I live in a place that believes on the 7th day, God created Wal-Mart, Chik Fil-A and Cracker Barrel and that Jesus hunts deer and drinks beer while wearing the American flag. It’s Oklahoma, but it’s not OK.
I long to flee and relocate of course, but in the meantime, I’m sitting here in a red Christian prison where the DA proudly advertises his faith; where physicians, yes, scientifically educated and board certified medical doctors have Christian verses prominently framed and mounted on their office walls; where I get well-meant bibles as gifts from co-workers and it’s nearly impossible to hire anyone from carpenter to electrician to plumber to landscaper without an unsolicited lecture on their missionary work.
Recently, in a roomful of peers who were making fun of parents choosing to name their child Wolfgang Amadeus, I casually commented, “well, they named him after Mozart.” What ensued was a Babel of dubious shock. My hair almost burst into flame. How do I get through the days without throwing up in my mouth every hour? I drink copious amounts of Dew. It burns away the bile.
The thing is, I grew up here. Before I knew any better, I fell in love with the place if not the people. There’s nothing as sweet and sacred as an early morning skate on the river and smelling either the spring wildflowers or the rotting leaves and woodsmoke and seeing the bunnies, ducks, lizards and turtles along the way.
We have one of the best library systems in the county. We have a glorious art deco downtown; and one of the most beautiful skylines in existence. Our Glow Haven peaches are the best on earth. And we do have ghettos of safety: certain areas of town are populated with My Kind. Plus I have deep roots here. All of my past and my memories are intact around me. I have established my garden as a certified wildlife habitat (www.nwf.org) and a monarch butterfly way station (www.monarchwatch.org). I planted a tree when I married my partner/spouse. I have planted trees in memory of dead loved ones. I have scattered ashes. I just installed my own Little Free Library, the first and only one in Tulsa. (www.littlefreelibrary.org) I’m planning an apiary and an urban chicken coop. Not that I can’t do that anywhere, but I’m years into project development here.
I would like to get a t-shirt that reads, “Just another feminist, pro-choice, pro-GLBTQ, vegetarian, bisexual atheist introvert for animal rights” but instead, I settled for a shirt that proclaimed in black block letters on a pale gray background: “This is what an atheist looks like.”
So last weekend, I decided to wear the shirt Out. I prepared myself for abuse, brawling, gunfire, arrest and being burned at the stake.
And in local vernacular, I’ll be dogged if I did not make a thousand new friends that day. When I’m Out, something an introvert resists and dreads, I’m severely menacing and difficult to approach because I don’t want your blah blah to slow down my mission of efficiency. Well, all of that dissolved with the shirt. It was like a giant welcome mat on my boobs. Atheists materialized in unprecedented numbers and expressed enthusiastic agreement and support for me and my shirt everywhere I went. Apparently, and I don’t say this lightly or often, I am wrong. Wrong about Oklahoma. It is covertly liberal! I was in a happily exhausted stupor when I arrived back home. I folded the shirt tenderly and put it away, vowing never to wear it Out again unless I’ve taken Ecstasy first.
I take back all my contempt for this alleged red state and I amend my opinion.
Oklahoma is secretly progressive! And it’s home.
Clara Nipper writes fiction and blogs-www.claranipper.org. When not writing, she makes desserts, http://www.andyscandies.biz and enlarges her certified wildlife habitat gardens. Her two murder mysteries (Femme Noir and Kiss of Noir) have been published by Bold Strokes Books and are available at their website: www.boldstrokesbooks.com and on Amazon.com. She is a contributor to local publications: This Land Press www.thilsandpress.com and the Tulsa Voice. Clara also skates for Tulsa Derby League under the derby name Cat Owta Hell. With two Rollercons, countless clinics and boot camps under her jamming belt, it is safe to say it’s derby until death for this Jammer Assassin. Outside the rink, she has had roller derby articles published in Five on Five Magazine-www.fiveonfivemag.com, Hit and Miss Magazine-www.hitandmissmagazine.com.au/, USARS Magazine, Lead Jammer Magazine- http://www.leadjammermag.com, Blood and Thunder and Derbylife.com. Currently, her works in progress are two coming of age novels and another Tulsa-based murder mystery entitled, Murder on the Rocks. Find Clara at her website, on Facebook, Twitter (@mindybendy), Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, Linked In, Amazon Author Pages, Good Reads, Derby Social, Word Press and at the farmer’s market.
Facebook.com/clara.nipper and facebook.com/pages/cat-owta-hell
Twitter: @mindybendy, Good Reads: claranipper
Instagram: claranipper, Pinterest: pinterest.com/catowtahell/
Tumblr: Catowtahell, Linked In: Clara Nipper
Derby Social: Cat Owta Hell, WordPress.com: Clara Nipper
Amazon Author Pages: amazon.com/claranipper, amazon.com/author/www.claranipper.org