Cowboy hats covered bald spots. Western-style shirts flapped in the night breeze.
Men wearing bandanas and leather vests sipped on beer bottles and leaned against four-by-fours with lift-kits. Women with
large hair threw their heads back in laughter at the jokes of men that seemed too tall for their jeans. Cigarettes burned
in nearly everyone’s hands in the crowd of people situated in front of the main door to the bar. The bouncers dragged
a man out the front door who had quenched his every thirst. The man wasn’t struggling with their decision; it was as
if he agreed that it was time for him to go and he welcomed assistance. Tom and I entered The Copperhead Road Pub for the
A dull roar of conversations hummed throughout the bar. The band wasn’t
playing but we knew it was too early for a band to stop playing in a bar like this. They must be on break. Bartenders opened
beer bottles and gave out hugs to regular customers. Tom and I grabbed a couple of beers, but we got shorted hug-wise. We
settled on a table off to the side of the main dance floor.
Eventually, The Hardcore Troubadours stood up and moved towards the stage.
We watched as the lead singer walked all over the set-list they had taped to the floor in his black cowboy boots. The sheet
bent and crumpled in a way that made me realize he forgot it was there. They looked drunk. “Good for them,” I
thought as I watched the waitress deliver a tray of shooters to the band before they even strummed a chord. As they prepared
to start their first song, a man sitting at the bar on a tall barstool fell backwards landing flat on his back. The stool
thudded loudly and people jumped. The man appeared to be knocked cold and the lead singer said, “Apparently, some people
like to lay on the floor around here. That’s alright with us. Is that you, Bill? Somebody help Bill up . . .”
One of the bouncers and another man each grabbed an arm and they hoisted Bill back up to his feet, brushing off his back and
leading him down the hall to the restroom to freshen up.
They opened with Johnny Cash’s “Get Rhythm.” They would play
Waylon Jennings, George Jones, and Johnny Paycheck songs before the night was over. A little man with a comb-over and Velcro
sneakers waltzed with his woman to every slow number. They set their drinks on our table and danced in the limited space next
to us. As the song ended, the man dipped his lady climactically. Unfortunately, he lost his balance and banged her back roughly
against our table. The drummer performed a drum solo and three girls got up and danced. I’d never seen a person dance
to a drum solo before. It was . . . well, hard. Hard to understand, hard to watch, hard to believe really. A woman stood up
on her table and began dancing in a jerky, contorted manner. Her hair was cropped close to her head and she wore ill-fitting
clothes. But I liked her attitude. She was having fun. I can respect that.
I was in my element.
Bars like this one; people like these people—I was made to recognize the duality of it all. There is a trueness inherent
in the rural areas of this country that supersedes any unruly behaviour. This duality is recognized by the lucky few that
can wear cowboy hats or pinstripes. I was born middle-class and blue-collared, and I have a feeling I’ll always be that
way. It’s a good feeling.