Beach Bums in Texarkana?
This is Go Texan time, the period every year when dentists and dishwashers dress up like Tom Mix and play cowboy. It is also sort of a Thanksgiving Day when, between belches, beer and barbecue, we give thanks for there being a Texas.
But wait! Stop for a moment and think: What if God had decided to create the Earth with no Texas – just a bigger Gulf of Mexico with beach bums in Texarkana and Nuevo Laredo yelling, “Surf’s up!” Maybe God could have become chapped at what humans were doing with his planet and decided to punish Earthlings by placing Texas on, say, Saturn.
With no Texas, some things are certain. Oklahoma University couldn’t field a football team. The casinos in Louisiana would never have been built because there would have been no one to frequent them. CBS wouldn’t have had a news anchor since April 16, 1962. There would be no Alamo to remember, San Jacinto to celebrate or Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders to ogle. The world would not have that wonderful Tejano music. “Arkajano music” just doesn’t sound right. And, gad, no Tex-Mex food. The closest would be New Mex-Mex food, but our neighbors to the west put disgusting red chili sauce on everything.
To be sure, the thought of an America without Texas would delight a lot of people who take great pleasure in ridiculing our occasionally eccentric behavior. Those Texas-haters couldn’t tell Texas jokes. For example, on July 14, 1996, a British business leader in London asked U.S. Ambassador William J. Crowe Jr., during a discussion about reuniting Northern Ireland with Ireland, “How would you feel if Mexico took back Texas?” Replied the ambassador, “You’ve asked the wrong man that question. I’m from Oklahoma. We’ve been trying to give Texas back to Mexico for a hundred years.”
If there were no Texas, the Pentagon would have headaches. In “Travels with Charley,” Nobel laureate John Steinbeck looked around this state and wrote: “Among other tendencies to be noted, Texas is a military nation. The armed forces of the United States are loaded with Texans and often dominated by Texans.” Nothing has changed. Gen. Tommy Sands, heading the war in Afghanistan – and, if it happens, the one in Iraq – is from Midland. The next commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps is Gen. Michael Hagee from Fredericksburg, a town which also gave the military the young son of hotel keepers, Chester Nimitz.
If there were no Texas, we would all live somewhere else. Where would you be? Squatting in the snow back in Syracuse, which, incidentally, has a domed stadium. Hmmm. Wonder from where that idea sprang? George W. might well be president, but he’d have to take Vladimir Putin to the Bush ranch in Connecticut. No Texas? That means no Aggie Band, no Texas Instruments (does “North Dakota Instruments” have the same ring?) and no rodeos – they were hatched in Pecos.
No Texas obviously would mean no Houston. So our happy homes would be at the bottom of the Gulf, overseen by Cajun shrimpers with far fewer customers. The nation might still have Enron, except that Lay, Skilling and Fastow were all from out of state so they would have wasted some other city. No Houston? No Texas Medical Center? All those people would have to go somewhere else to be healed.
But there is a Houston, and there is a Texas. God was feeling benevolent the day he created Texas and made Houston its headquarters. OK, at this point some of you are thinking, “Hey, get off it. Cut the fuzzy feel-good. What about the traffic?” Excellent point. We have overbearing traffic jams because too many people want to come here to partake of our Mosquito Festival and, also, because Bob Lanier and Tom DeLay have drivers. Yes, we have an inefficient City Hall because not only do we have a strong mayor form of government, we have an absentee mayor form of government. And, true, we have pretty rotten summers. On the other hand, this year, our winter falls on a Friday. Would school children years hence really want to memorize, “Newark, the Eagle has landed?” Go Houston. Go Texas. ih