Not Shonnie, But Pretty Close (and almost) Beautiful Enough to be a Reasonable Facsimile
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 even though I was never what one might call ‘A Hardcore Country Music Fan’, I was feeling nostalgic. So I bought me a pair of Nocona’s, and no, I did not varnish them,
a Stetson, couple pair of Wrangler’s, some shirts with snaps, a string tie, and off I went, ‘Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places.‘
But in this case, I had found ‘The Right Place’. Even though I didn’t realize it at the time.
(This One below is Personal and for Shonnie. Wherever she may be.
No need to watch. My narrative would survive without it. But my heart would not.
If you do choose to watch/listen, keep in mind it sums up, and also foreshadows in a nutshell, a great deal of the content in the chapters to come.)
The name of joint escapes me. Not important. But it was along the lines of ‘Gilley’s’ in Pasadena, Texas, albeit much the lesser.
I mean, Gilley’s had five bars in their Bar and the largest dance floor in Texas, if not The World. (My apologies to ‘Billy Bob’s’ in Fort Worth.)
This ‘Honky-Tonk,’ and I use the term loosely, 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 flying Lone Star long-neck beer bottles.
What a gyp!
Would serve my purposes however, or at least sate my low expectations. I mean, we are talking Southern California here folks, after all.
(According to Sir Willie Nelson in his first book, “Willie: An Autobiography,” The Good Folks who ran Gilley’s, Mickey Gilley et Al, during the Early Years (1971) were compelled to install the wire. Without it, no band would agree to perform there. Things could, and often did, get ‘Rowdy’ at Gilley’s.
By the Time Peanut and I were spending Quality Time in the place–Mid to Late Seventies–I saw no chicken wire. But the rowdy remained. More often than not with Peanut in the thick of it and too often the cause of it. “That Sonuvabitch done pissed me off!”
“Thanks for the memories, P’Nut–You fuckin’ Nut.”
Credit: Channel Two Houston and devonhart,
June 26, 2014 in ‘Historic Houston’
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 as if Norman Rockwell might have dragged his brush across them.
There were also some lariats, a few saddles strategically placed against a couple of 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 my head said.
The other voice in my head (Probably Peanut’s) said, “Cowboy?! You know you ain’t no real Cowboy neither; 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 admit, 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-Wanna-be-Urban-Cowgirl-Beach-Babe-Kinda-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 forever 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, I suppose).
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 nor even an air hockey table. Certainly no mechanical bull.
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; for 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 wistfully, wishfully, sorta woefully…
‘Cowgirl’ Watched, as I drifted back into memories of ‘for real’ Cowgirls.
The place began to fill up along ‘bout 1900hrs. The joint was semi-jumping now. (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. Sashayed over to her and asked for a ‘daince’, (actually tipping my hat! Yes! Yes! I know! Bullshit!) trying ever-so-hard to establish that I weren’t no ‘Coke-a-Cola Cowboy’, but a real ‘un.
Lance as “Cowboy”
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 over 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 while 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…
“And I’ll be lookin’ for eight when they pull that gate.”
“And I hope that judge ain’t blind…”
“We all do”
“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.”
Suzy Bogguss – Someday Soon
Vid Share Cred: Robert W. Roddis, Esq.