In last week’s version of this column that’s “about nothing,” I jokingly discussed all the offers I’ve had from public relations-types who mistakenly think I work for a publication in the big Houston down in Texas.

But while the main focus of the piece was a light-hearted look at all the perks I’m missing out on, it concluded with a very real statement about how happy I am to be living in the little Houston nestled in the Missouri Ozarks as opposed to the megalopolis in the Lone Star State that has the fourth largest population of all cities in the United States and is the hub of the fifth most populous metropolitan area.

With a bit of prodding by a friend, I thought I’d elaborate on exactly why I’d much rather be here than there.

•When you go to a restaurant in the little Houston, you see people you know (even the workers) and feel like you’re in a safe, friendly environment. In the big Houston, you might be surrounded by people who won’t even make eye contact, let alone strike up a conversation.

•I have a friend who grew up in the big Houston. He said there are basically two seasons during each year: The hot season and hotter season. I prefer the distinct four seasons we get in the Missouri Ozarks, and as we know, there’s even the chance of experiencing all four in a single day.

•How about driving every day on the freeways in the big Houston? Forget about it. I like living in a place where you can drive 15 miles to an adjacent town and see about 11 cars the whole way, and where four cars trying to exit the Walmart parking lot at the same time is considered a traffic jam.

•Speaking of driving, if your vehicle breaks down in or near the little Houston and you’re standing next to it on the side of the road wondering what your next move is, I feel like there’s a better than average chance that someone will pull over to see if they can help. I’m not sure you that’s going to happen in the big Houston. In fact, it’s possible that someone might honk or yell at you, and it might be better if nobody stopped, because their motive could well be something other than kindness.

•And what about crime? Heck, we residents of the little Houston don’t even know what crime is compared to people who live in the big Houston. Sure, we have some crime, but that goes with the territory of being a human being in a world dominated by them. But there’s no comparison with what goes on in a place like the big Houston where so many humans are jammed into a relatively small space.

•I’ve shopped in grocery stores in several big cities, and it’s no fun to have to bob and weave through the crowded aisles to try to make you way to the next thing you want to put in your buggy. Here in the little Houston, or in nearby towns, you might come across three or four people in an aisle, but usually not more than that. It’s so much more calm and relaxing than the antagonistic competition that goes on in stores in places like the big Houston.

•We in the little Houston also get to see a wide variety of animals without much effort. In the big Houston, there’s not a lot to see other than people, cars, buildings and lots and lots of asphalt and concrete.

•As residents of the Missouri Ozarks, we in the little Houston are just a few minutes away from some truly wonderful examples of natural beauty. In the big Houston, you’re a few minutes away from more asphalt and concrete and reaching any real natural beauty might require a day trip, if not more.

•Here in the little Houston, kids within the school district are actually considered people, rather than statistics in a huge conglomerate, like is usually the case in places like the big Houston.

I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea.

Yep, while you might have to give up some “amenities” and deal with some ticks to live in the little Houston, I’ll gladly make that tradeoff to avoid a lot of the stuff that would go along with living in a place like the big Houston.

Sure, our little ’ol Houston doesn’t have all the restaurants, theaters, nightclubs, pro sports venues, malls and other stuff that its bigger namesake has, but I’m OK with that. I’d much rather take it easy in the much smaller version here in Texas County, Mo., and I know I’m far from alone in that respect.

Don’t get me wrong – I understand that some people prefer the mayhem of big city life, and that’s just great for them. I spent decades doing it, and it has its advantages.

It just doesn’t appeal to me any more.

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. Email: ddavison@houstonherald.com.

Doug Davison

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. Contact him by phone at 417-967-2000 or by email at ddavison@houstonherald.com.

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