Singing Pigs & Lone Star Underpants: Why Californians Don’t Like Texans
My daddy used to say that you should never try to teach a pig to sing—it wastes your time and annoys the pig. The same can be said about attempting to tame a redneck—it’s possible, but it’s going to take a lot of time and patience, and someone’s likely to get hurt.
There are many ways to identify a redneck—his pickup costs more than his house (and the pickup usually has better wheels), and more than one person in his family died after hollering, “Hey, y’all, watch this!”
Two questions I’m often asked are: why would any woman who isn’t of the redneck persuasion marry one of these men, and furthermore, why don’t people from other states like Texans?
Not long ago, these questions were posed to a slate of Lone Star literati at Pulpwood Queen Kathy Patrick’s Girlfriend Weekend. The panel included stellar authors Sara Bird, David Marion Wilkinson and Carol Dawson, along with Texas Book Festival Honcho Cyndi Hughes, and by some enormous shift of planetary luck, me.
And while this brain trust of southern bards waxed elegantly on the whys and wherefores as to the bad attitudes toward Texans, the question ended with me, and in my own, simple way, I summed it up in one word: Redneckedness.
Redneckedness is often related to craziness, and Texans take great pride in lapses of sanity. I hear up north they lock their crazy up in the attic. In Texas, we prop them up on the sofa and invite the neighbors over for iced tea.
While rednecks in Texas are by and large not locked up (though they are often incarcerated) they do sometimes roam freely about the rest of the country inflicting their redneckedness on unsuspecting strangers.
It was one such case with my own personal redneck that I used to illustrate the profound affect rednecks have on people outside the state of Texas.
My redneck and I ventured out of the state without a passport but were easily recognizable, due to certain trademark indicators. Texas rednecks are most often identified by their uniform—Wrangler jeans, boots, and some sort of t-shirt in disrepair, topped with a gimme cap proclaiming a slogan for cars, beer, or Tito’s Titty Bar.
Of course, there is also an image of the Texas flag somewhere on their person, and often on their underwear.
I know of no other state where people would wear their flag on thong underwear, or for that matter would want to. But in doing so, Texans can go anywhere in the world with the state flag up their butt.
On this particular occasion, we put ourselves in the hands of my urbane, Northern California stepbrother, Clif, who was our tour guide the civilized world beyond the bounds of Texas.
Knowing my redneck’s propensity for alcohol, Clif thought we’d enjoy a tour of some of the California’s better wineries. I am sure my step brother is still ruing the day.
We wound our way through the verdant, grape-scented wine country to our
destination, where, upon disembarking from Clif’s luxury SUV, my redneck marched through the door of the winery, bellied up to the bar and bellowed, “What’s going to get me the drunkest the fastest?”
The lull of lovely, sophisticated banter shattered like someone dropped a bottle of five-hundred dollar cabernet.
Sighing, I said, “Sadly, he’s not kidding.”
With great trepidation (and scanning the room a Punk’d camera), the sommelier excused himself and went to the anteroom to fetch a bottle of something fortified.
My redneck leaned against the counter, reaching past the cheese salver for a toothpick housed artfully in a shot glass, when one of the innocent bystanders shrieked, “Those are used bamboo skewers!”
He looked at her like she’d wet the carpet. “Used toothpicks? Then why the hell y’all put ‘em out on the bar?”
Saving the day, the sommelier whisked out from behind the swinging doors brandishing a bottle of some wine I am certain none of the genteel patrons had ever seen, and served it along with an empty water glass, presumably to fill my redneck’s mouth and keep him quiet.
At that moment, a slight, elegant man came bursting through the front door yelling, “There’s a snake in the vineyard! There’s a snake in the vineyard and I think it’s a rattlesnake!”
Without missing a beat or a slug of wine, my redneck half-turned, still leaning on the bar and said, “Oh yeah? How big is it?”
The gentle boy raised his hands, indicating about six inches.
My redneck snorted. “Well hell, ya can’t even eat that.”
I took a deep breath, muttering apologies to my stepbrother, hoping he didn’t work with any of these people when a woman approached, brows raised, nose lifted. “You know,” she said, “as a general rule, we Californians don’t really care for you Texans, but I suppose you don’t care for us either.”
My mother raised me right, but even I have my limits. My redneck was being true to himself, and this woman was just being downright rude.
“Well, ma’am, to tell you the truth,” I said, “We don’t have any general rules, and we usually don’t even think about y’all ‘til you start buying up all our property.”
Clif tells me they’re still talking about the time Jethro and Elly Mae went to the winery.
I finished telling the story at Girlfriend Weekend, and people were ‘bout rollin’ on the floor laughing, and Sara Bird leaned over and said, “Honey, you should right this stuff down.”
And so I did. Here are the true life stories of being loving a redneck and living to tell the tale. It’s all the truth, but not the whole truth, on account of those pesky statutes of limitations.