Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Oh, the irony

Dear Crom has a suggestion:

You should spend some time in Texas. Although - Austin does not count. Austin is a singular island of incongruous foppery in an ocean of normalcy. The denizens of Austin walk around in a constant state of high-iron terror that someone somewhere in New York might believe them to be backwoods hicks.

Once outside of Austin, you might be amazed to find people of culture, intelligence and taste here, albeit with a fierce independent streak. You might not be amazed to find an overwhelming dearth of high-voiced men in dresses desperate to get in touch with their feminine side.

Remember, brainpower is not geographically based, and be prepared to be astonished at the sharp intelligence in those bright blue eyes underneath that Stetson.

Well, Crom, now, bless yer heart.

Pretty Lady never ceases to wonder about the seemingly labyrinthine and mysterious, but somehow surprisingly symmetrical, patterns ordained by Fate. About once every six months she stays up until 2 AM, Googling every person she can ever remember meeting, just to find out What Happened.

What she finds, surprisingly, is that Intention is Everything. If her batshit-crazy co-collaborator in a quixotic artistic enterprise told her, in 1992, "We're going to be Really Famous," results of the Google search in the year 2000 seem to indicate that this person is, indeed, really famous, within the confines of her own particular esoteric community. If her friend Richard said, in 1985, "I'm going to be a philosophy professor. I'll probably have to live somewhere like Indiana, because tenured positions are hard to come by," lo and behold, search results indicate that he ended up philosophizing in Indiana. Head of the department, no less.

By the same token, those who had no direction, no goals, and no ambitions (wishful thinking does not count) have, seemingly, gone nowhere. Either Pretty Lady cannot track them down at all, or she hears via the grapevine that they are still working their nowhere job in their nowhere town, whining habitually.

What does this have to do with Texas? You may well ask.

Crom, Pretty Lady has a confession to make. All that stuff in her profile is a clever ruse. It is an attempt, however whimsical, to escape the inexorable dictates of Fate. It is Fanciful Fiction, with just enough truth thrown in to make it plausible. The fact is, Crom, Pretty Lady knows Texas like the back of her hand. She grew up there.

Yes, Pretty Lady is intimately familiar with the temperament, habits, virtues, and limitations of the native Texan. She has driven down I-35 at 3 AM, drunk off her ass, wearing one contact lense and holding a large unwieldy object tenuously strapped to the roof of her car with one hand, operating the stick shift with the other. She habitually checks her shoes for scorpions, and her picnic spot for fire ants. She has spent the night in ranch houses with forty-three animal heads festooning the walls, and firearms strapped to the undersides of all the tables. She has trolled the antique market in Canton, and stolen feather dusters from elite hotels in Dallas. She has waterskiied on Lake Granbury, and raided the town square for salt-water taffy afterward. She knows to watch for the speed trap outside of Cleburne. She has gotten her car stuck in the sand at Padre, engaged in tequila-consumption contests with the Hispanic boys from Corpus, and climbed onto the roof of Liberty Lunch during a Sonic Youth concert. She was shocked, once, when some Bay Area girls asked her to take them two-stepping, and not only did they not know how to two-step--when the Cotton-Eye Joe came on, they didn't know it.

So it seems, Crom, that on some level you have honed in on the ineradicable Texanity of Pretty Lady's soul, and called her bluff.

As with any place where one has endured the tribulations of adolescence, then, Pretty Lady has a love/hate relationship with Texas. She revels, as you say, in the independent-minded, no-nonsense, down-home shrewdness of the native Texan. She flees in horror, however, from the smugly ingenuous materialism of that same native Texan; that smugness betrayed, my darling Crom, by the phrase 'ocean of normalcy' in your opening paragraph.

The defects of Texans can be summed up, indeed, by pointing to that most egregious example of same, our own dear leader, Shrub. (Dubya to the rest of you.) Shrub is not a bad man; he is not even a stupid man. He is merely incapable of imagining that there are persons on the planet who do not think like Dubya. Or he imagines that there are such persons, and that these persons fall into two categories; the Evil, and the Batshit-Crazy.

