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Crow's-Feet Chronicles: Texans will bless your heart
By Cindy Baker Burnett
Oct 9, 2017
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Someone once noted that a Texan can get away with the most awful insult as long as it is prefaced with the words “Bless her heart” or “Bless his heart.” As in, “Bless his heart, if they put his brain on the head of a pin, it’d roll around like a BB on a six-lane highway.” Or, “Bless her heart, her penciled-in eyebrows look like a bad day on Wall Street.” 

There are also the sneakier ones that I remember from tongue-clucking types of my childhood: “It’s amazing that even though she had that baby seven months after they got married, bless her heart, it weighed ten and a half pounds!” 

Think about it. As long as the heart is sufficiently blessed, the insult can’t be all that bad, at least that’s what my co-worker Tiny (bless her heart, she was anything but) used to say. 

I was thinking about this the other day when a friend was telling me about her next door neighbor from up North who was upset because her toddler was just beginning to talk and he had a Texas accent. My friend, who is very kind and, bless her heart, cannot do a thing about her enormous forehead, was justifiably miffed. After all, this woman had CHOSEN to move South a couple of years ago. “Can you believe it?” she said to my friend. “A child of mine is going to be taaaaalllkkkin’ a-liiiike thiiiis.” 

I can think of far worse fates than speaking Texan for this adorable little boy who, bless his heart, must surely be the East Coast King of Mucus. I wish I’d been there. I would have said that she shouldn’t fret, because there is nothing as sweet or pleasing on the ear as a soft Texas drawl. Of course, maybe we shouldn’t be surprised at her “carryings on.” After all, when you come from a part of the world where “family silver” refers to the large medallion around Uncle Vinnie’s neck, you just have to, as Tiny would say, “consider the source.” 

Now don’t get me wrong. Some of my dearest friends are from the North, bless their hearts. I welcome their perspective, their friendships, and their recipes for authentic Northern Italian food. I’ve even gotten past their endless carping that you can’t find good bread down here. 

The ones who really gore my ox are the native Texans who have begun to act almost embarrassed about their speech. It’s as if they want to bury it in the “Hee Haw” cornfield. We’ve already lost too much. I was raised to swanee, not swear, but you hardly ever hear anyone say that anymore. I swanee you don’t. And I’ve caught myself thinking twice before saying something is “right close” or “right good” because non-Texans think this is right funny indeed. I have a friend from Bawston who always thought it was hilarious when I would say I’ve got to “carry” my daughter to the doctor or “cut off” the light.  

It grates on my nerves, though, when yucca-mouthed, Texas-born waiters now say “you guys” instead of “y’all” as their mamas raised them up to say. I’d sooner wear white shoes in February and eat oleo margarine instead of real butter than utter the words “you guys.”  

It’s a little comforting that a lot of the world is catching on that it’s cool to be Clampett. How else do you explain NASCAR tracks and Krispy Kreme doughnut franchises springing up like yard onions all over the country? To those of you who are still a little embarrassed by your Texanese, take two tent revivals and a dose of red-eye gravy and call me in the morning. 

Bless your heart. 

cindybaker@cableone.net