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  Texas : Features : Humor : Column - "Stumbling Forward"

A Modest Texas Proposal

by John Gosselink
Alfred. E. Newmanlink
Got my presumptuous hat on this week. It's a really good looking hat, with a big ostrich feather sticking out the top and beer bottle caps bent around the rim, and it even makes my head look smaller, which is hard to do. I still can't figure out why this hat didn't make me popular in high school.

And it's a good thing I look sharp because this presumptuousness might get me in trouble. I'm walking on what some people consider sacrosanct ground, the mottos, clichés, and pledges of our fair state. Not to say that they're bad, in questionable taste, of undesirable repute, or served us poorly in the past, it's just the great state of Texas can do better.

Let's start with our official state motto, "The Lone Star State." Do we really want the defining aspect of our state to be a design feature of our flag? That's kind of trivial, isn't it? It's like having your life philosophy being "My favorite color is yellow." Other states have figured this out, thus California's motto isn't "We have a bear on our flag. Oooh, he's scary! RRRR-RRRR." ?

So what would Mr. Presumptuous Hat suggest for a state motto? First of all, what not to do. If you're state suffers from massive self-esteem issues, don't use this as a basis for your motto. Take Oklahoma for example. It's right there on every state license plate, "Oklahoma is O.K." Wow, you must be proud. I'd have loved to have sat in on the chamber of commerce meeting.

"Well, if we have to have a motto, let's try to find something positive in this good for nothing state. As a state, I would say we are pretty mediocre in most areas, fair in some, middling in others. Yep, not much to brag about. I guess were pretty okay if everything works out all right. (sigh) I'm so depressed I just want to go home and suck on an exhaust pipe. Geesh, I've really got to move across the river."

Thus, Oklahoma is O.K.

You also want a motto to make at least a little sense, something Missouri didn't take in to consideration, the "Show Me State." What does that mean? It sounds like the punch line of a bad farmer's daughter / traveling salesman joke. For some reason, when I see their plates, it seems like an accusation. "Yo, Missouri boy, what do I have to prove to you? Hunh? You want me to show you something? Oh, I'll show you alright, show you a lone star fist!"

See how that last threat just doesn't work as well as it could?

So I say we go with what makes us great, "Texas, the Cool Dude and Hot Chick state." I mean, that's what we are, isn't it? 22 million really cool dudes and incredibly hot chicks living large in the big T-X. Except for maybe this one couple I saw at the Wal-mart, but we'll say they're our nerdy friends we let hang out with us for laughs.

Instantly, our new state motto gives me the credibility I so longed for in high school. That's the beauty; we're all in the cool crowd now! Except, of course, those losers I saw at the Wal-mart.

Moving on, we really need to nix this "everything is bigger in Texas" thing. It's killing my diet. Sometimes I just want a regular sized sandwich, but if you walk into a restaurant and don't get a "Texas sized" sandwich consisting of a side of cow, wheel of cheese, and loaf of bread, the lady looks at you like you're pathetic, or even worse, Oklahoman.

So can we be "Texas, the state of moderate portions with the occasional splurge, though bigger in the important things, if you know what we mean, snicker-snicker."? We can actually lose that last part. I don't think I could say it without getting the giggles.

Then there is our State of Texas Pledge of Allegiance. Our elected officials down the road in Austin have decreed that Texas school children must start their day with not only the U.S. Pledge, but the Texas one also. Seeing that I voluntarily signed on for this teaching gig and the folks making this decision are my ultimate bosses, I faithfully follow their directive. Just not sure why.

I can't figure out when my US pledge doesn't cover all situations. If, say, Belize, decides to try and invade us, I'm so on the US side it's not even funny. I'd be all, "look out Belizeans, here comes some cool guy / hot chick American fists all over your faces."

So exactly in what situation does the Texas pledge supersede the US one?

If North Dakota starts looking at as funny, am I supposed to kick some "Flickertail State" butt (there's another horrible state motto)? If we have a water rights dispute with Louisiana, do I get to legally shoot some Pelican Staters? (Does anyone have a cool state motto?)

Some how, I'm thinking the feds would get involved.

On the other hand, if we're going to insist on all of this lower level pledge thing, I'm going to run with it. After we pledge to the U.S. and Texas, I'm going to write pledges for Central Texas, Bastrop County, Bastrop and Smithville, the street my school is on, our building, our hall, my room, and then possibly my desk, "I pledge to honor Mr. G's desk above all other desks and not put gum under it." Each with accompanying and unique hand gestures.

By the time we get through all the pledges, it'll be time for me to go to lunch. Plus, after securing all of the pledges to my desk from the children, I'll go power mad, join the Belizeans, and try to take over the Republic.

That'll show those mean cool kids in high school who made fun of my hat.

© John Gosselink
May 19, 2004
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