Have you ever had an Oklahoma Hello?

Forty years ago this week, a quiet sixteen year old Poteau, OK high school junior named Becky, agreed to trade seats with a freshman girl in her second hour speech class. The previous Saturday night, the freshman girl went on a first (and last) date with the senior guy who sat in front of her in the class. This senior guy who hadn’t dated much, blew any chance for a second date with the freshman girl by not giving her a goodnight kiss. Not even a little peck on the cheek.

The senior guy took this Monday morning switch of the seating arrangement in stride and continued with what he’d been doing all year, turning around talking to both girls. Becky was now receiving the full force of his grandiose plans to graduate in May, leave the dinky little town of Poteau behind forever with no attachments, then get a law degree and become President of the United States by the year 2000. Wow, he was really full of himself.

Turns out, Becky hadn’t dated much either, and she was about as opposite from this guy as you can imagine. You see, Becky was kind of forced to take the speech class because all the other elective courses were full. Given a choice, she would never voluntarily stand up in front of people and talk. On the other hand, this no kiss on the first date senior guy seemed to love an audience more than life itself.

His grandiose scheme to become President of the United States was also very different from Becky’s plan for life after high school. Her father was a prominent figure in county government, and she had already experienced a lifetime of politics. Besides, this guy was a Republican, which would never mix with her family of yellow dog Democrats.

Becky’s plan was marry the right guy and be a stay at home mother of two daughters and two sons. Turns out, she was way more plugged into the universe at sixteen than this still seventeen year old senior boy. Over the next few days of close contact with Becky in their second hour class, this senior guy became completely and irreversibly captivated (more like “twitterpated”) by Becky’s beautiful green eyes, long silky hair, olive complexion and quiet sweetness. Within two weeks he asked her on a date to a stock car race at Tri-State Speedway in nearby Pocola, OK on what would be the chilly night of Saturday, April 1st, 1972, and she accepted.

Although Becky didn’t get a kiss on their first date either, things worked out and they really made history together. As she predicted, their family consisted of two daughters, two sons and thankfully no career in politics. Although their life together wasn’t always perfect, they fared much better than most kids who married young and had children when they were still kids themselves. By the way, I am the senior guy who wanted to be President. Becky really saved me and we lived an adventure for more than 36 years before her life was cut short by illness in 2008.

I’m now three years into my second lifetime of writing and publishing novels, which I could have never imagined from the perspective of my first life. The inspiration for my writing occurred in the fall of 2005, just after Becky was diagnosed with kidney failure and told she needed to start dialysis. She was totally devastated and could hardly comprehend this abrupt change in her life. My brain turned upside down too and took me to the place where I found The Indian Rock Vampire story.

Looking back forty years to our first date, I still recall every detail. How stunningly beautiful she looked, her perfume and how she felt as we held hands and huddled together on a chilly evening watching cars go around the track. Not to mention, her frequently reoccurring smile and those incredible eyes as we sat across the table from each other at Sambo’s restaurant in Fort Smith after the race. Yes, I remember what we ate too.

A couple of weeks later, I made up for not giving Becky a first date kiss by stopping at her house one evening after practice for the senior play, Oklahoma, and gave her an old fashioned Oklahoma Hello! Actually, several of them. One of my most fond memories from our dating in high school is going to the movies at the Victory theatre in downtown Poteau. As we stood in line waiting to buy tickets, I looked at our reflection in the windows of the store across the street and thought, “Wow, I can’t believe I’m standing here with this gorgeous girl.”

Today’s seemingly small, insignificant events will someday become the most important times of your life. Just like our reflection in the store windows, you will cherish and savor each moment. Store the sweetness and don’t allow time, life, disappointment or sorry take them from you. Now, go kiss someone you love with more passion than they will expect and create a moment to last forty years.

About joeharwell

ARKIE born, OKIE raised, son, brother, uncle, dad of 2 daughters & 2 sons, 5 granddaughters and 2 grandsons call me pawpaw, widower, writer, editor, friend, car guy, progressive, and a fourteen-year-old trapped in a sixty-six-year-old body.
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2 Responses to Have you ever had an Oklahoma Hello?

  1. tclaire579 says:

    Joe, that was really good. I know you said you don’t enter contests, but if you did, I’d give you first place for that one.

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