Friday, May 16, 2008

Auto-motive Houstonians

Let's be frank. There are a lot of very large people in Houston. Some are vertically large, going up and down like the Houstonian skyscrapers that dominate the downtown skyline, and wearing big cowboy hats that make them look even larger. But many, oh yes, are also horizontally quite large, with nice large bellies and big butts.

I was curious about why Houston seemed to have more than its share of horizontally large people. My friends Mike and Nic said they had read a study that said Houston had one of the highest rates of obesity in the country.

Then I remembered about the no car, no hamburger rule. (see previous post) And I figured that with so many people stuck driving around eating hamburgers inside their cars, this was bound to happen. The hamburgers eventually make the bellies expand to fit the size of the pick-up trucks and SUVs.

Unlike Los Angeles, which is also an automotive city, Houstonians are unapologetically large. In L.A., the prevailing look-like-a-movie-star-or-else mentality of much of the city has resulted in lots of gyms and yoga classes, and for those who can afford it, liposuction clinics.

But Houstonians don't seem to give a damn. They just drive around and drive around, buying good Texan beef hamburgers and not so good variations of it, getting larger and larger, depositing their money in drive-in banks, and using up all that oil that has made Houston what it is today.

Unlike some urban Californians, who are often too busy rushing around improving themselves and/or becoming enlightened to pay attention to anyone but themselves, Houstonians are as generous and hospitable as they are large.

Their generosity, or what I've seen of it, is simple, downhome, matter of fact. That guy who bought me the hamburger for instance. And walking down one of those interminable roads on the outskirts of Houston, the roads that have no sidewalks because pedestrians here don't exist, walking and enjoying the walk and the scenery and the exquisite pleasure of having legs, three Houstonians slowed down and offered me a ride, a look of alarm and concern on their faces.

No comments: