It’s no secret that when it comes to state pride, Texans boast, well, a Texas-sized portion. But that also means Texans have a tendency to become irritated when any non-Texans (especially those fast-talking Northerners) have the wrong impression of their glorious state. For instance, the days of riding horses to school are long gone (for the most part), our landscape is not a desolate wasteland of tumbleweeds and cacti, and not every Texan you meet will know how to two-step. Chances are, if you bring up any of those topics in the company of a Texan, you’re bound to touch a nerve.
With all the misconceptions floating around about the Lone Star State, the tales about Texas can stretch to be about as tall as a 10-gallon cowboy hat. In an effort to set y’all straight, we’ve compiled some of the questions and phrases that you shouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole when you’re in the company of a Texan.
Non-Texans delight in reminding residents of the Lone Star State that despite the swaggering “everything’s bigger in Texas” mentality, the state isn’t technically the biggest in the nation. According to the Census Bureau’s 2018 estimates, California actually takes the prize for the most populous state, with 39.6 million people. (Texas, meanwhile, clocks in at 28.7 million.) And when comparing land area, Texas’ 268,580 square miles can’t even begin to measure up against Alaska’s glacial expanse of 663,267 square miles. Still, numbers aside, when it comes to heart and state pride, Texans are second-to-none.
Out-of-towners can be quite disappointed to learn that Texas schoolchildren ride a yellow bus to school, just like many other young Americans. So, when misinformed visitors eagerly ask, “Do you ride a horse to school every day?” the only appropriate, tongue-in-cheek response a Texan can muster is, “Nope, just every other day. We wouldn’t want them to get too worn out!”
That said, that preconceived notion didn’t come out of thin air. Earlier in 2019, a Buna High School senior in Buna, Texas, took the meaning of “cowgirl” to the next level, celebrating her last day of high school by getting special permission to ride her cow, Velvet, to school. (Her friend, meanwhile, opted for the far more traditional horse.)
Where you’re referring to the book, the movie, or the television show, the likely answer here is both yes and no. While Texas has rightfully earned its reputation for creating football powerhouses, producing the likes of Kyler Murray and Adrian Peterson (just two examples in a long list), the likelihood of living up to Friday Night Lights simply depends on the school district. In some small Texas towns, the entire community really does come together under the stadium lights on Friday nights to cheer their hearts out for the “boys of fall,” while, at other schools, the predominant sport is something else entirely.
Contrary to popular belief, Texas vegetation is not limited to tumbleweeds and dirt. In fact, Texas terrain can be quite varied, from the Piney Woods of East Texas to the Hill Country hamelia (which you may know as “firebush”) to, yes, the cacti-covered deserts of West Texas. With that in mind, it’s more likely than not that your average Texan has, indeed, seen a tree. As a matter of fact, there’s an official state tree: the pecan tree. While the jury’s still out on whether that’s pronounced “pee-can” or “puh-kaan,” most Texas will agree that there’s nothing sweeter than the fruit of their state tree, baked into a homemade pie, of course.
We’ll keep this short and sweet, because it should be pretty self-explanatory: It will never not be creepy to use this as a pick up line at a bar. Please stop ruining a perfectly good state slogan.
We acknowledge that Texas does take the lead when it comes to the nation’s cattle production (not to mention that 1 in every 7 working Texans is employed in an agriculture-related job). But the probability that the average Texan you come across has their own cattle herd is still fairly slim.
Texas might not experience a true winter, but that doesn’t stop young children from eagerly refreshing weather apps during the months of December and January in the hopes that it just might get cold enough for some rain to stick through the night and cause the superintendent to cancel school the next day. And while even ice can cause school to be canceled (Texas bus drivers and the buses themselves just aren’t equipped to navigate those conditions), snow isn’t necessarily mythical in Texas. Every few years or so, there’s enough accumulation (usually only two or three inches) for Texas youngins to try their hands at building a snowman.
