Originally published in the Oologah Lake Leader, 1990-ish.
Life in Green Country, away from the shadows of the tall buildings, is supposed to be laid-back and stress-free. Supposed to be. I have found life these past two weeks to be more like stressed back and I was nearly laid out. Consider this:
Our German exchange student, who has been our adopted son for nearly a year, had to leave. His departure was as gut-wrenching as having to give up one of your flesh and blood children. It was anything but a simple goodbye. Instead of a tearful farewell at the airport, Jan’s parents came to our house from Germany to claim their son. Jan’s mom speaks very little English and throughout the visit, all conversations were repeated in two languages.
Putting up a couple of extra people for a couple of days is no great problem. What do you do with a couple of people who want to learn all about America in two days? The gun museum was a great treat, but how do you explain why a small-town hotel keeper amassed a weapons collection large enough of outfit most European countries? I was at a loss for words in English as well as German.
I found that a visit to the Will Rogers Memorial was enjoyed. The appeal of Will must be well-nigh universal. The Miksch family expressed more than just polite interest.
A visit to the rodeo was a real cultural event. I’m not certain that our guests understood why grown men “wearing pointed shoes” would willingly climb up on the backs of such large savage animals and then allow themselves to be tossed into an area filled with dirt and other vegetable-based substances. It was after the rodeo and several cans of beer that Herr Miksch began to appreciate the American culture. The Stonehorse Band was in full swing and the cowboy-attired dancers were doing a roof-raising version of the Cotton-Eyed Joe when it all came into focus for him. “Ah, I see!” he suddenly exclaimed. “This must be American Regional Folk dancing.”
The afternoon before Jan’s parents were to arrive, he asked me to take him to lunch along the fast food row that lines our main street. The young man put away vast quantities of junk food, all of it washed down with at least a gallon of Coke. “Jan,” I asked, “since your mother is a school nutrition teacher, what are you going to do when she arrives tomorrow?” “I will eat well-balanced meals and drink nutritious fruit juices. But they are not coming until tomorrow!”
Jan is gone and so are his parents. The spare room is turning into a study for my wife. Basketball camp is concluding for my daughter, and soon art camp begins. The Batman flag is flying on the pole in the front yard, the antique gas pump is nearly ready to go up in the living room, and strains of George Frideric Handel’s “Solomon” can be heard floating out of my part of the house. In short, life in our wacky household is nearly back to normal.
That is, I thought it was, until my wife had me walk into her studio. There, bouncing across the floor, were two balls of white fluff. My wife then introduced me to Gee and Whiz, miniature lop rabbits.
“Gee Whiz” was not my exact reply.
-by James R. May