Confessions of a Texas Taunter

TEXAS HATE LINEFor years I’ve sworn my epitaph will read, “…and he never set foot in Texas.”

  • Texas is one of the worst states to be either a child or an old person.
  • Its high school dropout rate makes the Alamo look like the Iwo Jima flag raising.
  • It seems fitting that this Lone Star of illiteracy is represented by a belt-buckle.
  • Gun-loving Texas is ranked last in the country in mental health spending and worst in health services, hospital care, and access to health insurance.
  • Its big #1 in carbon emissions and hazardous waste production is justified with claims of “per-resident emissions.”
  • Texans nearly top the list of most careless, worst drivers in America, but Houston scored 2014’s “Least Courteous” award. #guns
  • What’s not big in Texas? Voter turnoutcivic involvement, and political participation.

It’s a bit nitpicky to add that the average credit score in Texas has been the lowest in the country, because quality of life issues and countrified comedy gold are consequential, not illustrative. So instead, I’ll choose the one thing I’ve most openly mocked Texans for over the years – defending their vulgar bravado with “Don’t judge us ’til you hang with us.”

PLEASE DO NOT MOVE TO CALIFORNIAYeah, right. I’ve vowed, insisted, and taken oaths. I’ve shouted and waved my pious, left-leaning middle finger at the invitation. Too many bibles carried by too many bullies.

Now I can’t even remember which came first, the put downs or the mockery. I was either indignant over some fat-mouth Texan insulting California, or I’d overheard some general purpose redneck reference I found funny. Whoever was first to sneer doesn’t matter. I’ve loathed the Lone Star State for a lifetime, but graduation day has arrived. It’s time to let go of my primary resentment against Texas (its willful ignorance) and go make a friend.

Don’t get me wrong: I’ve enjoyed hating Texas, which I liken to the garish, Frito chip fingernail tips of America. I’ve made my comments about its residents. I’ve been less than courteous to drivers with Texas plates on their cars, and I’ve wished upon the state a period of collective guilt not unlike what Germany experienced when the Allies began their post-war denazification efforts. While I normally pride myself on my interest in other cultures, I’ve made it clear to anyone and everyone that Texas doesn’t count. “It’s an obnoxious state with an accusing, non-progressive stance toward everything” was my common guillotine for the neck of further debate.

John Espinosa Nelson_Where Excuses Go to DieBut I did and said all of these things from a safe, chicken-shit distance where I wouldn’t have to face the possibility of changing my opinion. Now I find I’ve outgrown the need for this particular grudge, and I’ve decided to accept the challenge to my assumptions, my attitudes, and my judgments. Besides, Florida has managed to outshine the Lone Star on almost every single measure of idiocy possible over the last decade, so it’s not like I’m giving up all my easy-targets or excuses.

I’ve been invited to support a friend who is coming out of something I wouldn’t even wish on someone from Dallas: the suicide of a spouse. It’s been almost Texas Child Support Payments By the Slicea year, and my friend has a list. Not the kind one makes after a doctor’s appointment: more like a newfound freedom agenda developed in the aftermath of a lengthy darkness. A “Fuck it List,” you might call it.

Just watching this friend check things off that list has been life affirming, though now that he wants me to accompany him to Texas as part of one of those items, I find myself wishing he wasn’t suddenly so damned outgoing. I’m in, but I make no guarantees that my open-mindedness will extend to inch-thick pancake makeup melting in the Texas sun.

And since this website is intended to also be an extension of the lessons I describe learning throughout Where Excuses Go to Die, I’m sure I’ll continue to make mistakes. Life will go on imperfectly – exactly the conclusion I came to at the end of the book. Despite having grown tremendously during my years in prison and applying that growth to the civilian world, I do keep having opportunities to pick up new knowledge and revise my beliefs, so long as I can get over myself first.

I leave for Texas this week, so stay tuned to learn about the crow I may eat (or the brisket-eating Klansmen I may meet).

Next up:

Just Say NO to Man Bun_Where Excuses Go to Die