I Return From Oklahoma With A Medal And A Taxidermied Pronghorn Head

“I can’t do my taxes tomorrow,” I told my accountant. “I’m coming in on a really late flight from Oklahoma.”

“Oklahoma? Why the hell are you in Oklahoma?!” he said.

Actually, that’s what everybody said. And I admit, when I flew to Oklahoma to receive the Sequoyah Children’s Book Award, and then drove an hour and a half from the airport to Ardmore, Oklahoma, I had no idea what to expect.

And you know what?

It was actually really cool.

The Oklahoma Library Association conference was full of very nice people. They bussed in close to two hundred kids for my little song-and-dance, I had a really long signing line, and met some very nice people. And the Sequoyah award is a big heavy medal and looks as if I took bronze in the 100-meter children’s booking.

And Ardmore was just unexpectedly awesome. Small town, lots of farming stuff…but also fabulous bookstores, antique shops, a master gardeners sale (Kevin refused to be a party to this, on the grounds that I would be stuffing plants into the suitcase and they wouldn’t grow in our clay) some really amazing restaurants…dude! If you had told me that I would find this in the middle of Oklahoma…well, I wouldn’t have doubted you, I just hadn’t ever thought about it.

And then Kevin and I went out on a pub crawl with librarians.

Dude.

They drink like the Foreign Legion. We were all schnockered. The convention had rented a trolley to drive us around from bar to bar. I had a great conversation about native prairie restoration with a librarian groupie who happened to be a water rights lawyer. Kevin bonded with one of the locals over shared Lutheran roots. Admore has some awesome quirky little bars.

The next morning, nursing our hangovers, we headed out into Ardmore proper and went antiquing.

And this happened.

Does this not look like the beginning of a buddy cop movie? “He’s a loose cannon with a badge. It’s a stuffed antelope head. CRIME HAD BETTER WATCH OUT.”

Exhibit Q for Why Kevin Is Awesome–when I say “I think I need to buy that antique stuffed pronghorn head!” he says “Okay.” (Whether this is wholehearted enthusiasm or merely an acknowledgment of the futility of debate, I leave as an exercise to the reader.) And carries it back to the car! Even when it sheds all over him! (In fairness, I think the thing is older than I am, so I’d probably shed too.)

The really fun part was finding a UPS store to ship the head home, as I was told this would not be acceptable as carry-on luggage. (“What if I put it in a clear Zip-loc baggie?” “NO.”)

I got very good, if complicated directions from a nice woman at the next antique store over, who drew a map on three connected post-it-notes. (I could have googled it, but honestly, by that time she was so invested in the process it seemed rude.) Astonishingly, we found the UPS store, walked in with the head…and they didn’t even blink.

“Right!” says the guy behind the counter. “Let me bubble wrap that, and see if I can cut this box down…”

You got the impression that the man dealt with taxidermy all the damn time. (I asked. He said yes, although mostly deer, not vintage pronghorn heads.)

Anyway, it’ll be here Tuesday. Needs a few bits of cosmetic repair, but nothing I can’t fix a bit of paint and/or glue.

So! Ardmore, Oklahoma! Unexpectedly awesome! And also I won a Sequoyah Award, and am grateful to the 3rd-to-5th graders of Oklahoma who voted for it! ‘Cos that’s even cooler than a pronghorn head.

  • reply siadea ,

    I’m so glad you had fun in Ardmore! It’s really a nice town, with some neat stuff in it. Like antique pronghorn heads, apparently! I wish I’d known you were there; I would totally have snuck in to the Sequoyah thing, it would have been great. But I’ll catch you sometime. Probably Texas. There are birds there.

    • reply Prof. Liddle-Oldman ,

      You are, I hope, following the Bloggess, whose book (Let’s Pretend This Never Happened) just came out in paperback? She sort of collects Victorian anthropomorphic taxidermy. You might get some ideas. 🙂

      Congratulations on the Sequoyah!

      • reply Al the K ,

        • reply C. S. P. Schofield ,

          My Father spent 15 years or so teaching at Iowa State, in Ames Iowa. Some story; small town full of neat people and stuff. My mother loved it, especially since they got absolutely first class classical music ensembles (symphonies, even) through every year. Why? Because while San Francisco might have prettier buildings, and New York might be the Big Apple, in Ames Iowa the people took the musicians into their homes, cooked them good home cooking (and nobody cooks better ‘home cooking’ than an Iowa Farmwife), and took them to buy cowboy hats at the local saddlery. The musicians actually told the locals that they would make deals with their managers to make sure Ames was on the tour!

          • reply heather ,

            of course you visit Oklahoma AFTER we move 🙁

            • reply Don Hilliard ,

              “TATZ ‘N’ PRONGZ: Crime gonna get stuffed!” (coming soon to a theater very, very far away…)

              Congratulations on the award!

              • reply Ellis ,

                Wow, I could have warned you about the librarians. That’s who the crime fighting movie should be about. Have you ever tried to get out of a library fine? Those girls are hard assed. And all the one I’ve ever known (and I know a few) could drink like fish. And they know where all the dirty books are. Which leads to some lewd and amusing nights out.

                • reply Megan ,

                  OH MY GOD!!! You were in Oklahoma and I didn’t know!!!!!! No!! The only time I would ever have a chance to meet you and I didn’t even know about it!!!!!! *headdesk* *ahem* My sincerest congratulations on your award.

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