied.”
Houses are also larger, thanks to the ample space. When I was flipping through an issue of Katy magazine recently there was an entire spread advising readers how to go about decorating their giant houses without having to buy 7 times more furniture.
Oh, and the churches are so massive they require traffic control workers.
2. Guns and fireworks are readily available.
Need a gun? Some ammo? Perhaps a gun license? Or a place to practice shooting? All of these things are generally available within a square mile. I’m not trying to be stereotypical here. It’s just the way it is.
The fireworks are only available certain times of year, but we got here during one of those times and thus assumed it was commonplace for people to be shooting off fireworks all night, every night. Still, once they’re able to buy them, they do tend to set them off with reckless abandon – in residential areas, no less.
3. The roadkill is large and in charge.
In Iowa we had squirrels, raccoons, oppossums, and the occasional deer. In Texas, the only road kill I’ve seen is a huge wild boar. I don’t know about you, but something about that is truly intimidating. If you told me there would be wild boar roaming around, waiting to jump out in front of your car? I would have thought you were trying to pull a fast one on me. But no, it really is a thing. And I’m guessing you don’t want to tangle with a wild boar, whether you’re in a car or not. (And a wild boar could easily> win in a fight against my Yaris.)
4. Spicy food is spicy.
I don’t know how exactly it happened, but somewhere along the lines Texans decided they liked their food with a kick. Mild barbeque sauce is for wimps and bland TexMex is shunned in favor of various green sauces. I learned from my time working at Taco John’s that green = hot.
The spiciness seems to extend to foods that aren’t normally considered spicy. This is both good and bad. On the one hand, you can find yourself really regretting eating that innocuous-looking food that just so happened to taste like a volcano errupting in your mouth. On the other hand, it adds some nice, unexpected zest to that boring ol’ chicken salad you picked up at the deli counter.
5. Texans will kill you with kindness.
Sure, a lot of folks apparently have large trucks and guns and iron tongues. And yet, as long as you’re not driving on the freeway (which is sort of comparable to competing in The Hunger Games), people are actually very nice. There might be something to the concept of southern hospitality after all.
People working in customer service are, on a whole, much kinder and willing to help out. (Or are at least really good at faking it.) When you say “excuse me” to get past someone blocking your way, they say “I’m sorry.” I didn’t even know that was an option, seeing as I’m so used to just getting an evil eye. Also, old guys in cowboy hats nod at you in greeting, and it’s not even creepy. Of course there are always rude, abraisive people out there, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised how few of them I’ve come across since I moved.
I willingly admit that I am by no means an expert on Texas. I still have less than two months’ worth of real Texas experience, but this is what I’ve seen. It’s by no means a comprehensive list – do any of my other fellow, more experienced Texans have anything to add?