Wednesday, January 11, 2006

It's Not Perfect...But It's Home

Yesterday I was reading a post by a blogger whose site I normally like and she spoke most regretfully of having to travel from another (and apparently better) part of Texas to the Dallas/Fort Worth area. She used the word "repellent" to describe her destination and made reference to the phenomenon of "big hair" and how the females here were "wack" about their coifs. She was fairly certain she was deserving of her readers' pity.

To add insult to injury, the comments of her readers weren't terribly kind, either. Someone even went as far as to repeat some crapulous heresay about unnamed business leaders in Dallas who "toasted" the Kennedy assassination at a gathering of their own kind on that tragic day in 1963 and another used the term "bushleaguers" in referencing lawyers from this area. Of course, I could take comfort in the words of one pinhead who said that the only thing good about his/her years in Fort Worth were the honky-tonks. Clearly those were the words of a closet drunk, so I don't take much stock in that last bit of nonsense. pissed me off....A LOT.

I'll be the first to admit that this state has its share of problems and that some of them are in the city where I live. Actually, it's not the best time in the world to say you hail from ANYWHERE in the Lone Star State and that includes the provenance of this particular blogger. But I'm willing to admit to a few things that make this part of the state a less than ideal place to be.

If Texas is a big RED dress worn by a Republican society matron, then it's held together at the waist by the Bible Belt and D/FW is pretty close to its buckle. People here say 'aint, and--yes-- it sounds awful. Many people here voted for Proposition 2, I'm sorry to say. Mr. Half and I voted against it. We weren't alone, but we lost anyway, and that sucks the big pudding, people. There are women with big, stiff hair--but they're mostly of a certain generation who lunch at the Neiman's tearoom and carry proper handbags and use walkers to get around. They're harmless. It's not the easiest place to be different, I'll grant you that, but if you have even a speck of the maverick spirit that feeds the pioneer mythology of this region, you'll probably wind up happy anyway.

Yes, there are locals (in this very city!) who totally buy the idea that everything is bigger and better in Texas, and I'm sure that gets grating after a bit, but folks here can't claim to live in the first state to guarantee women the right to vote or even gays and lesbians the right to marry, and the Good Old (White)Boy system still trips us up on occasion, so people brag about what they can. Whatever. Still, it's not all cow punching, horse-riding, shit-kicking here. It's not all puckered-assed society matrons and NASCAR and Larry the Cable Guy. Really. I swear!

But I'm not going to counter all those blogger/comments with a big Power Point presentation that extols all the virtues of Dallas/Fort Worth, although there are plenty. I wasn't even born here, so I think I have some ability to be neutral. Instead, I'll just say this:

For better or for worse, some of those people of whom you speak so disparagingly are my neighbors. They're my co-workers and people who sit with me on the PTA. They're the friends who bring casseroles when loved ones die or bring my kids home from school when I've got the flu. They're also family.

I might not always think well of this place and I even occasion to speak my mind about it, but it chaps my butt when outsiders start whaling on everyone here with their sweeping generalizations and judgemental attitudes. Tolerance is a two-way street and while our team corners the market on preaching it, it never hurts to practice while your jaws are flapping.

I know firsthand how tough it is up here. It was touch-and -go during the election when our patriotism was questioned more than once (and our yard signs stolen four times...but that's another post), but the same people who think I might be headed down the wrong political path (and I'm more positive than ever that I'm NOT)...or worse yet...headed straight to Hell...are the same folks who laugh at my jokes and love my husband and kids and buy my art and give me a shoulder when I need one. Yes, indeedy! Around these parts, the same people who will strongly hint over dinner that you might be a Socialist will still hug your neck and send you home with half a leftover pie all wrapped up nice and neat. Can you top that? would be great if we could all sit around the ashram eating our sprouts and going into a simultaneous yogic "Down Dog" (I'm down with all of that, y'all! I love my yoga.) and be on the same wavelength and all, but the REAL character building doesn't start until your community welcomes EVERYONE, and that includes those who make it harder for you to be who you really are...but who love you anyway. And when that community's attacked by some asshat with only half an idea about you or the place where you happen to live....well....someone needs to get schooled.

I'm just sayin'.


Anonymous jess said...

Way to go! and yes! Community is all about caring for people as people. All that other stuff is periphery. (I'm quite sure i spelled that wrong, please feel free to correct)

10:49 PM  
Blogger wordgirl said...

