Mediation: Messin' With Texas

Monday, February 02, 2009

The responses to the Normal Mormon Mediation post a few days ago is one of the reasons I enjoy having this blog so much. You guys really came through with some deep yet whimsical examples of disputes that you would like to have resolved. Your creativity was inspiring. Plus, hearing about the issues that some of you are facing reminded me that my life is way, way, way easier than 98% of the population. Thank you for helping me count my many blessings.

The first dispute that I am going to settle was posted by a reader named Ann, who said the following:

"Our dilemma is thus: Is Texas considered part of the South or part of the West? Everyone from the West says Texas is in the South while everyone from the South says Texas is in the West. Please help settle this argument. (Saying that Texas is an entity unto itself is a cop out and unsatisfactory.) We would appreciate your input as an objective nonparticipant who grew up in the West, but resides in the South."

When I initially read about Ann's dilemma, I immediately jumped to the conclusion that Texas was in the west. But then the Normal Mormon Wife and I went out to dinner on Saturday night and we debated this topic for quite some time. The NMW, who has much more common sense than I do (she beats me by a 16:1 ratio - I've researched this topic on many occasions), made a convincing case that Texas is actually part of the south. When the NMW and I have differing opinions on a topic that requires common sense, basic life skills, or finding food items in the pantry, I feel like former American Idol Kelly Pickler while the NMW normally plays the part of Nathan (the 5th Grader) in the clip below:

By the way, Kelly Pickler is a product of the North Carolina public education system. I just unilaterally decided to start saving up for private school for our kids...

Anyway, my point to the NMW was that Texas is in the west because I have a mental picture of Texas as being a rugged, deserty, lawless, rootin' tootin', saloon buildin', country music singin', Ford pickup drivin', longhorn cattle stealin', tin-star sherrif wearin' part of the wild west. When I think of the south, I have images of Cajun folk sitting on the edge of the swamp cooking up jambalaya and trying to avoid getting eaten by alligators. Not to paint with too broad or too demeaning of a brush, but I think of Adam Sandler and his mama in The Waterboy when I think of the south, medulla oblongottas and all.

The NMW focused most of her argument about Texas being part of the south on the fact that all southerners have one thing in common - an accent. And Texans definitely have accents. Since the NMW and I were both pretty sure about the stances we had taken we decided to call the NMW's mom (my mother-in-law) to get her opinion since she was born and raised in Texas. To my horror, the Normal Mormon Mother-in-Law agreed with the NMW that Texas is part of the south! My mother-in-law is a very smart, practical person and was quick to point out that her opinion represented just one of millions of opinions that Texans would have on the matter. After hearing the opinions of two very smart, intelligent, logical women, I started to waver and thought that I should change my opinion. But then I considered one more item that left me with the gumption to declare without hesitancy:


(Oh, gosh. I just publicly disagreed with my wife and my mother-in-law. Maybe they won't read my blog for a day or two...)

The logic that Texas is part of the west is as simple as it is sound - just look at the names of their professional sports teams:

1) Dallas COWBOYS (NFL)
2) San Antonio SPURS (NBA)
4) Texas RANGERS (MLB)

Cowboys + Spurs + Mavericks + Rangers = West. No doubt about it. This is conclusive. If Texas were part of the south, their team names would have been something like this:

1) Dallas Opossums (NFL)
2) San Antonio Yes Ma'ams (NBA)
3) Dallas Gravy Biscuits (NBA)
4) Texas Bible Thumpers (MLB)

The other professional sports teams in Texas have to do with the space program - Houston Rockets (NBA), Houston Astros (MLB) and the Dallas Stars (NHL - which is a little-known sports league that plays hockey, allegedly.) So by using the sports teams as the indicator of geography criteria, if Texas is not part of the west then it is part of the moon. The south comes in a distant third place.

Ann, this should settle your dispute once and for all. Texas is definitely part of the west. I would really like to hear the opinions of you readers out there to see if I was right to stand my ground or if I should have listened to the NMW and NMM-i-L. You can post your comments to agree or disagree and also vote in the poll on the right. If 75% of you disagree with me in the poll I will officially change my stance, issue an apology to Texans everywhere, and admit that my wife and mother-in-law were right.

Like I said, the NMW is right on a 16:1 ration on common sense stuff like this. I just hope today is that lucky one time I get every once in a while.

I've gotta be right on this one, though. I mean, whose ever heard of the Dallas Gravy Biscuits?

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Danielle said...

