A young black liberal overcomes hick hatred with good old-fashioned two-step.
As far as I can tell, country music—with deodorant-less rednecks and antebellum angst—is only a jar of moonshine away from a KKK rally. As a young black liberal, there’s just no way I could ever relate to deifying Robert E. Lee or worse— wearing Route 66 jeans.
That is, until Brokeback Mountain. Absorbing the tale of forbidden love kept alive only by hope and saliva-lubricated anal sex, I could only imagine what those two lonely cowboys were going through. It dawned on me: Hicks are humans too. What could their cattle-driving, ranch-residing experiences teach me about life, love and getting my back broke?
I decided to find out at Country Line Dancing and Two-Stepping Night at Woody’s.
Donning the only “come hither, cowboy” ensemble I could find in my closet—a bright plaid H&M shirt that I convinced myself was flannel, and Express jeans that I pretended were Levi’s—I entered Woody’s prepared to git ’er done. Line-dancing lessons were in full swing upstairs, but first I needed to find some courage—and a partner—at the bar.
“What would Jake Gyllenhaal do if he were without a partner at a saloon?” I wondered to myself. Order whiskey and solicit sex, of course. I stood against the wall with my stiff drink and my stiffer jeans, waiting for a good ole boy to lasso me for the night.
After attracting weirdos and winos, I finally found a drunken fag hag, whose slurred words of encouragement inspired me to face my fears.
When I got upstairs, I saw a man on the dance floor leading a group of six through a lesson on two-stepping. I found the combination of shuffles, pivots, thrusts and spins mesmerizing but intimidating. I wasn’t ready to join them yet.
Fear handcuffed me for the next several songs. Before I knew it, the instructions were over and it was every hillbilly for themselves.
I approached the instructor and admitted my predicament. To my surprise, he kindly agreed to give me private lessons in the corner.
“Well, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I’m black,” I revealed, running my finger down the caramel skin of my arm like Vanna White.
“I can see that,” he laughed. “One of our best dancers, Norma, is black.”
I was skeptical, but I needed help. My private lessons commenced.
“Shuffle, shuffle, step, step,” he called out, my hands holding on to his body for dear life. “See, you’ve got it already.”
Afterward, I strutted to the bar with my newfound confidence. “You looked really good out there,” an Indian twenty-something with a thick accent lied in my ear. “Would you like to dance?”
“Sure,” I said. We took to the stage, shuffling around clumsily to some Elvis ditty. I learned he was fresh off the plane from Mumbai and also new to line dancing.
“Do you think my tractor’s sexy?” I inquired after he twirled me around.
“What?” he asked, unaware of either Kenny Chesney or the hotness of my Caterpillar. Alas, the cultural barrier was even more awkward than our line dancing. It could never work.
A while later, I was offered additional instruction by a creepy man who looked like he’d wear a harness with no pants, just for the leather.
Then another tall gentleman asked to give me a whirl. And then another.
But just when my Luther Vandross séance started to kick off, my phone tumbled down onto the urinal cake. “Does the three-second rule apply to this situation?” I wondered, aghast.
That’s why I believe, if you want to find a real ride-or-die lover, dishonesty is the best policy—at least in the beginning.
Gabriel García Márquez, 1927-2014
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