Absaloms in Oklahoma

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Following some links from Brandon Dutcher's blog, I came across the blog of the Absalom family. Alex and Hannah Absalom and their three boys moved from Sheffield, England, to the Oklahoma City area in 2007, where Alex joined the staff of Bridgeway Church.

It's always interesting to see your own culture through new eyes, especially when those new eyes are connected to a frank and funny voice. The Absaloms are immersing themselves in local culture and reporting their reactions on their blog. Here are a few of the experiences they've had so far:

Home appliances:

We now own a washing machine and dryer that are large enough to wash not only all of our family's clothes in one go, but also the children too. However those machines are topped by our new fridge/freezer, which comes complete with a whizzy dispenser on the front that makes three varieties of ice and a colony of penguins on the second to bottom shelf.

Upon hearing our report back after a hard day in Lance & Stacy's pool, Joel's summary was "Why is everything in America so large, especially the people?".

Pedestrians:

Joel came dashing in to find me the other day.

"Daddy! Daddy! For the first time I've just seen someone actually walk past our house!"

In a later entry, they are stopped and interrogated by a man with a "huge handlebar moustache, worthy of Asterix the Gaul" who found their strolling on a country lane highly suspicious.

Public transport:

We must have driven the best part of 1000 miles in the last 6 weeks (for our European readers: it's a very scattered city!), but that was the first time I'd seen a regular bus running....

I've done a little research and it turns out that the buses run on just a couple of routes, themselves selected by a strange process that defies natural logic for where they should start or finish. Bus usage is also not helped by the way that the bus stops are camouflaged in a manner that would impress Jack Bauer.

The Wildlife Expo:

There was an unwritten dress code that involved checked (plaid) shirts, old baseball hats and anything with something printed on it indicating support for either John Deere, the U.S. military or huntin', shootin' or fishin'. A few of the experienced types managed all three at the same time, receiving many sartorial nods of approval....

Thus it turned out that the wildlife in question was there to be fished, hunted, shot, eaten or stuffed. All very interesting for something that was being run by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and "a coalition of conservation organizations". Clearly here the word conservation has a different meaning to the sense in common usage in the rest of the world.

OU football:

The referees - all seven of them - originate from English Morris Dancing, since they tuck their trousers into their socks and throw handkerchiefs into the air whenever they are excited. Locally this is called throwing a flag, but really it's a hankie.

Silver Dollar City and a timeshare presentation in Branson:

Branson is a town that has grown up entirely, and I mean entirely, around the entertainment business. In many ways it is a Mid-West/Bible Belt version of Las Vegas. This means that the overarching Vegas theme of entertainment-around-gambling is replaced by entertainment-around-God'n'country. Thus you have shows full of country music, 60s tribute bands, country music, crooners, country music, dancers (less can-can, more line-dance) and cutting edge comedy, if your edge was cut in the 1940s. Did I mention they also like country music a great deal?

Mall walkers:

Instead of enjoying such risky things as grass, fresh air and the sun, they instead choose to exercise by marching briskly around the shopping mall. Now this might make sense if Oklahoma City was labouring under 2 feet of snow or a 40C heatwave, but yesterday was 14C, dry and a very pleasant day. However, the big scary outside doesn't have such basic fundamentals as seats every 50 yards, five fast food outlets and exactly the same experience every time.

The ice storm:

People have seemed remarkably stoical and positive. From the various conversations we've had in shops and our neighbourhood, as well as through the church, there is what we Brits would call the Blitz spirit shining through! People have been helping each other out and sharing homes and resources, and so far we've not had stories of people dying through lack of care from others....For lighter distraction we've also enjoyed the antics of the local weathermen, with each channel outdoing the other with their forecasts. The local stations even have special little logos and stirring music to go with reports, and we have rolling lists on screen of cancelled events and closed schools, businesses and churches (this being the South).

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1 Comments

Jamison said:

What an interesting perspective... thanks for sharing!

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on August 24, 2008 4:55 PM.

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