Since I live here, but was raised in WVC, I think I should comment. But let me say that before living here, I would have thought Texas was in the south as well.

When you enter the city of Fort Worth (at least from the east), the signs say "Fort Worth, where the west begins." So that pretty much puts every other argument to rest (but I really like the examples you listed).

9:18 PM
Carolyn said...

I think people in Texas would say that they don't have Southern accents, they have Texas accents. They're similar but different. My vote is that Texas is a western state. The cut off for west and south being right on the border of Texas and Louisiana.

3:26 AM
Charlotte said...

Could it be both? Kind of like Russia is part of both Europe and Asia...

5:38 AM
MarKay said...

I have had this same kind of debate with my husband since we moved to Tennessee. I never would have considered Tennessee part of the South (I would've said the East) but everyone here is dead set that they are "Southern". So I just say we're in the South-East and we both win. So just say South-West and everyone will be happy.

BTW- great blog!

6:13 AM
K8E said...

As a person raised in Texas I have to say that we're part of the South. If you check the history books you'll find that we were part of the Confederate States of America. You don't get much more southern than that! Also, Wikipedia lists Texas as "south central".

6:34 AM

That's a really hard question, but I always considered it part of the west. It was part of the Confederate states- but so was Oklahoma and Missouri and I would not consider those Southern. So while it technically may be part of the South, it's a stretch for me simply because there are no trees or swarms of mosquitoes or suffocating humidity (for the most part). And the accents are not southern (and the fact that someone has an accent does not make them southern- you westerners have definite accents too, along with the midwest and the northeast)

7:00 AM

As a native New Mexican (and therefore a sworn enemy of Texas) I would have to say Texas is a Republic all of its own and not a part of the United States (or at least that's the way it should be especially since that's what they want.) It was a trick question you see :)

On a more logical view I have to go with what Danielle said. East of Fort Worth (this would include Dallas & Houston) Texas is in the South. West Texas is, well, in the West as is oil country. If you have ever been to El Paso, they don't have a Texas or a Southern Accent, they have a Hispanic or Mexican accent. In the western part of the state they ranch and eat rattlesnakes and stuff (definitely western activities). In the south they have humidity and eat crawfish and shrimp and stuff (southern activities).

7:24 AM
Sandy said...

I'm still laughing at the Kelly Pickler video. Wow. Just wow.

7:27 AM
Anonymous said...

Wait, is France a country?

8:31 AM
Doc said...

Texas is the only state that was once its own sovereign country, so Texas simply cannot be agglomerated to any other region. Texas is Texas, with its lone star, red and white stripe, destined to rise again if those crazy people ever get their way. I think you should need a passport to travel there, or to California, but that is another story.

8:45 AM
Amber said...

I think it's great you were brave enough (or maybe stupid enough?) to utter your own opinion despite the consequences to your relationships with NMW and NMM-I-L. I'm pretty sure they'll forgive you. I thought your reasons were actually quite logical.

In response to MarKay - Tennessee is the Mid-South. I used to live in Memphis and worked at The United Way of the MIDSOUTH.

Gotta love that Kelly Pickler.

8:48 AM
Sarah said...

those of us who live here don't even know-- I grew up in Idaho and would consider that the West, I now reside in Texas and would consider it the South-- I also taught Geography and thought you might like this little tidbit of info:

A region is the basic unit of study in geography. A region is an area that displays a coherent unity in terms of the government, language, or possibly the landform or situation. Regions are human constructs that can be mapped and analyzed.

There are three basic types of regions.

Formal regions are those defined by governmental or administrative boundaries (i. e., United States, Birmingham, Brazil). These regional boundaries are not open to dispute, therefore physical regions fall under this category (i. e., The Rockies, the Great Lakes States).

Functional regions are those defined by a function (i. e., TVA, United Airlines Service area or a newspaper service area). If the function ceases to exists, the region no longer exists.

Vernacular regions are those loosely defined by people's perception (i. e., The South, The Middle East).

So as you can see The South falls under a vernacular region and is only defined by ones perception :D So it is The South and The West, depending on who you talk to-- Sorry Ann, but this is your non answer :D

9:04 AM
WhiteEyebrows said...

Really, the right answer is: Texas is an Independent Republic and not part of any region.

If I HAD to, I would say TX's personality is more "West" than "South". But we're not gay-west like CA. TX is real west! TX is beef cattle and cowboys (non-brokeback variety), but also has elements of the South: accents, chicken fried steak, and lots of Jesus.

9:35 AM
wonder woman said...

