On the culture shock of Wharton, Texas & some of its subsequent charms

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At first arrival, I’ll confess I thought I might not be able to enjoy myself in Wharton. However over the last couple of days Wharton has grown on me just a little bit. It has its dubious charm. In Wharton, Texas I am looked upon as skinny. Repeatedly and much to my jubilation people have asked if I am a model. Whilst I battle the bulge in Scottsdale and Los Angeles, here I could stand to gain a few. This has definitely played a part in my recently improved opinion of the town. 😀

Disclaimer: It is always hard to speak critically or even just observationally about anything from the vantage point of privilege. Automatically shadows of snobbishness, conceit or arrogance are cast on the narrative. I do not think that I am better than anyone because of the advantages afforded to me in life. The place from which my opinions stem is not one of disparagement or disregard, I am aware of the difficulties faced by these areas, aware of why things are as they are, I do not discount the individuals when I speak in generalities, or underestimate the value of their characters and souls.

Although I realize that many areas in the U.S are much like Wharton, and it is by far not the worst or the most rural; to me, it presents with a real culture shock. This experience is akin to that of a person from a developed country visiting a third world country. I cannot help but be slapped in the face by first hand awareness of how different people can be, how varied their priorities, their tastes, their standards of living and ambitions.

Lululemon and Starbucks do not govern the lives of people in Wharton, but neither does what could be conventionally described as “good taste”, moderation, aesthetics, nutrition, fitness, health, education or dental care…etc. To me the lifestyle led by most here is starkly different from what I know. But admittedly, I had lived a somewhat insulated life, without having much need to ever leave my primary comfort zones. Where I thought there was an economic gap between south and north Scottsdale, I think there is a planet gap between Scottsdale and Wharton. Everything from the pace to the motivations of life here is different. In Wharton people seem to either work very hard or barely at all. Farming and fracking are the things putting bread on the tables of a vast majority, as is every fast food franchise known to man. Few here have heard of such luxuries as Trader Joes, Wholefoods,Tofu…. Organic, yoga or Crossfit are not terms widely used or understood. Ordering coffee at the single coffee shop in town is a strange and somewhat frustrating experience, it’s almost as if although we speak the same language we cannot reach an understanding. I realize this is because people here do not alter their orders and do not express arbitrary preparation preferences, like people in LA are accustomed to doing. It is not a realm for the pampered or the particular. I have done my part thus far in giving LA girls a decidedly bad name.

There is no shortage of plump cows, languidly parked under shady trees and in fields, living their lives beneath the Texas sky on God’s green earth. As all animals should. Such sights feel to my heart like hugs. People are extremely nice, kind, polite, they appear to be quite united in their communal humanity. This is the advantage of a small town, without a great socio economic discrepancy. Considerations of wealth, ambition, vanity, competition, city stress, do not afflict these people or divide them in the ways that they do in other areas. It is a simpler world that I think breeds a kinder folk. As far as I can tell racial tensions don’t prevail here, people seem to live on equal footing, healthily intermixed. I can’t be sure, but from my limited observations, humans are less divided by race in this small town than in many other liberal, more cosmopolitan areas on the west coast, which is ironic. On the west coast although equality is a highly esteemed and hailed aspiration, it is not necessarily as much of a reality as it appears to me to be in Wharton. Again I think this is because socio economically everyone is in a somewhat same boat here. They occupy their small world together, they farm the same land, frack the same ground and drink the same beer in the only bar in town.

P.S. Lena, is the little Polo pony I got to ride on the 30000 acre ranch which is home to the Polo farm, and it was a truly beautiful thing. Not only is the scenery expansive and robust, but I have arrived at the conclusion that Polo ponies are perhaps the most fun to ride of all equine athletes. They are alert, very forward, have excellent endurance and listen very closely to their riders.

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15 thoughts on “On the culture shock of Wharton, Texas & some of its subsequent charms

  1. I’m glad you seem to be limiting the scope of your comments to Wharton, Texas, as opposed to Texas as a whole, only because Texas is big enough to swallow a whole – or a few, or several – other countries, depending on what countries we’re talking about. My only point being I’ve never been to Wharton, but I’ve lived in Fort Worth and Austin, and I’ve spent time in Dallas and Lubbock, and each of those places is very different than the others.

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  2. I’m sure the people of Wharton are thrilled to have a model ride into town who can explain the finer things in life to them like what a “Starbucks” and “whole foods” is. You should apply with the state department for an ambassadorship.

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  3. I live here in the Lone Star State and part of the reason I love it is because you will find a lot of that small-town kindness in the bigger cities. I’m not a native but I married in as soon as I got the chance 😉

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  4. Very good post. Like you, I’ve always lived in relatively urban settings — and even when I spent a few years living in Texas, it was in Dallas. If you ever want to experience the feeling of being in a different country while still being in the US, try visiting Barrow, Alaska. That is a real eye-opener. Hmm. I may have to write a post about Barrow.

    And your coffee situation can even happen in the big city. The first time I ordered coffee in New York City, the server asked me if I wanted “regular.” I said, “sure,” thinking that she meant regular coffee as opposed to decaffeinated. But in NYC (at the time, anyway — way before Starbucks ever existed — that’s how old I am), “regular” meant with cream (or milk) and sugar. Live and learn.

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