Mayhap this orig was better than the rewrite.
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it….” I wrote this story in less than a week–shotgun style. Okay, probably two weeks. Took me less time to write it than to live it.
In Nineteen-Eighty-Seven San Diego County there was only one Country & Western Bar/Dance Hall (that I knew of). I was sorely missing Texas and though I was never what one might call ‘A Hardcore Country Music Fan’, I was feeling nostalgic. So I bought me some Nocona’s (NO, I did not varnish them), a Stetson, Wrangler’s, some shirts with snaps, a string tie, and off I went, Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places, or in this case, ‘Place’. The name of which escapes me, but it was along the lines of Gilley’s in Pasadena Texas, albeit much lesser.
I mean Gilley’s had five bars in their bar and the largest dance floor in Texas. This joint had but one bar and one medium-sized dance floor. And it didn’t even have chicken wire in front of the stage to protect the band from errant long neck beer bottles.
What a gyp!
T’would serve my purposes, however, and sate my lower expectations at any rate. I mean, we are talking Southern California here folks, after all.
So I began to frequent this establishment in earnest. The thing that stuck me upon my first visit was that all the ‘Cowboys’ and ‘Cowgirls’ looked like Yuppies. Not Dallas Yuppies, mind you: ‘Southern California Yuppies’.
The walls were adorned with all manner of Rodeo Scenes, all of which looked like Norman Rockwell had dipped his brush on them. There were also some lariats, a few saddles strategically placed against some walls, a few ‘decorative’ spittoons (nothing more useless in the world than a spittoon ‘what never dun been used’), and many more things I cannot find the stomach to recount.
The lighting was, well, too light. Hopefully, this would be rectified later in the evening’s adventure as the ‘real’ cowfolks came sauntering in.
One sustains hope in situations such as these. There really is no other choice.
“Good Godawmighty! Lance! Son, you were more ‘at home’ in the Titty-Bars downtown San Dog than this abhorrent lame excuse for a ‘Honky Tonk’,” voice in head said.
The other voice in my head (Probably Peanut’s) said, “Cowboy! You know you ain’t no real Cowboy either; jes go wid it.”
There was, as I said, one bar. And Immediately to the right of this bar…
(a respectable looking bar, if I do grudgingly say so, replete with no less than four barkeeps and many, many serving wenches scurrying back and forth not unlike so many dutiful worker ants—all very pretty—in that Southern California Urban Cowgirl Beach Babe Style),
…was the stage with a Cowboy Band. Actually a damn good one. They even had a fiddle player (so at least they could play ‘Amardillo By Morning’ a song which always reminded me of ‘Monsieur Le Peanut’, and always held a special place in my heart and in my ears.
Immediately in front of the Bar was that dance floor, (No sawdust, but that could be grudgingly forgiven).
The rest was mainly four-seater tables and chairs (And Candles! Fer Christ’s Sake! Candles!) For the life of me, I could not spy a single pool table nor a shuffle board or even an air hockey table. Certainly no mechanical bull. Honky-Tonk Travesty!
The bar itself drew me first (of course). I asked for a Lone Star and got a vacant look. “Ok, gimme a shot ah Beam and a… ah… a Heineken.” (‘Jerry Jeff, please forgive them; they know not what they do’.)
Now properly attired and bona-fide in my two-fisted drinker status, I went searching for a table close to the dance floor. As it was relatively early, I had no difficulty finding same.
I sat and drank and ‘Cowgirl Watched’ as the place began to fill up. Along ‘bout 1900hrs, the place was semi-jumping (For San Diego—I guess–by that time I suppose the surf was no longer ‘up’).
I studied the apparently single cowgirls and spied a rather lanky ‘tall drank ah water’, long-haired brunette with Sloe-Gin eyes and all that implies, just tearing things up with several different dance partners.
I made my move: Between songs, I sashayed over to her and asked for a ‘daince’, (actually tipping my hat! Yes! Yes! I know!) trying ever so hard to establish that I weren’t no ‘Coke-a-Cola Cowboy’, but a real ‘un. From Texas.
We danced the dance and I could sense I was not her cup of… whatever it is that they actually drink here. She whispered in my ear, “Hey ‘Cowboy’ (rather mockingly, I perceived), “I have a friend you should meet. Her name’s ‘Shonnie’ and she is seated (seated?) just right there. C’mon! I’ll introduce ‘Y’all’” (Yet another perceived slight)
I glanced in the direction she was leading us and saw a rather diminutive dirty blond, absently stirring her drink as she casually watched the band as they began to belt out some Randy Travis monstrosity.
We waltzed up to the table and my escort announced quite cheerfully, “Hey Shonnie! I found you a ‘real’ Cowboy.” (She quickly whispered to me, “Hey Sugar Britches, what’s your name?”)
“Uh, Shonnie, Girlfriend, This here’s Lance. Say ‘Howdy’”
I shook the diminutive hand she offered and sat down,
“Uh, Howdy Shonnie, Little Lady; Nice to meet Y’all.” (Yes, I was really laying it on thick, but I was somewhere between buzzed and drunk and starting to figure, ‘What the hell I got to lose’?)
She smiled wily, if not demurely through semi-white teeth, Marlboro smoke, and Paul Newman Blue Eyes. I must admit: I was intrigued.
Thus began one of the most bizarre ‘flings’ I have ever had.
More to come… Here
“And I’ll be lookin’ for eight when they pull that gate.”
“and I hope that judge ain’t blind…”
We all do Peanut. We all look for ‘eight’
And we all hope the judge IS blind (but you knew that, didn’t you? You asshole! You were not supposed to die first. We made a pact. Didn’t we?? Don’t you remember?)
Rest, My Very Best Friend.
You are severely missed.
I’ll catch up to you.
Barb, I did. But I sacrificed sobriety for Lent
Probably for the best that you never reconnected. Better to have a fond memory, even if bittersweet. Didn’t I read somewhere that you quit drinking? Or was that just an experiment?
Barbara, I will never get over Shonnie. (You surely know this)
Barbara, I never found Shonnie again. Probably a good / great thing. I did love her. A lot.
Barb, Maybe Joni did NOT write it…. fuk it. I may be drunk.
Barb, of course you know Joni wrote this song
I liked it a lot – don’t remember the differences between the 2 versions. I will say that there were times that I wanted to slug both of you (for different reasons). But then I felt you both kind of needed a hug. Seems like you have had your share of “the one” relationships. Did you ever get back in touch with her? Again, the perils of dating already-married folk.
Barb, I sent my shit to Tex Monthly. No reply
Barbara, I love the Suzy B verssion more, so much more,
What can I say? I’m an avid reader!
But… what did yu think of the story???
Babs, I love you for re-reading
Love Judy Collins!