Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Why My Children Are Being Raised As Hog Fans

I had a friend back in college who was at his dentist in his home town- in a different state than where we attended school- and it came up while he was in the chair that the university went to was in my hometown. His mouth was still wedged open and the dentist was wielding that hook thing to scrape my friend’s teeth when the dentist said an astonishing thing. He commented that he had been to Tulsa once and had seen Oral Roberts University and that it was, as Oral Roberts had intended, a beautiful picture of the heavenly city. This was troubling to my friend on a number of levels, but primarily because he had slightly higher hopes for the heavenly city. And I have to admit, I, too, will be disappointed if it turns out that heaven is entirely filled with early sixties, space age architecture and coated with a lot of fake gold. My parents live less than a mile from ORU, so I am forcibly reminded of this every time I am home to visit. For the most part though, I love my home town and would move back there in a heart beat; I have friends who have moved to larger cities and are always saying things like “ Well, here in ‘large city X’ we have great culture, fabulous shopping, the Cheesecake Factory, random gun crime, etc.” All of those things are true of Atlanta as well and I know I’ll miss those things when it comes time for us to leave here-but I love both Tulsa and the small city in Northwest Arkansas where my husband grew up and where we spent the fantastic first three years of our marriage. When acquaintances here ask where we’re from, I usually say that we’re from Arkansas unless they’re specifically interested in my background. All of this to say, I think of myself as from both states. And I’d love to move back to either one day (or, frankly, anywhere that preschool admissions aren’t competitive). Rob and I though, in the privacy of our home, have a little “whose state is cooler” competition. I would like to state for the record that I appreciate them both and that none of this would ever had come about had one member of the marriage not felt the need to mock the other’s when that person’s home state’s tourism department launched their “OklaCool” tourism campaign. And the fact is there was nothing I could say- OklaCool is a fundamentally, inexcusably bad and embarrassing slogan. The best I could come up with was mocking Arkansas as “the mental health state” because of the ironic fact that while the majority of Arkansans report they feel they would be “stigmatized” if they sought mental health care, Arkansas has the third strictest mental health licensing laws in the country- so the brave Arkansan who sought the help of a counselor would end up seeing someone well certified. Which I recognize is a totally weak insult; but, really, what could I say that could compete with OklaCool? The next best I could do was making fun of the Hog Call done at all University of Arkansas sporting events and routinely by people who did not actually attend the school- it sounds vaguely like a cult chant to me. Unfortunate, because (and I am sad to admit this to my hometown friends) because Rob calling the hogs in a soothing voice is one of the few things that makes both E. and L. laugh and, if they’re fussing while we drive, quiets them right down. Anyway, you can only imagine my delight a few weeks ago when, after the babies’ early morning feeding, I saw on CNN that Little Rock has recently decided to make its new motto “The Rock,” which calls to mind nothing so much as the ex-wrestler turned actor Dwayne Johnson (I get a lot of my news from E! Entertainment Television). It was perfect. I had just commenced my routine of systematically working “The Rock” into conversation when Rob e-mailed me an article about Oklahoma’s new literacy campaign “Ya’ll Read.” Clearly, this was meant to be self-deprecating fun for Oklahomans who actually can read, but naturally, the way it’s being portrayed in the national media, it makes us look like hicks. As if coming from Arkansas and Oklahoma doesn’t make that a difficult label to shed when you move elsewhere- even here in Georgia, where the governor is named Sonny. So anyway, the score is now 3-2 in Arkansas’s favor (ORU, OklaCool, Ya’ll Read versus the Hog Call and the Rock). So until Oklahoma can come through for me, I have to allow Robert to raise the girls as Razorbacks. Here they are in their Auburn game day outfits with their dad. (The whole family is excited about passing these onesies on to their new cousin who’s coming around the middle of June!)