When Life Imitates Pee Wee Herman

This weekend I was in Texas.  This time I knew what to expect.

Due to the fact that Texas truly does love it's military (and also the fact that it's freaking HUGE), bases there abound.  Let's face it, at some time or another - if one stays in the military - you WILL get sent to Texas.  It's like the sunrise and the sunset.  The time might change, but it's still coming.

Hubby and I had our first Texas stationing at Goodfellow AFB in San Angelo.  Wow.  Being a native Californian, I had no idea that there were places in the United States where you had to drive three hours just to get to a town larger than the one you were in.  Especially since the town we were in wasn't very big to start with. 

At the time we were there San Angelo had only one bookstore, and it was a Hastings.  To a bookstore purist, Hastings assortment of books, movies, and music made it a "diet Bookstore".  You know, it doesn't taste as good, but at least it's fizzy and can nominally be called soda.

Since I like to experience wherever we are living, I set out "do" Texas.  I discovered many things in the process.  First, it is not "Iced Tea".  People look at you very funny when you say that.  And when I reached for my tea to put Equal in it, the horror was palpable.  It was a desecration at least on par with spitting on the walls of the Alamo.

Second, you know that scene in Pee Wee's Big Adventure when he tries to prove to Dottie that he's actually in San Antonio?  Pee Wee steps out of the phone book and sings, "The stars at night, are big and bright..."  and all the people on the sidewalk stop, clap, and sing, "Deep in the heart of Texas!"

Yeah, that really happens.  Don't ask me how I know, because to this day my husband is humiliated by that story.  But it happens.

And since we're on the subject of Texas and movie stereotypes, don't forget the scene in Miss Congeniality where Sandra Bullock jumps on a man in the crowd because he "has a gun."  The reply?  "This is Texas, EVERYONE has guns!  My FLORIST has a gun!"

Yep.  I grew up spending summers and school holidays at my Grandparent's working farm.  There were different types of weaponry all over.  My grandfather owned eight squirrel hunting rifles (I'm assuming it's a rifle, it's long, touches your shoulder, and loud noises and bullets come out of one end) alone, not even mentioning his handguns.   I'm a military wife, and my husband's job requires him to carry a sidearm every day!   Even with that background I was taken aback by the all-pervasiveness of the weaponry.   It seems fine to me now, but it did take some getting used to.

San Angelo was our second stationing, and it was the first time in my life I was ever called "ma'am."  And I was called ma'am by a man at least 50 years older than I was at the time, too!  I'll have to admit, that was kind of weird.  But I did get used to it after about a month and a half.

And Texas most definitely has a style all its own.  I made the mistake of calling the decorations on a shirt one woman wore "sparkles". 

"Naw Honey," she did in her best Texan drawl.  "Those thar are rhinestones."  And just so you are forewarned, all Texan women refer to everyone as "Honey" or "Hun".  It is important to understand that at least once during a stationing there, you will refer to someone that way, too - no matter how much you resist, entirely by accident.

And finally, words aren't always said the way you think they should be in Texas.  Let's take Colorado City, for example.  No, that's not how you say it. 

It's pronounced "Col-er-ayda City".  And San Marcos is "Sayin Markis".  Don't even attempt "Sabine River."  Just don't.  If you must make some sort of reference at all, point to it on the map.

Ahhh Texas.  It's definitely a whole different world.  I've heard quite a few people say they didn't like Texas, and I'll be the first to admit our stint in San Antonio wasn't the place where I was most happy.  But Texas is a world where Denny's gives 20% military discounts.  And sometimes - especially after being stationed in a part of California where the military is not a very popular institution -  it just feels good to be somewhere you are wanted.

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