You're just fine!

10:53 PM  
Blogger DebbieDoesLife said...

Okay - I am stuck on the Big Hair Big Hair wrong? I can do Big Hair and I do it Proud! So you Northerner's with your sad, flat hair, beware! Big Hair Rules!

5:02 AM  
Blogger Arabella said...

I love this post! I love your neighbors'--and your own--ability to care about each other and be good to each other in spite of differences.

5:35 AM  
Anonymous Spamboy said...

I've been a Dallas resident off and on since 1981, when I moved here from Chicago. I was quite a downer on my home town, from criticizing the sports teams to complaining about local police. A few years ago, I fulfilled a desire to live near White Rock Lake by renting a 85 year-old house near downtown — since then, I've realized what the city has to offer, have a clearer understanding of what it lacks, but above all I desire to help it be better.

So, in other words, screw that other blogger.

5:49 AM  
Blogger Mrs. Harridan said...

For all of the bad press that Texas gets, most everybody I've met from there is *incredibly* proud of the state. That's how it should be: everyone should be proud of where she came from, even if that place has problems.

I must add that there are people with big hair, who love Nascar, who stole our Kerry signs (twice, and spray painted on them) here in Pennsylvania, too. It's probably a bit easier to be "different" here, though.

You've made your point so well and so eloquently. That other blogger could learn a lesson in acceptance from you, and I hope she reads your post and feels sorry. Maybe it'll change her mind.

6:57 AM  
Blogger Mignon said...

Doesn't Molly Ivins write for the D/FW newspaper? For me that's 'nuff said.
I like to rail on Texas as a state for obvious political and social reasons, but as a group of people I find Texans pull-you-up-when-your-down and big-hearted. And I agree with Arabella; the acceptance of differences can make or break a community. So did you rip it up all over her comments?

8:16 AM  
Anonymous TB said...

I hear you WordGirl. For the record, I love Texans. I think ya'll are refreshingly direct and open in your opinions. My best girlfriend is a Texas girl, born and raised and she is awesome.
That being said, anytime someone makes sweeping generalizations such as you mentioned, you run the risk of making a mess by painting with too broad a brush.

8:32 AM  
Blogger wordgirl said...

No...I thought I could do greater damage on my own site and I didn't know how to comment without writing something as long as the Magna Carta or just sounding defensive and petulant. So many of the people who commented did so in a "drive-by" kind of way. No website information or way to figure out what kinds of people they were. This person is a very popular blogger, and the focus of her writing is different from mine, and I was reluctant to use up all that space to say what I said on my own blog.

8:35 AM  
Blogger Rock said...

First of all - nice picture.

Second of all: Wait-a-minute - bad press from Texas? When did this start?

Third of all: It is fairly common for other Texans (mostly from Houston to dump on Dallas/Fort Worth as being stuck up and and a cow-town...and in contrast Houston is the friendliest city but also a developers nightmare (and now permanently under construction). I'm sure the poster who drew your ire was just a weak writer who could only lean on the aforemetnioned sweeping generalities.

The point is Texas DOES have a mythology all its own that frankly pales to any other state (and it doesn't matter if your red, blue or white or whatever) - it transcends. And it IS community.

I moved to California from Hoston 8 years ago kicking and screaming (there goes my no state income tax!) - but I still fly a Texas flag and my alma maters flag off my house and I can't tell you the number of passerbys who think that's just cool.

Don't mess w/....

10:26 AM  
Blogger wordgirl said...

TESTIFY, my brother!

10:34 AM  
Anonymous sheryl said...

Great post! I love that it is not all righteously indignant but instead paints a more real picture with the greys and colors of reality.

Until I met Amanda B (whose voice sounds kinda like Brett Butler), whom I adore with all my heart, I never really knew that people think Southerners are stupid because of things they do and the way they talk. She told me about the biases that people have against Southerners and the biases Southerners have against themselves. I mean, yeah, I've heard some of Jeff Foxworthy's Redneck jokes, but I just thought that was the kind of self-hate-self-love thing that everyone in the US who's lived in the same place(s) for most of their lives seems to have. "Yeah, I am country but there are people who are more country than I am"

I'll say what I said about racism at Amanda B's the other day: The older I get the more deeply I believe that judgment of others comes from lack of acceptance of self.

