I’m now in Dallas, Texas, visiting my grandson, Aedan Jaesu. He is a delightful boy with a very long attention span. Sunday, my daughter and I walked three blocks to the Michoacán ice cream store. Twenty-month-old Jaesu rode in his stroller, even though he’s an able walker and beginning runner.
I assumed he would walk with us, but my daughter protested that his walking would take us at least two hours. He’d want to stop and examine every acorn, ant and flower.
So Jaesu rode in state as prince of the realm. The Mexican ice cream shop served us delicious flavors. My daughter had avacado; mine was lime. We bought Jaesu a small strawberry ice cream lollypop. He licked it deliberately. And occasionally. Meanwhile he studied everything around him. And the lollypop dripped. And dripped. And dripped. No problem. At home, Christie stripped him, threw his clothes in the laundry, and dressed him anew for the dinner party that evening.
At home we call him Jaesu, his Korean name. He’s named for his grandfather, Jae. And his name is pronounced like this – say “Jet” and leave off the T. Je-su.
Outside the house he goes by his Scottish first name, Aedan.
This is an exciting time in his life. He's learning a word a day, and Sunday the word was "ice cream." This week he began talking in sentences. He strings several words together. And then he repeats it. And says it again. And gets frustrated when he don't understand him.
But I feel so sorry for him. He was born a Texan, and there’s nothing he can do about it. He was born at Baylor Hospital in Dallas, and his birth certificate states, “Congratulations on the birth of your new Texan!”
The self-adoration of Texas is known and offensive to us from the other 49 States. I find Texas fascinating, hilarious or appalling. (Today, I’m wearing an Alaska T-shirt as a counter-offense.) But my grandson is going to grow up in this culture, so he needs to learn how to cope with it. I’ve already put a copy of Michener’s Texas in his library with the inscription “so you’ll know what to be proud of, and what to be ashamed of.”
As a Texan, he will soon learn that, before Texas became a state, it was the Lone Star Republic for ten years, from 1836 to 1846. It has a unique claim – it was the first nation in the world to have a homestead exemption – so that creditors couldn’t take a family’s home. And as a state, it has a unique claim -- it retains the power to split itself into five states.
Sam Houston was the first and third president. Sam had lived with the Cherokees in Tennessee, and he sought good relations with Native Americans in Texas. To stop Comanche raids, Houston signed a peace treaty with the tribe after it had ridden across Texas to the Gulf of Mexico, with slaughter and burning in Victoria.
In contrast, the second president was Mirabeau Lamar, born in Geoprgia. His policy for Mexicans and Indians was “leave or die”, which put Texas at war with the Cherokees and Comanches.
I recently disputed with a Texas-born Arizona lawyer about the Lone Star Republic. I commented, it was fortunate for Texas that the US annexed it in 1846 -- because Texas was a failed state.
“What do you mean a ‘failed state’”?
“Well, it was insolvent. The redbacks were worthless.”
“So? The United States is insolvent today.”
And I was not confident enough to give the proper reply, which was, “At least the United States meets its payrolls.”
And today’s lesson, courtesy of James Michener, is how to speak Texian. Two examples:
If you’re worth one to 20 million, you’re comfortable. 20 to 50 million, well-to-do. 50 to 500 million, rich. 500 million to 1 billion, big rich. Over a billion, Texas rich.
And what’s the difference between a redneck and a good ol’ boy?
“A redneck drives a Ford pickup. He has a gun rack behind his ears. He has funny little signs painted on his tailgate. He drives down the highway drinking Lone Star out of a can, which he throws in the middle of the road.”
The person who made this claim said, “I’m a good ol’ boy.”
“I don’t see the difference. You have a Ford pickup. You have that gun rack. Look at the signs on your tailgate:
HONK IF YOU LOVE JESUS
THE WEST WASN’T WON WITH A REGISTERED GUN
NATIVE BORN TEXAN AND PROUD OF IT
SURE I’M DRUNK – YOU THINK I DRIVE THIS WAY ALL THE TIME?
“And you have a holder for Lone Star. So what’s the difference?”
“Old buddy, a redneck throws his empties in the middle of the road. A good ol’ boy tosses his’n in the ditch.”