Due to pressure from certain people who insist that I go out and enjoy myself (against my will) instead of staying at home and writing blog posts, I've fallen a little behind with this thing. So I'm writing this on Tuesday and posting it the previous Sunday. It's a trick I learnt from Michael J Fox.
Having spent a leisurely 40 minutes on the phone on Saturday morning chatting to my mother, who had visited my flat, opened my post, and wanted to share the resulting good news with me, we eventually rolled out of Rockwall at 10:30am, an hour later than planned, but with smiles on our faces and a song in our hearts. Unfortunately none of us knew the musical of the same name, so I settled for singing the word 'Oklahoma' to the tune of 'Barcelona'. Until I was told I couldn't stay in the car if I continued.
I'd prepared for our trip by watching a five minute promotional video about Oklahoma City (apparently it's the surprise I've been looking for), and ordering a free visitors' guide from here. I requested it on Thursday morning, on the understanding that it would be posted first class within one business day, thus arriving before we left on Saturday. So with great predictability, it came first thing Monday morning. (Though obviously as it's currently 9am on Sunday, I wouldn't know that).
Our journey north was spent chatting about relationships (Big Sis knows where you can get cheap diamond rings), before accidentally taking a wrong turn, driving twenty miles on the wrong road trying to get back to the right road, before realising the wrong turn was the right turn, the right road was the wrong road, and ending up in a traffic jam. But we stopped for ice cream, so it was ok.
Once over the border into Oklahoma, we made a small detour to Murray Lake (it's just a load of water - don't bother), and stopped at two 'scenic turnabouts', which redefined the word 'scenic'. I've seen more panoramic window boxes.
Having decided to drive to Oklahoma City, Sis had naturally booked us into a hotel at the airport, and we eventually arrived there (via a wrong turn into the long-stay car park) after three and a half hours. Our hotel was the 'Sheraton Four Points', which, interestingly, is exactly what I'd give it out of ten. We'd been there half an hour before Big Sis told me it had recently been refurbished, and that what I thought was appalling unsightly damage to my bedroom wall was actually designer texturing.
A quick flick through the dodgy satellite channels, and we were off into downtown Oklahoma. Having already made murder a central theme of this holiday by eating hot dogs on the grassy knoll, we made straight for the scene of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombings, which is now a rather fab memorial. Lisa and I tried to look contemplative and respectful, while Big Sis wandered around with a puzzled expression on her face, saying "Who bombed this again? And why?" in a loud voice.
As well as a reflecting pool, a monument, and a memorial garden, there's also a chain-link fence where people such as ourselves who have been touched by the events of ten years ago can attach keepsakes and mementoes as a mark of respect for the dead. Well I think that's the idea anyway. To be honest it was just a collection of Blockbuster Video cards and My Little Ponies. But I like to take part in these things, so having failed to persuade Sis to tie her handbag to the fence, I decided to leave my business card. The one that claims I'm a 'Playwright & Screenwriter'. I was quite deluded when I had them done.
Naturally I didn't want to look like a shameless tourist who couldn't care less about terrorist atrocities and is just trying to drive traffic to his website, so I instructed Lisa to look nonchalant and pretend we were examining the tributes with a tear in our eyes, while I quickly stuck my card in a prime advertising position.
Unfortunately Sis was on the other side of the road at the time, secretly taking our photo...
Forget Big Brother, it's Big Sister you need to worry about.
Fortunately, (and for the benefit of any Oklahoma City police who may be reading this), having attached my card to the fence, I realised it contained my home phone number, panicked about nutters calling me at home, and quickly took it down.
From there we headed over to Bricktown, and took a ride on a water taxi down a mile-long canal with a group of women from Wichita who had never seen ducks before. Our guide, Michael, insisted that we wave enthusiastically to any passers-by, some of whom waved back, others of whom merely attempted to prove the old saying that looks can kill.
Twenty minutes later we hopped off, ate at Zio's Italian Kitchen, then walked back down the canal, waving to Michael and his honking boat-load o' fun, before ending up at the Marble Slab Creamery for our second ice cream stop of the day.
We made our way back to the car via an open-air nightclub, where I took one look at the clientele, felt old and under-dressed, and decided I'd rather get an early night. And besides, I'd been treading on Sis's flip-flops all day as it was, so half an hour on a dancefloor and she'd have needed a chiropodist.