An expedition into virgin territory, the very heart of Bushiness. Texas. The Lone Star State, or if you believe in anagrams, a Seattle snort or a rental ass tote.
This will be the third holiday season I spend in the United States. I know already to expect American flags
hanging from every second house, nativity scenes instead of snowmen and reindeer decor, Happy Birthday Jesus
signs, inflexible attitudes on Iraq, daily encounters with newspaper articles covering prison issues, getting carded for buying limoncello cakes
and more stores in malls.
I used to be an international traveller, Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe on a shoestring. Since April 2003, I have been stuck on the continent, partly due to financial restrictions, partly due to aspirations of careerhood. But, ho, boy, have I ever been getting to know the continent: Illinois, Wisconsin, Arizona, Quebec, New York and Oregon.
Texas is an unexpected pleasure.
Here is the state that swallowed other Romanians and spat them out as baptists who dunk each other in water. My dad pointed out that we know another Romanian; he goes to Texas to buy western wear and sells it to cowboys in Canada's Texas, the province of Alberta.
Before going, I'd like to inventory my assumptions, to see if Texas supports or refutes them.
My assumptions are, in no particular order, the following:
- Texans all support Bush
- Texan women have two career choices: stay-at-home wife or stripper; otherwise they are lesbian feminists and are, along with vegetarians and pacifists, chased out of the state
- Texan men like football, beer and strippers
- Texans think that Hooters is a family-restaurant
- Texans, like all Waspy Americans, go to church every Sunday
- Most Texans support the KKK
- Texans all have guns
- All Texans are anti-abortion
- Texans belong to the hunting-is-a-sport half of the American population: popular game is deer, prairie dogs and rabbits
- Texans are a farty bunch because of all the beans they eat
- You can kill a Texan by forcing them to watch a 24-hour Scandinavian film festival
- Texan ants bite therefore Texans do not condone picnics
- Texans hate the French
- Most Texans have never been outside the state
- Texan men all have pasty white legs and rosacea
- If you examine a Texan high school yearbook, all the girls are blonde twins; brunettes self-combust at birth
- Texas has more flavours of salsa than we do
- Most Texans have one of those oil-drilly things in their backyards in get-rich-quick schemes
- Tumbleweeds roll down streets in Texas, especially at high noon
- The few First Nations people left have no mainstream voice and the only white references to First Nations peoples will be in the past tense
- Those farmyard toys at all sex shops have a bigger market in Texas
- Hippies have never successfully colonized Texas
- Everyone still believes there were WMDs in Iraq and that Saddam is the worst dictator in the world (but no one knows of Darfur or what's up in the Congo)
- Texas has lots of yummy Mexican food
- Texans do not roast hamster-kebabs over open fires
- In the seventies, white turtlenecks and fondues were very popular with the nouveau riche Texans
- All the radio stations play country music except for a few renegade ones that play P.O.D.
- Most Texans have hunting trophies in their living rooms
- Most Texan living rooms have dark wood panelling
- Dim sum does not exist in Texas; sushi is available in the bigger centres but is not fresh
- I could really harm Canadian-American relations if I spell words ending in -re (theatre, centre) out loud, add a u after the o in words like labour and insist that Americans are lazy revisionists who can't pronounce all of zed
- The range of barbecue sauces in Texas will delight and amaze
- Prairie winds flap flattened rabbit roadkill ears along Texan roads
- The only visible armadillos will be dead ones
- No cow in Texas has ever perished of natural causes
- Texan formal wear means cowboy style for the boys and fluffy prom queen for the girls
- Texans, despite expected lack of, um, openmindedness, will have colourful local witticisms that deserve to be recorded
- Texas is cockroach country
Amazing, isn't it? I've even met a few Texans to the contrary but my beliefs are unshaken in that these Texans are some freak anomaly, that the true Texan is some strange beast with whom I share nothing in common except eating, breathing and a general physiognomy.
Other assumptions, as I remember them, will appear here. Then, on Boxing Day, I shall delve into the truth. Oh, twelfth state I shall visit, please don't come near me with those nut cutters.