I know that the term "Flyover State" is derogatory, demeaning and elitist. Likewise the the phrases "Mountain people", "Rednecks", "Country Bumpkin" are not generally used as flattery. It's wrong to apply those terms to fellow citizens whose hopes, dreams and aspirations are often very similar to those of the "important people" who live on the East or West Coasts, or in major metropolitan areas.
But I live in Oklahoma and sometimes, when I am on an airplane flying in to Tulsa International, I just want tap the pilot on the shoulder and ask if he or she might consider not landing here, fly a little further. Fly to Europe, or Seattle, Portland or maybe Boston. Dammit fly to Austin, if you must, but don't land here. The natives are racist, bigoted, homophobic misogynists and I'm done with them.
The rest of this tale lies below the squiggle. Most Oklahomans won't read it because it is orange, and they refuse to cross the colour bar.
My eldest daughter is thirteen. She is a happy girl, in the way that teenage girls are happy. That is, ecstatic one minute and deeply morose the next. It can, at times, be difficult to discern her current frame of mind, the visual clues one normally relies on are frequently obscured by a cellphone, or isomething.
She is, however, a straight A student who just made All-Region Band with her alto-sax, and tonight will be inducted into the National Junior Honors Society. So ... Go Mackenzie, we are very proud of her.
As parents we are torn over how best to help her gain a full understanding of the world she lives in. We feel it important that she learns this as one day soon she will vote, probably marry, and have her own family to raise. Our problem is that we are very much a small minority around here, being as we are liberal, progressive, accepting, inclusive and tolerant ... and at least one of us is Atheist too.
Mackenzie has had run-ins with people before today. Many of her friends, and especially the parents of her friends, are not like us. They almost all attend Church regularly, and the predominant church around here is Baptist. Specifically "Southern Baptist Convention" Baptist.
Last night she was sat on the sofa "buzzing" at regular intervals, the buzz is always followed by a rapid moving of fingers which I assume to be a text message joining the swirling vortex of electrons whizzing all around us. This particular text resulted in her rapid departure to bed.
It seems that her boyfriend just dumped her. Now Mackenzie has boyfriends much like the younger daughter has playmates. For the time being at least they are simply "the current boy that they go to the movies with". I am tragically aware that it will all get a bit more serious in the next few years, but apparently not until they are sixteen.
I thought he had pulled the typical boy stunt of dumping her before Valentines Day, so as not to have a present to buy, and on the fifteenth it would all be back on again. Cynical, I know, but it happens every year, at Christmas too. I was wrong.
He had dumped her for a much worse reason than that. It is no coincidence that last night was Wednesday. They go to Church on Wednesday, the ones that attend, and last night they had a talk, and showed a film. The film described a life in which "dating" before age sixteen was wrong. Mainly it was wrong because there was a 99% chance that you wouldn't actually be dating the person that you would eventually marry. Pleased to note that the Baptists at least believe that their children are members of the 99%!
So dating was wrong and those who dare to date are basically not following Jesus and not living right. I remember when I was thirteen, inviting Jesus along on a date would be similar to inviting you Mum ... Ugh! There was more to this movie and it was about "Purity" and stuff. I have to laugh sometimes.
"Purity!!! Fucking Purity!!! You have the blackest, least pure, and most ignorant hearts I have ever come across and believe me, that is a very low bar".
There is the dilemma. We want her to grow into an aware and mature woman, yet to facilitate this we have to open her eyes to the bigotry and hate she lives amongst. That causes her pain and, in turn, it pains us to witness.
Her ex-bf hates gay people. Mackenzie recently befriended a girl at school who professed an uncertainty about her own sexuality. Her ex-bf doesn't, apparently, hate this girl, he likes her but absolutely fails to see how his attitude, the attitudes grafted on to him by his parents, make this girls life a misery. Not only are the parents bringing up the next generation of stupid, they are conflicting them too. The dissonance is deafening. It is no surprise that many around here do not believe in evolution. Honestly, they are justified in that belief, there being so little evidence that any evolution has happened in Oklahoma.
They are teaching their children to hate. The kids are, at least for a while, conflicted about this, because children do not hate naturally. There is a learning curve, and it is hard on them.
We will catch Mackenzie when she falls. It is our duty, because we are the ones tripping her and we make no apology for that. The sheeple who are our neighbours will not understand. That's okay, we would like them to but we don't need it.
As parents are oft moved to say ... She will thank us one day. I will settle for her growing up to understand, thanks are not necessary.