State Pride: What I've Learned Living in Oklahoma


This weekend I’m taking my Oklahoma-loving boyfriend down to Texas for a Yankees/Rangers game at the Arlington Ballpark. The tickets were his birthday present that I bought a long time ago (March) and waited forever (July) to give him.

He was so excited, I swear if he wasn’t such a manly man, I think he would have started crying. 

But that’s not the point. 

The point is, in three days we’re driving just short of three hours across the Oklahoma state line and into the Lone Star State. I believe in state pride, and I’ll be the first to tell you that I think Chicago is the best city in the country. The pizza is out-of-this-world delicious, the hot dogs are in abundance, and the seasons are gorgeous. The cornfields of Illinois still feel like home, and I have many happy memories of family camping trips in the fall. 
It wasn’t until I left my family in Texas and moved to Oklahoma that I fully understood state pride. Because let me tell you—people down here are crazy. (Down here relative to Illinois, not Texas.)

Maybe it’s because the Land of Lincoln has really never had a good college sports team (except one year [I think it was 2005] when the Illini men’s basketball team made it all the way to the final four), or maybe it’s because Illinois actually has more than one professional sports team (even though until the White Sox and, most recently, the Blackhawks, we couldn’t seem to win anything). But whatever the reason, solid state pride wasn’t something I necessarily understood. Until, like I said, I moved south.

Here’s a list of the things I’ve learned in my almost two years of living in Oklahoma (Note: This is not meant to offend; these are just what I’ve observed):

1. It's windy. Like, all the time.
2. There's red dirt.
3. If you say something to anyone from Oklahoma about the strange color of the dirt, they say, "Red is the color dirt should be." 
4. Everyone knows the state song. (I couldn’t even tell you what the state song of IL is.)
5. Everyone knows the state bird, the state color, the state flower, the state everything.
6. Thunder basketball is the greatest thing to ever happen to Oklahoma. 
7. You can always get tickets for a Redhawks game. 
8. Every day the bridge on I-40 comes closer to completely crumbling away.
9. I-44 E/W really runs north and south.
10. There’s a mountain in Oklahoma, which is really more of a hill made of tons and tons of rocks.
11. The potential threat of a possible tornado pales in comparison to what the news warns is coming—swirling winds, meteor-sized hail, and a volcanic suction funnel that will destroy everything you once loved in the blink of an eye.
12.  If you complain about the above overdramatic weather issue, people will give you a wow-you’re-such-an-insensitive-person glare and say, “Well, you obviously weren’t around during the May 3 tornados.”
13.  The pizza leaves much to be desired—even though no one knows it.
14.  If you live in Norman, you’re (almost) obnoxiously snooty about just how awesome you think Norman is. 
15.  You can't like both OU and OSU.
16. If you do claim to like OU and OSU, you’re either lying or you don’t know what you’re actually talking about. 
17.  And finally (certainly not least): You hate Texas. 

What is that about? I like all the states. I don’t discriminate. I mean, I liked Texas football before I even lived in Texas. 

But saying that could get me killed in Oklahoma. Which brings me to a funny story about state pride. (Note: this story is not about me being killed or almost killed or anything like that.)

It was probably fiveish months ago when I took five friends from church (including Jordan) and drove down to my parents’ house for the weekend. We stopped for a quick dinner before we left, and after that we drove for about two hours and were about to cross the state line into Texas.

“We’re about ten miles from the border,” I said. “Why don’t we stop at the Texas welcome center and go to the bathroom?”

Jordan turned and looked at me. “No way!”  He looked out the window just as we passed a sign. Thackerville. Three miles. 

(Disclaimer: Apologies to anyone who lives in Thackerville. I don’t mean to offend you, but I really do suggest you move.)

“We’re stopping in Thackerville,” Jordan announced. “I want to pee in God’s country before we get to Texas.”

“That’s stupid,” I said. But we pulled off the exit anyway, where we soon found a hole-in-the-wall bar/gas station/casino.  

The Texas welcome center is way nicer than this, I thought. But I decided to take the high road and not say anything.

The boys hopped out and ran into the bar/gas station/casino to relieve themselves, while the only other girl in our group of six and I waited in the truck. It didn’t take long for them to come strolling back across the parking lot (as much as one can stroll across a parking lot in Thackerville). They were grimacing and shaking their heads as they approached the truck, so I hopped out and was instantly assaulted by a wave of stink.

“Ugh!” I shouted. “Smells like you guys walked through a cloud of hot smoke then straight through a fart!” (Yes, I am a refined, delicate lady.)

“I know,” Jordan said sadly. “It smelled in there.”

“Well do something!” Sometimes I like to be dramatic, and this was one of those times. So I held my nose and started coughing in an effort to enhance the seriousness of my displeasure.

Jordan immediately began digging through his backpack, eventually coming up with a small bottle of cologne. If he didn’t use the whole bottle, he came close as he tried his best to cover the smell.

“Is that better?” He leaned toward me, hopeful, his neck stretched out like a giraffe.

I took a small sniff. “Not…really. Now it’s more like manly hot smoky fart.”

But by this point we all felt that we’d wasted enough time in Thackerville, so we piled in and rolled down the windows to let the stink escape.

A few miles down the highway, I saw it. A fresh beacon of light shining through the darkness. Bathrooms. Running water. Fresh, cold, smokeless air. And a sign—Welcome to Texas.  

“There’s where we should have stopped,” I mumbled, crossing my arms and sliding closer to the window.

“But Oklahoma is God’s country,” Jordan replied. Clearly he didn’t understand. And apparently neither did I. 

Man, I thought, people from Oklahoma are so snobby! What does that even mean? God’s country?

Fast forward fivish month later to today. I emailed our music minister at church (who recently moved from Texas) to tell him I wouldn’t be at church on Sunday because I was visiting my parents in Texas for the weekend. 

When I saw his reply, I had to laugh: 
"Hope y'all have fun! Kiss the ground for me out there. That's God's country."

Okay, so it's not just Okies.  

Southern state pride. I've never seen anything like it. But one thing is definitely clear: If I'm gonna fit in down here, I've gotta get some of my own. 

Anonymous said...

I DO love the scissortail fly-catcher. I was thinking about that bird the other day. I miss him. We don't have them up here.

And I learned all of those things too, shortly after I first moved to Oklahoma. It's a special state, you've gotta admit. :)

And Thackerville - I love that. And the "God's country" thing - that's funny to me, only because I've never heard anyone from Oklahoma say that about Oklahoma. Usually it is said about really pretty places - like the Northwest. Haha.

Okay, enough ramble-commenting from me. :)

Amanda said...

It is a special state, and I like it :) I also like ramble-commenting. Keep it up!