Thursday, May 01, 2008

Spooks and Kooks

About twelve years ago, I was in NYC in my friend Ross's apartment when a story about a poltergeist came on the television. The story, as it was told by the reporter, was about a bunch of nuts and their crazy claims of ghosts. As we watched a woman face the camera and tearfully recount how things had flown across the room and how the house had yelled mean things at them, the reporter told us that this was all happening in a little town in Texas.

Ross turned to me and said, "I just hate when things like that happen and they're from Texas." I do too. Too many crazy stories come out of Texas. I mean, being a native Texan, I love the it's got this bigger than life reputation, but too often, it's the crazy stories that make the news.

When a woman methodically killed all five of her children by drowning them in the bathtub, where was she from? Texas. When a polygamist sect with more than 400 children of questionable parentage is discovered, where were they based? Texas. When a man is appointed to the highest office in the land and seven years later is considered by many people to be the worst president in the history of the United States, where is he from? Texas.

Actually, George W. Bush was not born in Texas. He was born in Connecticut and moved there when he was around two. That's called a "naturalized" Texan and I was told by several of my elementary school teachers that there's a big difference between a native Texan and a naturalized Texan.

So when I saw on television that a man had been discovered to have hidden his daughter in his basement for 24 years and fathered seven children with her, my first thought was, Oh God, please don't let him be from Texas. My prayers were answered. Poor Austria. Apparently they're feeling the shame from this whole situation. They'll get over it. I've been dealing with this whole GWB situation for seven years. If I've said, "He wasn't born there" once, I've said it a hundred times. The problem with that story is that it just keeps getting worse and worse. I think the horror of the current presidency has peeked.

The nice thing is that there are many sort of fabulous people who are from Texas. Farah Fawcett, Tommy Tune, Joan Crawford, Janis Joplin, Lyle Lovett and Steve Martin are/were all from Texas. I've always said it's a great place to be from. I don't want to live there again, but it's nice to need to go back there once in a while to see my family. When people talk about visiting the US, I always think of Texas as sort of miss-able. There are some interesting things to see, but there's a lot of space between here and there and when you're on a time budget, that's sort of a problem. Just see the movies and listen to the stories. Only visit if you have someone to see.

Texas also has really good barbecue and the people are generally genuinely friendly. It's a nutty place, but probably not any nuttier than Nebraska or Iowa or Florida when you get down to it. It's just a specific kind of nuttiness and people remember it because it's big - four and a half times the size of the Netherlands. People may not have heard of all fifty states, but they've usually heard of Texas.

Maybe I'm just sensitive to the whole Texas-crazy thing. (I was also really glad that he wasn't from Holland.) Pray for Austria. They're not used to being pointed and stared at. I think that whole story is going to make a great story years from now when one of those kids decides to write a book and tell everything. (Not to mention the crazy Mormon cult.) But for now, I think I've heard enough about it.


Mel said...

You forgot Ann Richards. I miss her.

And of course, Texas doesn't have a lock on infanticide. Remember Susan Smith? The one who drove her car into the lake to drown her kids? That was in South Carolina - my native state. And she wasn't even a crazy person hearing voices.

Anonymous said...

I feel like Georgia gets a pretty bum rap too. Whenever there's people marrying their cousins or having sex with their sister (in TV shows) it is ALWAYS in Georgia (thanks CSI and Nip/Tuck).

Grace said...

Connecticut has had its problems, ask ex governor John Rowland and a few others, and G W can't escape either he was born there too

I felt bad about the Austria thing, I love that country, even though its been 38 years since I was there---good times great memories