Some Initial Thoughts on Texas

Just about everywhere I go these days, when I see someone I know, they invariably ask me “How’s Texas?”

If that person is from Texas, they ask the question with a rising, excited intonation, hoping that I will respond glowingly.

If they are from just about anywhere else, the question is asked in a very soft voice and almost apologetically, as if I had been taken hostage or were a prisoner of war and they wanted to know how badly I was being treated.

Invariably, I answer the same way: “Honestly, I am disappointed. Really disappointed. I really wanted to hate it, but I just can’t.”

The Texans laugh, and say something to the effect of: “See? It’s not so bad, is it?”

The others (who, I will admit, are either from one of the coasts—other than family, I really do not know anyone in a fly-over state) awkwardly laugh, praying to their modern version of god that I am not transforming into a *gasp* Texan (or maybe they are just worried that I am packing heat).

So what are the positives about living in Houston?

Well, there are a few:

  • For the first time that I can remember, I live in a house that is not at risk of creaking, squeaking, or leaking, which can not be overstated. We lived in a 120-year old house in Philly and I am relieved to no longer have to experience its “character” when it rains.
  • The weather. Yeah, yeah, I know. I am writing this in the middle of May and I need to wait a few more weeks. Yes, June through September can be fairly sticky, but the other eight months? Fantastic. I already have ridden more miles this year than the last two years combined in Philly. My mother was sure that I would miss the seasons. Nope. Not even a little bit. Going to the outdoor pool on New Year’s Day is the new normal.

    Sad. Just sad.

    Much better (this was actually on Thanksgiving, but you get the idea).

  • People are really nice and I am pretty sure it is genuine (although there was that guy yesterday that yelled at me when I rolled through the stop light three seconds too soon: “Obey the traffic laws or don’t complain when I run you over!” Yeah, those two things are just about the same thing. Still, he was only the second person who has yelled at me in eight months—heck, no one has even honked at me on my bike. In Philly, you couldn’t go even eight blocks and say that.)
  • Cowboy boots are really comfortable.

    Nothing says comfort like Lucchese (that’s a brand of boot in case you were wondering).

  • Food is really cheap and really good—the beef counter at the local grocery store is a thing of beauty (unless you’re a vegetarian or a cow, I guess).

    The H.E.B. on San Felipe not far from us (photo: Houston Chronicle)

  • You can buy wine pretty much everywhere and, perhaps most amazing, the stores actually want to help you! (While this might not be a revelation for many, my dear friends in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania know exactly what I mean).

There are also a few things that took some getting used to:

  • The Texas flag is everywhere. Texas was its own country for ten years (from 1836 to 1846) and boy do they let you know it. The kids not only have to learn the Pledge of Allegiance to the (U.S.) Flag, but they are also had to learn the Pledge of Allegiance to the Texas State Flag.

    You will see the Texas flag on its own, but rarely will you see the U.S. flag without the Lone Star.

    I am dubious about this fashion choice.

  • Texans love products from Texas. There are huge sections in the supermarkets dedicated to Texas made items. There are even pick-up trucks and S.U.Vs that are “Texas Editions.” It is pretty crazy.

    Yeah. Even the eggs let you know where you are.

  • People in Texas rarely use their car horn. Driving in Philadelphia, people usually have at best one hand on the steering wheel and the other on the horn, ready to honk at even the slightest perceived (or even anticipated) transgression. The other day, as I was tooling along on a highway service road, some clown sped past me on the left (I was in the right-most lane), dove in front of me, then slammed on the brakes to turn right. All of this happened in less than fifty yards of pavement at 45 miles an hour. So I laid on the horn. For a while. I also did the double-back look, expressing exactly what I thought about his cognitive abilities. He looked back at me as if I had several heads and a lengthy tail. He also probably had a gun.
  • I need to disconnect my car horn.
  • It seems as though all women, once they have kids, start wearing white jeans and wedges. All. The. Time. You would think there is some dress code.
  • They don’t call them “Speed Bumps” but “Road Humps.” That always makes me laugh.

    Am I the only one that finds this hilarious?

  • Houston is a city of highways. It is really no joke, they are everywhere. Not only that, but each one is at least four lanes wide and has a four lane service drive that runs the length of the freeway on both sides. If you are looking for a new career sell concrete in Houston. You could retire in a couple of years.
  • Perhaps not surprisingly, there are churches everywhere and also no shocker, they are huge. And people talk about going to them a lot. I am going to have to figure out what to do about that.
  • Even though it is an open-carry state, I have only seen one gun so far. And I am pretty sure he was a cop. But I didn’t ask—I mean he had a gun.

There are, of course a few negatives as well:

  • Houston is a pretty ugly city. Sure there are some nice areas, but overall it is just one big strip mall.
  • Houston is flat. Really flat. I can go for a 40 mile ride and only gain 30 feet in elevation. As a buddy of mine back east said, his driveway has more elevation than that.

    Not the most bike friendly city in the world.

