Photo: Mauricio Pastor
1. You wore a giant mum to Homecoming.
They’re not just big corsages. They’re like nothing you’ve ever seen.
Weeks, perhaps months, before your high school’s homecoming game, local craft stores and florists start stocking up on Homecoming Mum supplies. Made of flowers, streamers, bells, garlands, more streamers, and anything else you can find in your school colors, these mums are only acceptable if they cover at least half of your body. If ever there was a human version of a peacock, this is it.
2. Some of your teachers didn’t assign homework on Wednesdays.
Because, you know, church. Lots of youth groups meet on Wednesday evenings, so many teachers plan their homework assignments accordingly. #GodAndFootball
3. The four food groups that matter are sirloin, T-bone, rib-eye, and chicken-fried.
The Beef Council ran ads in the ’90s featuring sexy-voiced Robert Mitchum proclaiming to the rest of the country what we all knew as gospel: “Beef. It’s what’s for dinner.”
4. You call June 19 “Juneteenth.”
Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which freed slaves across the US, became effective on January 1, 1863. Unfortunately, no one told Texas. It wasn’t until June 19, 1865 — two-and-a-half years later — when Major General Gordon Granger landed in Galveston with his Union soldiers, that news spread that the war was over and the slaves were freed.
I can imagine a lot of people were thrilled with the news, though also a little pissed to be the last ones to find out. Juneteenth is now a state holiday.
5. You learned the Cotton-Eyed Joe and the Texas Two-Step in junior-high phys ed and Texas history classes.
Our school went a step further and had a performance at a local ranching heritage center, where members of the public came and watched us perform. I like to remember it like a Hayley Mills movie.
6. You think all the other states’ flags look alike.
Seriously, with the exception of New Mexico, aren’t they all blue fields with some kind of seal in the middle? You also know by heart the pledge to the Texas flag.
7. You have a jar of pickled okra in your fridge.
Okra preparations in order of importance: fried, pickled, and fried next to a serving of chicken-fried steak. Once a year we put it in gumbo, but only when we’re “cooking international” for Mardi Gras.
8. You know there are several types of tortillas.
When I married my husband, he was under the impression that a tortilla was a tortilla. No, my poor, sweet, unfortunate man-who-was-born-in-one-of-the-middle-states. There are flour and corn tortillas, and the corn come in white or yellow. The flour ones come in different sizes. The whole-wheat ones are for health nuts, and the “wraps” are for weirdos on the East Coast.
9. You know how to put a horny toad to sleep.
Every Texan child raised in the ’70s and ’80s knew that if you caught a horny toad (also called a horned toad) and rubbed its belly, it’d fall asleep. Actually, sleep might not be the medical term. Fear-induced coma might be more appropriate. Still, good times!
(Unfortunately, this is a skill young Texans aren’t learning because of dwindling horned-toad populations. Find out about that here.)
10. You’ve experienced spontaneous applause erupt because it started raining.
With an average annual rainfall of 19 inches, we get a little excited when free water falls from the sky. I’ve witnessed strangers in a grocery store collectively begin cheering and clapping when rain began to fall. You go, God!
11. Chances are good you’re used to climbing up into your vehicle.
Ever seen a cowboy in a Prius? Me neither.
12. When ordering a soft drink you ask for a “Coke,” then wait for the server to ask which kind.
Dr. Pepper, Sprite, or Pepsi — whatever kind of soft drink you want, it’s called a Coke. Chances are good, too, it’ll be no smaller than 147oz.
13. You find yourself earnestly repeating Texas Tourism Board and Highway Department slogans.
Such as: “Texas, It’s Like a Whole Other Country,” “Don’t Mess With Texas,” and of course, “Everything’s Bigger in Texas.”
Because they’re true.
14. You’ve made at least one craft out of a cotton boll.
The hard, dried leaves of a cotton boll make perfect crafting materials. In my house alone, I have angel Christmas-tree ornaments, a wreath, and a full nativity set.