San Antonio is one of the fastest-growing urban areas in the United States. Posting continuous population growth over the last decade, the city sees new residents appear literally every day.
Unfortunately, they’re not always ready for the full reality of living here. For those who have been away for a while, as well as new residents from elsewhere in the country, San Antonio Man presents a list of shocking cultural transitions that you may have to learn to cope with.
1. IT’S UNGODLY HOT. If you’ve come here from the West, you may find yourself wilted by the presence of “humidity,” a mysterious factor that basically doubles how hot it feels. If you’re from somewhere that’s accustomed to 90-degree days, you’ll still have to get used to the fact that here they start in early March and abate around Christmas.
2. WE SPEAK SAN ANTONIAN. If you’re German or Mexican, you may not think you’ll need to learn a new language, since those are the two dominant cultures in terms of San Antonio place names. However, you’ll quickly have to get used to the fact that, for some reason, “Bexar” is pronounced “bear” and “Boerne” is pronounced “bernie.”
3. YOU WILL DRIVE EVERYWHERE. The fact that you’ll need to have a car to get much further than your mailbox can take some getting used to, especially if you come from a public-transit-intensive city. You’ll find the average parking lot here is bigger than your old neighborhood, and that you not only need to drive to Wal-Mart, you may need to drive from one end of the Wal-Mart to the other.
4. STREET SIGNS ARE JUST A SUGGESTION. San Antonio grew so fast that city planning was sort of an afterthought, which is how we ended up with a major street called Wurzbach and another major street called Harry Wurzbach, both of which run opposite to one another. Speed limits, directions and place names are more well-intended advice than actual information.
5. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A LIGHT MEAL. San Antonians like to eat. They like to eat a lot, and what they like to eat a lot of is meat. It’s not that we don’t have health-conscious vegans here, it’s just that they’re like art museums: something you see on a special occasion. Otherwise, expect everything to be super-sized, with “low-fat” meaning “less lard”.
6. BLUE LAWS. Thanks to the residual existence of Prohibition-era legislation and the strong presence of church folks, San Antonio is still subject to what are known as “blue laws,” meaning, in particular, you can’t buy liquor on Sunday. So get used to doing the Christian thing, and loading up on booze Saturday night.
7. THERE ARE TWO SPORTS, AND THEY ARE BOTH BASKETBALL. Sure, there are a few incorrigible types who follow the Rangers or the Astros, and Longhorn partisanship is an expected social nicety. But in terms of true rooting interests, there are only two teams: the Spurs and whoever they’re playing that night.
8. MILITARY CITY USA. Folks who move here from other parts of the country, where military bases are often relegated to the outskirts of town, are sometimes shocked to see such a major uniformed presence in San Antonio. Don’t be alarmed; the uniformed personnel are here to safeguard your freedom. Just don’t try to glom on to their military discounts and you’ll be fine.
9. RETHINK TEA. If you come from Europe, Asia, or anywhere north of the Mason-Dixon line, you may think of tea as a hot beverage, often served unsweetened. Drive this belief from your mind. In south Texas, hot tea does not exist, and iced tea is basically just un-carbonated Coke.
10. ALL THOSE KIDS ON ST. MARY’S AND KING WILLIAM. Yes, they’re supposed to look like that.
By Leonard Pierce