8 Reasons Why Rural Oklahoma Doesn’t Suck
11:53 AM EDT on October 16, 2017
Miranda Lambert once sang “Everybody Dies Famous in a Small Town.” Having grown up in Elk City way out in Western Oklahoma, I think I could adopt that ballad as my theme song. I swear to God, to this day I am far more famous for being on the cover of the Elk City phonebook in high school than I am for my TLO articles. There is something about rural Oklahoma that makes everyone feel like they are welcome and belong. Unless you’re LGBT or non-Christian, but that’s another article. So as I packed up my overnight bag to reinforce my grandma’s guilt-tripping about never visiting and plan to head back to my hometown for the weekend, I reminisced on other attributes that make rural towns great. Here are 8 reasons rural Oklahoma doesn't suck.
There is No Need for Social Media
One great thing about living in rural Oklahoma is that nobody really needs social media. And no, it isn’t because these towns are more fans of the “simpler” pre-social media times. It is because you don’t have to post about your wild Saturday night at Rhonda’s Longhorn Bar for grandma to find out how many shots you can take without meeting the floor face-first. These towns are generally so small that everyone already knows all of your business without the help of Facebook.
You Can Always Find Friends
Growing up in rural Oklahoma, there wasn’t always a lot to do. You could go to the late night (9:30 PM) movie. You could drive around Main Street for hours. Or you could get into a fight for your sister’s honor down by the lake. That’s about it. But somehow you could always find someone to hang out with. Maybe it is because you only had a graduating class of 27 so there weren’t that many buddies to keep up with. Or maybe it is because there were only 3 places open on Friday nights after 7:00 in the evening, including Wal-Mart and a convenience store/bait shop. No matter where you went, you were never far from your high school classmates. No matter how hard you tried.
There Really Aren’t That Many Meth Houses
I mean, everybody knew where and what the orange house was. But we also knew not to go near it if you wanted to live and have all of your teeth by the time you graduated from junior high. As long as you are aware of your surroundings, meth isn’t that big of a menace.
There is a Church on Every Corner. And Alley. And Sometimes Abandoned Auto Parts Store.
There were many different flavors of Christianity in my hometown. We had those who didn’t drink or dance. The drinkers who didn’t dance. The dancers who didn’t drink. And then you had us Catholics who would do both because you had to do something worth talking about in your mandatory monthly confession. In fact, there were so many churches in my hometown that everyone had their own personal Jesus.
You Become an Expert in History
You aren’t just good with history because your school took you on field trips to the same museum in Weatherford so often that you could be considered a Smithsonian-level expert on Lt. General Tom Stafford. But also because the social norms that guide some rural Oklahoma towns haven’t changed since 1955, so you were living in history. It is like the movie Groundhog Day. Except instead of Bill Murray learning about how to cherish a small town’s quirks by living the same day over and over again, your lesbian friend learns ways to explain to her preacher over and over again why she just can’t seem to find the right man.
People Have Guns
In rural Oklahoma people are more concerned if you don’t concealed carry than if you do.
You Live on a Dude Ranch
At Flying W Guest Ranch just outside of Elk City, $1,500 is all you have to spend to enjoy a week long vacation that consists of the cowboy experience. You pay to spend your days working cattle bright and early in the morning and then eating dinner on the front porch after a hard day’s work. Man, $1,500 is steep. My great-grandparents’ house provided the same experience for members of my family for generations and all they had to pay was their physical and emotional wellbeing.
Rural Oklahomans Have the Best Vacations
Everyone from rural towns gets excited when they make a trip up to The City. There is only one “city” and that’s OKC. What better place to honeymoon or celebrate three months of sobriety than going somewhere that has Olive Gardens, movie theaters with more than 4 screens, and a brick and mortar JC Penny’s? So next time you think the options in the weekly Friday Night in the Big Town are lame, just think about this: my family used to vacation to Oklahoma City.
Hayley will die famous. Or infamous. She really hasn't decided yet. Follow her on twitter @squirrellygeek
In my spare time, I officiate secular weddings, read about dead people, and search for the American Dream.
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