Dear Texas,

Georgia O’Keeffe, the vaunted painter of periwinkle vaginas, once remarked of your landscape, “It is a burning, seething cauldron, filled with dramatic light and color.” I read O’Keeffe’s words and, Texas, I think she’s got you pegged.

From your Gulf Prairies and Marshes, that moist welcome mat for countless pirates, tycoons and explorers before me—to your tangled, pubic Pineywoods and fetid Savannah, I ache for you, Texas. Your Rolling Plains, your Edwards Plateau…Mmmmm. I can virtually run my finger down your vast belly. Although you are awfully big and grotesquely frustrating to get a handle on.

Why is this, Texas? Perhaps it’s because you’re always changing. At one moment, you’re a beacon of warmth and naked, Bacchanalian invitation a la Laredo Boys Town 1998, the next, you’re like the Summit in Houston. How so? Let me explain.

Like the Summit, sometimes, you are an arena filled with hope, Van Halen with David Lee Roth. You evoke nostalgia for Akeem Olajuwon dunking over The Admiral and you inspire memories of being eleven years old and chased on a scooter by Donnie Wahlberg of New Kids on The Block after pelting him and his bandmates with rocks for stealing our would-be girlfriends,

Other times, you become frustratingly similar to Joel Osteen’s faith-toaster, Lakewood Church, a veritable Six Flags Over Jesus where the destitute stumble in to put money in your capacious G-string, with only a hint of a lap dance and no champagne room in sight. I’d pick up my sling shot and my rocks again, but I fear Mr. Osteen may be equipped with more than a scooter and a entourage far more intimidating than Jordon, Jonathan, Joey and Danny.

Texas, you just don’t seem to know what you want to be. Do you want to be the bisexual travesty of nature Tila Tequila of Houston, or the homosexual travesty of nature Rick Perry, of the Governor’s mansion? You’ve gotta let me know. Do you want to embrace Dallas and Ft. Worth, the bloated, silicon titties of your Cross Timbers or showcase your fertile NASA mind? You know you’re capable of sending men and women into low-Earth orbit, then bringing them down with a septic splash after an exhausting interstellar session of toggle and yaw. You did say you were doing post-graduate work in aerospace engineering at nights. Was that all a lie, Texas? Or maybe you said it was medical school. Texas, what’s it going to be? Sometimes I feel like I’m sucking from the proverbial hind tit, here, Texas, a dying lone star, a black dwarf, like Emmanuel Lewis, without the cute cardigan.

Sometimes with you, I feel like a 10-year old boy, road tripping to Amarillo with my parents in 1984 to see Twisted Sister at the Civic Center. My teeth sweat with anticipation. “Ama-fucking-rillo!!” shouts Dee Snider. Then cops, then show’s over, with nary a chord struck. Cock tease. I protest in agony that we’re not gonna take it, but in the end, I always do.

Maybe this is why I’ve left you so many times. Well, I’m back now, Texas. And I’m hoping you’ll have me, if not forever, then for just this one night

I’ll finish up with another line for you from Georgia O’Keeffe: “There was quiet and an untouched feel to the country (that’s you Texas) and I could work as I pleased.” You and Georgia must have come across each other much earlier, because I certainly don’t get an “untouched feel” with you, but I do always believe that I can work with you pretty much as I please. It may seem crazy that I’m starting and ending these sappy scrawls to you by channeling Georgia O’Keeffe. But it really all comes down to art. And while Georgia creates her art with easels and acrylic, brushes and canvas and you create your art with an ill-fitting thong and a pole at the Yellow Rose Gentleman’s Club on weekdays from noon to four, you both serve as infinite inspiration for me. Well, that and of course, you’re both named after States.

Cautiously,

Tyler

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Described as an "up-and-coming humorist" by Esquire, TYLER STODDARD SMITH's works have been featured in: The McSweeney's Joke Book of Book Jokes, The Best American Fantasy, Esquire, Meridian, Pindeldyboz, The Big Jewel, Yankee Pot Roast, Word Riot, Barrelhouse, Monkeybicycle, and McSweeney's, among others. Visit his website at: http://tylerstoddardsmith.wordpress.com

13 responses to “A Valentine’s Day Love Letter to Texas”

  1. Irene Zion says:

    Tyler,

    I love Texas. If I didn’t live in Miami Beach, I’d live in Texas. I’m in Houston right now. Incredible medical facilities here! All ethnicities and religions living together. I love this place.

  2. Richard Cox says:

    What happened to Twisted Sister in Amarillo? Did you eat at the Big Texan??

    Whenever I tell people I’m from Texas, naturally they ask where. But it’s hard to answer when you’ve lived in Midland, Odessa, Monahans, Wichita Falls, Corpus Christi, College Station, and Bryan. Following the oil around, haha. I think Austin’s probably the best place Texas has to offer.

    Nice ode to the Lone Star State.

  3. Tyler Smith says:

    It’s true. Dee Snider dropped an “F” bomb and was promnptly led of stage by the Amarillo gendarmes. At least Dokken opened for them. Thanks for the comments!

  4. Slade Ham says:

    I’ve spent my entire life here, short of one stint in Los Angeles, and I don’t know where else I could possibly be comfortable. I live in Houston now but grew up in a few smaller cities (Orange, Beaumont).

    I have a love/hate relationship with this state for sure, specifically with the people. I can’t necessarily wrap my head around truly calling any other state home, yet I also cannot understand how anyone manages to survive in some of these tiny, closed minded towns… and God knows I’ve been through all of them.

    Houston works just fine for me. Austin is definitely the nicest place we has to offer, but I seem to have too many personal ghosts in that city for me to ever call it home. I despised the people when I lived in Dallas, and Amarillo would have to change its tune on the word “fuck” for me to survive more than a week there. So here I stay…

  5. Simon Smithson says:

    There was quiet and an untouched feel to the country (that’s you Texas) and I could work as I pleased.”

    Is that the original quote from O’Keeffe?

  6. Ducky Wilson says:

    Home, wherever it may be, becomes a complicated mess of emotions. I’ve hated and loved Texas at various times in my life (I’m in a love phase right now.) I still get angry because as an artist I can’t find substantial work here and MUST move away, which takes me away from my family, but Texas sent me running to NY, which was a gift, so I remain grateful.

  7. Matt says:

    I’ve never spent any constructive time in Texas, but I have taken the I-10 from one end of the state to the other several times. And man, that is one boring-ass loooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooonnnnnng drive. You can’t even find anything good on the radio for long stretches of it.

  8. Marni Grossman says:

    Enjoyed this immensely. Am slightly upset that my own home state, Delaware, does not inspire quotations by Georgia O’Keefe. Just the briefest of musings from our vice-president.

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