Whenever I tell people I am from Oklahoma, there is usually one common question I get: “Wait, is that the South?” I have wrestled with this question for quite some time now. Am I Southern? What puts the y’all in a Southern belle’s step? I do not have an accent, but I can say “bless her heart” faster than a turkey runs on Thanksgiving. I know only a handful of people who own a gun, but I have seen a multitude of billboards asking where I am planning on spending my eternity.
As far as I am concerned, Oklahoma is just a watered-down version of Texas with a dash of midwestern on the side. I want to have Okie pride, but every time someone asks me what is special about Oklahoma, I stare blankly into the distance trying to remember. I have been known to call Oklahoma a cultural desert. However, the barren landscape of my adolescence shaped me, much like the winds that come sweeping down the plains. As I reminisce on my time spent in this lovely state, I will try to recall some memories that are distinctly Southern-ish.
If you have used the internet in recent years, you have probably seen jokes about horse girls. I have it on good authority that the elusive horse girl is born and bred in Oklahoma. I cannot understate the prevalence of horse girls in this area. Everyone and their dog is a horse girl. There was one horse girl named Jessi who I befriended in first grade who took me to her house and showed me her vast collection of horse figurines. I continued to be friends with Jessi until one fateful day. We were playing in my backyard one brisk autumn evening when she picked up a stick and asked me to throw it. I complied, and to my surprise, she got down on all fours and ran on her hands and knees to the stick, picked it up with her mouth, galloped back to me and dropped the stick at my feet. After I declined to play fetch with her, Jessi decided we would no longer be friends.
Another distinctly Southern part of Oklahoma culture is debutante balls. Women who come from families with old money and high social standing are invited to a ball so that they can “enter” into society. Traditionally, this meant these women were ready for marriage and functioned, unnervingly so, as a showing for potential brides. They were even required to wear white, floor-length ball gowns. Nowadays, the debutante balls keep up the same rituals but mainly serve as an overly fancy excuse for college-aged kids to drink. I went to one this past year, and it was very uncomfortable to see two of my best friends, both equestrians (A.K.A. fancy horse girls) paraded around a venue wearing literal wedding dresses. This brings me to my next topic: getting married in your early twenties.
I do not know what they are putting in the water, but the majority of people in Oklahoma are desperate to get married before they turn 25. I know girls who have Pinterest boards filled with wedding invitations, dresses and rings even though they have no partner in sight. To be fair, there is nothing to do in Oklahoma, so maybe people get married out of boredom or because they want to throw a big party. Is that rude to say? Yes. Is it true? Also, yes.
Despite its flaws, I love Oklahoma. Every time I come home, I look forward to seeing the cows and fields and trees that span for miles. I will be the first to admit that Oklahoma has cast its honky-tonk magic on me, yet I am unashamed. I am, however, still afraid of horse girls.