“I can’t do my taxes tomorrow,” I told my accountant. “I’m coming in on a really late flight from Oklahoma.”
“Oklahoma? Why the hell are you in Oklahoma?!” he said.
Actually, that’s what everybody said. And I admit, when I flew to Oklahoma to receive the Sequoyah Children’s Book Award, and then drove an hour and a half from the airport to Ardmore, Oklahoma, I had no idea what to expect.
And you know what?
It was actually really cool.
The Oklahoma Library Association conference was full of very nice people. They bussed in close to two hundred kids for my little song-and-dance, I had a really long signing line, and met some very nice people. And the Sequoyah award is a big heavy medal and looks as if I took bronze in the 100-meter children’s booking.
And Ardmore was just unexpectedly awesome. Small town, lots of farming stuff…but also fabulous bookstores, antique shops, a master gardeners sale (Kevin refused to be a party to this, on the grounds that I would be stuffing plants into the suitcase and they wouldn’t grow in our clay) some really amazing restaurants…dude! If you had told me that I would find this in the middle of Oklahoma…well, I wouldn’t have doubted you, I just hadn’t ever thought about it.
And then Kevin and I went out on a pub crawl with librarians.
They drink like the Foreign Legion. We were all schnockered. The convention had rented a trolley to drive us around from bar to bar. I had a great conversation about native prairie restoration with a librarian groupie who happened to be a water rights lawyer. Kevin bonded with one of the locals over shared Lutheran roots. Admore has some awesome quirky little bars.
The next morning, nursing our hangovers, we headed out into Ardmore proper and went antiquing.
And this happened.
Exhibit Q for Why Kevin Is Awesome–when I say “I think I need to buy that antique stuffed pronghorn head!” he says “Okay.” (Whether this is wholehearted enthusiasm or merely an acknowledgment of the futility of debate, I leave as an exercise to the reader.) And carries it back to the car! Even when it sheds all over him! (In fairness, I think the thing is older than I am, so I’d probably shed too.)
The really fun part was finding a UPS store to ship the head home, as I was told this would not be acceptable as carry-on luggage. (“What if I put it in a clear Zip-loc baggie?” “NO.”)
I got very good, if complicated directions from a nice woman at the next antique store over, who drew a map on three connected post-it-notes. (I could have googled it, but honestly, by that time she was so invested in the process it seemed rude.) Astonishingly, we found the UPS store, walked in with the head…and they didn’t even blink.
“Right!” says the guy behind the counter. “Let me bubble wrap that, and see if I can cut this box down…”
You got the impression that the man dealt with taxidermy all the damn time. (I asked. He said yes, although mostly deer, not vintage pronghorn heads.)
Anyway, it’ll be here Tuesday. Needs a few bits of cosmetic repair, but nothing I can’t fix a bit of paint and/or glue.
So! Ardmore, Oklahoma! Unexpectedly awesome! And also I won a Sequoyah Award, and am grateful to the 3rd-to-5th graders of Oklahoma who voted for it! ‘Cos that’s even cooler than a pronghorn head.