As a result of my hobbies, I’m familiar with many Oklahoma towns, but lately, being busy with this and occupied with that, I’d almost forgotten how special these national treasures are. However, with many of the book signings and speaking engagements I’ve experienced lately being situated in rural communities, my appreciation for small-town life has been reignited. How could you not love library meetings where the main topics, shying away from things like drugs, terrorism, and drive-by shootings, lean more toward more pleasant undertakings like frog jumping contests, turtle races, and ice cream socials: Things for the children.
Getting back to a more serious note, let me share with you some of what I’ve experienced while manning booths at some of the craft fairs across Oklahoma. It seems that wherever I go people who share an interest in writing stop by to talk about such. Normally this is an enjoyable affair. However, depending on the individuals involved, things like this can get uncomfortable. On one of my outings, a young man strolled up and asked me if I wrote poetry. I had, I told him, in my early years, but had since abandoned such notions, having fallen in love with fiction. I can only speculate that, being filled with excitement, he only heard the first part of my sentence – that portion leaning toward the affirmative – for he produced a spiral notebook, which seemed to appear from nowhere, sort of like Felix the Cat’s bag of tricks, from which he commenced reading various verses he had penned. I listened politely, however, while this was going down, potential business walked on, passing me by – a man wearing blue denim overalls with no shirt beneath, a lady with a tattoo on her leg that seriously resembled an open wound, a girl carrying a rock in one hand and a corn dog in the other, a boy with a monkey on his back that was clutching a large potato, and finally a lady, who actually ignored my guest and stopped. She’d just purchased a turkey leg, and she wanted to trade it for a book. I was hungry. I almost went for it. I could go on, but I won’t.