Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Not a flinch among us

C's softball practice has begun and there are a slew of new girls who are on her team this year. Including C, there were 5 others from last year's group so it was pretty familiar ground for us all.

Two other Dad's showed up, one of which reluctantly accepted the task of being head coach, so I didn't have to step up and dig into my "Girl's Softball Coaching for Dummies," book. The other Dad has coached before and actually knows things like teaching the girls how to throw, catch, cover the infield, tag a runner out -- you know, the basics.

So, we're in pretty good shape and C is more than relieved that she doesn't have to call me coach. Not as relieved as I am, sweetie.

As we were winding up the evenings practice session, parents were dropping in to pick up their kiddies and talk to the coaching staff (ahem), about future practices, games, uniforms, snack buying rotations, etc.

One woman came up, her arm around one of the new players -- we'll call her Jayme, and introduced herself to me, the other two Dad's, their wives, and another player's mother. She had short cropped, bleached hair, several piercings in one ear, no noticeable traces of make-up, and had the following phrase prominently silk-screened on the front of her tee shirt... "Di-ver-si-ty
1.the state or fact of being diverse; difference; unlikeness.
2.variety; multiformity.
My So-Cal-Spidey-senses flared up and I glanced quickly to the other parents as Di-ver-si-ty Mom casually stated..."Hi...I'm one of Jayme's Mom's and..."

How 'bout this...not a flinch in the bunch.

Not a single raised eyebrow, conversational stutter, or awkward moment of discomfort. Hands were shaken, smiles seemed genuine, and welcoming praise was heaped on Diversity Mom's daughter for her prowess in the softball arts.

Label them whatever stereotypes that you want, but if these Okie's are anything, they are extremely polite. I actually felt a bit ashamed that I expected some quiet drama and that I was internally exploiting these people and the situation for some sick and twisted voyeuristic enjoyment on my part.

For a brief moment my small town didn't seem all that small anymore and I realized that I have a lot to learn...or unlearn as the case may be, about being, in the finest sense of the word, an Okie.

1 comment:

Emily said...

Oklahoma is an interesting state. I remember hearing a great story about a kid from Sand Springs who belonged to a student gay-rights organization.

When that frothing-at-the-mouth homophobic zealot from Kansas brought his posse to town to tell the gay kids that Jesus hates them, a girl from Sand Springs gave the most stereotypically Okie response I have ever heard:

"They're f*ggots, but they're OUR f*ggots. Leave 'em alone."

Okies don't always approve of each other's backgrounds, lifestyles, or beliefs, but there's kind of a "you can't pick your family" ethos that underpins things and ensures a higher level of tolerance than you'd expect.

Doesn't mean the folks at the ballpark would vote to legalize gay marriage. But the old Gloria Steinem saw about "the personal is political" just doesn't apply in Oklahoma.

Maybe some folks don't want "Heather Has Two Mommies" in the school library, but by Gawd, if Jayme has two mommies, and they both show up to the ballgame and cheer her on, then they're ours, and we'll sit right here in the stands with 'em and high-five 'em when Jayme hits a home run.