“Only I can speak bad about my mother.” Let anyone not related to her say something bad and there will be words. Right?

That sort of logic is usually in reference to family, but the longer I thought about it, I realized that we have that mentality for everything that we claim as our own. It could be the products we use, the friends that we have, our jobs, our homes, our alma mater, our anything. They are a reflection of us, and we feel some sort of responsibility in protecting those things tied to us. Or at least, I feel that way.

Last month, I had the misfortune of being teased for the first time for being an Oklahoma resident. Over the phone with a Californian I tried to pronounce a name that I’d never seen before. I struggled through the syllables and then the Californian said, “That’s not bad for an Oklahoman.” I froze. Like the person had just splashed me with cold water. I was offended for both myself and Oklahoma.

I could have said that in the last eight years, I’ve traveled to 15 countries on four different continents; I’ve lived abroad for a total of 3 of those years; and I speak four languages. I could have said that Oklahoma has a fair share of international residents. I could have even denied that I’m an Oklahoman (although Indiana would probably make no difference in this Californian’s eyes). But in the end (in part because I was at work), I gave no response. However, it got me thinking about the emotions of possession. If someone said such a thing about Kentucky, I might have chuckled just a little bit. But it was about my current home state, and that bothered me.

It’s funny to be offended by someone making fun of a state that hardly reflects who I am or who I will become. But I guess that means I’m warming up to Oklahoma (it’s sure enough warming up to me at 110 degrees and higher! And I guess that makes me human, for being offended by an insult upon something that is an extension of me and my life choices.

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