state of Texas. And before you start nodding your head thinking I'm about to go on a political rant, let me just stop you right there. I'm talking about something way more mysterious than that creepy governor. I'm talking about state pride. No, I don't mean the "Oklahoma is OK!" brand of state pride. The kind in the Lone Star State doesn't fit on a bumper sticker. I'm talking deep seated brain-washed state pride that starts pub brawls and has otherwise well-dressed people buying ugly Texas flag shirts.
Let's say I'm sitting at a table in a pub talking shit about Texas. You walk up and say something bad about Texas to me, thinking you're contributing to the conversation and basically backing me up. That's about the time I'll attack you, either verbally or by mentally pouring my beer (Shiner Bock, of course) all over your head. I don't even know how it happens. It's like the ghost of a dead cowboy takes over my body. It's okay for me to say horrible things. But, you can't. Reasonable, right? I am a fierce defender of my home state and everyone I know from Texas is the same way. No matter where in the world we've moved, no matter how calm or smart or cool-headed we are about all other subjects, we all turn into dead drunk cowboys if you mess with Texas.
I've often wondered why this is. I don't frequently see people from, say, Ohio going all agro because someone asks "What the hell is in Ohio?" (Because, I mean, right? What is in Ohio?!) My suspicion is that it's a side effect of consuming too much chicken fried steak. Or, maybe the bluebonnets are giving off fumes? Perhaps we were slipped something at doctor's appointments when we were small. "Here's one vaccine and one state pride shot, coming up, little buckarro. Gonna feel a little pinch there." Or, maybe it's the fact that we Texas school kids get more cumulative years of state history than we do world history or U.S. history. I don't know much about the Civil War or ancient Rome but I could give you a blow by blow description of what went down at the good ole' Alamo.
At this point, I've lived in Los Angeles for almost fourteen years. This city might be as far from Texas as you can get, attitude-wise. The crazed state pride that is second nature to me has transferred itself onto my adopted city. I frequently feel torn between two places, two homes, two ways of life. I also feel insane. I want to murder my family and friends from Texas when they badmouth L.A. and I sit on my hands to stop myself from neck punching my California husband if he says a disparaging word about the Dallas Cowboys or (god forbid) Tex-Mex cuisine. I remind my L.A. friends that Texans invented barbecue and fajitas and my Texas friends that California serves up awesome movies, produce and wine. I'm equally annoyed by both sides. And, they just don't get along.
If I'm at a party in Texas, someone will inevitably call my beloved California "The land of fruits and nuts," when they find out where I live. (It's usually a fat guy in a muscle shirt chain smoking while asking people if they've seen his Nascar koozie.) Californians are a little more subtle but no less aggravating. When I mention that I'm from Texas, I've had all sorts of reactions ranging from nose wrinkling, arm punching, gasps of shock (I've lost my accent) to a half-step backwards, as if I'm contagious. I even had a friend pat me on the back and tell me she was sorry.
If you've made fun of Los Angeles traffic or said you "just can't imagine living in such a fake city" on your Facebook status, I've squished your head in your profile pic. If you've told me that people with Southern accents sound stupid to you, I've pictured myself accidentally elbowing you in the tit. I'm embarrassed, of course. I know I'm ridiculous but I simply can't help it. It seems to be in my DNA. I'm grossly, obnoxiously, unapologetically proud of being a Texan and a Los Angeleno. I don't know how to be any other way. I'm an angry little brainwashed hypocrite.
Now I'm all riled up and pissy so I have something to say to both of my states. Hey, Texas, the stars are the same everywhere! And, California, those cows are so not happy.
You better not have laughed or nodded at that, either of you.
*photo by calsidyrose.