The vast majority of Texans—especially younger, millennial-aged folks—do not don a pair of boots before traipsing around town. Same goes for the classic cowboy hat. While some of the more rurally-located residents might own a pair of work boots or “farm boots,” most of the city dwellers probably only keep a pair of boots in our closets for a country-themed dress-up occasion, such as a Kenny Chesney concert. Which leads us to our next point…
News flash: Not all Texans even like country music! Sure, there’s a sizable crowd of adoring fans for Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, or the “King of Country” himself, Texas native George Strait—but that doesn’t mean that twang dominates all of our radio stations and playlists. Think about it: If country was the only genre that the state favored, then why would stadium-headlining artists like Ariana Grande or Ed Sheeran even bother including Dallas or Houston in their tour schedules?
This question is sure to elicit an eye roll from any self-respecting, small-town Texan. At some point, they learn to come to terms with the fact that the only Texan locales that seem to matter to non-Texans are the major, well-renowned metropolises, which are Dallas or Houston, with Austin and occasionally San Antonio as runner-ups. When identifying themselves as Texans to out-of-towners, small-town residents are used to reciting the number of hours that separate them from the state’s urban hotspots.
Just as Texans don’t emerge from the womb wearing an infant-sized pair of cowboy boots, they also aren’t brought into the world with an innate ability to flawlessly execute the Texas two-step—or even square dances, for that matter. We’re sorry to report that Texans are just as likely to have two left feet (albeit two left feet potentially clad in steel-toed boots) as people hailing from any other state.
Simple: It’s the kind that looks like the spitting image of your Toyota RAV4 or Honda CR-V. Sure, Texas might be populated with more than its fair share of pickup trucks, but that doesn’t mean you can just assume that every Texan you come across is puttering around town in a souped-up F-150.
Or, the other common alternative accent question: “You’re from Texas—why don’t you have an accent?” The point is, Texas accents—or lack thereof—cut both ways. People are either thrilled to hear the drawl that marks you as a citizen of the South, or they’re utterly crestfallen when you don’t sound like you just stepped right out of a John Wayne film.
If you’re unfamiliar with the gas station craze that’s swept the Lone Star State, we only have one word for you: Buc-ee’s. This gargantuan mega-gas station, which now has 36 locations across the state, has become practically worshipped. Featuring fresh barbecue, fudge, and roasted nut stations; multiple soda fountains; and spacious restrooms, it’s no wonder that Texans will go out of their way to stop at Buc-ee’s on a road trip.
There’s even an entire merchandise section that includes stuffed Buc-ee’s beavers, Buc-ee’s t-shirts, and Texas paraphernalia. As marketing expert Matt McCutchin explained to Texas Monthly, visiting Buc-ee’s is akin to a “Disney experience.” Taking all of that into account, perhaps it’s no surprise that Texans get a little defensive when you question their Buc-ee’s obsession.
But Texans don’t get to keep Buc-ee’s all to themselves. The buck-toothed beaver can now be seen grinning in Robertsdale, Alabama—and the chain is planning to expand into Georgia and Florida in 2019 as well.
It’s not Texans’ fault everything is spread so dang far apart. And as a result of the distance we often find ourselves driving to get from here to there, the state keeps ratcheting up the speed limits to unprecedented heights. While the fastest Texas highways have a typical cap of 75 miles per hour, there’s a 40-mile stretch of toll road from Austin to San Antonio (State Highway 130, for all you locals) that boasts a speed limit of 85 mph. You could say that Texas drivers embody the words of 12-year-old rising country music sensation Mason Ramsey: “If you ain’t got no giddy-up, then giddy out my way.”
Texans’ biggest lament is that the annual Thanksgiving football game between the Texas A&M Aggies and the University of Texas Longhorns came to an end in 2011, after A&M switched into the Southeastern Conference. The rivalry between the two football teams (and really, the two universities, for that matter) runs so deep that a member of the state body of the House of Representatives drafted a bill to reinstate the traditional game, according to The Texas Tribune.
