10 Signs You Might Be a Texan

I’ve lived in Texas or about four years, and this place never ceases to amaze/enrage/amuse me. Here’s a list of the things I notice about Texans that amuse and amaze me. Please don’t be enraged by them. You might be a Texan if…

1. You see a turn signal as an invitation to speed up.

Never fails. I put on my turn signal and the car in the lane I’m trying to merge into immediately speeds up. I can almost hear the “Goddammit we didn’t fight at the Alamo only to have to drive behind other cars on the freeway!” coming from the other car. I tried to give the benefit of the doubt by thinking perhaps Texans thought it was friendly to speed up so you could merge  behind them (because when I let people merge they seem to hesitate, expecting me to speed up) but my born-and-raised Texan friend Jennifer says, “No, they’re just assholes.”

2. You never stop talking about where you went to college

Some people even get this shit tattooed on their posterior. School spirit is one thing, but this is kind of crazy devotion is taken to a crazy Texas level I’ve only really experienced here (well, and in Oklahoma, which is kind of like Texas Lite). And the stereotypes that go along with each school are super super specific. “Yeah, you can only go to SMU if you’re rich, scored in the 15th percentile on the SAT, and never wear socks with penny loafers.” Ok.

3. You use the word “Bless(ed)”, “Praise”, or “Fellowship” at least once daily.

Ask any city in Texas where they are on the Bible Belt, and they’ll always tell you they’re the buckle. Never the third eyelet, never the tail, the buckle. Pretty much everywhere that admits being part of this region where Evangelical Christianity takes up the first 15 stations of broadcast television and provides the most polling locations for government elections claims they’re the buckle.

4. You consider catfish, crawfish, and shrimp to be seafood (only when fried) and any other type of sealife to be inedible.

We get it, Texas, Beef > Fish. (Except on Fridays). I run into so many people here who think they don’t like seafood, to which I quickly and readily retort “You’ve never had good seafood.” It’s a tough battle, and not one I generally try to win if it means I have to share my salmon cheeks.

5. You know “Shit” has two syllables and “San Antonio” is a single word that is pronounced “Sannatone.”

I’ve also heard three syllable versions of the former, and the latter shortened to “Santone.”

6. Weather (How hot, how twister-y) is always first on the local news.

Then murders, executions, robberies, football, baseball, and if there’s time, things that happen outside of Texas.

7. You gasp in reverent appreciation whenever anyone mentions Six Flags, Schlitterbahn, Great Wolf Lodge, or the State Fair.

Texans love their crowds, thrill rides, and deep fried edibles.

8. You seem to think chili should not have beans and consuming it should require signing a waiver.

It’s also served with bread and milk, and if it doesn’t put you in the hospital going in, it will coming out.

9. A body of water you cannot see across is not “The Ocean”, it’s “The Gulf”, which is pronounced without the “L”.

And the place where you go to get obnoxious beside it is simple called “South Padre”.

10. You rattle on about nothing in particular to complete strangers.

I was once visiting a coworker in the hospital and she was entertaining a small group of friends and family in a public space at the hospital. A man came in looking for a family member who was staying there and he noticed us and jabbered on at length about nothing terribly important and we all politely listened, until after 45 minutes she politely faked acute narcolepsy to drive home the hint.

Posted in Ridiculous Shenanigans, Rumination | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Be Ugly, Go Shopping. Dealing with Abercrombie & Fitch’s Body Fascism.

So Abercrombie & Fitch is making headlines again. Not because the catalog was pornographic or their hiring practices are obscene or the CEO has weird taste in Flight Attendants, this time it’s because the Botox Bandit has basically said a bunch of stupid things that would put Regina George to shame.

And what’s going to happen about it? Probably not much. Sure, the company lost some major cash during the recession, but it’s still kicking. But why isn’t the backlash going to have any effect? Because the people who are angry aren’t buying A&F anyway (because it doesn’t fit). Sure, anybody can point out that they’re the exception, and they can fit into A&F clothes but choose not to shop there because they have a moral repugnance for supporting douchebaggery, but the “core customer” that A&F’s fearless leader seems to have such a hysterical obsession with pleasing isn’t going to be terribly affected.

