Texas Bred: 20 Bizarre Things About Growing Up In San Antonio
Although we don't ride horses to work or shoot guns in preschool, there are still plenty of bizarre aspects of growing up in Texas — San Antonio, specifically.
Texas is famous for its barbecue, right wing politics and unbeatable hospitality, but perhaps most impressive about the Lone Star state is its ability to make you think every weird aspect of its culture is "normal."
It wasn't until I moved to upstate New York for college that I realized most things I grew accustomed to in my Texan childhood were considered weird by literally everyone else around the US.
Below is a list of the top 20 weirdest things about growing up in San Antonio:
1. Our obsession with the Spurs
Given the recent championship win, I have to start with our beloved Spurs. Members of Gen-Y grew up with The Big Three (Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili), so each championship win feels particularly special to us.
We also remember the first championship win in 1999, complete with The Admiral (David Robinson) himself.
Spurs fans are a unique and devoted bunch. Our team may have the reputation of being the good guys or, according to Miami fans, "boring," but there's no doubt we have the BEST guys in the league. If nothing else, our five shiny trophies are proof of that.
2. Spurs players have meet and greets at IHOP
I'm not sure why, but the International House of Pancakes serves as a great location for introducing new players to the public. Don't be fooled, however; the lines for these events spill out to the parking lot and wrap around the building.
I still remember going to meet Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker with my dad when they first started out. I even have a snapshot of Parker and me during my awkward phase… I'll cherish that baby forever.
3. Tacos are recommended as a healthy and balanced breakfast
It's no secret that San Antonians devour breakfast tacos, but they are also recommended to us as a great start to our day.
In high school, when we had standardized testing days, my principal bought the entire school bean and cheese tacos to ensure everyone would be "focused and alert" on the tests.
This is definitely something I never thought of as weird until I moved to the Northeast and was introduced to the concept of yogurt and granola, or you know, anything besides tacos.
4. Our vegetables are always fried
Staying on the topic of food, I never saw okra that wasn't fried until I came to New York. I remember being at the dining hall, seeing a huge pot of mushy green balls and turning to my friend to ask what the f*ck they were. She looked at me as if I was the alien and explained that it was okra.
Up until that point, I had never seen okra that wasn't fried. Fried okra is a common side dish found in Texas at restaurants, and it is definitely my go-to when french fries aren't available.
Being unable to identify un-fried okra definitely showed me how alien to the real world growing up in San Antonio made me.
5. We took field trips to Selena's hometown
Literally. The point of the field trip was merely to see the bronze statue that depicts the late Tejano singer and pay homage to our queen. Visiting the Corpus Christi aquarium was the far lesser priority item on the itinerary.
Aren't field trips supposed to be educational? Not for us; San Antonians are a spiritual and passionate bunch.
Selena shrines are all over the city, from huge painted murals to photographs adorned with flowers in Mexican restaurants.
Rest in peace, Princessa.
6. George Strait
Also on field trips, which were generally headed in the downtown direction, our teacher always pointed out George Strait's mansion, located in the heart of the countdown city.
Apparently, it is a brownish house located at the top of a hill.
We all poked our little heads out the bus windows in awe and made sure to tell our parents about it later.
7. Fast food is everywhere
When people ask me to describe what San Antonio is like, I usually tell them to picture a street with every fast food joint you've ever heard of lining the road.
Then, I tell them to turn the imaginary corner on which they are driving to see repeats.
8. We pass the time by eating
After my best friend and I turned 16 and could finally drive, we spent countless hours eating at the Sonic drive-in, even if we weren't hungry. There was simply nothing else to do.
It got so excessive that my parents literally bought me Sonic gift cards for Christmas (which I thought was the best gift in the entire world).
9. Guns are part of our culture
Of course, I have to address gun culture. This is such a weird issue in Texas, one that I have definitely struggled to understand and form a solid opinion.
Guns are so engrained into our everyday lives that we grow up perceiving them as normal.
A few Christmases ago when I came home for the holiday, I saw a used car commercial and was completely shocked by it. It featured a regular car salesman holding a rifle and pointing it at the cars.
Each time he shot a bullet at a windshield, the price changed dramatically to show you the new sale price.
I was outraged and turned to my mom, who couldn't understand why I was freaking out over it. The extremely violent commercial isn't a big deal to Texans; guns are just part of who we are.
10. We don't give a sh*t about hockey
Maybe it's because the warm weather doesn't lend itself to making us care for cold-weather sports; regardless, San Antonians couldn't care less about hockey.
Why pay attention to dumb boys skating around the ice when we have The Admiral and The Iceman to thank for our Spurs legacy?
