Sunday, October 28, 2012

In Texas

Originally Posted on Amerobiz.

Running shorts are the leading cause of exercise avoidance in Texas. Any exercise clothing is to blame, really. I can’t count how many times I’ve lost my resolve while digging for a t-shirt. By the time I grab a top, it’s so hot outside that I’m already sweaty inside. There are days my poor AC unit’s desperate attempts hover at 85 degrees. It’s hard to see why on earth I should put on my sneakers and go anywhere at all.

By June, we’ve already hit our first day over 100. You’d think by now Texas heat waves would’ve helped us all evolve into skinny people with fast metabolisms, blissfully unencumbered by extra padding, but no dice. Instead we can boast having two of the top ten fattest towns in the country. Thank you Beaumont and McAllen for your significant contribution to the elevated national BMI.

Frankly, I’m shocked Dallas isn’t on the list. As a whole, we’re big eaters and not big walkers—it’s the land of ten thousand restaurants and ten neighborhoods with sidewalks. At my last community crime watch meeting, this one guy from the west coast raised his hand—and just about got it smacked down by the rest of us, too.

He asked the police officer why cars fail to stop for pedestrians on crosswalks like they do in California. Because he knows, of course, that in Texas—just like in California—the law requires cars to stop. Why he always—both here and in California—stops even if the pedestrian is still on the sidewalk. I swear, that dipweed must’ve said in California at least four times in his first sentence. Yes, I know that he’s right about the crosswalk, but my Lone Star loyalty wants to ask him to go back to his economically broken state and proceed with his comparisons there!

Back to the crosswalk issue though. As a person that dares to walk around here, it would be great if cars stopped and I didn’t have to play Frogger as I cross the street, but I know why they don’t. Ok, fine: I know why we don’t. It’s a million degrees outside and only a stupidly tiny fraction of a percentage of our population ever goes anywhere on foot, other than directly to their car.  Truth be told, it’s not that those in cars don’t care about those walking; it’s that pedestrians are an endangered species in North Texas.

You know how in most states cars slowly circle parking lots burning half a tank of gas in hopes of getting a space as close as humanly possible to the front door without actually parking inside? Well that only holds true in Dallas during the winter and the five minutes of spring and five minutes of fall that we get. The rest of the hot-as-hell year, those front row spaces are empty and we duke it out for anything under a tree. You’d think bird droppings would be an issue, but not so much. I’m fairly certain birds keep pushing south until they find a godforsaken breeze. Either that or they are so dehydrated that any droppings either bounce or disintegrate mid air.

And where are drivers going? Anywhere with major air conditioning and commercial insulation: mostly malls, movie theaters, and restaurants. Yes, yes, yes, I know! In California, perfectly tan thin people walk around the eighty-degree outdoor mall decorated with palm trees and edible organic walkways singing “Kum Bay Ya” and achieving enlightenment. Well, here we walk around an enclosed mall and get nachos, warm salty pretzels, and lots and lots of over-sweetened, fatty Starbucks drinks as we try not to freeze to death. Why our commercial indoor spaces have to be fifty degrees cooler than it is outside, I’ll never know.

Still, it gives us options. We can either bike everywhere—like I hear they do in California—and fry. We can also hang out by the spectacularly un-refreshing bath-warm pools or shade-less lakes and fry there instead. Alternatively, we can opt for catching pneumonia in the mall or bundle up mid summer and go to the movies.

Notice how none of those things require the use of a crosswalk! Here’s a news flash: In Texas it’s hot. We bitch about it all the time. The only thing that we care less about than heaters in June is what the hell they do in California.

If there’s a surefire way for a newcomer to never fit in in Texas, it’s to negatively compare our home to theirs. I guess some have a misguided hope for a self-deprecating response whereby we bag on ourselves and they bask in their conceit. They must think we’re from New York.

Now, I can’t speak for everyone in the state, but I like Texas. I even live here on purpose! So when I’m forced to hear a battery of criticisms that start and end with in California a jillion times, it inspires me to reform our “inferior” local behavior by dialing 311, the non-emergency police line, and reporting my smug-pug neighbor… a lot.

What a great North Texas activity! And it doesn’t require dealing with the heat. Would it really be bearing false witness against the new self-righteous neighbor to report his every sin—as I’m sure he must dutifully do in California? I mean, maybe the scruffy tubby misfit from the west coast (probably in fact tossed out by California) doesn’t consider that he’s being too loud or too disruptive or that his car is parked incorrectly or his porch too dirty or his particular hello waves creepy. Maybe his behavior is quite normal in his estimation. But then again, how in tarnation would he know what is and isn’t normal ‘round here? I’m mean after all… he’s no longer in California.


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