So what to do? We could write open letters that say “I don’t fit into your clothes, but you could stop being such a bully (because we haven’t worn that word out yet) for I just know deep down you’re probably not as awful as you sound.” Or we could enjoy America’s favorite pastime (it’s not baseball, folks) and get self-righteously indignant, but not do anything.

Or we could do this. Just hear me out.

1. Be Ugly, Go Shopping. It might seem counterintuitive to go into a store whose basic philosophy you disagree with, especially when they play the music so damn loud, but just let me finish the thought. If you’re not the kind of person A&F wants shopping in their stores, go shopping. They don’t want fat people, ugly people, uncool people seen in their stores? Too bad. We have friends to shop for. And it’s going to take us a looooooong time to pick out what we want. We might even have to go back. Multiple times. And we might even decide not to buy them anything at all. But we must carefully deliberate every one of A&Fs overpriced wares. So that’s it in short-form. Be ugly. And shop at A&F.

2. Fly Your Freak Flag Upside Down. If going into A&F might be counterintuitive, it might seem even more ridiculous when I tell you to buy something, but there are a couple caveats. First, it has to be a logo you can cut off. Shield logos are good. Cut it off, sew it on to something else, and wear it with pride. Except you’ll sew it on upside down (that’s the international signal for distress). Second, you have to buy it. No stealing it off the internet. Gotta keep it legal, folks. Sure, A&F gets the forty bucks, and what do you get? You get to tell everybody who asks why your A&F logo is upside down exactly why they’ve pissed you off. And you can slap it on a 3XL t-shirt or a size 16 dress, neither of which A&F make. They don’t want fat/ugly/smart people wearing their clothes, but they never said we couldn’t alter them.

Will it work? Like “fetch”, it may never happen (so stop trying Gretchen), but sometimes, just sometimes, a bunch of angry people doing little things can actually change something. Maybe we’ll get lucky. Until then: Be Ugly. Go Shopping. Get Sewing.

Posted in Consumerism, Offensive Tomfoolery, Ridiculous Shenanigans | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The adversity hierarchy: who has it worst?

For some reason tonight, ideas of marginalization and gender and transgender popped into my head. I thought to myself in my wine-and-diet-coke fueled early morning reverie that I could easily be a lesbian. I like comfortable shoes, boxer shorts, and monogamy. But then I thought deeper. Unfortunately even among gay and lesbian men and women (or lesbian and gay women and men if you’re one of those who think the order in which the parties are mentioned is some sort of subliminal gender bias) some sort of “adversity hierarchy” still seems to exist.

Some say lesbians have a double hit against them because they’re not only homosexuals, they’re also women. I can definitely understand that, but I think it’s merely a matter of personal preference when one looks at whether choices for men and women are really equal. Sure, lesbians might be seen as women first when it comes to pay parity, but what about men (especially some decades ago) who entered caring professions typically held by women, such as nursing, early elementary education, or being a flight attendant? Who’s the bigger “failure”? A childless woman who chose career over family, or a man who’s doing “women’s work”?

Americans seem to be in love with their own invented adversity. Our national creation myth is built right upon it. We love to play the underdog when, in reality, we’re not. Our founding fathers in the modern context were really part of the “one percent” (they were landed, educated, and wealthy) and they had a difficult time convincing anybody that their rights were actually being violated (the tax rate in the colonies was a mere fraction of what it was in represented Britain at the time); in fact, the majority of their backers were either mercenaries (who also fought for the British) or the French (whose participation in the revolution was little more than a dick-measuring contest with the British revenge for the colonies they had lost in the War of 1763).

We like to pretend our lives are difficult. We use words like “horrific” and “atrocity” and “outrageous” to describe things like airline delays and traffic jams and bad customer service. We complain about tipping in restaurants and high gas prices. And when we don’t get everything we think we deserve as Citizens of the First World, we invent adversity. The flight’s delayed because people are incompetent. The traffic’s bad because the politicians wouldn’t approve spending. The customer service is bad because the employee was being racist.

I don’t care much for the “Who has it harder?” argument, because the answer is either going to be “me”, or “someone I’m trying to buy leverage with” or “someone who I think will win the argument”. I think a better question than “Who has it harder?” is “Who needs a stronger voice?” We all struggle, but many of us have a strong voice in our corner. The support for Gay and Lesbian men and women continues to crescendo. The voice of African Americans, women, undocumented workers, and people with disabilities also grows.

