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Epth is a state of mind, not a place. Reading this will give you a virtual drivers license in that state, but you'll still need to be 21 to purchase alcohol. And you can't get any there anyway, so stop asking.

Saturday, April 30, 2005

52 Things Every Dallasite Must Do -- 1-10.

(in order that this post not be mind-blowingly long, I have divided it up into 5 parts.)

Dallas is a Texas town, but not nearly as Texas as it thinks it is. There’s a lot made of being a “local” Dallas-ite, and people around here wear it as a badge of honor. Dallas people think that the city is a shining example of “real Texas”, whatever that is (here’s a hint: giant belt buckles). In the outlying areas of Texas, however, they have a different view of Dallas. It is viewed as a town of wannabe New-Yorkers and transplanted “Yankees”. You know what? Those people are right. It totally is. But that doesn’t stop Dallas from coming up with arbitrary and unattainable standards of “local-ness” that they inflict on people who move there.

In that spirit, D Magazine has come up with:

52 Things Every Dallasite Must Do

Maybe you just moved here from Des Moines (or, more likely, Guanajuato). Maybe you've lived here all your life. Either way, you can't call yourself a true resident of this fair city until you've done each and every one of the following. Get to it.

(Note: In case you’re wondering, I have done exactly 8 of the 52 things. I’ve: gone to Six Flags, Unwound at the Inwood Lounge (waiting for Garden State to start), Stood in Dealey Plaza, gone to the Ballpark in Arlington, visited the Arboretum, gotten an e-mail from Mark Cuban, been to El Fenix, and sped through the Tollway. That makes me still 11/13 Yankee, I think.)

I like how they say you can’t call yourself a true resident of Dallas until you’ve done these things. They aren’t really serious about this, of course, only kinda serious. It’s not like I have to say, “Yeah, I moved to Dallas 4 years ago, but I’m still a resident of The North until I do like 10 more things. That’s when I learn the secret handshake and get the pickup and start calling minorities names behind their back. It’s all very exciting.” But there’s a grain of truth in the idea that unless you were born here, natives think you don’t really “get” Dallas. It’s like you’re an inferior species. It’s a very mild game of us vs. them, and it does exist.

There are common experiences for all people who live here in Dallas, though, whether they be native Dallasites, from Austin, from West Texas, from The North, from Arkansas, or from some foreign land. It is in this spirit of inclusion and commonality that I give you the real:

52 Things every Dallasite must do

Maybe you just moved here from someplace cold (or someplace Mexican). Maybe you’ve lived here all your life and view outsiders with a mixture of pity and mistrust. Either way, you can truly call yourself a resident of this fair city if you’ve done any one of these things within the Dallas Metro Area. See how inclusive I am? I’m like (noted Yankee Senator) Barak Obama up in here.

1. Call someone a Yankee.

Don’t worry about the fact that it’s an anachronism, or the fact that you apply it to everyone not from Texas, not just people from the Northeast. Don’t worry about that. Also don’t worry about the fact that the word originated during the Revolutionary War as a derisive term used by the British for the upstart Americans, and that the American response to this was to say, “Hells yeah, we’re Yankees!” In fact, “Yankee Doodle Dandy” was a precursor to the Toby Keith “Boot in Your A__” song that you Texans are supposed to love so much. Again, don’t worry about that. Just throw the word at them, and watch the question marks form over their heads as they look at you like you’re from another planet and try to figure out what your deal is. If they look too confused, follow it up with a “Don’t mess with Texas.” Because calling someone names and trying to intimidate them is the perfect way to show your southern “non-Yankee” hospitality.

2. Get some Health and Wealth from a Megachurch on Sunday Morning.

Dallasites view even their Sunday worship as a way to both “be cool” and “be entertained”. Several denominations have their biggest churches in the Dallas Area, some taking up whole city blocks in their quest to fill up the pews with people who crave emotional appeals to be more “committed” to the Lord (read: give the church more money) and trendy, unbiblical Theology. Try to pay no attention to the Pastor driving away after church in his Lexus with $100 bills flying out of the trunk. Now, not all the Megachurches are like this (some actually preach a non-prosperity Gospel), so you’ll have to choose wisely. Luckily, you can’t swing a cat in the Dallas Metro area without hitting one, so you’ll have many to choose from.

3. Ride with a Minority in Highland Park and Get Stopped by the Cops.

You have the opportunity to meet America’s most overzealous police department – all you have to do is get a friendly neighborhood non-white human into your car (preferably willingly) and drive down the streets of the extremely white and suspicious town of Highland Park. Watch the police officers to double-takes as they see Mr. Non-white in the car. Did I mention that these are the same people who recently cuffed and booked a 98-year-old woman? For an outstanding traffic warrant? Anyway, after they stop you, try to work up some sympathy for the condescending and cranky cops as they talk down to you – they’re probably upset that the “Robin Hood” plan has taken millions of dollars out of their school system and given it to Mr. Non-white’s system. That’s enough to make anyone a racist, don’t you think? Ahh…it’s a white thang – you wouldn’t understand.

4. Recommend a Local Chinese Restaurant That You Think is Good (but actually sucks).

It’s not that they don’t know what good Asian food should taste like – they have a P.F. Chang’s, for Pete’s sake – it’s just that all the local chains seem to use the same tepid, tasteless recipes. If you’re from Dallas, you cannot distinguish between good and bad Chinese food, apparently. Seriously, there is a restaurant in Rockford, IL (pop. 200,000) that’s twice as good as anything in the Dallas Metro Area (pop. 6 million). Every time someone recommends a Chinese place now, my wife and I just roll our eyes. If you recommend this bad food to others, you are a true Dallasite.

