From the beginning I knew that returning to Oklahoma for an extended visit would be problematic.

First, there is no Taco Bueno in……haven’t found any except in Oklahoma. And as Abbi will attest, there is no other.  And Braum’s Dairy won’t ship or open stores unless the truck can arrive in four hours or less…, pretty much all in Oklahoma. No one makes a Tuxedo (black and white) or Strawberry Shortcake Sundae like Braum’s.

I’m pretty safe from Hobby Lobby because, well, there’s nowhere to put anything I might make. Already carry three throws/afghans with me in case there’s too much air conditioning — certainly not because it’s too cold out.

And I’d forgotten how far apart everything is. To get from Jenni & Jason’s to the farm is 45 miles.  OKC is about 45 miles square. I’ve gone through more gas in a week than I do in a month in Cali. It’s cheaper — not much — so that helps a little.

Thought I was over Bueno, but found myself looking for a location today and didn’t stop until I found one.  Took Jenni and Jason’s kids; Jerzi, Jaxi & Judson to Braum’s yesterday. Of course, it was strictly for private time with the kids, and we had a ball, but I got my fix. Have a feeling that when I head out of the state I’ll probably stop at every exit where there’s a Braum’s sign until there are no more.

And I’ve been to three homes where there must have been a couple dozen sippy cups. I think Abbi may have had 2. Homes with kids crack me up. As with kids from every generation, they’d rather play with a box than a $50 toy.

But the biggest problem started when I was staying with Peggy in Denver. There was this 40-lb bag of M & M w/ Peanuts. I was not a good girl. Then I went to Mary & Lina’s farm — a whole table full of munchies and junk food. Chris & Nikki have a son — more sippy cups — but bag after bag after bag of, you guessed it, M & M’s with peanuts. I haven’t had those things in at least six years. Now, they call my name. And unfortunately, I don’t let them down.

In another crisis-type situation, I don’t know how I forgot that no one in Oklahoma is even left handed. Keeping my mouth shut is, as usual, a problem.  I told someone I adore that I’d had a chance to take the house director job with Alpha Gam at UCO, but they only pay $500/month and I couldn’t work for that. Her response was, “But you don’t have any expenses.” It really upset me at the time — so much that I couldn’t talk to her or her husband for a couple of days.

Let’s see…..$500 x 20% (-$100)for taxes/deductions = $400. Cell phone $75 = $325. Car insurance $125 = $200. Life insurance $75 = $125. Weekend food? A movie? A tank of gas?  (already in the hole). What happens if my car needs service? Or worse, needs to be replaced? Where would I get the money to buy winter clothes I haven’t worn in six years? Or join the wellness center? Or go out for a drink on occasion with friends? Or join Sisters in Crime, or Mystery Writers of America or other local writers’ groups? Or even my alumnae association?

Called Abbi and told her how upset I was — she reminded me that they just didn’t get it. Since college, our friends haven’t had to worry about money. I keep hearing the “liberals” say that the “conservatives” are out of touch. Now, I get it. But I bit my tongue till it almost bled and didn’t say anything.

These kids graduated from college, got good jobs, have gotten promotions, own their homes and are looking for larger ones, have new cars with every option known to man, stock portfolios and are pretty much set.

Even in college they didn’t go through things that most of the kids in my generation did. We all had some kind of job. I remember trying to see how many nights we could get out of a box of Mac and Cheese mixed with a can of tuna and mushroom soup. Going to White Castle once a month was a treat. Most of us didn’t have cars on campus. And when we graduated, we got jobs, but certainly not with the pay grades these kids are seeing. Rent and a car payment pretty much ate up our salaries.

I’m not talking ALL college grads — I’ve got a ton of kids from Cal, UCLA, USC, San Diego State who are tending bars, waiting tables, managing tanning booths, or haven’t been able to find jobs even in those areas. But Oklahoma? They’re doing just fine

Anyway, I’m keeping my mouth shut and remembering that I’m in a state with citizens who have been reared different from the way my father taught me. One of the big reasons Abbi left Oklahoma was because she found it easy to be a big fish in a little pond and wanted a bigger pond. She’s making her way.    But of all the kids she graduated with from college, only a handful left the state – two to play pro sports, and three to coach. Others left later, but most are still here. There are those who never leave the state — go to Oklahoma lakes for their weekends and vacations.

The good news is that I’m keeping my mouth shut which means no M & M’s with peanuts can slip between my lips and I haven’t been pulled over for Driving with California Plates….though I did have a man comment that he noticed I was from “that left coast state” when he saw my Cali plates.

There’s one issue where I’m NOT keeping my mouth shut. Taco Mayo, Sonic and several other fast foodies still use styrofoam. Taco Mayo makes a big deal about coming out with a new and healthier menu, things they contribute to the community, and being economically responsible, but when I ask about getting rid of the cups and containers that will be around when only roaches rule the earth, they just say “it’s too expensive to switch to plastic.” Then, I bring up paper, and they shrug.

But let’s get back to my problem. Bueno, Braum’s……. after being gone a full six years, I can’t believe the car still isn’t able to drive by a Taco Bueno or Braum’s without pulling in. Bad car.

This week I’m housesitting while Jenni & Jason (and the munchkins) head out of town for a wedding. So I will have no one but myself to blame for whatever enters my mouth. And I’ll try really hard to watch what leaves my mouth, too. I want to keep these people as my friends.

So until tomorrow, I’m not leaving the house so won’t be tempted by anything stronger than Cherry Coke Zero. And you? Be careful out there.