Sunday, July 24, 2005
COLUMN: Texas, Pt. 2
Last time, in Shane's Column: A vacation to Dallas! The heat! The armadillos! The enchiladas! The lack of column space! And then... did shots ring out? Was our tale to be cut short by tragedy? Who killed Laura Palmer? Who shot J.R.? And will Ross ever kiss Rachel???
My attempt at a two-part cliffhanger probably failed egregiously, but I needed two columns worth of space to talk about Texas. Truth be told, I was NOT shot while in Dallas. Want to know why?
Because everyone in Texas is SOOO terrifyingly nice, that's why.
Honestly, I would be truly ashamed of myself if anyone on the Earth hurled the adjective 'rude' my way. I've never thought that people in the Midwest were impolite or uncouth or coarse as a rule. I've always thought Illinois was, on the whole, a nice place to live. Then I went to Texas and now I'm reconsidering.
Imagine this scenario. I'm in the car, driving into suburban Dallas. At this point, it's been a 14 hour journey. My mind is a mush of sleep deprivation, Sonic burgers, and astonishingly bad radio. The lights of a distant toll plaza tell me that my journey is near an end; the hotel lies just beyond that toll. My hotel... with comfy warm sheets... and those pillows that go "pooooosh" when you touch them... just want to sleep... to relaaa...
"HOWDY!" The voice hits me like a stealth fighter. "HOW Y'ALL DOIN?? LOOK AT THAT PLATE, YOU'RE FROM ILLINOIS? HERE ON VACATION OR BUSINESS? WELL, WELCOME TO THE FRIENDLIEST STATE IN THE COUNTRY! Y'ALL HAVE A GREAT TIME! THAT'LL BE 75 CENTS!"
My peace and tranquility had just been massacred by the Best Little Tollbooth in Texas. When you go to Chicago, the best you can hope for from a tolltaker is a "hmpf." If you get that "hmpf," you know that you've bonded with that Chicagoan. In Texas, it's apparantly impolite if you don't sit there idling in your car to have a good ol' chat about the weather.
These creepy pleasantries carried on the whole week I was there. The clerk at my hotel wanted to know what it was like to live along the Mississippi. The bartender at a club we went to told me randomly all about the place's history. I was going broke just from overtipping the wait staff everywhere we went. Even on the expressways, when cars would cut you off, they'd do it with a friendly wave as if to say, "Whoa, sorry 'bout that, cowboy!"
Then the unthinkable happened. While at a concert, I went to the restroom. I barely had a chance to do my duty when a slap on my shoulder leads to, "Hey there, pardner, whaddayathink of this band?"
Un-freakin'-believable. There are some things in life that man considers sacred (at least THIS man.) Urinal moments are one of those times. This is not a time for idle chit-chat; this is a time to awkwardly focus your eyes straight ahead while you, well, you know.
Suddenly, an event years prior made perfect sense. I was once visited by a girl from Texas who I'd met over the internet. And she gave me inordinate amounts of grief for what she called my "rude" behavior -- failing to open car doors, order meals for her, etc. Now, while I DO try to be the gentleman when applicable -- I'm not letting doors slam into the faces of my dates or anything -- forgive me for believing women of the world to be handi-capable enough to pull a car door open and know what they want to eat. At the time, I dismissed this girl as an internet loonie. Now, I simply realize, she's not crazy, she's just Texan.
As I left the state, I wondered how an entire populace could be so polite. Maybe they all feel so bad about it being 102 outside that they're just all sympathetic to one another. Could there be have been rude people that I just didn't meet? Then it hit me. I was in Texas -- down there, they obviously just EXECUTE all the rude people. All I know is that when I crossed the Illinois border on empty, stopped at a gas station, and heard, "Yo, dude, pre-pay," I finally felt home.