Robin Cole Interview


DM) What is a "born again Texan"?

RC) First of all, a native Texan is any person born inside the borders. We claim them all! Some folks have lived here almost all their lives except for the accident of having actually been born in New York, and they remain Yankees in the eyes of natives. I was interviewing a lady and asked if she was a native, and she responded, "No, my goodness, no. My husband is, but I just moved here when we married -- let's see, that was fifty-seven years ago. No, I'm not a native!" I was born and raised in Texas, but left for a mere 30 years, and when I returned, I was truly born again. My hair got big, I got my accent back, I laughed out loud and I was a BORN AGAIN TEXAN! A born again Texan is anyone who truly loves the state with all its quirks and foibles. I was born again when I came home and saw the bluebonnets in bloom, the long-horn steers, and Neiman Marcus! I want to give hope to all wanna-be Texans around the world, and therefore I propose that they join me as born agains. As the saying goes: Texas is a state of mind!

DM) You once said, "Religion is political, politics is sport, and sport is religion!" What do you mean?

RC) In the First Commandment for newbees and visitors, what I mean is that religion has political overtones. For example, when you are visiting a church, you must wait until everyone else is seated, lest you mistakenly sit in the pew where the Jones family has sat since they donated all the stained glass windows. We grow up knowing how to play politics. Texans are good at shaking hands, kissing babies and-- most important -- winning! Born again Texan George W. Bush is making his way toward the White House right now saying, "Read My Daddy's Lips!" Texas sports are followed with a fanatic furor. In my chapter "The Reason for the Season", I explain that after I left Texas, I was confused by what other women referred to as "football widows." I never stayed in the kitchen while a good game was going on in the living- room. When I was growing up, football was more central to Thanksgiving than the turkey!

DM) Did you vote for McCain or Bush?

RC) No! I'm still laughing too hard to vote. This is the best political year since we lost the dynamic presence of the spelling bee champ, Dan Quayle, and the King of Boring Charts, Ross Perot! George W. is blessed with the creative English language gene of his father. Former Governor Ann Richards said, "George Bush can't help it if he was born with a silver FOOT in his mouth."

DM) Do you think George W is succeeding entirely on his father's history?

RC) "Dubya" has many friends of his own in Texas and around the country. His mom and dad are involved in his campaign and certainly have had a great influence on him. I believe we will see him grow as a candidate, and he has definitely tried to distinguish himself from his father. But George Senior may have to stop calling his son "my boy!"

DM) Why do you think people around the world seem to have a love affair with Texas?

RC) When people 'round the world think of Texans, they think of cowboys, oil wells, and the soap opera "Dallas" (which is still in re-runs in much of the world). I also have discovered that they know more about some of our Texas history than they do about American history in general. The movie "The Alamo", in which John Wayne led the defenders, is well known. I also believe that the western wear, the music, the entire cowboy culture lures many tourists here every year. And, of course, if a person meets and befriends a Texan anywhere in the world, he has a friend for life.

DM) How much of what the public sees of Texas is myth and how much is reality?

RC) Well, we don't all live on big ranches with oil wells. We are independent and proud of our state. My granddaddy used to say, "Don't ever ask a man where he's from. If he's from Texas, he'll tell you, and if he's not, you wouldn't want to embarrass him."

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