  • No one walks. Anywhere.
  • As the owners of two Priuses, it is blatantly obvious that everyone else has either a pick-up truck or an S.A.V. (Suburban Assault Vehicle) and those things are ginormous.
  • Speaking of cars, people in Houston love to tailgate, it seems. In fact, I am pretty sure they would prefer to tailgate over changing lanes to go around you. Much to my surprise, the more feminine the driver, the bigger the S.A.V, the blonder the hair, and the whiter the jeans, the more aggressively they drive.
  • It is technically illegal to ride a bike in certain neighborhoods, but that has not stopped me. Yet.
  • Just about everyone says “y’all.” And if I hear one of my kids say it, well, that might get ugly. And if my wife ever buys a pair of white jeans….

 

 

 

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About the drunken cyclist

I have been an occasional cycling tour guide in Europe for the past 20 years, visiting most of the wine regions of France. Through this "job" I developed a love for wine and the stories that often accompany the pulling of a cork. I live in Houston with my lovely wife and two wonderful sons.
This entry was posted in Humor, Texas, Wine. Bookmark the permalink.

35 Responses to Some Initial Thoughts on Texas

  1. Mike Meisner says:

    Coming from the Boston area to CA I was taken aback at the lack of horn usage here. You just don’t hear them. Ever.

    I do my part to revive this practice, and lord knows, the way Californians drive, I get to revive the heck out of it.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Elizabeth says:

    Very interesting take on Houston. I live in central Texas , Temple, Belton, Killeen area. Let me tell you if you travel to different places in Texas, each place is like night and day difference . I’ve been to Houston a couple of times and to me its like a mad house, trying to navigate around and get to places. I guess if you live there its way different than if your visiting. You are completely right about things be made in Texas, we are very proud !

    Liked by 2 people

  3. thomasalbrecht641763036 says:

    There’s a road I ride fairly often in Phoenix with a “Speed Hump” road sign. That definitely cracks me up every time I see it. Juvenile humor never gets old! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This made me chuckle, but yes, you need to go explore some other cities in Texas. And towns. Fun little towns. When you were talking about tailgaiting, I really thought you were talking about the tailgate parties. Now THOSE are extremely common. And please don’t take such offense to the word y’all. It’s very economical. 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  5. shez says:

    I must confess that I do miss HEB something fierce–and there’s nothing quite like a good pair of Luccese boots. While I cannot support your quest to keep your children y’all-free, I will 150% stand behind the white jean ban! Definitely go visit the hill country–there are tons of hills and wineries to explore!

    Liked by 3 people

  6. As a Texan I love this for 2 reasons. First, I knew you would like Texas. Everyone who moves here likes it. I don’t know much about Houston (except it is ugly) but Dallas is an easy, friendly place to live. Second, I really enjoy seeing Texas through your eyes. Now get your ass to Dallas & let’s drink some wine!

    Liked by 4 people

  7. Beth says:

    Love this and love the boots! Check out San Antonio. It’s my favorite Texas city, second to Austin.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Stationed in Texas for 1 summer – it was enough for me with the sticky hot weather. Headed there for Memorial Day with family next week. The houses are cheap – the people friendly, more or less – the church thing was fascinating as an outsider. Aunt was concerned about walking outside of her gated community because she didn’t know who was ‘carrying’… that says it all…Not sure I’d want to be a minority in the rural areas. LOVE THE BBQ!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. chef mimi says:

    Great post y’all. Texans are nice, and proud.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Years ago, I spent a ton of time in Hondo Texas with my job of the time. Bought a Stetson, some proper boots and learned to enjoy country music. BBQ was awesome, armadillo’s on the road during pre-dawn bike rides, not so much! I loved riding my mtn bike on some of the trails, welcome as long as I was respectful of horses -always! I think you can love anyplace with the right frame of mind. Q: have you worn a circle in your back jeans pocket from the chewing tobacco tin?

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Chuck says:

    I agree Houston is an ugly city, but it has indoor baseball in August, with is a win. I can’t wait to hear you impressions of high school football this fall. Have you tried the Texas Wine Trails yet?

    Liked by 1 person

  12. robgradens says:

    Just an R-rated joke. A great big Texan dies, okay? They make a coffin for him, but his corpse is too big to fit in it. So somebody suggests giving the corpse an enema. They do so, and bury the Texan in a shoe box… Where are you from originally? I’d love to know. Welcome to the States, partner. Your Rob

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s a good question! I was born in Ohio, and spent most of my youth in Michigan. I have lived in several states, but spent the most time in Philadelphia.

      Liked by 1 person

      • robgradens says:

        Thank you for the info. I am a native Oregonian, and quite proud of that. Born in Astoria, yes, John Jacob Astor land. I have a few photos of the Columbia River outside of our white house at 3 Lee Road. The Japanese were always buying our timber. For better or worse. You know, the first thing you notice when flying back home is the greenery of the Northwest. It’s a beautiful sight. You’d have to see it yourself.

        Like

  13. Welcome to Texas! Once you’ve been here 5 years we can call ya a native 🙂 . Houston does have a lot of fun to offer…just best to have fun in the summer indoors or by a pool 🙂

    Like

  14. Nice post! Texas is great!

    Like

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