You Are Not From Houston, 10 Surefire Ways To Know
You just have to be from here.
Photo by abrahán
Houstonians are a distinct breed of Texan. There are many unique characteristics that make the people of this great city, well... great. We're a little bit liberal and a little bit conservative, a little bit weird, with a very normal streak. We are a little bit business-minded with a little bit artsy-fartsy. Basically, we're a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll through and through.
But as long as people live in Houston, there are some tell-tale signs that they were not born and bred in the Space City. We transients love it here, but there a few things that we just don't "get." (Of course, not all natives fit into these categories.)
Saying Y'all Sounds Really Awkward The Houstonian "y'all" rolls off the tongue as natural as sap from a maple tree. It oozes out. "Y'all going to... fill in with anything but probably something about the Texans." When a person not from the area tries to say y'all there is just something incredibly weird about it. It is as if the word is Arabic or Greek and we can't make the our mouths form the letters. Either that, or non-Houstonians completely avoid the word all together. Where a "y'all" should be the non-H'ers mumble some combination of "you guys" and "all" that may come out sounding like "you g'all."
Tearing Down the Astrodome... Why is This a Big Deal Again?
Photo by B. Tse
A conversation about the now-famous fate of the Astrodome leaves non-natives feeling self-conscious and so they ultimately keep their mouths shut because (shhh), we don't really care. Oh yes, it's a historic monument, the first of its kind, it was magical like Disney World and that movie Brewster McCloud was set there. Hurray! Non-natives appreciate its majesty but then it's also a building. They tore down Yankee stadium too and that was the house that Babe built.
When Allison Hit I Was __________ Strike up a conversation about tropical storms and get ready for the most insane of stories involving cars under water, loss of homes, power outages, exploding transistors, fires, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria. Of course many non-Houstonians may have lived through this, but our stories never involve having to drive up to Cyprus to round up our 80-year old Memaws who refused to leave their homes without all of their costume jewelry for fear that looters would take it.
Kolaches VS Doughnuts I think this would be an amazing experiment: Go into any typical office building on a Friday with a box of kolaches and a box of doughnuts and see who takes which. I would wager there would be more kolache takage from natives in the office. Houstonians LOVE their kolaches. They love them.
Foley's Was Where Again? If you are a native Houstonian you have fond memories of the downtown department store Foley's from your childhood. Foley's stuck around through the early 2000s but the extreme affection that Houstonians have for the store is akin to some '40s Christmas Story nostalgia that may or may not be based on anything real.
Frito Pie? No Thanks!
And then sometimes you just throw an egg on that shit for no good reason
Photo by Erika Ray
There are many foods that Houstonians are connoisseurs of: Kolaches, Tex-Mex, Queso (which is melted cheese, BTW), Tres Leches Cake and Frito Pie. Frito Pie is one of those foods that is a "special" on Houston menus. "Oh, they have Frito Pie!" People not from the region may enjoy it or it may just make their stomachs turn. It's Fritos covered in ground beef and shitty melted cheese. What food category is it even? Is it an appetizer? A meal? A desert? It's an acquired taste, and let's just leave it at that.
Is It a Coke You Want, Or a Soda? A Coke? No a Soda? I have heard the word Coke used many times interchangeably with the word soda. You want a soda, but you call it a Coke, but you are talking about a Sprite. I don't know if this is a 100 percent Houstonian thing or not, but it is still something to marvel at and be rather confused when it happens to you.
Remember That Time We Did Special K At Numbers And Wound Up Getting Mugged By Those 14-Year Olds? Houston natives, certainly those in the 30+ age range, have the most wondrous stories about the club Numbers. They all involve massive amounts of illegal drugs that are no longer in fashion and/or random muggings. What was this Numbers club like 20 years ago? You all make it sound like it was a scene right out of the movie The Last Days of Disco except there was no disco but rather goth and alt-rock bands playing. We non-natives have wandered into Numbers looking for insanity and all we've found is cheap beer and dirty bathrooms. Where is all the glitter you keep telling us everyone wears there?
Fixing to Hunker Down At That Place You Stay At Culturally, Houston-based linguistics is amazing to listen to. There are words and phrases that you just don't hear anywhere else in the world. When Ike hit, we were all told to "hunker down," which to a non-native may have meant something like, "dig a large hole and get in it." But it really means to... hunker down. The other day my five-year old neighbor told me he was fixing to turn six soon. Is there a problem with your age that needs remedying? When you are a non-Houston native you wish you could use this language and sound as cool as a five-year old. But you just wind up sounding dumb.
Say It Loud, Say It Proud: Dallas Sucks
If there is one defining characteristic that can be proclaimed about Houston natives it is that all of you hate Dallas. Why? I will admit, I've been there a few times and it wasn't the town for me, but Houstonians despise Dallas with a fevered passion as if the entire city killed your moms and then married your dads and then cut off your allowances. You guys really don't like Dallas. If any politician ran on the platform of "Dallas Sucks," I bet they would win by a landslide. Mayor Parker, maybe you want to incorporate this philosophy into your literature.
Get the Theater and Arts Newsletter
Exclusive discounts and announcements to Houston theater shows and art events