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Gary Smith: A Durant run run

Being home for Christmas not always an easy journey by Gary Smith | December 30, 2022 at 1:00 a.m.

I found myself in Durant, Okla., the other day. Which could be, but wasn’t, a line from the worst country song ever written.

Let’s get this out of the way right away: It’s pronounced Doo-rant. And the town slightly to the west spelled Cyril is pronounced “Suh-Reel.” And the town in the northeast portion of Oklahoma that shares a name with the biggest city in Florida doesn’t not share it’s pronunciation. The one in Oklahoma is My-am-uh.

I know, I know, it’s an Oklahoma thing. Then again, New World explorers sought and people later drove an El Duh-rah-dough, not an El Duh-ray-dough, like the town in south Arkansas. So, really, Arkansans got nothing to say.

Anyway, I was in Durant because of a bomb cyclone, which, I’m sorry, sounds like a bad amusement park ride or one of those drinks they sell at spring break locations that is basically fruit juice, sugar and Everclear. We’ve all been there.

Apparently, however, in this case a bomb cyclone is a meteorological phenomenon that happens when the pressure in a low-pressure mass drops by at least 24 millibars in 24 hours. Since I have no idea what any of that means, I’m going to have to go out on a limb and say, based on what was happening all around me, it’s a bad thing.

I also wonder if “bomb cyclone” has always been one of those inside baseball terms weathermen use, or if they all just made it up and sit around at their conventions (which I assume actually take place) and laugh at how they got all us civilians to use the name of the beverage they were all drinking like it was a real weather thing.

Again, I digress. And I’ve given no explanation for why I was in Durant. I was on my way to Lawton and things just didn’t work out. Yeah, I know, doesn’t really lift the veil much, huh?

OK, let’s work backward. I, the Lovely Mrs. Smith and my youngest son’s girlfriend were on our way to Lawton to pick up the previously mentioned youngest son, who was returning to the United States from his overseas assignment in South Korea. And, since he is in the U.S. Army and has to play by virtually all of their rules, his itinerary took him from South Korea to Seattle to Dallas and then to Lawton, Okla., where he’ll be stationed.

We had planned to drive through Oklahoma City and then down to Lawton when the roads in front of us became, basically, an ice-skating rink and a highway patrolman at a convenience store told us we needed to backtrack and head farther south of the front that was moving through. He knew to tell us this because my wife will literally talk to anyone anywhere about anything. One more case where this is not a bad thing.

However, as we found out we couldn’t get to Lawton through Oklahoma City, my son was finding out he wasn’t getting from Dallas to Lawton. Thanks to the bomb cyclone, Lawton was becoming the single-most exclusive place in America, second only to any place warm.

So, while we began drifting around southern Oklahoma like an empty plastic bag in a parking lot, waiting to find out exactly where our youngest was going to land for the night, our youngest daughter turned into a real-life version of the tech guy from every spy movie, working her laptop to try and get another ticket out of Seattle to somewhere close.

The story ends about the way those spy movies end, except instead of one of us having to cut wires to keep the bomb from going off, my youngest daughter managed to get him another ticket on a later flight. He made it into Dallas, we quit wandering and got to the airport. We all made it home for Christmas. So miracles happen.

I’m not sure what the moral of this story is except if you have a chance to talk to a highway patrolman at a convenience store, take it. Or bomb cyclones are, in fact, a thing. Or it’s always good to have a daughter who can navigate various airline ticketing sites. Or its amazing the lengths you will gladly go to in order to get a kid home for the holidays.

Or, and this is probably the most correct, if you ever find yourself in Durant, Okla, you likely want to be somewhere else, even if you can pronounce it right.

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Gary Smith is a recovering journalist living in Rogers.


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