Over the course of the last eighteen months I've grown somewhat protective, even defensive regarding my adopted home state. Now that I'm living here, I've become painfully aware of how Texas and its people tend to be viewed by uninformed morons. As we all know, the American Civil War was fought because Lincoln wanted to free all the slaves from evil southern types with their moonshine and their Lynyrd Skynyrd albums on eight track, and that's the only reason, and there were no other factors involved. The north loved freedom and improvised jazz and all that good stuff, and the south has always been as you would expect it to be from reading comic books by award winning Quentin Tarantino karaoke turns like Garth Ennis: barbecues and lynchings mainly.
I'm joking, or at least employing a somewhat acidic brand of sarcasm, but sadly there are quarters where such views are held in earnest. People who've never been here nevertheless feel amply qualified to offer their uninformed opinions on the grounds of having seen a television programme about George Bush, or having met some guy for five minutes back in 1987, or being English and therefore eminently qualified to confront strangers with the error of their peculiar foreign ways, what with England being the fount of all culture and civilisation. Even people from northern states join in the fun, quipping about how much better America would be if we could just get rid of Texas, although being as that sentiment seems most often expressed by residents of New England, it's probably not worth taking too seriously.
Texans, I have found as a generalisation, are among the most pleasant people I've met anywhere in the world with the possible exception of Mexicans and the French. Texans, for the most part, conduct themselves with dignity and good manners without any apparent need to prove anything. When I walk around San Antonio I see faces of all colours, mostly either content or just getting on with it, no white pointy hoods, conspicuously born firearms or burning crosses; none busily making online pronouncements regarding the supposedly unsavoury national character of an entire country based upon the foreign policy of its government; none so repellent or inbred as the milk-souring gargoyles I used to watch braving the shitty English weather, faces twisted by some pathological need to make everyone else as miserable as themselves, skin the colour of blu-tack. Without further expanding this brief disclaimer into an essay on why I prefer Texas to, for example, the country that gave us Simon Cowell, Jeremy Clarkson and the Daily Mail proclaiming Hurrah for the Blackshirts, I'll leave it with the summation that I'd rather live in a fucking cake tin in San Antonio than a luxury apartment in London.
It therefore causes me great pain to write of the Cow People, one aspect by which the state of Texas has somewhat let itself down. Cows are amongst my favourite dairy animals, so I should probably make it clear that I'm not referring to either them or to the esteemed agriculturalists who provide their care, or at least who provide their care up to the point at which they are converted into beefs. Cow People tend to be bright pink, around seven feet tall, and can be seen slowly cruising the aisles of major supermarket outlets in search of meat. Their top cruising speed levels off at about one mile an hour which, because they often visit stores as a bonded pair sometimes with one or two Texas Calf People in tow, and because some of them may also grow up to seven feet in diameter, presents a considerable impediment to the more conspicuously mobile members of the community. Anyone reading this in some part of the world specialising in small people and thus having trouble imagining such a scenario can recreate the experience by attempting to shop whilst having groups of friends slowly propel couches up and down the aisles of the store. The best way to avoid Texas Cow People whilst shopping is to steer clear of sections stocking meat or barbecue supplies, these being where they tend to congregate. Cow People, I am forced to surmise, consider cooking a bit fancy and thus favour the simpler method of setting a big pile of meat on fire.
If inconvenient, this tendency towards obstruction is not so annoying as what happens once the Cow People have purchased their meat and take it out to their truck; because it's always a fucking truck, because just as the universe is essentially recursive with the same forces which spin galaxies into fractal configurations similarly prescribing the subatomic interplay of gluons, muons, and mu-mesons, pointlessly enormous people must go from the place where meat is sold to the place where meat is set on fire by means of a pointlessly enormous vehicle.
Trucks are the most obvious visual clue as to the presence of Texas Cow People, the factor which differentiates Texas from Catford in southeast London, a borough similarly blessed with a puzzlingly massive branch of humanity. I know I've left Texas when I am no longer able to see trucks, because out of every ten vehicles on a San Antonio highway, seven will be trucks the size of cruise liners. Of course, not all of these trucks are driven entirely without justification. There are trucks favoured by landscape gardeners carting their lawn mowers around, or the few farmers who drive into town to pick up supplies - timber or whatever - but the other six of those seven drivers will be people employed at banks, stores, warehouses, or some guy called Chet who kind of has a job working for his billionaire father, except it isn't paid, but then he doesn't really need the money, and no-one seems to know what the job entails or where he goes when he isn't having one of his many days off. These people need a truck the size of fucking Belgium like I need my feet surgically removed and replaced with wheels. They don't have anything huge requiring transportation, excepting possibly themselves, and no-one in Texas farms elephants to the best of my knowledge, so rounding up escaped Jumbos should not be an issue. Texas has trucks in much the same way as certain parts of south east London have those off-road land cruisers by which yummy mummies drive their single tiny child to private school; and it's annoying.
The vehicles look absurd, Claes Oldenburg versions of the Tonka trucks I played with as a kid, the automotive equivalent of 58" silicon breasts sold via a direct psychological hotline to some guy who hasn't yet noticed that he's no longer six. When I stop at a junction on the bicycle I ride due to being too stupid to have ever got around to learning how to drive, often I find I am unable to turn as desired, not due to oncoming traffic, but due to being unable to assess the state of oncoming traffic, my field of vision being blocked by some overinflated Ford or General Motors balloon toy obstructing my view of half of the entire universe and driven by someone whose favourite television show is a clip of a man falling over to a soundtrack of uproarious laughter.
Texas, I'll be forever grateful for your letting me come to stay, and I can hardly begin to express how glad I am that almost everything I'd heard about you has turned out to be complete drivel; but we really need to do something about these Cow People.