One of the first things you find out about Texans is that they are friendly. They are very, very friendly and they like to wave at you. In fact, they like to wave at you a lot. At first we thought the maybe it was our Oregon license plates, or the classic Airstream we were pulling, but after we had been there awhile, we realized that they wave at everybody and it’s apparent that different occasions call for different waves.
First, there’s the graceful “Rodeo Queen” wave that you are likely to get from a total stranger sitting on their porch as you drive by. Then there’s the “Howdy Y’all” wave which is much bigger and more enthusiastic and is likely to be given when you pass a group of Texans out for a horseback and Lone Star Beer ride which they are frequently known to participate in. But perhaps my favorite wave, and the one that will damn near wear you out giving it, is what I call the “Texas Two-Finger” wave. This ubiquitous wave is given by most country-dwelling Texans to nearly every truck that passes by. I say truck because I never actually drove a car in Texas, and I’m not sure it has the same status as a truck, but when you are driving a truck, Texans honor you with this wave. It is a subtle little wave compared to the others, and involves clutching the top of the steering wheel and then raising the first two fingers of your right hand in a salute to passing drivers. Maybe it’s because the countryside is so vast out there, and just seeing another human being can be a cause for celebration, or maybe it’s because Texans are just so damned undeniably friendly. Either way it becomes a reflex after a while and something you actually miss when you travel out of state or go to Houston which apparently many Texans would like to believe actually is out of the state.
After three months in Texas this had become such a habit that I absentmindedly did this little wave as we headed east through Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and finally into Florida. In some cases people just glared at me or I got no response at all, while in others I got the famous one-finger salute so well known outside of Texas. I finally had to make myself stop altogether as I was afraid I was drawing the attention from some of the local police. It’s funny how something like a wave can be so much a part of life in one place, and so out of place in another.