I have to say that I think Texas is more Southern than Western. It may be because of the reality TV I watch, but all the people I see from Texas have that "southern hospitality." The women are well-mannered debutantes. Southerns have a different kind of society than Westerners, and for the most part, Texans are part of the Southern society.

I must also confess that if I were asked this question, I would give the cop-out answer that Texas is its own country.....because it is. It's big and diverse. East TX is Southern, and west TX is Western.

9:36 AM
WhiteEyebrows said...

P.S. Texas' treaty with the US allows the TX flag to be flown level with the American Flag, and for TX to secede from the union at any time.

This alone makes TX an entity unto itself.

9:37 AM
Anonymous said...

I must take issue with your sports team logic, while it is a good indicator...what about the Jazz, Lakers, Bulls, etc.?

Texas must be, and is, a land in and of itself. It is both south and west. We have cowboys and bible thumpers. Maybe the sport's analogy was right, but you just missed the right NFL team: TEXANS.

If you had to pick one, this Texan believes you are right, it would be west. And most of us don't have accents. Don't let your wife get you down.

9:37 AM
bwebster said...

I lived in Houston for two years (1979-81) and in Dallas for a year and a half (1998-99). Ever since my stint in Houston, I have said that Houston combines the worst aspects of Los Angeles, Texas, and the Deep South, all in one flat, sprawling mass. Dallas, on the other hand, was great, and I'd cheerfully move back there or to Austin.

As for the West vs. South question, I think Texas really is sui generis (a fancy Greek phrase meaning "its own damn thing"). Part of the problem is that the state is just so big. While living in Houston, I was startled to discover that El Paso is physically closer to San Diego (my home town) than it is to Houston. Psychologically, the drive through West Texas was even longer, particularly back during the 55 MPH speed limit days. As the old ditty goes, "The sun has riz and the sun has set, and we ain't out of Texas yet." ..bruce..

9:44 AM
Carolyn said...

I did my own personal survey on the matter and everyone said Texas was a southern state. Two of those people actually live in Texas. So I'm going to have to change my vote. Texas is a southern state!!

9:54 AM
Megan said...

Texas is part of the west (although I don't know what the comment about CA being gay-west means...). Maybe we're the fresh & fruity half to TX's rooty-tooty. If you don't get that, it's an IHOP commercial. :)

10:51 AM
Gretchen said...

I live in Austin. Most people seem to say that saying Austin is Texas is like saying Texas is America. True, but deceptive. But I think Texas is the south. I grew up in California, which is kinda the west, but then I lived in other parts of the west. I've always thought of Texas as the south and still do now that I live here. I hate to be contentious, but anyone who says Texas has "no trees or swarms of mosquitoes or suffocating humidity" has only seen west Texas or maybe the Texas of cartoons. A lot of Texas has A LOT more of those than MOST of the West. It's all relative I guess. In the end, I would contend that Texas is full of southerners who happen to cattle ranch, but that doesn't automatically make them westerners.

11:42 AM
Jarv said...

I have thoroughly enjoyed this thread. Texas is such an easy target for comedy.

Hate to break it to all y'all, but this argument is vain...superfluous. The NBA will set this debate to rest.

Houston, Dallas and San Antonio - despite their influential mascots - all play in the Western Conference, but more specifically, in the SOUTHWEST Division.

Done and done.

11:48 AM
Angel Youngblood-Chick TEXAN said...

Well Pardner I am a TEXAN born and bred. We are liveing in TEXAS not the west not the south just TEXAS. to understand this one must live in TEXAS. We enjoy the wonderful delights of Southern Society as well as the Independence of a Westerner. We are unique and darn proud of it.So just call us TEXANS. we have every type of weather as found in all of the other 49 states Frozen panhandle, desert southwest,subtropical beachs in the south,tropicalhumidity,swamps and forest in the southeast, rose gardens and nominal weather in the east, hill counrty weather in the center and of course we have Wichta Falls along the red riverwitch is "Hotter than hell in the summer and colder than the north or south poles in the winter." We were a republic have our own constitution and very well could sucede. It takes more time to drive from Dalhart NWpanhandle to Houston SEborder than from LA to NY. So you can call us any region you want as long as you call us TEXANS. this is of course my humble opinion. I have traveled to every continent except the south pole and still think Texas is the best place to live. OH yea I have lived in NC,CA,UT,GA,ID,IL,NM,OK,KS,NY,ME,OR,WA,NV,AR,AK,LA,and a few other states as well so as an old old TEXAN I still say I love it. Good Blog snd tell the NMW and NMW-L they were as right as you LOL Peace

12:23 PM
Syndee said...

