How does a Jewish chick from NY end up at a country western club, dancing the two-step? In my wildest dreams, I never imagined I would be amongst the cowboy boot wearing, ten gallon hat toting, down home country western crowd. But there I was. And I have to admit...I quite enjoyed it.
There was a time, [actually that time was my entire life], that I couldn't stand country music. Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette, (ok...that's about all I know as far as singers go), with those twangy, annoying sounds emanating from their vocal cords was enough to drive me out of my mind. If ever that music came on the radio...it immediately was turned off. Not that it ever came on the radio intentionally...only if I was traveling to other parts of the country and it transitioned onto the station I had been bopping out to. I couldn't listen long enough to hear their tragic life stories that were the lyrics to their songs. Being so sheltered in my upper middle class neighborhood where I grew up, the only thing I knew from country was Hee Haw. And the only reason I knew about Hee Haw was because I would click past it on Sunday nights. Seeing Minnie Pearl in her gingham dresses, her hats with the price tag, and that god awful “how-deeee”, was enough to turn me off for 40+ years.
I could not relate to anything they would say or sing or wear; especially what they would wear. Those clothes...geez...who dresses like that? The frills, the aprons, the tight plaid shirts that were 2 sizes too small. And that hair. They had to have air pumps inside their bouffant to keep it up so high and wide. I mean...how much teasing could that have possibly taken to get their hair to have the volume of a hot air balloon? Can you imagine combing that out at night? I guess really all they had to do was remove it from their heads and set it on their styrofoam mannequin.
When my girls were younger, and I 'believed' I had a little more parental control, I would forbid that music in my house or in my car. I would make them listen with headphones, behind closed doors, with the volume way down. I didn't want one decibel floating down the hall into my inner ear.
But when they went away to college, and I did quite a lot more traveling in my car to visit them, I slowly allowed a country radio station to permeate the air waves in my vehicle. The first time I had no choice because it was all I could find on the radio when I had forgotten to bring my CD’s. And when one of the girls would be driving with me, I succumbed to her wishes. They seemed to have that power over me for some reason. The first few times I would try to tune it out. I don't want to say it was like nails on a chalkboard; however, it was just short of mental torture. But as time went on, I found myself less and less anxious while it was playing. I think what really turned me around, was going to see ‘Country Strong’, the movie. It wasn’t actually the music that I started liking, but one of the leads was just a tad good-looking and when he sang, you could melt.
After downloading all his songs from the movie and listening to them incessantly, the music kinda grew on me. And the more I drove up north through cattle country, the more I listened to Country. It’s nothing like what it was back when I was a kid. I think there was only one kind back then (horrible). But now it seems there are different genres. I guess the one I kind of like is Country-Pop.
My daughter’s birthday was last week and she wanted to go to the Cowboy Palace Saloon with all her friends, to dance. To LINE dance. And she asked me to go, too. Well…having taken Zumba for a couple of months, I figured, no problema! If I can somewhat move in Zumba, of course I could pick up line dancing and the two step and whatever other dances they do. Right? HA! Who was I kidding? It’s amazing how you can fool yourself into thinking you know how to do something and then realize how absolutely inept you really are. Those people had some real talent. What I couldn’t figure out is how they knew what dance to do when the band didn’t announce the dance. Do certain songs automatically go with certain dances? I’m still baffled. But I was so impressed. (Doesn’t take much).
And what an experience the whole night was. Forget about the dancing part…but walking into the place…it felt like I was on a whole different planet. I was in a world I had never entered before. I was in……..The Hee Haw Zone. Yee haaa. There were more false eyelashes, plaid shirts and boobs popping out then I had ever seen in one place. And as soon as we walked in, everyone turned and stared at us as we walked to our table. I’m sure it had nothing to do with us looking totally out of our element. I felt like the kids in ‘Animal House’ when they walked into the bar to see Otis Day and the Knights.
As we got settled in, the kids started dancing and picked up the moves immediately. When Waylon Jennings and Buck Owens asked me to dance, I graciously declined, but I did go out on the dance floor a few times, and believe me, it wasn’t pretty. If you’ve ever watched or experienced country western dancing, you will know that there are dances where they partner up and move in a circle around the circumference of the dance floor. And it’s a steady flow; everyone moving in sync with one another.
Well…not when I was on the dance floor. I slowed down just a little, trying to get into the rhythm of the song and trying to figure out the dance steps and…BOOM. A five couple pile up behind me. A domino effect...one by one, crashing into me. I decided it would be best for me to move into the inner circle where I didn’t have to move in step with anyone else.
But you know what was so incredible at that club? Everyone was so genuinely nice. It was like no other bar I had ever been in. Somewhere else, if you accidentally bumped into someone, they would give you a look or say something derogatory, but there…they were just good ol’ folk. No one made us feel out of place. No one snickered when I looked like a complete fool on the dance floor. And everyone, including the women, was more than happy to help us learn the dances. I really had entered the Hee Haw Zone. And although I never thought I would admit this to anyone…gosh darn it, I’m a country girl. I think my next vacation might just have to be to Dollywood!
And you know what’s frightening…I recognize songs now on the radio. And you know what else…I know the words. And lastly…I would like everyone to start calling me…Jaime Lou