It doesn’t matter if you actually attended another major Texas university, like Baylor or Texas Christian University. When it comes down to it, every Texan has to choose a side: They’re either a maroon-bleeding Aggie or a diehard, burnt orange Longhorn.
Recited immediately after the Pledge of Allegiance to the American flag, and just before the moment of silence, all Texas public schoolchildren are familiar with the pledge: “Honor the Texas flag; I pledge allegiance to thee, Texas, one state under God, one and indivisible.”
No, you most certainly do not. Not every restaurant that serves up a pile of chips and a saucer of watery red salsa gets to label itself a bona fide, trustworthy Tex-Mex establishment. Renowned for its emphasis on fajita meat and gobs of shredded, American yellow cheese (read: queso), true Tex-Mex came sizzling onto the scene in the early part of the 20th century, according to Texas Monthly. Simply put: If you’re not in a Texas restaurant, then that isn’t true Tex-Mex chile con carne that you’re eating—and Texans have the undeniable authority to tell you so.
Sure, your average Texan has probably been to a rodeo or two, whether it was a low-key county shindig or the gargantuan event that is the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. But don’t get any ideas. Just because a Texan has been a rodeo spectator doesn’t mean they can show you the ropes of looping a perfect lasso around a steer.
Absolutely. Texans will get right on that, as soon as you show them how to devise a public transit system that accounts for a state that stretches as far as 801 miles from north to south and 773 miles from east to west, according to the good ‘ole state almanac. For a bit of context, that means that San Diego is closer to El Paso than Houston is (a distance of 724 miles compared to 745 miles, respectively). The point is, this would have to be public transit on a bit of a grander scale than the elevated railways of Chicago or the subway tunnels under New York City.
Usually, a thermal shirt layered under a sweatshirt is enough to get Texans through the approximately three weeks of the year when it starts to feel like winter. There’s no need for a coat when the temperature barely dips down into the 30s Fahrenheit. A thick North Face or Carhartt jacket will do just fine, thank you very much.
Sure, Texans will concede that the heat in their state can’t compete with the constant three-digit summer temperatures in, say, Death Valley. But do people in other states have to deal with humidity levels upwards of 40 percent or 50 percent that ratchet the “real feel temperature” up about 10 degrees, making stepping out into a sweltering summer day feel like a sauna from which there’s no escape? No? That’s what we thought.
Texans will likely admit that they have a rather healthy (or unhealthy, depending on your dietary views) obsession with brisket, ribs, and sausage (with scoops of potato salad, coleslaw, and macaroni and cheese on the side, of course). But this gastronomic fixation is not without cause, as you’ll soon understand if you frequent any of the state’s most storied barbecue joints, like Snow’s BBQ in Lexington, or Austin’s Franklin Barbecue.
As further proof of the quality of Texas barbecue, Texas Monthly hired the nation’s one and only full-time barbecue editor, Daniel Vaughn. After traveling across the state to complete extensive culinary research, Vaughn compiles a detailed ranking of Texas’ top 50 barbecue-producing restaurants every four years. So, until you’ve loaded up your plate with an array of meats from an authentic Texas BBQ joint or five, expect Texans to be offended when you question their commitment to ‘cue.
You might be disappointed to learn that your average Texas acquaintance has no connection to the booming oil business that the state boasts. Your mistaken assumption is somewhat permissible—after all, the Lone Star State is the nation’s leading producer of crude oil and natural gas, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. That said, if a Texan does happen to be connected to the oil biz, the likelihood is that they are employed by an oil company—they don’t necessarily have an oil well gurgling in their backyard.
Texans might act annoyed and even get a tad defensive when you try to accuse them of having too much state pride, but they secretly appreciate it when you notice their unwavering commitment to the Lone Star State. Honestly, if you’ve never stayed in a hotel and experienced the excitement of making a waffle in the shape of your state during the next morning’s continental breakfast, then the joke’s on you. And for more regional factoids to get acquainted with, check out The Most Hard-to-Believe Fact About Every State.
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