Dear University of Oklahoma,
I wanted to write this letter to you... Well, I suppose not to you, given that you're an inanimate university, but rather to your fan base -- your students, alumni, faculty, staff, administrators, and supporters the world over...
Being from south-central Kansas, and having spent much of my youth visiting Oklahoma, I feel a certain kinship with the residents of your state -- a very familial, almost cousin-level kinship. No, not like my relationship with the cousins on my mom's side... I can't stand them. I mean more like the cousins on my dad's side. I hardly know them. In fact, I don't even remember all of their names. But, I know that we have gone through some crazy-a$$ $h!t together, because holy crap is my family weird!! ...But, I digress...
We are familial in that we are both traditionally conservative states, who have some politicians bordering on psychotically conservative. We are known for our proud traditions of farmers, craftsmen, and blue-collar workers who paid their dues, pulled themselves up by their bootstraps, and made a difference in their communities -- because they were honest, hard-working people who sacrificed for their families and their country.
And it is because of this kinship that we share -- that, and the fact that some members of the RCT community no longer want me to do Rock Chalk Mocks -- that I have decided to forgo Mocking the University of Oklahoma.
Sure, your mascot only furthers the stereotype that all Oklahomans are cheating a$$holes who will break every rule and social construct to make sure they profit before others... and your OU crimson is reminiscent of Oklahoma's red dirt that stains people's white athletic socks whenever they visit... and your football team is so successful and revered that no one bothers to attend any other athletic events, including your basketball games... and your campus is so poorly laid out that post-game traffic is ridiculous... and your school song was stolen from a Rodgers & Hammerstein musical...
But, don't you see...? Despite all your flaws, we must overlook them, because we're family. We share the same burdens of rural-living, hoe-down hosting, tractor-driving, meth-dealing redneck stereotypes to those other states back East or out West. Those same people who could never appreciate a beautiful Kansas sunset or an Oklahoma harvest moon believe that we are basically the same -- that Kansas and Oklahoma is one giant eye sore known for its ridiculous gun violence stories and its tornado-based disasters. Never mind the fact that our states also happen to provide ample food and energy resources to the rest of the country. What do they know?
For instance, Coasters probably think that Norman is a town constructed out of cowhide and straw held together with tumbleweeds and Devil's Claws; and that the University of Oklahoma is basically a port-a-potty outside a barn-turned-football stadium. And while some KU fans might believe that to be true as well, I know the truth -- that Norman is an idyllic, quaint OKC suburb, and that the OU campus is actually beautifully lined with so many maroon and burgundy bricks and white wooden accents, you actually forget that other colors exist in the visible spectrum.
How do I know this, you might ask? Are not the almighty Jayhawks forbidden from frequenting other states, let alone showering them in compliments? As I child, I was (albeit unwillingly) carted to Oklahoma City on a somewhat regular basis. The drive from my home near Wichita was much closer and less exerting than a similar drive to Kansas City. In Oklahoma City, there was the famous OKC Zoo, the Kilpatrick Center, and the infamous Frontier City. Even though your Bricktown is essentially a rip-off of San Antonio's Riverwalk, I enjoyed it all the same, possibly (some might say) because I didn't know any better.
Granted, there was that rough patch for me in 2000 when your zoo allowed four of its beloved dolphins to die, and then shipped the surviving ones off to God-knows-where. As a child who had dreamed of becoming a marine biologist and a dolphin trainer, mostly because of my interactions with the aforementioned creatures, I admit that I had a bit of a Michael Scott "Where are the turtles" moment when I showed up to the Oklahoma City Zoo -- after a 2.5-hour drive -- only to find out the sad, sad truth.
But, in the end, we are family, and family doesn't let each other get torn apart by outsiders. They focus on what holds them together, on their kinship. So, even though the rest of the country might think Oklahoma is a good-for-nothing, Bible-thumping, people-judging, casino-ridden, chain-smoking, trailer park-living, meth-cooking, earthquake-causing, tornado-prone state of hicks and rednecks (Is there a difference? A question for the philsophers)... We fellow Midwesterners know the truth.
That you are.
P.S. Who are we Kansans to judge? We're considered all the aforementioned things, too. We just get the benefit of telling Coastal folk that they're actually thinking of Oklahomans instead of us.