Therefore if someone presents Shrub with some information that he does not understand, that does not fit into his world view, the immediate and charitable conclusion that he draws is that this person is Batshit-Crazy. Thus his generous, tolerant response to the information provided is to give an easygoing chuckle, crack a deprecating joke, and continue in his courses as though he had not heard. This is how a good Texan treats his batshit-crazy wife, and the ranch continues to function, so why would anyone do otherwise?

As you might have noticed, dear Crom, if you have been paying attention to Pretty Lady's occasional scribblings, she was blessed at birth with a certain quirkiness of personality and temperament--a certain flair, if you will. Additionally, she must confess that whenever she was induced to take one of those foolish and all-but-meaningless things, an intelligence test, her scores tended to fetch up against the extreme end of the bell curve--around 99th percentile or so.

These two factors, combined with voracious literary consumption, kinesthetic creativity, and a delight in pattern recognition and conceptual integration, mean that from a very early age, Pretty Lady has had the tendency to come out with spontaneous, puckish comments that the average Texan does not understand. Pretty Lady is not intending to be difficult; she is not attempting to draw an untoward amount of attention to herself. She is merely being friendly. And when she is friendly, the average Texan treats her like she's batshit-crazy.

This sort of thing inevitably creates despondency. Well she remembers, on innumerable occasions, being the recipient of the Look. That blank, open-mouthed Look that indicates, "Did the chair just speak? No, the chair could not possibly have spoken. I must be going batshit-crazy. I will pretend that nothing happened."

What does a person conclude, when every overture toward friendship on her part is met with such treatment? Naturally, she concludes that she is Not Normal. Pursuant to this discovery, she divines that she must be a Freak. So she moves to the Bay Area, where all the other freaks go; and, being basically a sensible Texan at heart, she finds that she's a freak there, too.

And, wearily, Pretty Lady becomes internationally peripatetic, seeking a place where she is Normal. She has many adventures; she meets many fascinating persons, and accomplishes wondrous things. She eradicates, so she thinks, her ignominous Past.

Only to find that, it seems, you can take the gal outta Texas, but you can't take Texas outta the gal. Pretty Lady has come to accept this; she has even come to be grateful for it. And she quite enjoys her yearly visits home, now.

But she ain't gonna marry no cowboy, no sir--not unless he treats her lak she's sane.


Anonymous said...

After reading the revision, I have to agree that being gifted, artistic and original does not play well in many portions of Texas. My statement about "normalcy" was not smugness, more a recognition of the homogeneity of the rest of Texas v. Austin. The nail that sticks up in a small-town Texas community gets hammered down, and hammers hurt.

I disagree with your implication that all Texan males resemble W. - that would be akin to saying all New York females resemble Hillary Clinton. Conversely, I will say that I agree with your assessment regarding the provincialism found here. However, your complaint at Vox's specifically addressed the lack of masculinity and confused gender gentlemen you encounter at parties. My statements were designed to offer a distinct counterpoint to these men. As it seems, you are more than familiar with folks here and do not prefer them either, for reasons elucidated in your post.

I am indeed somewhat familiar with your "scribblings" and in light of today's revelation I guess I am not terribly surprised to find that you are an expatriate Texan (grin), although I imagine there many other things that you have still to reveal.


Pretty Lady said...

And I am being terribly rude. What part of our fair state do you hail from, Mr. Crom, sir?

Anonymous said...

"Spitting distance" of a full-on flame, that is probably one of the best (and visually unpleasant) double entendres I have seen in a while...

Originally I hail from that Mecca of open-mindedness, the great state of Oklahoma. I live near Houston these days, one of the mindless Borg-esque drones that toil away on the space program. I have been to Austin, and to Sixth Street, however I managed to almost completely scrub my mind of any memories of the evening with a few liters of a powerful alcohol-based cleaner. Outside of the pubs, Austin holds little interest for me.
I certainly enjoy Vox's site, it is one of those rare places where the conversations are actually intelligent and controversial, and Vox likes to start trouble just for the sake of sheer trouble, rare among the blogosphere's intelligentsia.

