Earlier this morning, my friend Kelly tweeted about a town in Texas that seemed, well, a little off its rocker.
In 1997, a man in Kleberg County convinced his county commissioners to officially adopt HeavenO as the area’s official greeting. The man — Leonso Canales — believes that “Hello” is evil because it contains the letters H-E-L-L. He even has a website devoted to the cause.
This amused to no end. When I saw the Tweet, I Googled Kleberg County and gave the county courthouse a call. The first number went to voice mail, and I received a “Hi” in greeting. The second time, someone picked up with a “Good Morning,” and I was too shy to ask if they still used “Heaven-O.” Independently, Molly did the same thing, and we both sent replies to Kelly via Twitter at the same time.
Enter Dave, also over Twitter. He offered to call and actually talk to someone about this. His version of events, paraphrased:
Nice Lady: “Good afternoon, Kingsville County?”
Nefarious Dave Metz: (Very carefully choosing his salutation) “Hi, I was calling…my friend sent me this link online and I thought it was just wonderful about how you all are saying ‘heaven-o’ instead of ‘hello’…and, well, I just thought that was really great and I was wondering if you’re still doing that…”
NL: “Gosh, that was awhile back…!”
NDM: “Yeah, I know! ’97 it looks like!”
NL: (chuckling) “Haha, yeah, not as much anymore. A few people still use it, but for the most part it died out. I guess it was just a craze.”
NDM: “Well how about ‘hello’, have people stopped saying it?”
NL: “Well, I’ve only been here since 2003, but back then there was a lot of hype…lots of people were saying ‘heaven-o’ and it was really popular. Now it’s just back to normal. People say whatever.”
NDM: “Aw, that’s too bad, well, I was just calling because I thought that was really swell, but, have a great day.”
NL: “B-bye now.”
While Dave was busy on the phone, Molly decided to e-mail Mr. Canales about the origins of his movement. We wanted to know if HeavenO, with its late-1990s web design, was still an active movement. He replied:
The new greeting did start in 1997. Heaveno is the official greeting for Kleberg County.This awareness was not only intended for this county, but for our nation. The Hello greeting, I felt…, did not represented us with the right sincere meaning. Heaveno came up as an alternative. Hi, Welcome, Howdy are, to me, are alright. Those salutations have no negative connotation. The O in HellO is not enough to hide HELL. You have to be blind or ignorant not to see Hell in HELLo. Sooooo, Ms.Molly, that’s the story.
Peace be with You, From Kingsville, Texas, I Thank You! Leonso Canales,Jr.
That is the story indeed.