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IF THIS SOUNDS like a Texas version of the television show Northern Exposure, that's about right. I'm J.R. Lieber, but my classmates back on College Green knew me as Dave. However, after I arrived in Fort Worth, I decided I needed a nickname. Since the only Texan I knew -- or thought I knew -- was J.R. Ewing, I borrowed his moniker. Maybe somebody would confuse me with him.
   Turns out the only one confused was me.
   That first year in Texas was the worst of my life. Intimidated by every facet of Lone Star living -- speech, dress, mannerisms, mores, and food -- I struggled like General Santa Anna at the Battle of San Jacinto. (He lost, thereby giving Texas its independence.) Without a doubt, I was Texas's most-ignored newspaper columnist. In a cold blow, a local librarian commented that I wrote "like a Yankee." Of course, she was correct. The little things threw me off. Was chicken-fried steak a chicken or a steak dish? Why was worshipping the Dallas Cowboys akin to membership in a cult? And how did all those women get their hair to stand straight up?
   Living in the Quad had not prepared me for prairie life. The Penn Quakers? My old college team sounded wimpier than Texas Christian University's Horned Toads. And what was a horned toad, anyway? Continued...
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Copyright 1997 The Pennsylvania Gazette Last modified 11/13/97