Every city has its own identity, some opinions and values that a lot of its residents collectively seem to agree with, and that extends to Houston. Yes, this city is one of the most diverse places in the United States so opinions are all over the place on most subjects, but there are still certain things that are often seen as weird if a person admits to them.
10. You're a vegetarian. Houston's history with the cattle trade might be partially to blame, but a person who admits to being a vegetarian might as well say he or she lives on a diet of magical clouds, considering the strange looks they might receive from many other Houstonians. For some reason, dietary choices are polarizing, and carnivores and vegetarians often have a strained relationship when the topic arises. Telling everyone at your next Thanksgiving gathering that you're a vegan now will usually raise a few eyebrows.
9. You don't care what they do with the Astrodome.
This is one of those things all Houstonians are supposed to have an opinion about, right? It was the "Eighth Wonder of the World" and a major part of the city's landscape for decades. So not caring one way or the other what happens to the Astrodome is liable to garner some funny looks. I personally don't care at this point. I never liked sports (see the next item on this list), and the Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd shows I saw were cool, but the Astrodome largely sucked as a music venue. I actually own a couple of seats from the place, because it was such an important landmark from my childhood, but I don't care one way or another what they do with it at this point. And that's kind of embarrassing to admit to most people.
8. You don't enjoy football (or baseball, or basketball) Nope, I sure don't, and never have. I can assure people that, if you want to be branded a weirdo in Houston, all it takes is a complete disinterest in sports, particularly football. It also creates some pretty uncomfortable moments when another male automatically assumes that I share their enthusiasm for football. It's a form of male bonding, and I'm always a little sad to have to tell them that I neither watch the sport, or even have a basic understanding of the rules. This admission can pretty much crush a moment of bonding. Houstonians love their sports, and if you don't, you might as well be telling them that you're a member of a scary cult.
7. You don't have a favorite Tex-Mex or BBQ place. Houstonians love their food, and with good reason. We have one of the best food scenes in America. Houston is extremely international in character these days, and the restaurants here reflect that. People tend to value the foods of their city, and in Houston, Tex-Mex and Barbecue have long reigned as two food styles that we understandably take pride in.
A person that either doesn't like Tex Mex or BBQ might as well be admitting that he is a Communist spy, and being ambivalent about the restaurants you'll eat at will also have people viewing you suspiciously. What do you mean "it's all the same to you"? That's crazy talk, partner.
6. You drive the speed limit and signal.
A person that admits to driving the legal limit and using that strange blinker device when they get around town in an automobile is likely to get comments comparing them to someone's grandmother, because it seems to be common knowledge that everyone is required to drive at least 15 miles faster than the posted limit, and using a turn signal is for nervous ninnies and suckers. Sure, it's the responsible thing to do, but admitting to driving the correct way is probably going to get you laughed at by a lot of Houstonians.
5. You live outside the loop.
There are people who live inside the 610 Loop who don't understand that the majority of Houston is located outside of said highway system. There has been a growing provincialism in Houston for awhile now. The city's so big and the neighborhoods so diverse in character that some folks are now copping a snobby attitude towards people not living in their area of town. Of course, the Inner Loop is made up of a lot of desirable property, but not everyone wants to or needs to live in Montrose to thrive. However, some people might be embarrassed to admit that they live well outside the central core of our city. And that's kind of sad. Sadder still are the snobs who think the city ends at the borders of 610. We need to leave that kind of thinking to places like New York. Houston's too cool for that kind of crap.
4. You drive a Prius, or take the bus.
In a city that still seems to love SUVs the size of a living room and huge trucks, some folks are going to look down on those that have chosen to drive small economical cars or who take the bus or Metrorail to get around town. It's true, Houston is a city designed for cars, and it can be inconvenient to not own one, but being embarrassed for not driving some huge vehicle is silly. Instead of wondering why a stranger chooses a small economical car, we might instead question why so many urban dwellers chose enormous trucks, but never haul anything around? Why does a soccer mom or dad need a vehicle the size of a train car to drive two kids around town? We're Texans dammit; feeling inadequate for choosing a smaller vehicle is pathetic.
3. You don't "get" Texas Music Maybe you're not a fan of any of the famous musicians from the Lone Star State. ZZ Top leaves you cold, Stevie Ray Vaughn sounds like beer commercial music, even our slightly stoned patron saint Willie Nelson doesn't do it for you. Beyoncé bores you, The Geto Boys make you mad, and you haven't even heard of Roky Erickson.
Hey, we all like what we like, and don't dig what we don't. Music is totally subjective, and if a person can't appreciate the rich musical contributions of Texans and Houstonians, then that's his prerogative. Nothing to be ashamed of.
Although anyone who's never heard of Roky Erickson should seriously fix that situation ASAP.
2. You don't own a single bit of western wear, and never have.
It's required right? Doesn't everyone living here own a cowboy hat, or at least a pair of boots or a western style belt? Sometimes it seems that way, especially when the Livestock Show and Rodeo is going on. Even though modern day Houston is a sophisticated urban environment where a huge mix of cultures living together side by side, a lot of us will still throw on an old cowboy hat or boots from time to time. Admitting that you've never owned any of that stuff, might make some people question your Texan credentials a little.
But you know what? There's really only one thing any Houstonian should be ashamed of
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1. You follow the herd and worry what others will think of you. See, here's the thing about Houstonians, most of us have a slightly contrary nature. We're opinionated, and we like to do things our way. Quite simply, Houston is filled with a diverse population of individuals leading very different kinds of lives. Yes, a lot of us hold similar values and like the same sorts of things, but we also tend to be accepting of people different than ourselves.
Bearing that in mind, the only real thing to be ashamed of is caring too much what other people think of the way you choose to live. So drive that Prius no faster than the speed limit, as you head to your place in Sharpstown, where you plan to eat vegetarian Thai food because Tex Mex and BBQ leave you cold, and skip watching the football game, because it bores you. Who cares what anyone else thinks?