OFF THE CUFF

Since we work for a newspaper in a town called Houston, we who produce the Herald are often contacted by people who mistakenly believe we’re in the big Houston down in Texas.

Every week, several phone calls come in from folks asking questions or wanting some form of information that’s relevant to the big Houston, but not to the little one here in the south-central Missouri Ozarks. In fact, it happens so often that we now sort of recognize key words or phrases and stop the person on the other end of the line and ask them if they’re speaking about Houston, Mo., or the other Houston that’s the fourth most populous city in the U.S.

Quite often, our inquiry results in a surprised reaction from the caller, and a bit of an apology as they say their goodbye.

As another aspect of the same confusion, I receive dozens of emails each year that are basically invitations to all manner of events in Houston, Texas. And I do mean all manner.

If I really wanted to, I could attend ritzy banquets and schmooze with public officials, athletes, rich business owners and lots of other “beautiful people.”

I could attend premiers of plays and movies, taste food at new restaurants, sample beers at new craft breweries, peruse exhibits at big conventions and even see new animals at the zoo.

I’d also be able to do many, many other things, simply because of the possibility that I might write about them or take pictures. And the best part is, I’d be able to do it all for free!

But alas, there’s that 666-mile gap between the two Houstons, which pretty much makes taking advantage of all the opportunities awaiting me in the Space City impractical at best, and realistically impossible.

Again resulting from the same confusion, I got an email a year or two ago congratulating Houston for “once again” being named the No. 1 “party town” in the U.S., beating out the rest of the top 10 that included Chicago, Austin, San Diego, Los Angeles, Atlanta, New York, San Jose, Dallas and Seattle. Wait – San Jose? I get why Austin is in there (hook ’em Horns!), but San Jose?

I figure there was an arrangement of some sort made for that rather ordinary Bay Area town to be ranked.

I replied that I heard Houston, Mo., had been ranked as the best party town between Cabool and Licking. I received no reply to my reply.

Speaking of email replies, when I get a message from someone who thinks I’m in Houston, Texas, I sometimes explain that I’m in Houston, Mo., that’s in Texas County, Mo. When I do, I almost always get a reply back that contains some variation of “no way!” or “that’s amazing!”

Anyway, I have to admit that it would no doubt be fun to don a lanyard with a press pass and check out all that being a reporter in Houston, Texas has to offer. I’ve never been one to shun “perks” of a job, and there are apparently a bunch of ’em down there.

But you know what? I’m good right here in the little ol’ Houston that doesn’t offer that stuff, but does offer the chance to avoid – in no particular order – oppressive heat and humidity for about seven months out of the year, mind-boggling hoards of traffic, long lines at grocery stores and everything else that is inevitable in a city with more than two million residents that’s the hub of a metro area with close to (gulp) seven million people.

Yep, Texas has its Houston, and I’m sure there are lots of cool things that go along with living and working there. But Texas County has its Houston, too, and it suits me just fine.

FACT CHECK See inaccurate information in this story? Tell us here.

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