Our fifth and final Thanksgiving meal was at my mother’s house on Lake Conroe just north of Houston. Now nearly immune to tryptophan, we dove right into another great Thanksgiving meal and spent the afternoon catching up with everyone. Pumpkin, apple, and pecan pies capped off the final feast of the week.
From another room, we heard Bode explaining to someone that he visited Kitty Hawk– where the Jonas Brothers invented the first airplane. Not sure where he’s getting his facts.
Somehow the short drive up to Conroe led us through redneck country. Growing up near Houston (the 4th largest city in the U.S.) and living in Austin for 10 years, we managed to avoid inheriting some of the Texas stereotypes. We both grew up in relatively small towns*, but this still seemed a little over the top. Or, maybe we’ve just forgotten.
When we moved to California, I recall people being surprised to learn that we were from Texas.
“Where’s your accent?”
“Do you have a horse?”
The only evidence being our occasional use of the greatest word ever: Y’all.
Anyway, it didn’t take long before we were off the interstate and saw horses frolicking, cow skulls on fence posts, washing machines for mailboxes, and met some characters with accents so strong we could barely understand them. One guy who liked the bus said “Nice wagon there, boy!” with such a Texas drawl that it literally took me 1 minute of re-playing it in my mind to interpret what he was saying.
A neighbor came over to check out the bus. He was driving some hot rod with a 502 engine and apparently no exhaust system – it was LOUD – and said something like “every neighborhood needs a rooster!” again with a serious drawl. He was textbook. Big 50’s greaser bouffant hair, loud shirt tucked-in around his enormous pot-belly. And, the belt buckle. A gleaming ornament to draw everyone’s attention to a world-class beer gut.
Maybe it’s our long absence from Texas that makes this seem so foreign. We come back to visit every year so that doesn’t explain it.
Maybe our recent “travel-eyes” perspective brings it into more focus. Sometimes we find ourselves feeling like anthropologists trying to understand the locals – and we haven’t even left our own country!
Travel is the enemy of bigotry, narrow-mindedness, and prejudice.
The old VW bus brings out the curious strangers. Of all the explanations I can think of, that’s probably it.
Random folks wouldn’t walk up and talk to us and share a conversation if we were in a Toyota. I think there might also be a neo-redneck revival of sorts thanks to the the Jeff Foxworthy and NASCAR types. There seems to be a misplaced sense of pride associated with this now sought-after marketing demographic… but I digress.
Welcome to Texas, y’all!
*my old hometown of Alta Loma, TX (now incorporated into Santa Fe, TX) was literally featured on Hee Haw. You know, the part where they say the town and population and then yell HEE HAW! Johnny Lee of “Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places” fame was the guest. He grew up there too.