Also I don't really get why people write so many blog posts on subjects like the one you're talking about. There are so many blog rants that amount to nothing more than "Why Are Other People Different?" and "Other People Annoy Me and Chafe At My Soul With Their Very Existence Because The World Revolves Around Me" I mean, Seinfeld did it pretty well with his "What's up with that?" shtick - and it's soooo boring to me and seems like such a waste of time when a rant becomes a habit, and when picking on other people becomes a gimmick.

And then there's me, complaining about empty complaints. sheesh.

P.S. It doesn't bother me at all when people say 'aint'. I don't really think it sounds bad. I never knew Southerners were believed to be stupid because of the way they talked. I'm not from the South, tho. I've lived so many places in my life and heard different accents but seen the same general behaviors everywhere. No group seems any stupider or bigger haired or more out of fashion or more human than anyone else to me.

1:54 PM  
Blogger Suburban Turmoil said...

Yeah! What you said!

You think complaints about Texas are bad... Try living in Tennessee!

2:10 PM  
Blogger Shrinking Violet said...

You KNOW we are the only state that has ICE CUBE TRAYS in the shape of our state. We were our own country. So what if some of us have big hair. Cowboys are awesome. We've also taken in half the State of Louisiana out of the kindness of our Big Texas Hearts. And Wordgirl, remember the words of Lyle Lovett: "THAT'S RIGHT...YOU'RE NOT FROM TEXAS, TEXAS WANTS YOU ANYWAY"

2:11 PM  
Blogger mama_tulip said...

"The older I get the more deeply I believe that judgment of others comes from lack of acceptance of self."

I agree with Sheryl. And I'd just like to say that there is no accent that's better to listen to than a Southern drawl.

3:20 PM  
Blogger Melanhead said...

I don't get how anyone can rag on Texas. That's our holiday destination whenever a category 7 hurricane comes our way, and we have a blast every time we stay there! Big hair and everything!

6:50 PM  
Anonymous kate said...

As the girl that is being DRAGGED out of Texas this week to move to D.C., I can honestly attest to the fact that this state is just about awesome. We are unique, we are flawed, and we are big- But, we do it all with style and enthusiasm.

I can't imagine living anywhere but here.

God Bless Texas.

12:40 AM  
Anonymous V-Grrrl said...

Well Wordgirl,

A big Amen to the Big Hair and Big Hearts comments. I lived in Oklahoma for 8 years and worked as a reporter there part of that time. All political issues were steeped in corruption AND religion. Whooee!

My hair was too small, my makeup too understated, and I never wore jeans with high heels.I was TACKY by Oklahoma standards, but people were kind to me anyway.

Lived near Reba McEntire before she was REBA! She bought shoes for the CMA awards at the little store I worked in. I saw her once at Wal-Mart. We had the same gynecologist and hair dresser--hey y'all--no laughing! Very funny though--because the hairdresser's claim to fame was some of Reba's early big hairdo's and I never asked the gyn. what his claim to fame was! Oh my!

I have observed that many "real" Texans hate Dallas. I visited there several times and liked it--at least for a visit.

4:19 AM  
Blogger theyellowwallpaper said...

Growing up as a Yankee, my father used to rail on the South. It wasn't until I was older that I asked my Dad if he'd every even visited any Southern State, let alone live there.

You can probably guess his reply.

10:15 AM  
Blogger Ditsy Chick said...

I am, oh, so, grateful, not to have made a crack about Texas, right about now. No, I don't make too much fun of Texas (well, maybe Crawford, but that is another story), I take it out on Utah.

8:56 PM  
Blogger fin said...

Dallas is the coolest part of texas...

3:09 PM  
Blogger tigtog said...

I came here from the other blog in question, because one of the commenters there mentioned this thread.

I'm surprised, Wordgirl. If you're a regular reader there you know half of the blogger-in-question's charm is her stupendous laying on of the snark on eleventy-dozen sacred cows. Dallas wasn't especially singled out for snark except it happened to be where she was heading for a few days, so the beam was turned that way for a sec. And she was born and bred in Dallas anyhow.

That said, your community sounds something to be proud of. It's good to live with good people.

5:38 PM  
Blogger mrtl said...

Very well put, wordgirl. My 2 1/2 years in Texas had me dealing with plenty of the stereotypes, but they were all so welcoming and kind. And no one touched the pumpkin we personalized with out daughter's name, even though her name just happened to be the same as the losing candidate.

12:15 PM  

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