Tag Archives: Texas

Y’all got Dr. Pepper?

I always think it’s funny when people from Texas visit New York and try to order Dr. Pepper everywhere they go. This isn’t something that I picked up on right away. It’s only after years of working at restaurants in the city, thinking it really weird that every once in a while I’d get those out-of-towners who asked me for a Dr. Pepper, as if it was just the most natural thing in the world, giving me looks of confusion when I’d respond, “Sorry, we don’t have Dr. Pepper.”


Dr. Pepper exists up here, but it’s not like you’re ever going to find it outside of a grocery store or a Seven-Eleven. It’s just Coke, Diet Coke, and Sprite. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’d love it if restaurants had more of a soda selection, but I don’t sit down at random restaurants and start asking for cream soda or something equally obscure.

You travel away from home, maybe you don’t know. I certainly don’t know. I worked at this touristy place for a few years and I was initially really confused when Southerners started asking me, “Ya’ll got sweet tea?” I’d be like, “Well, we have iced tea.” I didn’t know there was a difference. But I guess if you add sugar to iced tea, you call it sweet tea, and everybody just kind of expects it.

Whatever, it’s all just funny regional differences. But again, it wasn’t until I actually met some Texans that I eventually figured out that it’s a Texas thing, Dr. Pepper, that apparently this stuff is more popular than Coke is in the rest of the country. Which is crazy, to think that there’s an alternate reality out there, where everybody speaks the same language, right, but Coke isn’t number one, Dr. Pepper is.

I like Dr. Pepper. I can’t tell you exactly what it tastes like, but then again, I can’t really tell you what Coke tastes like either. But they definitely taste different. Maybe I’d like it if we switched to Dr. Pepper. Coke is great and everything, but I don’t know, I feel like a lifetime of cola has sort of dampened my ability to appreciate it anymore. It doesn’t taste like anything anymore, not really, it’s just sweet.

One time recently I had this couple sit down at one of my tables at the restaurant. The guy had this big beard and when I asked him what he wanted to drink, he asked for a Dr. Pepper is that Texas drawl. And I smiled and I said, “Sorry pardner, you’re not in Texas anymore.” And he kind of just looked at me, and his girlfriend or wife or whatever just said, “That’s OK, he’ll have a Coke.”

And it sucked, because I wasn’t trying to be a dick or anything, I was just trying to be friendly. Like friendly funny. Like yeah, I’m making fun of you a little bit, but it’s all good-natured, nothing to get upset over. That’s what I was going for anyway, but I don’t know, every once in a while I’ll play it back in my head. Was I coming across as a jerk? Was it my intonation? Was it the whole “pardner” thing?

Whatever, there’s one thing that I can totally appreciate about Southerners and Texans. Not once have they every asked me for a Pepsi. At least we can all agree on that. Coke, fine. Dr. Pepper, yeah, I’d be willing to switch to Dr. Pepper. But Pepsi? Forget about it. Whenever someone asks me, “Is Pepsi OK?” I say, “No, Pepsi is not OK. Pepsi is never OK.” And usually that gets a laugh, but I’m not joking, I’m actually trying to be a little bit of a dick, if only to get the importance of my message across.

Howdy folks

I want to start saying howdy. Howdy folks. I wonder if I just start saying it, if people will give me a reaction or not. I won’t even try to ease it in. It’ll just be like one day I’ll wake up, go to work, and when I get to work, whoever sees me first and goes, “Hey Rob,” I’ll just respond, “Howdy.” I’m picturing this playing out in my head and I’m wondering if that other person would say anything at all. Probably not. If somebody said howdy to me in the morning, I’d just think to myself in my head, well that had to be about as painful as this day is going to get, and so maybe I’d be relieved. But I’d really just be glad to be away from whoever said that to me.

Let’s say I say howdy to somebody in the morning and I don’t get a reaction. So I keep it up. I keep saying howdy to everyone I see that day. Are people going to start talking amongst themselves? “Hey, did Rob say howdy to anybody else this morning?” Or am I overinflating my already inflated sense of self, just assuming that people are even paying attention to me in the morning, let alone having side discussions about my greetings?

I have to reverse the situation again, imagining somebody else saying howdy to me. I’d totally ignore it. I’d think to myself, well, somebody sure wants a little extra attention today. And I’m not going to be the one to give it to them. But it would probably eat away at me inside. Howdy? Is that person even from Texas? Do people really say howdy in Texas or is that just something they do on TV?

Every once in a while I’ll meet somebody new and we’ll have a totally regular conversation and maybe ten or fifteen minutes into it I’ll ask, “So where are you from?” and they’ll be like, “Oh, St. Louis, Missouri” or “Dallas.” And I’m just like, what? You don’t even have what I imagine to be a Southern accent. And so I’m lead to believe that people don’t really talk like that in real life, you know with the drawl and the “Hey y’all,” and the “Howdy pardner.” Either that or the effects of national TV have finally changed all once regional accents, making everybody talk the way everybody talks on TV, which is what I just assume to be regular.

But even that’s not the case, because I live in New York but I don’t talk with the whole stereotypical New York accent. I’d try to write it out phonetically, but that’s what other people do when they’re trying to make fun of New York online, like on message boards and stuff, and I always think to myself, I don’t know anybody that talks like that in real life.

Well, even that’s only partially true. Sure I’m not personally friends with anybody who talks like they just walked off the set of the Sopranos. But I’ll run into somebody who really lays it on pretty thick every now and then. And I always think to myself, all right buddy, I get it, you’re out New Yorking me. And this is something I’m very sensitive to, because I didn’t grow up in New York City, I grew up like five miles across the Queens border on Long Island. And so it’s always this tough situation, every once in a while I’ll come across somebody who’s all about New York, born and raised NYC, much more New York than me, I never leave New York kind of New York. And what do I do, do I fight it? Do I embrace my Long Island roots?

Honestly I think all of my problems might be solved by simply incorporating howdy into my everyday vocabulary. It’ll give people a bunch of mixed messages that I won’t ever feel inclined to explain. I started this nonsense imagining everybody’s individual reactions to me saying howdy. But even if nobody said anything, even if everybody just pretended to ignore it, there would come a day weeks after I’ve started saying howdy on an individual basis where I’d walk into a room with several if not all of my coworkers, and I’d say something like, “Howdy folks. How’re y’all doing today?”

And maybe nobody would say anything. Maybe they’d be like, “Where did Rob grow up? New York? Long Island? Atlanta?” But again, I’m probably over imagining the whole thing. And really, I’m reading this back to myself, because that’s what I always do, I read it out loud to make sure it sounds natural, and I can’t get through it. I keep getting stuck on the howdy, like I just can’t get myself to say it. And maybe that’s what would happen in real life. It would just sound awful, ridiculous, and people would start to hate me.

But it’s silly to make fun of how we talk. It’s all English. And sure, it’s easy to caricature the differences, but we’re all more or less on the same page. Although it’s funny. I never met anybody who had a really Boston-like Boston accent. And I’ve seen videos of JFK talking and I’m just like, what’s wrong with that guy? Did he have a stroke or something?