Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Travelogue: Where the wind comes sweeping off the plains

I just got back from a visit to Oklahoma.

On the way home, I saw a boy sitting at a Taco Bell with a bunch of plastic Army men and tanks and stuff spead out on the table before him. An old woman was sitting across from him playing with him. (see picture)

When I went inside I heard the kid say, "I love spendin' time with you, Grandma."

"I love spending time with you, too, Charlie," she replied.

During my stay in Oklahoma, I saw my niece, a recent graduate of OU, who is now employed at a hospital, where she works the ultrasound machine.

The other night, she said, a man came into the E.R. with a very serious problem. His girlfriend, or "ex-girfriend" as he described her, had kicked him in the 'nads. She was wearing some point-toed high heels. The guy's ball sack filled with blood and my niece had to use the ultra sound machine, which, in effect, takes pictures of various inside body parts. I think the guy had to have his nuts removed, if I remember the story right.

"You'd be surprised how many little boys come in who hurt themselves" in that area of the male anatomy, she said.

This illustrates, I think, one of the disservices that Hollywood has performed on the American people. The kick-to-the-gonads is a staple of the movie world, never failing to elicit a "Ooooh" from male audience members and cackles from the female spectators. But, really people, it's no laughing matter.

My niece has two kids, a 4-year-old girl and a 5-month-old girl. The 4-year-old is at that age of magical thinking and is completely enamored of princesses and all they entail. Since I haven't seen her in a couple years and figured she wouldn't remember who in the heck I was, so naturally I donned a cardboard and plastic king's crown for our reunion, which occurred at a Chili's restaurant in Oklahoma City.

She was real shy at first. I acted as normally as I could even though I was wearing a crown. I told her my name was King Olaf. She was extremely shy at first, as she is with most people she doesn't know, but after about 10 minutes that melted away and pretty soon she asked if she could have her picture taken "with the king."

She was wearing a princess sweatshirt featuring the likenesses of the Big 3 -- Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White.

(CORRECTION: The Big 3 are Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Belle, the Princess in OKC informs me.)

Besides Oklahoma City, for the first time I paid a visit to Tulsa, a couple hours up the Turner Turnpike.

Tulsa is a nice city. Not too big (a little over half a million, I believe) with rolling hills and lots of trees. It snowed when we were there, so kids were everywhere taking advantage of the hills with sleds of all shapes and sizes.

Leon Russell and Garth Brooks and Mrs. Garth Brooks (Trisha Yearwood) live there, I was told.

Sadly, Leon Russell has multiple sclerosis.

Garth Brooks, meanwhile, lives in a 26,000 square foot house outside the city that sits on a couple thousand acres. He bought his ex-wife and the children they have together a thousand-acre spread across the road from him.

I got this information from our guide, a lifelong resident of Tulsa, who had all sorts of information, including the apparent fact that Tulsa has one of the largest per-capita gay populations in the country. (I asked our guide, a woman, where she got this information, and she said the TV; she didn't like "Brokeback Mountain," which she saw with two gay friends, since her husband refused to go.)

It may surprise you to know Tulsa has a ballet and opera. As the locals describe it, Yankee oilmen brought all sorts of cultural influences down to Oklahoma during the oil boom, and they remain to this day.

Our guide said Tulsa is entertaining the idea of trying to draw a National Football League team to the city, and even has bought (I think) a large parcel of land for a future stadium.

I didn't want to rain on her parade, but asked her what size media market Tulsa has. She wasn't sure. It's 65th, according to Arbitron, but I didn't say anything, other than venturing the opinion that it'd probably be a mistake to a build a stadium without a team, like San Antonio did.

Anyhow, Tulsa seems like a fine place just as it, and most certainly doesn't need to pour millions of public funds into the luring of a professional sports team.

Whenever I go to Oklahoma, I'm struck by how friendly the people are.

Here's an example. At the hotel, I went to the gift shop and asked the clerk where the magazines were. She directed me to a pitifully small magazine rack tucked back in a corner. It was full of the usual celebrity gossip drivel, so I went back to the counter to get a paper. The clerk volunteered an apology for the poor magazine selection and I said something like, Yeah, I was gonna get a New Yorker or something like that. The clerk then immediately reached under the counter and gave me three of her own personal New Yorkers.

Yep, Oklahoma is OK.
[more photos on BanjoPics]


JD Allen said...

There is no way in hell Tulsa is OK. My ex-wife was born there and moved back there after the divorce. Ergo, not OK.

Banjo Jones said...

I feel the same way about Archer City, TX

Leigh said...

Banjo, that was just the sweetest observation, that boy and his granma. And I mean that.

Banjo Jones said...

i thought you'd like the kick to the 'nads part. you just never know what people'll like these daze. said...

OUCH! Lesson: don't let your woman wear pointed high heels! said...

... even in Oklahoma!

Jan said...

Thanks for your kind comments about Oklahoma! You should see us when we venture out of state. We're always talking to people and smiling and stuff. Many non-okies just look at us like we're crazy!

Well, except for that chick in the pointy shoes. I can only guess she was not from around these parts!