Not a lot has changed out here since Ponyboy shanked that guy on Celebrity Rehab. Despite years of progressive school curriculums, public service announcements, and after school specials, Tulsans still don’t like the people from the “other side.” Today your resident Tulsa20Something would like to take a moment to highlight the battle of the rich people–yes, today’s educational moment comes in the form of the ridiculous South Tulsa vs. Midtown rivalry.
But first, a brief Tulsa history lesson: a little over one hundred years ago, the oil boom put Tulsa on the map and made a few families quite the pretty penny. Those millions of dollars in property, wise investments, and trust funds remained in our humble town, and these elite few all reside in an area known as Midtown. South Tulsa is the settling point of choice for Tulsa’s nouveau riche–you know, the people who worked their way up the corporate ladder rather than had a seat on the Board reserved for them.
I’ve constructed a field guide — a dichotomy of sorts — for navigating your way between Tulsa stereotypes, should you find your way up the turnpike.
A true Midtowner sticks to two types of cars–a European import (BMW, Mercedes, Audi, etc) or something environmentally conscious, like a Ford Focus, Civic Hybrid, or Lexus RX300h. Exuding classic taste while also appearing politically-minded are two cornerstones of Midtown living. South Tulsans take the opposite approach–they’re known to drive SUVs exclusively, from Hummers to Range Rovers to Escalades. The larger carbon footprint, the better.
Despite the numerous national laureates received by Tulsa Public Schools, Midtown parents refuse to have their children learn along the unwashed masses. Their ancestors took a firm hand against busing policies, and tradition is a value paramount to the Midtown lifestyle. South Tulsa parents, on the other hand, send their kids to public school solely out of principle. When they grew up, walking miles to school, surrendering their lunch money to the class bully, and eating the cafeteria’s mystery meat were part of the adolescent experience. No way will their kids grow up to be delicate cake eaters–drug dogs, fights at the flag pole, and selling candy bars to pay for school trips all help build character.
Any given Saturday, you can find Midtowners golfing, playing tennis, hiking, boating, or sunning at the nearest country club. South Tulsans spend Saturdays purchasing golf clubs, tennis rackets, hiking gear, boats, and country club memberships. Evenings consist of dinner at the Polo Grill followed by martinis on Cherry Street for a Midtown couple. A South Tulsa couple would wait an hour and a half to get a patio table at Los Cabos, drink three swirls, then dance by the light of the moon to the classic rock cover band playing at the Riverwalk.
Late Night Talk Show Host
Midtown people love Conan–he’s a fellow Ivy-Leager, he’s self-deprecating, a BoSox fan, and is obviously the educated and refined preference. People over the age of 35 in South Tulsa are not yet aware that liking Jay Leno is unacceptable.
Recreational Drug of Choice
A true Midtowner prefers the history, glamour, and drama of cocaine. Plus, they love all expensive things. A South Tulsa kid is on a strict allowance set by their morally conscious parents, so all they can afford is marijuana. Venture up north for the crack.
South Tulsans could care less about what Walmart and Target are doing to mom and pop shops. Plus, Target’s Archer Farm products have the classiest packaging. Midtowners scoff at the thought of any deli section outside of Lambruzco’s. It took them awhile to even warm up to Whole Foods (Aubrey McClendon would not approve). The farmer’s market or Ted and Debbie’s are the only acceptable places for someone who lives within a one mile radius of Brookside to shop for produce.
Catholicism includes everything a Midtowner holds near and dear to their hearts–tradition, oppressed tendencies, and an excuse to drink. In fact, Midtown is so deeply rooted in Catholicism that you really can’t even consider them WASP-y. South Tulsans are wooed by laser light shows, electric guitars, and pastors that wear True Religion jeans. Progressive non-denomination churches (with Youtube accounts and conveniently scheduled services) better fit their needs.
South Tulsans are happy to stick with John Mellancamp, Bruce Springsteen, and Tom Petty. Midtowners like to at least appear to enjoy the fine arts—the Tulsa Philharmonic’s wild success makes this point apparent. The Tulsa Opera hosts “Symphony Set” every year, program for high school students that bribes them into seeing various operas and symphonies in exchange for two booze-heavy and supervision-free parties. Getting wasted and giving money to causes they don’t give a shit about—Midtowners start the lifestyle early.
Beverage of Choice
Vintage wines, old fashions, dry martinis, and gin gimlets are the blood of Midtown. Housewives need something to help wash down their Xanax, and husbands need stiff drinks to help them deal with their wives. Mothers let infants suckle their wine-dipped fingertips to help them develop good taste at an early age. South Tulsa ladies prefer Bethanny Frankel’s Skinny Girl margaritas, and your typical South Tulsa man has a beer tap installed in his house that dispenses nothing but Budweiser.
“Can’t we all get along?” you might ask yourself. Yes, there are a few things South Tulsans and Midtowners harmoniously agree with. I’ll leave you with the short list:
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