I was born and raised in the Lone Star State, so you’d think I’d be an expert on all things Texan. However, it's been a while since I’ve lived there. How To Be Texan, by Michael Hicks, spurred memories of facts and funnies from the land of my birth and has been most helpful in my writing.
Here are a few highlights.
This useful contraction is covered on the very first page of the book. “The word is actually a slurring of ‘you’ and ‘all,’…” The plural is all y’all. I’ve heard that other areas of the country have similar terms – youse guys, for example.
A truly great chicken-fried steak is “…fork-tender, lightly breaded, crisply fried, and covered with Mom’s good cream gravy.” Every time I go back to Texas, I have chicken fried steak with a side of fried okra at least once.
“True Texas BBQ is easily distinguished by the mesquite flavoring.” This dish's name can be written several ways - Bar-B-Q or barbeque or BBQ - and it tastes delicious no matter how you spell it (especially with a side of potato salad and/or cole slaw).
There’s a whole separate chapter on Tex-Mex food, including instructions for making Frito pie. “…the original was made by taking a small package of Fritos, splitting it open at the top and pouring a ladle full of steaming hot chili inside. Fresh diced onions are then sprinkled on the chili and a layer of grated cheese is melted on top.” The bag acts as the serving dish.
“While a lot of cowboy hats are still worn in Texas, the most official day-to-day-wear has to be the gimme cap.” I’ve heard these referred to as baseball caps in other areas of the country; however, in Texas “…when you say ‘Gimme one of them caps,’ you get one.” They are folded in thirds (there’s a technique to this) so they’ll slip easily into the back pocket of your jeans.
Horny Toad – I played with these little critters in the sandbox in my parents’ backyard in Dallas. I understand the Texas Horned Lizard is now the official reptile of Texas.
Armadillo – “Unfortunately, the only place many urban Texans ever see the armadillo is flat on the highway.” These strange-looking animals migrated up to Texas from Mexico and decided to stay.
|Photo source via Wikipedia from: |
The book includes a brief glossary of oilfield terms, including:
Blowout – “A gusher in the old days, a headache today.”
Wildcatter – “Now called an ‘independent’…” J. R. Ewing of “Dallas” fame was a wildcatter. I worked for a wildcatter for several years—an unforgettable experience.
How To Be Texan also features chapters on ranches (the King Ranch in South Texas, as well as the Chicken Ranch -- the inspiration for the Broadway hit The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas), fishing, boots, vehicles, hats, and other important subjects. I'll loan you my copy if you need more information because, unfortunately, the book is out of print.
PS: Both my books are set in North Texas.
I.O.U. Sex (co-authored with Sandra Allen)