So ill be upfront, I have a love affair with Texas, the place is so big its bonkers, “everything is bigger in Texas” is an understatement, the place is soooooooo big, gas station with 100 pumps, check, 26 lane highway, check, seriously, 26 lanes! wtf. If Texas annexed itself from the rest of the United States it would be the 10th largest economy in the world. We are talking BIG.
They are also crazy, but probably not in the way you are thinking, its not the gun laws, its not the amount of Churches, but wow there are a lot, I once got a taxi from Abu Dhabi airport to Dubai and was amazed at the amount of Mosques I saw, that was outdone by the amount of Churches between my father in laws and Target. But it’s the small things, the small but big things, the Trucks, they are huge, they make the Chelsea tractors look like they should pack up and move to the streets of Tokyo. We were heading to a Cowboys game in a taxi and my brother in-law (the one from California) exclaimed “but why have the trucks got to be so big” there was a moments silence and the driver deadpanned “to replace the horse” and that was it, there’s your answer, when your gardener turns up and he has to get rid of the grass from your football size front lawn he needs a truck that can pull a trailer twice as big as the truck.
Driving along the I35, that’s the road from San Antonio to Dallas, a pilgrimage I do ever two years to go watch my adopted Dallas Cowboys, we saw a Truck, one of those Mac trucks, the one that attempts to get Racing McQueen from A-B in the Pixar movies, and, it was on a pole, a pole that looks about the size that would hold a wind turbine, yes, on it, as in on top of it, as in Truck on a stick. Advertising a shop, no complex, that sells Mac trucks, as if the 200 mac trucks’ sitting there isn’t advertising enough for the place, they chucked a truck on a stick for good measure. Yes crazy.
The supermarkets are huge, Wal-Mart, Target, Wholefoods and, my favorite H.E.B, no, not HDB. They are everywhere, in a country that consumes consumes consumes these aircraft hanger size supermarkets are everywhere, actually, that’s a bad analogy, when whoever was designing the B2 bomber, they probably said, “wow, we are going to need something the size of a Texas supermarket to house this thing in”.
Now, Like Sting in New York, I also stick out like a sore thumb in Texas, not by appearance, as physically I fit in well, probably slight svelte compared to the average, they are BIG, but having my dulcet English tones I always receive a big Texan welcome. My favorite instance, which kills two birds with one stone (a term I hear Peta are trying to ban, but that’s for another article) was the time I stopped at Buc’ees, which is a gas station, a gas station with the aforementioned 100 pumps, the place is an institution, you can buy Buc’ees t-shirts, with a beaver on, cups, pillows, if you can print on it, you can buy it. My first time driving past one was all I can say akin to a how space alien nut must imagine it would be driving up to area 51, from about 10 miles away you can see this glow (it was about 4am) and slowly as you are getting closer to this 100 pump monstrosity it almost becomes daylight as you drive by, I know there’s that myth that you can see the great wall of China from space, but you can definitely see Buc’ees. Well, my greatest moment in Buc’ees, using my sophisticated British vocal cords, led to one female cashier grab the male cashier next to her, point at me, then proceed to tell him “that’s what women want.” Now, my wife loves me, but with my 6”4 120kg bald frame imp not sure even she would agree, “I’m what women want. But who knows, its worked for Colin in Love Actually so maybe I should have upped sticks when I was 21 and headed for the Longhorn state. My wife’s American, so I suppose it did work in one way.
Living in Singapore, your closest connection to the Lone Star state (it has many names) would be Texas Chicken, the big Red Yellow and blue sign announcing that even if the chicken is of dubious origin if you chuck enough herbs and bread crumbs on it will taste pretty bloody good. But, you may be interested to know that in Texas, Texas Chicken is called Church Chicken, yup, Church Chicken, now, I do not know, and don’t really care why, maybe its like Chick-fil-A that closes on Sundays due to religious reasons, or maybe there was already a Texas Chicken in Texas, the odds are probably on that one, but when I told my Brother in-law and his father that they were intrigued “its not a knock off?’ “No! Yeah, Church Chicken is a weird name” “they should probably change it to Texas Chicken” “that’s a much better name”. So, it remains a mystery, but I like to think they kill the chickens if not with the same religious fervor of kosher or halal but with the Texas slant to it, en masse.
Back to crazy, did you know that the Norwegians have a saying “Det var helt Texas” which translates as “that is totally Texas” that translates as “that’s crazy”. Which means that one country has taken the name of a state in America to mean “bat shit crazy”, to be fair you could have your pick of states but this definitely helps my narrative.
As I have said, being English in Texas is easy and sometimes heart warming, I had an old lady in Whataburger tell me that she loved Diana, I had a teenager in a shoe shop ask me where I was from and ask me if I needed a passport to get there. I get the “you don’t sound like you are from around here” constantly, which written down hardly takes a sentence but when said you’d have time to boil a kettle. I once got a pair of Longhorns from eBay and attached them to the front of my sons Pram for two weeks, the response was amazing, and always polite, “Gee, would you mind if I took a picture of that”. You get asked about Harry Potter “ yeah, I know him, we went to the same school, bit of a dick”. So, its not the crazy stuff in Texas that makes it Crazy, it the normal stuff, the forecourt with 300 cars, the 4 isles of vitamin supplements, the kids meals that would surpass the daily calorie limit of an adult, that’s the crazy. Oh, and I mentioned to my brother in law that in Singapore, McDonalds delivers, his reply…
“Wow, that’s crazy”