I feel one of the more misunderstood groups, who needs a stronger voice, is Transgendered individuals. For them, the lines aren’t as clear, because transition is a difficult situation to put in a box. Are Transmen subject to the adversities of women when they identify as men? Are Transwomen subject to the same adversities because they identify as and are transitioning to be women although they were born men? There is even misunderstanding among the broader group of gay and lesbian men and women about gender identity and sexual orientation. Some even wonder if Transgendered people should even be included, because many of them identify as heterosexual (although I know of a few who are bisexual or even gay).

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not discounting the struggles that any other marginalized group faces. I’m merely making a small, insignificant plea for a second look. Joe Biden has called transgender discrimination “the civil rights issue of our time“. I think it’s time we all understood a little bit better.

Posted in We're here we're queer have we made ourselves clear? | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ten reasons I probably hid you from my Facebook timeline

So I’m feeling snarky today. Yes, I realize half my FB friends have done this, and no I haven’t really hidden you all from my timeline, but I know I’m going to get comments. (Wait, I do that, and I’m not an asshole!) Grow a sense of humor, people.

1. You gushed about your spouse or significant other. Bonus points if you posted it right on their timeline so all your mutual friends could see it too. For single friends, it’s like eating ice cream in front of a fat kid on a hot summer day. Earn brownie points the old fashioned way – behind a securely locked door with novelty underwear.

2. You posted an oblique cry for help. “I’m such a victim!” isn’t the best way to get people to help you. It’s a good way to get people to take advantage of you. Vicious cycle.

3. You think I’m WebMD. Crowd sourcing medical advice from Facebook is a bad idea. Be forewarned, I diagnose everything as Herpes.

4. You posted about your hangover. Posts like “I’m never drinking again!” or even better “Dear <insert name of booze> you are not my friend anymore.” do little to arouse my sympathy. Instead I exclaim, “S/he sounds fun. We should hang out more often.” <– No folks, that’s not sarcasm. <–  And neither is that.

5. You posted your grades (or your kid’s grades). No really, I’m glad you (or your offspring) got a B- in phlebotomy at community college. Seriously folks, call your parents with that shit.

6. You tagged everyone in a photo because you wanted them to look at it. Not cool. Just, not cool.

7. You have a joint Facebook account with your spouse. Seriously, as if you and your spouse weren’t going to have enough arguments about the shit you both post on Facebook on separate accounts. Don’t make it worse. Also, it makes it incredibly difficult to hit on just one of you in a private message.

8. You made inane, unoriginal, or just plain stupid comments. “I love parties!” is a good one. I’m sure you’re really fun at them too.

9. You have conversations with yourself in the comments of your own posts . Seriously. I’ve seen this happen.

10. You made reference to what day it was in relation to your workweek. I’m really fucking glad Wednesday is your Friday. Nobody’s ever bitched about Mondays or gushed about Fridays before, so feel free to wax poetic. The rest of the world is frankly pretty ambivalent about weekends, holidays, and days off in general, so feel free to spread the gospel all you want.

Posted in Offensive Tomfoolery, Printed Words | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Drug Test Nonsense

There’s been all this to-do over drug testing welfare recipients on the internet lately, and I’m frankly dumbfounded at where all this vitriol suddenly came from. Yes, people will abuse entitlement programs. It’s the price we pay for having them. But the other thing that bothers me is the hypocrisy in the same vein that Pro-Lifers are more apt to also support capital punishment.

Those who prattle on about welfare drug testing are typically also those far right “no government interference” types, yet they don’t seem to understand that you can’t selectively decide to invade only the privacy of entitlement recipients that you have some irrational fear are spending “your” money on drugs and hookers. No, if you make it ok to drug test welfare recipients, you ironically usher in the socialist policies that you seem to think will be the end of civilized society.