Ok, so here's the opinion of one who lives in Texas but could not care less about this debate, lol. Texas is South, for shore! Yes, it has cowboys and ranches and stuff that you would define as West, but you have to live here to know that it is definitely a Southern State. A Southern State and all that is implied by that name.

3:40 PM
Dead Poet said...

The way my Lousiana born and raised mother taught me was that anything below the Mason-Dixon line was southern, anything above was northern (or yankee) and anything west of that was the west. I found a website with a picture of an 1861 map showing the Mason-Dixon line and "SHOWING THE COMPARATIVE AREA OF THE NORTHERN AND SOUTHERN STATES, EAST OF THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS 1861" Here's the link:

7:50 PM
Sarah Jensen said...
This comment has been removed by the author. 9:36 PM
Daniel said...

The West i say. I live in Oregon and any state that executes as many people as Texas must have olde west hangin judges

9:39 PM
Sarah Jensen said...

Okay, I'm from Northeast Texas. I am Southern. We have trees to where you have to lay in the pasture to see the stars and mosquitoes the size of small birds. The heat and humidity and fire ants are why I now live in Utah.

Ask me, I'm a TEXAN. No matter where I live, and I've been here for 13 years, I'm a TEXAN.

If you go past Ft. Worth, you're more in the West. Texans there make fun of my accent, and yes I still have one. A Southern/Texan accent. Most people, when they hear me talk, know I'm from some southern state, and few even sometimes guess Texas.

Oklahoma and Missouri are both Southern states. I've lived in Oklahoma and they're Southern.

So I'll concede, somewhat bitterly, that East Texas is Southern, and West Texas is Western.

But, NMH, the NMW and NMMIL are more right. Why? Cuz I say so. :)

9:53 PM
Amy Btw M said...

Can't we just classify it as the southwest and call it good?

10:06 PM
T said...

Goooooooo Biscuits!!! (and trust me, I'm always a little confused living in "Utah's Dixie")

7:38 AM
Janan said...

It's South-Central. It's culturally more southern than western. The cajun-defense is lame because it does not apply to most of the south.

7:44 AM
Jenny said...

I'm from the Houston area. I am southern. Texas is both south and west, depending on where in Texas you are. Local wisdom says that anything in Texas east of I-35 is the south. Anything west of I-35 is the west.

2:28 PM
Ann said...
This comment has been removed by the author. 7:57 PM
jennie w. said...

Living in Austin, I would have to say that Texas is more West but with touches of the South. People her are polite and friendly like Southerners, but everything else seems more independent and well, western.

BTW, did you know that Texas is the world's third largest economy. No wonder we consider ourselves our own country.

9:09 PM
Quixotic Healer said...

My husband, when I asked him, informed me that Texas is indeed in the Southwest (not that he's an expert).

Still, I think he's right. That's also where Arizona and New Mexico belong.

10:25 PM
M-O-R-G-A-N-'S said...

I say it's South and my husband thinks South West. To each there own! :o)

10:43 PM
Sarah said...

It's definitely in the south. But your argument was pretty good :)

6:34 AM
Danielle said...

I have to agree with disagreeing with this statement - "no trees or swarms of mosquitoes or suffocating humidity." Really? In Texas? Come on down here, March - September and you'll see.

And I was laughing (politely) at all the true Texans, with the true Texas egos, and their comments. My husband (born and raised in Fort Worth, and that is the first thing he tells people when we go to Utah and he meets new people) is the same way!!! Hahaha!

12:47 PM
Amy's Paradigm said...

I have to say your wife and mother in law were right. I leave the dispute to what I sang as a "patriotic song" when I was young and lived in Texas. Anywhere that has you put your hand over your heart while facing the flag and sing"Dixie". Is the south. I don't care what they name there stupid sports teams. That is about marketing to make people forget that they too lived under the confederate.

Even if you don't agree with me, my respect for you has just fallen by your not standing with your mother in law. FOOLISH!

1:53 PM
Jamie said...

Tennessee is Southern. When I lived in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, I felt Texas was Southern. Living in Georgia now, I feel it's more West. I think it should be a region of its own.
I was born in Albemarle. I'm glad I've escaped.

3:46 PM
Nelson said...

I didn't get to vote but if I did I would have said south. Just look at a map, it is the most southern state in the US (asise from Hawaii). It also fought for the south in the civil war. Plus it is all the southern hospitality.

2:06 PM