1. …when you were little it was impossible to stay awake in the back seat as your Dad drove the family ALL THE WAY TO OKLAHOMA CITY. Granted, as a teenager in your best friend’s almost street legal, 383 Magnum Challenger, you may or may not have made that trip once in a record-shattering 7 minutes. But, way back when you were really little, the 20-mile drive seemed to take forever. But, still, going to “The City” was awesome.
2. …you made your Christmas money by selling popcorn or goobers or Cokes or hot dogs at Oklahoma University football games. And if you happened to be at the Game of the Century (1971 OU vs. Nebraska), you sold about three hot dogs all game long. Because you did NOT move. You just knelt down in the aisle, trying not to block paying customers’ views, while screaming like a maniac and watching the stupid Huskers steal the national championship. And you have still not gotten over that clip.
3. …you either ignored tornado sirens when they went off about 900 times a day in the Spring and Fall…
…or you’d wander outside to gander at the ominous black clouds in hopes of spotting a twister. When it was hailing, at least once as a child you put on your Dad’s WWII helmet and raced into the yard to retrieve a trophy hailstone, only to be knocked silly when an even bigger hailstone PWAAAAAAANNNNGED you on the head.
4. …you began your decent into deafness on May 8, 1970. That’s when Jimi Hendrix came to the OU Fieldhouse, and you personally experienced his nuclear-powered guitar while bleeding from both ears. (If you were asked to describe that Hendrix concert in one word it would be, “WHAT?”)
5. …when you were in junior high, way before McDonald’s arrived, you could walk to Sooner Dairy Lunch on Main Street and have a “ready made” hamburger and a vanilla shake for about 35 cents. When you got a little older, and you were almost tall enough to see over the steering wheel, you could illegally buy the coldest beer in the universe from the Ice Dock drive-thru on Porter St.
6. …a boy’s rite of passage always involved the 10 Mile Flats. Didn’t matter whether the rite involved cars, girls, guns, dogs or doobies, the sandy, undeveloped 10 Mile Flats west of town had to be involved at the start, middle, or end. It is highly likely that, to this day, there are police cars still stuck in the flats, buried up to their axles in sand. They were never going to catch those badly behaved Norman High boys.
7. …in 1974 you spent at least 99.9% of your 12th grade year in the Senior Center. This was in the era of the “Mod”, which was a 15-minute block of time. In theory, according to the whizzo educationalists of the day, each student would responsibly choose where to spend his or her time when not in class. The NHS guidelines suggested that a student spend no more than three Mods per day in the Senior Center. Yeah, right. It is highly likely that my, and my friends’, butt cheek impressions are still embedded in the Senior Center cushions, because we basically lived there.
8. …bottle rockets were the best, cheapest fun in the universe for teenaged boys. Especially if the rockets were fired after you had imbibed many Colorado Kool-Aids. The only rule was that you could not shoot them from an ACTUAL BOTTLE, because that would be girly. You could shoot them from car tailpipes, McDonald’s drive-thru speakers, cow patties, actual cows (don’t ask), water meters, guitars, beer cans, Cuervo tequila bottles (if the worm was still in the bottle), or, in the EPIC launch of all time, from the butt crack of a sleeping buddy wearing low-rider Levis.
9. …being broke was really no obstacle to having a night out with your high school buddies. Your buddy Gator always had gas. McDonald’s was always cheap and entertaining, whether you were people-watching or flinging ketchup-covered pickle slices at the glass-covered photos of OU football greats. Or you could drive around, drink cheap beer, smoke cheaper cigars, and, as “Marvin and the Minnows”, sing Sha Na Na songs. Or you could hold the Cigar Olympics at pitch-black Andrews Park. Events included pole vaulting over concrete picnic tables, hurdling chain link swings, sprinting around the concrete wall of the amphitheater, and leaping in and out of the giant flood water sewers, all the while hoping one of your buddies would break his neck.
10. …you spent half your young life mocking the legendary Dean “The Dream” Blevins, who grew from being a three-sport super jock at Norman High, to a football AND basketball letterman at Oklahoma University, to an “Emmy-award-winning” sportscaster at Channel 4 in “The City” and, finally, due to back pain and a chronic lack of judgment, gained immortality by taking a very loud whiz while doing a live radio interview, thus gaining a new nickname — “Dean the Stream”.
11. …. you are flying your flag at half staff today (July 19, 2014) because Norman just lost a favorite son, James Garner. R.I.P. Jim.