Take Australia for example. There’s socialized medicine, so the law criminalizes activity that would strain the system. Not wearing a hat on the beach during certain times of year is a risk for skin cancer, so you can be fined for wanton disregard of the public’s money. If we want to make sure our tax
dollars only go to people whose moral choices we agree with, then we’re also opening the door for more government involvement. Will medicare recipients have to prove none of their preexisting conditions were their own fault? Will we deny health coverage to people who smoke?

Sure, drug testing welfare folks might sound like a great way to feel better about where “your” money goes in the short term, because of course, you have the right to impose your own morality on everyone who benefits from your government-necessitated charity, but just keep in mind what sort of “socialism” that outlook engenders.

Posted in Ridiculous Shenanigans | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

To those still eating at Chick-Fil-A

So there’s been a social media maelstrom recently over the various things Chick-Fil-A has done wrong from a PR standpoint. For those of you who have been abducted by aliens or engrossed in TomKat’s divorce papers for the last two weeks, here’s the skinny:

  1. Chick-Fil-A has amazing chicken sandwiches.
  2. Chick-Fil-A is owned by Baptists who hate the gay, and they just reminded us all. The phrase “biblical principles” was thrown around, and when it’s said, we know there’s some kind of judgment a-followin’.
  3. People who’ve never eaten at Chick-Fil-A (because they’re gay and it’s not on their diet, or they live in a state that doesn’t have one) are swearing never to eat there, and the pundits are having loads of fun.
  4. People who used to eat at Chick-Fil-A have stopped, because they didn’t know the founder of the company had that attitude towards the harmless gays have stopped eating there (this is a small minority including people like Ed Helms.)
  5. People who are otherwise gay-friendly, gay-tolerant, or gay-indifferent (but who still might have gay friends) say things like “Sorry, but I just love their chicken.”

It’s the people under heading number 5 that I take issue with. For a while (because I’m understanding like that) I said, “I totally feel ya bro. Their chicken is pretty awesome; we’ll just agree to disagree.”

But then the more I thought about it, I said “Wait a minute. This is a problem. So you mean to say that you fully understand that by buying a sandwich from Chick-Fil-A, you’re knowingly putting money into the hands of people who would not only deny me the right to marriage equality, but would also prefer it if I simply didn’t exist the way God made me? I’m gonna, ya know, go ahead and take issue with that.”

I mean, seriously, where do you draw the line? It’s not really about the chicken anymore (even though you have to wonder about some people’s devotion to chicken. “Oh, you can’t live without that chicken sandwich? I suppose it is more important than my civil rights. ‘Cause you know, you can’t go to another chicken place, and I can always find something else that’s just like my civil rights. Like getting married in another country even though it won’t be recognized here. Or having rights in one state, but not in another, because they’re not on the same page (it’s a little Jim Crow-ish, isn’t it?)

Sorry, I just love their chicken.

No, you’re not sorry. I hardly think you’re weeping into your chicken sandwich about what they’ve done. Sure, I understand. They’ll treat me quite cordially should I choose to go in there. I can go in and say “I’m a homosexual, and I’d love one of your holy chicken sandwiches.” And they’ll say “My pleasure.” Sure, it’s not a lunch counter in Selma. It’s not a city bus in Montgomery. We’re not getting attacked by firehoses and police dogs – but do we need to? Do we need to go to jail to prove that this fight is just as important?

Try this instead. Make a donation in my name to the charity of Chick-Fil-A’s choice, now that you know where the money goes. If you can stomach that with a clear conscience, by all means, enjoy your damned sandwich.

Posted in Consumerism, Offensive Tomfoolery, We're here we're queer have we made ourselves clear? | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

On Hawaiian Independence

I’ll be the first to admit it – when the rest of the country is practicing the ancient Chinese art of pyrotechnics to celebrate our independence from a country that later went on to produce a disproportionate number of record-topping rock and roll bands, I have a tendency to wax post colonial. Although Independence Day is celebrated with as much fervor as it is in the Historic East as it is in the Manifested Destinations of the West, I always find it ironic when I see it celebrated in Hawai’i – as it were, a sovereign kingdom once independent but essentially stolen for over a century.

I’m not suggesting that independence is a possibility for Hawai’i – the monarchy cannot be made legit again (and regardless of the legalities of annexation, the legalities of admittance to the union are pretty airtight – we all know what happened to the South the last time they brought up that question), but every once in a while I wonder what modern Hawai’i might look like if for some reason the American annexation had never taken place.

