Sunday, September 30, 2007

Yet More Thoughts on Texas

This weekend was the first in several weeks that I've stayed in town and just relaxed here with friends, and I was reminded of all the little reasons I really like it here. Friday night we went out to a great low-key country bar for a night of pool-playing, dart-throwing, and beer-drinking. It feels strange to think of it as "going out", though, because the experience is so different from what "going out" meant in California or in most cities I've been in. See, I can go out here and actually have a conversation with my friends, because I never have to shout over the music. Paradoxically, I find myself paying more attention to the music, since it's at a level where it isn't just noise to be tuned out. I also pay attention because on weekend nights it's karaoke, and the singers are actually really good, and they sing all sorts of songs I've never heard before, or certainly never heard done on karaoke.

Beyond being able to talk with my friends, I love the fact that I end up meeting other people at the bar. People socialize here; beyond just single men and women looking to hook up, people actually engage strangers in conversation. And everyone's so polite. When someone brushes past in the crowd, he makes eye contact, smiles, and says "excuse me". In other words, he treats me like a human being, not just an object obstructing his path.

The bar is an excellent microcosm, but the observations are universal. People here take the time to acknowledge each other and treat one another with dignity and respect. I've gotten accustomed to being called "Sir", I'm getting used to using "Sir" and "Ma'am" myself. It's just so many small things, but together they add up to so much. I guess this is why I will always prefer the town to the city and the heartland to the coasts. And much as my primary complaint about California was all the Californians there, the single greatest thing about Texas is that it's full of Texans.


elephantschild said...

I love Flyover Country. Other places may be "prettier" in more obvious ways, but you can't get a better combination of personal freedom and the sheer glorious joy of land itself that the wide spaces of the expanse between our two mountain ranges.

Cheryl said...

I love this post, even though you have made me homesick beyond words!

Cheryl, former Texan 1964-1993, Illinoisan (Illinoisian?) ever since

Shane said...

I'm going to miss Texas, but I figured that it was just because I'm from here. It's good to see that people from those smaller states appreciate it too. As far as politeness goes, I wonder how much of it has to do with high rates of concealed handgun licensing and a cultural tradition placing a high value on honor and reputation. Or maybe Texans are just better people. I can live with that.

And there were bars like that in Monterey, you just had to find them. There's nothing that says "unpretentious" better than a 60 year old female bartender who also works the karaoke machine.