5. Hang Out at a Trendy Club with your Douchebag Friends.

The names of the clubs change, but the douche clientele remain the same. Dallas is a haven for affluent (not to mention the trying-to-appear-affluent) young people that tend to think the world revolves around them with their muscle shirts, overnice cars, and fake fingernails. Piaget would have a field day with these people, who never got past that infantile stage of development. Of course, to actually accomplish this task, you have to be trendy enough to get into these places. It helps to know a douchebag already, because if you don’t you’re probably not getting in. (note: the type of people I’m talking about can only be described as this abusive d-word. This is the evolution of English, people. It’s not my fault. When I use this word, everyone knows the people I’m talking about.)
If you’re not one of these affluent morons, and you somehow manage to get into Merge or Posh or Fluid or whatever the heck they’re calling the place these days, prepare for a steady diet of looks and disdain that communicates verbally and non-verbally that: you don’t belong here. This place is for us douchebags to hang out and look down on you, the Normal. Get out now before we deride you some more.

6. Break Into a Car That’s Not Yours and Steal Something.

With Dallas being the crime capitol of America, you may have some trouble find a car that hasn’t already been broken into and picked clean. Don’t worry – when you eventually find a victim, the cops will never catch you because stopping theft is an apparent waste of city and county resources. If you do end up stealing something, Dallas will blame the victim for not following proper safety procedures. The high crime rate? That’s the fault of law-abiding citizens, not the criminals and certainly not the Police. And think of it this way – every car you break the window of helps the local economy by diverting money to the burgeoning auto-glass industry.

7. Get in the Left Turn Lane in an Intersection with Stop Lights and Sit There as the Light Turns Red.

This is apparently what Dallasites are taught in driving school, and it really is simple to execute. Just don’t move. Forget about the people behind you, or the fact that you can pull into the intersection and turn left when the cars coming towards you stop at the red light (the technical term for this is “clearing the intersection”, and is just way too dangerous, even for a Texan). That’s just the sort of Yankee behavior we hate in Texas. When you do this, try not to think about the fact that you’ve just ruined traffic patterns for the rest of the drivers around you, because that’s just depressing.

8. Get Addicted to Something in Plano.

First there was heroin, then Oxycontin. What’s bedeviling the youth of Plano now? There’s only one way to find out – go up there to Plano East and ask around. People may think you’re a drug dealer, so make sure you explain to them that this is going to be for your own personal use. Also make sure to bring a lot of cash, because you never know what the addictive substance is going to be. It’s like opening a Christmas present, only inside this colorful box is lifelong addiction and broken dreams. Be sure to thank the parents of Plano for being such hands-off “friends” of their spoiled kids that they never understood that the heroin thing was their fault. It didn’t just happen to them. If they had understood, maybe the Oxycontin thing would have never happened. Their loss is your gain – go get em!

9. Yell at Your Child’s Sports Coach over Playing Time.

How are you supposed to simultaneously: live vicariously through your son (or daughter); and, win the athletic lottery, if that dunderhead coaching him keeps him on the bench for half the game? Your child is automatically better, smarter, more angelic, and more athletic than that other kid they’ve been playing. Any idiot could see that. It’s your duty to make sure the coach knows this. If you’ve been harping on it for a few weeks and nothing happens, organize a petition drive to fire the coach -- or better yet put a “for sale” sign on his lawn. That’s both inappropriately threatening and wonderfully charming. And make sure your child sees this behavior and emulates it, so he can turn out as spoiled and myopic as you are.

10. Water Your Lawn During a Torrential Rainstorm.

Dude, it is WAY too much work to flick the switch that turns off your in-ground sprinkler system, so just leave it on no matter what the weather is like. The powers that be in Dallas may want to save water during the summer, but that’s just the Yankee in them talking. It’s not going to harm the lawn, and it enables you to be way more lazy. This works especially well if the sprinkler system is not at a home but at a business or apartment complex – you can just claim you don’t want to pay someone to turn it off. It’s a budgetary decision, really. Make sure you explain that during the yearly drought when everyone’s pointing fingers in your direction.

(11-52 still to come...)


  • At 11:32 PM, Blogger Danny said…

    Sounds like you are really enjoying those kind southern folks. I appreciate and enjoy the view on the city. When I was down there about five years ago I thought that it was just lovely my self...but then again I was sure to blend in well by walking about in a cowboy har, Dan Post boots and of course I was staying with and associating only with crackers (it was hard to hide my Yankee mannerisms, but I think I did a good job...until I went to a Schlotsky's Deli...strange place to find a Schlotsky's if ya ask me. But no one did).
    Anyway, good luck on 11-52. I think that you may need will prolly be a little tough to narrow it down like that. Take care.

  • At 2:15 PM, Blogger Mike Pape said…

    Dan, I actually do like it down here -- it's just that some things really frustrate me. Like any place that's different from where you've always lived, it takes some getting used to. Not that you'd know anything about that ;). I hate using winkies, but I had to.

    And it's not like I have to deal with anti-yankee prejudice every day. Dallas is made up of probably 3/4 transplants, so people keep their comments to themselves. There's just this undercurrent of latent hostility towards outsiders, you know? It's probably more a Texas thing than a Dallas thing. This list is doing two things for me: allowing me to vent my frustrations with Dallas specifically, and allowing me to point out the fact that Dallas' culture is made up mostly of stuff it borrowed from the surrounding state. I come from Milwaukee, which is a weird, weird place that has idiosynchrocies up the wazoo. I never realized what culture it had until I moved to a place without any.

    Jill, step in here to defend Dallas from me. You know you want to.

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  • At 9:01 PM, Blogger Mike Pape said…

    Dude, how long ago did I write this?
    *"&%# spammers.

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