I recently spent a week exploring a cross section of Texas that included Austin, Houston and San Antonio, and this is what I learned about the Lone Star State:

Girls

As the above diagram illustrates, 75 percent of the girls in Texas are blonde.* It’s great if you’re into the Barbie aesthetic because that’s what most of the girls there are aiming for. Chicks from Austin are the exception, but they’re simply too hardcore. In Austin, it’s common to be rendered stupid by a girl because not only is she a 9, but she has tattoos up to her chin, just finished chugging a bottle of Jim Beam and is about to light a M-80 indoors at someone’s house party (and in your heart).

*Note: This does not account for Mexican women, who we’ll get to later.

Guns

Guns are terrifying and shitloads of fun. Never having been around guns (New York is one of the safest places in the world), going to a shooting range and having dozens of people around you holding instruments of death while shots ring out from every direction is pretty nerve rattling — but after awhile, you get used to it. It also helps that Texans seem totally comfortable with guns. We asked the owner of the range where we could unload a few rounds of a shotgun and he told us, “Yeah, just walk down and to the left. There’s a hill there. I guess you can shoot into that.”

Cars

Texans drive everywhere all the time. Public transportation exists in some cities to shuttle and frustrate the poor, but most people don’t even consider it an option. Some Texans bike, but outside of the University of Texas students in Austin, they do it recreationally. Oh, and if you’re seen walking, it’s assumed that you’re homeless. Sorry. The plus side of this car-centric culture is that a ton of shit has been converted to be more auto-friendly, leading to ridiculous results like a drive-thru bar.

Bars

Last call in Texas is 2 A.M., and it is serious. If you dawdle past that, bartenders toss out your drinks and tell you to get the fuck out. I saw guys who had their just-ordered barel-sipped beers snatched away, and they staggered away without a complaint. In New York that would inspire a “fuck you” at the least, but I guess being pissed over a $7 PBR makes more sense than a $1.50 Lone Star.

Country Music

Texans actually listen to country music. Like every other genre of music, 90 percent of it is shit, but if you manage to find a couple of really talented young kids at the local pizzeria/bar/arcade/venue, the country music that they play can be pretty fucking fun.

Blacks

There are no black people in Texas — at least not the parts I was in. During my entire trip, I saw like two. Everyone else was either white or Mexican. The above painting may be the closest I got to a black person, but I saw it in some white girl’s mansion, which means it might actually be a portrait of someone from Jersey Shore.

Huge Houses

Texans have homes like mansions. They have jacuzzis and dining rooms and dens and other things that New Yorkers only see if they go to the movies or make six figures (and maybe not even then). I understand it’s because low population density means cheap space, but it still makes you realize that New Yorkers basically live in closets.

Mexican Food

Mexican restaurants in Texas are as ubiquitous as Starbucks in Manhattan. They’re usually cheap and always delicious. Unlike Mexican food in New York, what you find in Texas is mostly Tex-Mex (duh). This makes questioning whether Mexican food in Texas is better than Mexican food in New York as ridiculous as asking whether ass or titties are better; they’re both great in their own way, so just dig in.

Mexicans

Unfortunately, with all that delicious Mexican food comes a ton of Mexicans. Texas is full of fat Mexican metalheads, terrifying Chicano gangsters and their hoodrat offspring. Most of the women look like the ladies slinging churros beneath the 7 train in Queens. The more attractive ones (relatively speaking) dress like either hookers from LA with their black lip liner and halter tops or Jersey mallrats who shop at PacSun. At a 2 A.M. last call, that may make do, but it’s nothing to celebrate.

Whataburger

After Mexican food, the go-to option for stoners or kids with drunk munchies in Texas is Whataburger. It’s basically a fast-food burger joint, but it’s miles ahead of McDonald’s or Burger King. I don’t know what to say except it just fucking tastes better. I guess it’s sort of like the In-N-Out Burger of Texas.

Thrift Stores

Just like in New York, there are two kinds of thrift stores in Texas: “consignment stores” where someone’s already sifted through the slush pile for you, and actual thrift stores, like Boysville, where you have to sort through the garbage yourself. The former is convenient, but way too expensive; I saw this great Playboy “World Adventurer” shirt, but it was like $25. The latter is trying, but worth it if you have the time. $1 for a white bow tie? Yes, please.

The Flea Market

Besides thrift stores, there’s also the flea market. (Note: You may not bring your pet cat, dog, snake or seal.) There you can find anything from stolen produce to a stolen Marines flag. Or you can buy a stolen rifle and just steal whatever else you want yourself.

Snuggies

Every household in Texas owns at least one Snuggie. The only problem they see with it is that it wasn’t invented sooner.

State Pride

Texans fucking LOVE Texas. Their state pride makes Quebec separatism look like a disinterested hobby. I saw — no bullshit — probably a hundred times more Texas flags than U.S. ones. The car dealership in the photo above probably had a couple hundred state flags (you can’t see it in the picture, but each car had a small Texas flag stuck in the windshield wiper) and one U.S. flag standing flaccid in the corner. Texas pride also manifests in all sorts of other random shit, like bags, chips, cookies, crackers, pancakes, shirts and tissues.

Y’All

Almost everyone in Texas says “y’all” and after three days there, so will you. The only native Texans who don’t say it seem to be the ones who have spent time living out of state, where they were instantly and savagely ridiculed as rednecks if they uttered the contraction. But what do the haters know? Texas is fucking awesome.

Originally published on Street Carnage. An alternate version appeared on Put That Shit on the List under the title “A Guide to SXSW by Someone Who’s Never Been.”