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Karlie Tipton, Editorial Assistant
Photo by JOHN JERNIGAN
Burgers With Friends
By Karlie Tipton
January 31, 2013
As much as I gnash my teeth and shake my fist at the sky (internally, of course, most of the time) when it comes my turn to blog, I am truly thankful for the opportunity.
Aside from allowing me to further develop my own voice, blogging forces me to consider what I love about my job and what I love about my home state. Most people don’t get a chance to reflect on those things so thoroughly.
One incident particularly worthy of such attention was my first trip to one of Oklahoma’s treasured culinary institutions: Sid’s Diner in El Reno.
I was tasked with picking up one of Sid’s iconic onion burgers, fries, and a strawberry shake to photograph for our upcoming March/April issue. Having never been there before, I decided to make a lunch of it.
Walking in to the crowded diner—which only technically escapes the designation of “hole in the wall”—I was bewildered. I was an outsider in a room of locals, I didn’t know the proper procedures for acquiring a seat, and, thanks to the meaty aroma wafting from the nearby grill, I was really hungry.
Thankfully, the waitress noticed my look of distress and kindly asked if I’d like to sit in the only unoccupied booth in the entire restaurant.
With about five people behind me and more sure to come, I didn’t want to be inconsiderate, so I said no. The man behind me also declined, so the waitress asked if we wouldn’t mind sitting together.
“Why not?” the gentleman answered.
I nodded my head and took a seat across from him, hoping against all hope that he wouldn’t try to get me to convert religions or—worse yet—talk politics.
Nothing of the sort happened during the course of our meal. I got to know this man who had driven all the way from Shawnee, and I really enjoyed it. I told him about the magazine and my role as editorial assistant. He told me stories about his family and growing up in Oklahoma.
After our burgers and fries—some of the best I have ever had—were long gone, we went our separate ways.
On the way back to Oklahoma City, I thought about that man from Shawnee for a good while.
Is there any other place where two people who have never met before, very different in age and background, could so easily enjoy a meal together?
People around the country can certainly be cordial, but nowhere else have I ever encountered folks who have friendliness so deeply ingrained into their DNA.
When I wrote “Oklahoma Is Okay” some months ago, I mentioned my favorite things about this state. Don’t get me wrong, I still love cheese sauce, cows, and open spaces, but I think it’s time for that list to expand. And the more I think about it, the more I believe it will keep growing.