I recently went to a Philadelphia Flyers game in Philly and the only thing I took away from it was that people from Philly are insane. I don't see how it's allowed for players to fight each other during the game. I still hope all of that blood is fake.
11. We drive to the corner store
In San Antonio, we don't walk ANYWHERE. If we need eggs and the store is located less than a quarter mile near our house, we will still drive there. Walking is for people who don't suffer through 103-degree summers, thank you very much.
12. We don't own rain boots or coats
Since we don't walk anywhere, we definitely don't need these odd and unnecessary accessories. Sure, we have winters, but it never snows and it will maybe get down to 30 degrees. Still, an average winter of 40 degrees means our light jackets will keep us warm. I didn't see snow until I went to college.
13. We crack eggs over our grandmothers' heads
Yes, you read that correctly. During Easter, all San Antonians celebrate with cascarones, or for the white folks, "confetti eggs."
Growing up, in the weeks leading up to Easter, I watched my mom crack our breakfast eggs carefully by making a small hole at the bottom of the egg. She would then rinse them out and let them air dry on a special cascarone rack.
Sure, you can buy cascarones at the store, but that's just not as authentic. Come Easter, you celebrate with your family by decorating and then breaking eggs over your relatives' heads. Grandma's a Texan! She can handle it.
14. We have to travel to see our favorite bands
Unless your favorite "band" is, of course, Miley Cyrus. Now, I didn't find out about the White Rabbit venue until I was much older, but in my younger years, seeing your favorite bands meant traveling to other cities or even out of state because the taste is very limited in San Antonio.
In high school, my sister took a trip to St. Louis to see her favorite band, Interpol. Maybe times have changed, but back then it was hard to be #emo.
15. Lunch with your girlfriends meant fried chicken dates
During senior year of high school, when we were finally allowed to go off campus for lunch, my friends and I would flock to the nearest taco joint, pizza place or fried chicken hut. No, I promise, we weren't obese; we merely understood that a San Antonio girl must eat a hearty meal!
When I arrived in college, girls were all about sushi dates, and even with my 18-year-old, mature palette, I f*cking hated it. Sushi is an appetizer at best. I'm literally always hungry right after I eat it; I just don't understand.
16. Texas Pride Day
No matter where you're from, you know Texans have pride in their DNA. In elementary school, we even had a whole day set aside for “Texas Pride Day.”
It was basically a free day from school.
Everyone dressed up as cowboys and cowgirls and we went to different stations around the school where we would play country bingo, listen to lectures from soap makers and dairy farmers (thrilling!) and of course, listen to a bumpin' concert from the 40-year-old banjo duo, The Ledbetters.
I can remember to this day, listening to the quilt makers speak and wondering how much longer until lunchtime. But, who cares? #Texasforever
17. We say a Texas pledge in school
I can still remember it: "Honor the Texas flag, I pledge allegiance to thee. Texas, one and indivisible."
In elementary, middle and high school, we said this pledge every morning with our hands over our hearts.
Tell us again we aren't the best country -- ahem, state -- in the world?
18. We were forced to pray
In public high school, I was a member of the dance team, which not only meant practicing every morning from 7 am to 9:45 am (it ran into first period), but also that before each performance, we were required to chant a team prayer together. I remember this one, too, if you're interested:
"Lord I want to dance with you tonight, may all my leaps and turns be right. Let's dance across the floor together, and I will cherish this moment forever. Amen."
Okay, what the actual f*ck? We aren't like the folks of LA, where scientology and Kabbalah is thrown into the mix. Texans are God-fearing, gun-toting WARRIORS. A team that prays together stays together, right? I just don't know.
19. It's hard to achieve independence away from our parents
New York City kids probably had their lone trips on the subway memorized by 12 years old, but my first allowance of "independence" was going to the movies alone in 8th grade.
Even then, it meant I was still picked up and dropped of by my mom or dad. So, it was important to garner as many experiences from these unsupervised times as possible. Extra points if you penciled in a makeout sesh. (Hi, Bryan!)
20. We celebrate our independence from Mexico, but nearly 40 percent of the state is Hispanic
Of course, Hispanic includes more than just Mexicans, but regardless, Texas pride trumps Mexican pride because it just does. We've all been to the Alamo and seen its many film adaptations in school (hey, Dennis Quaid!) and there's no question that we all cheer on Texas in unison.
But perhaps the most bizarre thing of all about Texas is its ability to make us think that all of the above 20 things are completely normal. Bravo, Texas.
Despite it all, I wake up every morning craving your bean and cheesies and still bless Selena in my nightly prayers.
God bless Texas.
Photo Courtesy: Jay Janner/Austin-American Statesman