John Steinbeck wrote, ‘Texas is a state of mind’. Countless authors, musicians and humans in general have written, sung, danced and spoken about Texas. It seems as though everyone has an opinion about Texas, its economy, its politics, its history, its culture and expansiveness and just as many have a thought or comment about Austin, my new home town. A friend compares attending a UT football game to a religious experience and Austin continually ranks as one of the best places to live in the nation.
When I made the decision to move to Austin, I expected the slight cultural variances that come from living in a different part of the country. One of my favorite things about travel and life experiences is learning the nuances of areas. Things like knowing there are seven distinct smiles in the Thai culture that convey everything from pleasure to disapproval…that “it is finished” means the special of the night is no longer available in a restaurant in France…that “out straight” refers to being very busy in Maine, and “you guys, y’all, all y’all, youse guys and youins” all mean the same thing. Despite her multiple attempts, my friend Sara knows I’ll never quite say, “how YOU doin” , like a true New Yorker and I never want to learn to say “bless yer hart” as some do in North Carolina as a prerequisite for the forthcoming insult. However, learning these cultural literacies is fun for me and something I enjoy. What I had not anticipated with regard to the Texas cultural colloquiums, is despite the fact that they’re speaking English, it cannot be assumed that you’ll understand what is being said. Sometimes nouns and verbs are inner-changeable and it has both surprised and impressed me the absolute frequency in which these sayings are spoken and used. Perhaps not daily, but just about every day I hear one…
“Haven, I need you to start bird-doggin’ this, it’s in your wheelhouse.”
(Hmmm…what? I know a bird dog is a type of hunting dog…is dog a verb here? Do I have a wheelhouse? Where is it? Is there a dog in it?)
“The thing is Haven, this ain’t our first rodeo,
pigs get fat and hogs get slaughtered.”
(Sooo…are you agreeing with me or disagreeing? What are you saying?)
“Honey, no one enjoys being with someone who lives like they don’t have a pot to pee in or a window to throw it out of.”
(Ok, this one spoken by an older, eloquent woman had me laughing out loud in a manner of seconds.)
“We have conducted a thorough analysis and concluded that this dog won’t hunt”.
(This might be the same bird dog referred to earlier, maybe the dog won’t hunt because he’s hanging out in my wheelhouse.)
“I ended up going out with him but I could barely get through dinner, I should have known he was all hat and no cattle.”
(I didn’t ask what parts were hat and what parts were cattle, but I was very tickled listening to my frustrated friend share her story.)
“Just because a chicken has wings doesn’t mean it can fly.”
These are all things that have been said to me, some which have rendered me completely speechless as I truly did not know what was being inferred and others have resulted with me all but doubling over in laughter. I’ve heard some of these with such frequency that I have actually referenced my wheelhouse in an email and now when someone refers to “boots on the ground” I don’t have to take a moment to translate in my mind, I just nod knowingly.
I’ve not lived in Texas long and I have much to see and experience here, but already I am beginning to understand Mr. Steinbeck’s reference. Texas doesn’t just capture your heart, it creeps into your mind. Today on my bike I was thinking about things I want to accomplish and I caught myself thinking, “yeah, I’m gonna pull the trigger on that this week“. I smiled as I headed through the canyon pass…I might just be in a Texas state of mind.
Thanks for readin’ all y’all,
Source: New feed