The Pryor Times


January 23, 2014

An Oklahoma movie

PRYOR, OK — Watching “August: Osage County” with my husband gave me the much needed opportunity to educate him on growing up in Oklahoma.

We left the theater with him looking more than a little confused. He said he honestly had no idea if he liked the movie and that it felt a little like finding yourself at-home in a nut house. Sure, everyone is off their rocker, but it kind of feels like home.

Is this a feel-good movie that sheds our great state in a glamorous light? No. But it does yield some truths that Okies will understand better than anyone else.

In Oklahoma, hearing the phrase, “wipe that tragic look off your face and eat your fish,” feels pretty commonplace. We all know the abrasive aunt who arrives with a flourish and a criticism, bearing a Walmart cake.

“Look how skinny you are,”  or “what have you done to your hair?” are entirely appropriate ways to greet someone you haven't seen in years.

Have any of us made it through a family meal without grandma trying to send you home with the hutch or the sideboard?  There's always one grandkid who comes home to declare to the family she no longer eats meat, only to find herself mocked mercilessly.

This movie proves it. Oklahoma is a bit of a time warp. The trucks are old, but the tractors are new. Things are fixed instead of thrown away and Main Street in town hasn't changed in 20 years.

We have more euphemisms to describe hot weather than most people and we don't gloss over things because they are uncomfortable.

Oklahoma women can swear every bit as much as their men, but men best not swear in front of their women. Also, any cussing that happens in the kitchen doesn't count, just like any cussing while working on the truck doesn't count. We have all had the moment when the screen door slams behind you, you're standing in the yard in your pajamas and you realize you are your mother's child.

This movie is Oklahoman; these are our


They are our crazy neighbors, our friends, and heaven help us, our family. We know where they come from, we know their home.

In the first few minutes of the movie, Barbara, played by Julia Roberts, explains it very well.

“These are the plains,” she said. “They are a frame of mind, a spiritual state, like the blues.”

Sure there are family feuds, secrets and scandals. There is also strength, survival and truth.

“It's like experiencing fight, flight and freeze all at the same time,” my husband said. “It had times it was so dysfunctional I wanted to leave, but it kept sucking me in and making me stay, and I didn't hate that.”

And all I could manage to say was, “Yep. Welcome home.”

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