Are You Stark Raving Mad?

The people of southern Maryland are not immediately delighted with me.

This has been hard to handle, I admit.  Because everyone in Texas generally thinks everyone else is pretty awesome.

There are always exceptions, but Texans are typically a warm and open people.  They smile at strangers and mean it.  They stop what they are doing to talk (and talk, and talk). Most folks in the lone star state are able to look up, hold eye-contact pleasantly, ask follow-up questions, and then wait patiently to hear the very lengthy, winding response.

Not so much in Maryland.

If there is any eye-contact at all it is to size up the amount of annoyance you are providing.  It is not pleasant.   There is no smiling allowed at first meeting, I have discovered.  And asking a personal question?  Have I gone stark raving mad?

Of course there are exceptions to this generalization, and my research is purely personal and empirical.  The people here are truly decent, good, interesting and gracious once you get to know them.  Open and welcoming at first encounter?  That, they are not.

For some reason, I took it upon myself to improve the entire Maryland emotional landscape upon my arrival to the state.  I meant to win over every single soul I encountered throughout the day with mega-watt warmth and hospitality.  I would show them a better way!  “You may be a little snippy now, but after five minutes with me you will be swell!”

“Heyyyy there!” I would beam crazily to one-and-all, no matter the degree of icy chill that was bouncing back.  If I detected resistance to my sunny advances, I only amped it up several notches.

“Sooo, June?”  June has her arms crossed, legs crossed, no eye-contact, no smile, every bit of body language closed, closed, closed. “Where ya’ from?”

I’d love to tell you it worked beautifully, and all you need to do is be happy, June melted, and now I am mayor of Happyville.

But no, my cheerfulness only seems to bug everyone and I probably appear somewhat drunk to most of the dear folks I meet.  I’ve been upsetting the Maryland protocol apple cart.  They don’t do “happy to meet you” here.

Winning the battle of a smile or some eye-contact has been tougher than I ever imagined. But, far from staying at the requested arm’s length, I’ve brought in the cavalry and recruited my family in the crusade.

The Halls are planting Texas-sized flags of warmth and pleasantness on every poor soul we encounter, like it or not.  We’ll be killing Marylanders with maddening kindness, and most certainly bugging the heck out of everybody.

Peace to you, and great delight in all your encounters today,


16 responses to Are You Stark Raving Mad?

  1. Anonymous says:

    CUTE! Hair….and God Bless Texas YA’LL 🙂
    Those Northerners will MISS YA’LL when you are gone– (we on the other hand, can’t wait to have you back!)

  2. Donna Urban says:

    Ha! Go Halls!
    p.s. your “Freedom” t-shirt should be enough to get ’em talking…love it!

  3. Anonymous says:

    I have a big smile on my face after reading this!

    Courtney Veerman

  4. Gigi says:

    That is a wonderful blog that brought a huge smile and warmth to my heart remembering your always sunny personality! Don’t be daunted (I know you are not!), you will get through to a few and awaken something deep, deep, d e e p down inside their soul. Miss you here in Texas and can’t wait to have you back!

  5. Anonymous says:

    I have never been brave enough to live outside the Lone Star State- way to spread our warmth!
    We miss y’all!

  6. Elizabeth says:

    So true here in NoVA, too! I’ve never lived in TX, but the greater-DC area doesn’t come close to the midwest for friendly. Still, it’s downright warm and fuzzy here compared to Boston. I take a perverse delight in saying a cheerful ‘hello’ to people I pass on my street because I know it ticks ’em off.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I thought I recognized that woman in the pic! We’ve only traveled north of Tennessee but I sure know what you mean 🙂 Miss you friend. Hey, this may be a long shot but keep us in mind if C wants a little TX time during all or part of your Italy trip. Richard and I were talking about how much fun it would be to have her visit. Also let us know if that condo next to yours might be free for a long weekend during your time at the beach in Aug. School doesn’t start for us until Sept. so that could work. Love and hugs to all the Halls! xoxo

  8. Pam Lawrence says:

    Love it all!!! Especially all of the Hall’s smiles!

  9. Fionnuala says:

    Keep at it – it sounds like a good strategy to me

  10. Anonymous says:

    ohhhh….i believe team hall’s smiles is how a best described you all in one word. that “smile” !!! but after reading this….i’m kinda’ nervous about moving up north here soon. ;-). hope illinois is ready for the southern friendliness. xox

  11. Rebecca says:

    The Eyes of Texas are upon you ….. and them! There really is something to Texas, but keep it quiet for fear they will want to move here!

  12. Anonymous says:

    maybe a glare is a smile???? Keep it up. Its infectious…Ive seen you in action…stark raving mad and all.

    love you guys and the smiles. Get em’ T!

  13. Anonymous says:

    Say “Howdy” to them and they will KNOW you are not an insider, and will be even more annoyed. Keep up the good work!

  14. Anonymous says:

    Oh yes, what do you expect from a state where the main university has a TURTLE for a mascot? I guess that Marylanders want to put their heads out, look around and then just go back into their shells.

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