Howdy

I have a confession to make. It's a little embarrassing. Maybe even shameful.

Are you ready?

Here it is: I can't say "Howdy."

That's right. I live in Aggieland, where howdy is the "official greeting."

People here have "Howdy" T-shirts and bumper stickers. There are Howdy buttons and Howdy tattoos and a Howdy website.

Billboards broadcast it, and there's even a group of Aggies committed to preserving the tradition of saying it.

Howdy even serves as decoration for elementary school classrooms.

But I just can't get it out.

It's not that I don't want to. I practice when I'm driving alone (whenever I'm not polishing my yodeling skills, anyway). I try it with different accents and intonation when I'm in the shower. I watch carefully as other people say it, hoping to pick up on some secret style or mannerism undetectable to outsiders.

Nothing works.

I'm not talking about just saying it, though. Clearly, I can string the two syllables together and utter a vocal rendition of the word.

The trouble is, what comes out sounds, well, let's just call it unnatural. Like when your mother-in-law says she loves you, it's just weird.

I'm more than a little envious of people who say it flawlessly without effort.

Even the wife can say it perfectly — with or without chewing tobacco in her mouth.

As for me, I get as far as "How" just to have "are you doing?" or "have you been?" or "is it going?" pop out uninvited.

The pressure is on this week, though, as I'm visiting a class at Texas A&M on Thursday and hope to unveil my first public "Howdy."

Let's just hope it's not tattooed on my wrist.

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