I am surprised at the lack of reaction from your regulars at today's stunning revelations...


Anonymous said...

HA! I knew I loved you woman! I have the same love hate with Texas and Texans. Being all too female, I like my men, well male. But I am also not fond of pigs, or pig-headedness, and sometimes the macho-ness of Texas males can really get out of hand. I therefore liked Austin - as it reminded me of our fair Lawrence Kansas not a little!

Quick Texas male story; I once stood at a social gathering sponsored by my husband (now ex) and his business, charming all in sight as is required of the corporate wife types. One of the big-wigs there was a rich Texan (yes, there are poor Texans, but not many admit to it). After boring me to tears with how wonderful he was, he finally asked me "and just what do you do with yourself little lady", and I told him my job title (which I won't repeat, but let's just say that it's very impressive sounding). His hand/arm levitated off my shoulder and he quickly tucked tail. Too bad; it might have been fun to repeat all his blathering back to him, in light of my professional ability to cross examine.... LOL.

Anonymous said...

I *knew* you had to be a Southerner of some stripe, lady. If you had a single snobbish bone in your body, I would've bet on old-money Charleston.

Pretty Lady said...

Glad y'all are so pleased. I did wonder how it was that I seemed to be drawing a larger-than-average share of cohorts from the South. We Southern weirdos can suss one another out by the faintest of clues, it seems.

I remember once I was standing in the shoe department of Neiman Marcus in Fort Worth, with my hair dyed blue-black. A young gentleman with a mohawk, perhaps seven years my junior, took a switchback around the shoes and sauntered past in order to murmur, without breaking stride, "Nice hair." The Underground Texas Freaks is a highly inclusive community.

Shrubbery said...

I think this whole cosmopolitan schtick is a ruse PL. I think underneath that elegant veneer lies the soul of a smoldering service wench just crying to break free the shackles of oppression. Just an observation.

Pretty Lady said...

Shrubbery, what on earth is a 'service wench'? I am not familiar with the term.

There is no aristocrat like a grounded aristocrat. We are difficult to kill, and even more difficult to soil.

I have known, Shrubbery, white-trash girls who liked to think of themselves as 'genteel poor'; this sort of thing greatly offends me. Girls who openly talk about 'marrying money' are trash. Girls who openly go through the Salvation Army bin, searching for lined, double-hemmed items in natural-fiber fabrics, are penniless bluebloods. The difference is stark, Shrub.

Bob said...

No surprise, Pretty Lady.

I called your hand a few weeks ago over at Vox's when I opined I was missing something...


Shrubbery said...

Sorry PL, decorum dictates that I post here too, not just in the testosterone rich sanctuary that is VD...

PL, did I ruffle those distinguished feathers? Serving wenches were those barmaids in medieval times who brought the frothy mug of ale to the knights who had just got off a hard day of raping & pillaging. They wore the bustier and frilly dress and blushed when the knights would pat them on the rump. That blush hid revulsion and a certain amount of arousal. That’s PL in a nutshell, she blushes when thumped on the bottom yet she is titillated. Hence the serving wench comment. I still say there’s something salacious smoldering ‘neath that austere veneer.

As for your gun toting brother I’m not worried. I live here in Denver, I’m a fat man in a wheel chair, I’m not hard to spot. But before you send your brother hither armed to the teeth keep in mind several of my closest friends are ex-military and just itching to get in some target practice. Should I post J on my roof or the water tower across the street armed with a .300 Winchester your brother wouldn’t make it within a half mile of my house. In the unlikely event he'd actually run the gauntlet (J does have a tendency to sleep for hours in the mid afternoon heat) I will more than willingly surrender to your brother on my front lawn in full view of my entire neighborhood.

And yes, Colorado is gorgeous this time of year.

p.s. One can be a smoldering sex pot without dallying in that which is white trash heaven.

Pretty Lady said...

I still say there’s something salacious smoldering ‘neath that austere veneer.

Well, is there any reason to assume there wouldn't be? We austere ladies are not stones, after all. We simply don't choose to have our characters loosely Bandied About. Selectivity is paramount.