Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Sep 05 2015

To Oklahoma

So after San Francisco I flew to Oklahoma and spent a few days visiting my sister Leslie, who lives in Norman. As I mentioned, the flight was delayed, and the pilot told us that he would go as fast as he could. “We’ll put the pedal to the metal,” he said, which I found alarming; I just wanted to get there in one piece. The sun was shining in my window onto my tray in a fashion similar to the way it did in one of my favorite photos by William Eggleston, so when the drink cart came around and the stewardess asked me what I’d like, I said, “Something red.”

“Apple juice?” she asked, puzzled.

“No, something where the liquid is actually red.”

“Bloody Mary?”

“Close, and uh, tempting, but I’d like it to be transparent.” She would have been excused for backing away and calling the air marshals or whatever they are at this point, but she remained determined to get me the drink I wanted.

“Cranberry juice?”

Bingo. “That’ll do, thanks.” When I got my drink, I put it on the tray and took a few experimental shots. Thankfully the seat next to me was empty, but the people in the adjacent seats were sending curious looks my way. I tried putting my hand in the shot as Eggleston had, but it just didn’t work, so I just had the drink on the tray and the window. The planes of Eggleston’s day apparently had either higher trays or lower windows or both. When the stewardess passed by and happened to see one of my shots on my iPad, she smiled.

“So that’s what you were up to,” she said, nodding. “It’s nice.”

reddrinkI’d gotten the arrival time mixed up, so Leslie had to come to the airport twice, and then I’d forgotten about the security barrier, so that she had to wait even longer until I recalled that ordinary people can’t get anywhere close to gates these days and walked out to the arrivals hall. I can be a very trying traveller if you’re the one stuck trying to pick me up.

I was fortunate to be able to stay at the home of her friend Kim’s elderly mother-in-law, who was moved into a nursing home nine months ago. The house, a 40’s rambler that was apparently the scene of decades of family life, felt slightly spooky when I first arrived, as if I was violating someone’s most intimate chambers, but over the several days I stayed there it grew on me. All of the stuff, the furniture, accoutrements, knickknacks, abandoned toys and other inexplicable yet obviously personal paraphernalia are still there, as if parents and children could burst in at any minute. Wistful signs of the elderly woman’s final days dotted the house as well, i.e. rails on beds, abandoned wheelchairs, furniture moved out of the way, etc. The way the midwestern sun peeked into the house in the mornings and afternoons, illuminating the bright 40’s turquoise-and-blue bathroom tile and dusty shag carpet from the 70’s aroused my interest, and I couldn’t help but take a few photos while I was there. The house may be haunted, but the ghosts are largely welcoming once you stay with them a while.

Leslie took me to places like IHOP for breakfast, which was a real change for someone whose breakfast tends toward a simple piece of toast and an apple. While we were there a huge ambulance pulled up outside, lights flashing. EMTs walked calmly into the kitchen in back, but nobody batted an eye. We also went to a little place called The Diner on Norman’s Main Street, for breakfast a couple of times. The food was good, and the portions, as seems to be typical these days in America, were simply too much. There’s just no reason for that amount of food for one person. We also went to an alcohol store, which was stunning in its range and variety, and a farmer’s market, which was somewhat less stunning in those respects, but still interesting (They did have quite a variety of retro sodas. And squash).

Leslie’s friends who let me stay in their mother’s house were for some reason suffering from several minor calamities. Kim had twisted her ankle, and her husband and son had to push his boat to the dock when the engine failed. Nonetheless, they threw a nice little get-together for me in their backyard one evening, with good music, food and conversation punctuated by train horns. Later we played Cards Against Humanity in the living room, which was fun and evil.

One day we went out to Blanchard, Oklahoma, a small town where another of Leslie’s friends, Kelly, lives with her family in an old house and two small, molecule-like dogs bouncing around inside and out in the yard. We had dinner in a dining room decorated with a lovely old green mixer, and then played CAH into the night. I was slightly abashed to win so handily, but I’m sure it was beginner’s luck. Right?


posted by Poagao at 10:56 am  

1 Comment »

  1. You should try Misal. It’s the best restaurant in Norman (though my knowledge might be a bit dated) and the best Indian food in the state.

    Comment by Mark S. — September 5, 2015 @ 10:23 pm

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