If you’re a recurring reader you will know that I am from Texas and am, like most Texans, very proud to be from Texas. Texas isn’t perfect, but then again what state is? Every state has some issues, be they political, geographical, weather-related, natural resources-related, whatever. But I love Texas and Texans.
Traveling the country (and even the world) as a Texan is interesting because everyone has heard of Texas but not everyone has been to Texas. This means that when a non-Texan thinks of Texas, they sometimes think about saloons and high-noon gun fights. While there certainly are many parts of Texas that have histories that include Wild West events, these days we mostly stick to cars for transport and lawsuits to settle differences. Because people don’t always know that, however, every Texan has been asked these eight questions while traveling:
1. Do You Own a Gun?
Sure do. Several, in fact. But that’s not really the point. I have been asked this by a cab driver in New Jersey, a waitress in San Diego, a random person at an airport bar in Chicago, and by several curious Europeans at various bars and restaurants in Ireland, Germany, and Switzerland. In their defense, there are an awful lot of guns in Texas. I’ve been around guns my whole life, I’ve been hunting, I’ve gone to gun ranges, I’ve gone with friends to big, open fields to shoot old coffee cans, and I’ve even carried a gun with me during the day before. It’s not a big deal, but everyone not from Texas has this idea that every Texan owns a gun, and they might be right. However, the question is still annoying.
2. Are You in Oil?
I wish, right? This is another one I’ve heard on both sides of the Atlantic and even in an email from a very polite Canadian one time. I get it, I guess. There has, historically, been a lot of oil out here. Many big-name oil companies were either founded in or have headquarters in Texas, including Texaco (now part of Chevron, which is not based in Texas), Exxon, ConocoPhillips, and Valero are just the four I could think of off the top of my head. The television show Dallas didn’t do any favors for stereotypes because almost every character on the show had some tie to an oil company. But the point is, people associate oil drilling with Texas and ask Texans if they are in oil. There are 29 million people in Texas, and about 150,000 of them work in oil and gas production (this obviously does not include people who are clerks at gas stations). That means there are 28,850,000 people in Texas who are not in the oil and gas field. Please quit asking, because the odds of any one person being in oil are slim.
3. Do You Ride a Horse to [Enter Destination Here]?
This is the second-most frequently asked question I get, right behind the gun question. For whatever reason there are a LOT of people out there who think Texan schoolchildren ride horses to school, and that Texan employees ride horses to their jobs. And look: I have seen people pull a horse up to a Whataburger. Honest to God, I have. But people like that are so, so…weird. No perfectly sane person takes the time to saddle their horse just to make a quick burger run. I’ve lived in Texas my whole life and I’ve only met something like five people who I know for a fact owned horses. Maybe out in the sticks that number jumps a bit, but in the overwhelming majority of the state, horses are not used for everyday transport.
4. Do You Wear a Cowboy Hat?
Oh, man, do I hear this a lot. And the answer is that, yes, sometimes I do. But it’s normally when I’m mowing the lawn or otherwise doing something where I want to keep the sun off my neck, and even then I don’t always go for the cowboy hat. In fact, it’s very rare. Maybe like three or four times a year, max. What people don’t always comprehend is that most of the people who wear cowboy hats regularly are doing so because they need the shade. Sure, there are the wannabe country singers and all-hat-and-no-cattle types that only wear cowboy hats for very special functions, but by and large people don’t wear cowboy hats. They don’t go with shorts and t-shirts very well unless you’re a 21-year-old frat brother who’s at the lake for Memorial Day or something.
5. Oh, So You’re a Republican?
This is my least favorite question I get. For one thing, I don’t belong to or even like either major political party in the United States. For another, if someone is asking that question, that normally means they’re some fire breathing Leftist who thinks it’s their purpose in life to annoy the bejesus out of people who aren’t as radical as they are. Look, I know a lot of Republicans who are great people. I know a lot of Democrats who are great people. And I know a lot of both who are assholes. And yeah, Texas is a pretty conservative state, but it’s not like 90% Republican or anything like that. Political diversity is here just like it is in every state. Quit asking this one, please. No one likes to talk politics with an aggressive stranger.
6. Do You Speak Spanish?
Sí, pero solo poquito. This question has come up more and more over the past few years. Texas has a long and interesting history with Mexico and the Spanish-speaking immigrants who have come here since 1836. You almost can’t live here without accidentally learning a little Spanish. And sometimes you need to know enough to order food because the best tacos you’ll ever have in your life are usually at places where English is not the lingua franca. The truth is I can speak maybe 300 words in Spanish or so, and that’s plenty for me to get around. I do wish I spoke more, but I’m in my thirties and have more hobbies than time already.
7. Are You and Astros Fan?
I have never taken more pleasure in saying “no” than when people ask me this. I hate the Astros. I used to root for them sometimes when they were still in the National League and I didn’t have to see them play the Rangers like 20 times a year, but now I don’t even do that. They cheated and got caught and not much really happened. I have previously advocated for this punishment: No one on the Astros’ World Series Roster should be eligible to be voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame until ten years after they die. That way they never get to see the honor in their lifetime, though if a player is skilled (like Altuve and Correa), they should be honored as such. That’s what’s so gross: they were already a good team; they didn’t need to cheat, but chose to anyhow. Anyway, screw the Astros.
8. I Hate the Cowboys
Not a question, but still frequently heard.