Never fear --"once Texas' 'gits inta ya', yew ain't gonna git it out!" I was born with a Texas accent but, like Eliza Doolittle, I was trained to speak with what broadcasters called a 'General American' accent which is most often associated with Chicago and the mid-western states. The Texas accent was, for a while, universally despised, like 'Cockney' was once despised by London's upper classes. Interestingly, the long 'A' is a diphthong in both Texas and Cockney ---'aaaaaeeeee' But even longer in Cockney.
'Kinky' Friedman published a book called 'Texas Etiquette' which includes things that you will NEVER hear a 'real' Texan say. My favorite is: 'The tars (tires) on that truck are tew big!'. Or --'Come to thank (think) of it, ah'll have a Heinecken'. The implication is that NO real Texan would be caught dead drinking anything but a 'long neck'. However, 'real Texans' have been known to drink a Dos Equis or a Carta Blanca. After all, Native Americans and Hispanics were in Texas 'first'. And no one dare say Freddie Fender wasn't all Texan!
Texas does have some colorful expressions. My favorite is 'Turd Floater' to describe a serious flood. 'Road Kill' is any animal unfortunate enough to have been run over by any vehicle on a highway. It is most often a prehistoric-looking beast called the 'Armadillo'. Because they are slow, they will become extinct, a victim of the Texas highway.
Some Texans are 'Existentialist' without realizing it. Jean-Paul Sartre's "A man is nothing else but what he makes of himself' would sound 'in character' coming from a Silver Screen 'cowboy' like John Wayne in 'True Grit' or Gary Cooper, the sheriff in 'High Noon'. While not a Texan nor a cowboy, fashion photographer Richard Avedon had his own version: "You can't expect another man to carry your shit!" I can imagine Eastwood mouthing that line in a Spaghetti western.
It is not uncommon for Americans --Texans included --to remember their roots more vividly abroad. Thomas Wolfe, abroad in 1926, was very nearly overcome by a flood of impressions and memories, some vivid, some only half recalled but felt. The glimpse of an iron railing summoned up a vivid memory of the boardwalk in Atlantic City; freshly mown grass the smell of Watermelon on the 'Fourth of July'. (See: The Story of a Novel, Thomas Wolfe, The Creative Process, Brewster Ghiselin) If Europe is as appalled by American culture as it claims to be, then why does it insist upon importing the very worst that America has to offer? For example, I have yet to see a Ken Burns documentary on the BBC, though I had seen many BBC programs on American TV. Why are these programs not seen on European channels but every sleazy exploitation seems to be sought out and distributed.
I have no quarrel with European critiques of American culture. In fact, in most cases, I share them. I disdain Bush and his stupid, tragic war. But Bush is not, in fact, representative of American values. He is a perversion of them. The same is true for most of the GOP.
At last, there are philosophical Texans. One of them --J. Frank Dobie --was a guest lecturer at Cambridge University during World War II. His 'A Texan In England' recounts his experiences, his travels and the connection that he made with the English themselves. His students asked him: "Do we sound as strange to you as you do to us?"
James Frank Dobie (September 26, 1888–September 18, 1964) was an American folklorist, writer, and newspaper columnist best known for many books depicting the richness and traditions of life in rural Texas during the days of the open range. As a public figure, he was known in his lifetime for his outspoken liberal views against Texas state politics, and for his long personal war against what he saw as bragging Texans, religious prejudice, restraints on individual liberty, and the assault of the mechanized world on the human spirit. He was also instrumental in the saving of the Texas Longhorn breed of cattle from extinction.J. Frank Dobie may have been the first Existentialist Cowboy. When I read Dobie today, I hear my father's voice reading from Coronado's Children (Dallas: The Southwest Press. 1930) by the light of a Kerosene lamp Despite the fact that Dobie was of another generation, I share a certain "base" with him. Dobie wrote about an unspoiled Texas as it very nearly was when I was a child. His sweeping vistas were my sweeping vistas. Dobie wrote about outlaws, cowboys, desperate golddiggers in search of Maximilian's lost gold shipment. His stories of lost Spanish gold became my mythology and I often saw, in the distance across the dusty plain, the very sprawling mesas where Maximilian's Gold might have been buried.
Dobie is provincial, to be sure, but his writing is universal as is his wit, his wisdom, his empathy. And, unlike Connecticut Texans and drug-store cowboys, Dobie was a free-thinker, a liberal, a 'gentleman and a scholar'. Nevertheless, he will remain virtually unknown in Europe. Dobie learned as much or more than his Cambridge students. He said of them: "Three thousand young men, all of whom would rather lose a game than win it unfairly".
A Trip to Big Bend