Although Hawai’i arguably one of the most unique places on Earth, there is at least some merit in examining the other nations of the South Pacific, most notably Tonga, where residents will proudly point out that their small island country is the only one in the Pacific that never ceded sovereignty to a Western superpower. The outlook isn’t great – although Tonga is a monarchy much like Hawai’i was prior to annexation (Tonga is ironically a autochthonous member of the Commonwealth of Nations, while the Kingdom of Hawai’i once considered itself a protectorate of Britain, although it was never acknowledged) the Hawaiian economy was already more robust in the 19th Century than Tonga’s is today. What little the economy does produce is mostly shared between the monarchy and the nobility, who live in luxurious, modern conditions while the rest of the country live an agrarian subsistence lifestyle punctuated by backdrop of puritanical Christian moral authority (Reverence for the Sabbath is codified in Tonga’s Constitution.) Although much of the economic growth in Hawai’i can be linked to the size of the islands, the fertility of the soil, and the archipelago’s relatively convenient location in the North Central Pacific convenient to both North America and Asia, one wonders how much of that economic growth is related to American influence, and whether it would have happened had Hawaiian sovereignty survived Queen Lili’uokalani’s overthrow attempt. So Tonga’s one example of what Hawai’i might have been like absent American imperialism.

Another example to look to might be New Zealand. Unlike Tonga, New Zealand is a constitutional monarchy which recognizes Queen Elizabeth II as it’s sovereign. Modern New Zealand’s population is roughly four times the size of Hawai’i, which is itself nearly ten times the size of Tonga. Modern New Zealand is one of the most progressive countries in the world, with a developed economy, although like Hawai’i, the indigenous Maori make up a sliver of the population (a testament to the linguistic and cultural ties between the two Polynesian island groups, Hawaiians traditionally referred to themselves as kanaka maoli, or the Maoli People – “r” and “l” are interchangable between the Tahitive languages of the Central and South Pacific) and like it or not, non-natives would make up the racial majority of Hawai’i in any scenario.

Although the idea of an English speaking, monarchical Hawai’i that is a member of the British Commonwealth might seem strange, it’s not far gone from how the early Kamehameha’s viewed the trajectory of the island’s governance – as Sarah Vowell explains in Unfamiliar Fishes, American missionaries waited months for warrants to land and build churches because the ali’i (chiefs) considered themselves protectorates of the British Crown, and didn’t want to risk upsetting their perceived benefactors.The ali’i were actually remarkably adept at administering government – no small task considering the Hawaiian language pre-Western contact was entirely oral – no written language existed. With the parade of Europeans that paraded through the islands in the decades immediately following Captain Cook’s initial contact in 1778, that the Kamehamehas recognized that the key to survival by the 1820s was to seek a European ally shows remarkable understanding of  Industrial Age realpolitik; it doesn’t take much to understand the concern of a monarch to seek support from another monarchy, rather than forming an alliance with a nascent democracy where the stirrings of anti-monarchy were less than a generation distant.

Indeed, despite massive population decline and American meddling, Hawai’i by the end of the 1800s was remarkably advanced – when the common western moniker “heathen savage” was leveled at her people, Lili’uokalani shrewdly pointed out that the population of her country was overwhelmingly Christian (and thus neither heathen nor savage, by the literal definition), and enjoyed a literacy rate approaching 75% of adults at a time when only 40% of Americans could read and write. Unfortunately the monarchy itself was advanced to the point where it was blindly following the example of the pampered, politically detached monarch of the Victorian mold – relegating itself to figurehead status without a solid, stable parliamentary government to administer domestic and foreign policy.

Like it or not, Hawai’i is part of the United States. Although I may perhaps always cringe on Independence Day when I think of the parts of our country that celebrate the independence of a nation that later compromised the independence of their own sovereign states, the insurmountable obstacle to viewing history from a “What if?” perspective is that the theories it can never be actualized.

I mua e na poki’i a inu i ka wai ‘awa’awa, ‘a’ohe hope e ho’i mai ai (Move forward brothers and drink of the bitter water, there is no return). – Hawaiian Proverb

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