Why Coloradans hate Texans By Molly Ivins Denver Maybe Gracie has the best explanation for it. Grace Lichtenstein was my predecessor out here as Rocky Mountain bureau chief for The New York Times \(the reason we got to be bureau chiefs is on account of there ain’t no one else in and didn’t care for the West worth a pitcher of warm Shiner. She is convinced there is no civilization without bialys, a bialy being a sort of a Brooklyn tortilla. Since she was unencumbered by enthusiasm, ol’ Gracie had some pretty fair insights. Gracie holds that Texans are the Jews of the West. Meaning that they are perceived as loud, vulgar, richer than most folks, and consequently widely resented. There is no doubt that Coloradans do love to hate Texans. For one thing, we are buying up their state at an appalling rate. Vail, one of the two biggest and best ski resorts in Colorado, is now owned by Texans and is referred to here as “the Dallas Alps.” Coloradans seem to feel there is something a trifle kitschy about Vail’s imitation-Swiss decor. This is only because they are unfamiliar with Dallas shopping centers and so do not know the true definition of tacky. Another frequent complaint involves the way we drive. Ron Wolf, a Colorado reporter and reliable source, assures me that Texans do 80 on the flats and no more than 15 m.p.h. on mountain passes. “Whenever you find a car holding up a long line of traffic on a pass, you’re safe to bet it’s got Texas plates,” says Wolf. As we all know, before the energy crisis, the Good Lord intended for people to drive 80 on the flats, but I was profoundly shocked to hear that Texans do 15 on mountain passes. Do you have any idea how far you can fall off those damn things? Ten, in my opinion, is the maximum safe speed and I personally prefer seven. There is a currently fashionable intellectual thesis which holds that the country is becoming more and more alike from one end to the other. It’s supposed to be an endless strip of Howard Johnsons on interstate highways, where we all read the same magazines and learn how to talk from Uncle Walter Cronkite bunch of bull. The astonishing thing about this country is how different it is from one corner to another. 8 , DECEMBER 30, 1977 Texans are not, in fact, like other Americans. For one thing, we are obnoxious to be around when we are having fun. We talk loud, laugh loud, get drunk, and tang our beer bottles on tables, we whoopee and hoorah and are generally a pain in the hrnmm-hmmm. We yell when we are having a good time. We do not yell when we get mad. We tend to get real quiet just before we stomp someone or shoot someone. Foreigners consider this peculiar. Since Texans mostly come to Colorado to have fun or buy the place, they aren’t looked on with much favor. They are widely held to be a bunch of no-class yahoos with more money than taste. They also throw beer cans out of their car windows: since many Coloradans are serious environmentalists, this is considered the apotheosis of tackiness. I am naturally doing my best to disguise my origins here. 01′ Gracie left me . a four-wheel drive vehicle, which one needs to be a Coloradan just as one needs a pickup to be a Texan. I figure that if I get me some Earth shoes, new jeans, a lumberjack shirt, a down vest, and a bumpersticker for my four-wheel that reads “Texans Are Tacky,” no one will know me froth a native. I myself favor ecology and think that flushing only once a day is fine, but I hold that no toilet paper is extremist. Being a tolerant sort, I’ve never minded healthy people. Someone wants to quit smoking, give up beer and booze, and eat only vegetables and jog, I believe he or she should be commended. But it’s right disconcerting to have people drop to the floor and do 25 pushups whenever there’s a lull in the conversation. Coloradans are very healthy. I believe, finally, that the anti-Texan prejudice here comes down to, as prejudice so frequently does, numbers. As a light sprinkling, we Texans are not hard to take. If we but seldom constituted more than two to five percent of any grouping outside our borders, I think we’d doubtlessly retain our reputation for being odd but quaint. But we infest Colorado. It is impossible to drive Interstate 25, the main north-south highway, in either summer or Winter, without noticing the high proportion of cars with Texas plates on the roadgoing 80 m.p.h. with beer cans periodically emitted from within. In Colorado, we are not a curiosity, we are an invasion. I have long maintained that Texans are not easy to love: we are, like anchovies, an acquired taste. I myself feel that we should be given points for our enthusiasm. All good Texans get excited when they see a really big hill, like a freeway overpass: our delight in Colorado mountains is touching. “Sumbitch,” we breathe reverently, upon sighting the Rockies. “Scenery is for goyim,” ol’ Gracie once said. At least Texans retain a capacity for awe in the face of something as awesome as the Colorado mountains. Being a chauvinistic Texan \(if that’s not so much by the Coloradans’ distaste for Texans, but by what our zest for Colorado says about us. We have crudded up our own natural beauty in the making of moneygo look at the Golden Triangle if you don’t believe. The classic Colorado bumpersticker reads, “If God had meant for Texans to ski, He would have given them mountains.” To which the Texas sticker replies, “He meant for us to ski; He gave us money.” My point is that money can’t buy us what we’ve ruined through our greed. Our hunger for natural beauty is, I think, affecting in its earnestness. But we wouldn’t need to come to Colorado for it if we’d save the Big Thicket and the Gulf Coast and the Hill Country and the Rio Grande Canyons and the High Prairie. Molly Ivins was posted to Denver this fall after Times stints in Manhattan and Albany. She is, of course, a former coeditor of the Observer.
You May Also Like
Texas Professor Leonard N. Moore’s “Teaching Black History to White People” is a memoir, history lesson, and instructional manual.