I got to meet with an old friend today. She’s a former colleague of mine who became a good friend. It was great to see her, and reminisce about past times, mainly in a way that reminds us we are survivors, much like two parolees who made good. She had some other colleagues with her and together we shared some of the stories of our past, which not only gave us impressive street cred with the others, but simultaneously offered a level of maturity by showing them that it IS, in fact, possible to make really sound decisions on sound logic, have them turn out to be such unexpectedly horrific situations, and yet still come out the other side in such a way that you can mingle amongst the normal folks in society undetected.
It appeared the little birdies, with their mouths agape at our tales, felt comforted that their own bad decisions, as it turns out, don’t seem so bad in comparison.
And yet, I forgot to tell one of the better stories. And that is the story of the Redneck Mating Call.
Every pocket of society, be it closed off tribes in distant lands, neighborhoods sharing in a community watch, or bands of street urchins roaming the lands of heavy metal laden water in fracking country, have their rituals and language. Sometimes as we cross into these other cultures our own inexperience leaves us unprepared for the appropriate and expected responses to their regional dances and ways. This was one of those times.
It took place at a place near the intersection of highways to hell and purgatory, where outsiders are sent for karmic repair and redemption, but is inhabited by a group of locals who do not know any better. This renders any sense of respect and humility completely and utterly implausible. The daily interactions leave the one set distanced due to clear and obvious disdain by the outsiders who end up making uncontrollable facial expressions to keep from coughing up hairballs of self-loathing for having clearly done something in this or a former life to warrant such punishment.
And yet one brave soul tried to learn. She was curious how the natives remained positive and happy at their plight, so she tried to integrate and experience the life as they did.
“Come with us,” they said. “This great band is playing.”
Sure, she thought, I love indie music and have known a few untapped talented bands who just didn’t have the connections to make it big, and spent more of their energies on their art, on their craft of music, rather than promoting themselves and compromising their gift. She thought she would have a good time.
To the firehouse they went, because you know the local band played at the firehouse on South Hades. Of course they did. Where else would they get a hall? And tonight was a good night because they didn’t have to start too late after a surprise 50th birthday party for one of the cousins of the chief’s neighbor. There was no lingering scent of bratwurst stew and no streamers stapled to the paneling to pick off before the band set up. So it could be an early night.
About 15 minutes into the set all hearing was gone, and the stinky cat face reaction was strangely matched to the sounds coming from the speakers that they had pulled from the trunk mount in the tri-color primer-coated Camaro outback.
It wasn’t enough though. It wasn’t enough to burn out the vision of the 67 year old woman in the hoochie sequined hotpants hitting on the 24 year old co-worker. It wasn’t enough to drown out the memory of his returned flirting words. Nothing short of a full blackout would save this evening. At least it couldn’t get much worse.
Until it did.
Until the moment when it became clear that she would always remain an outsider. You see, our little heroine of this story never learned how to respond to the accusations of being a lesbian. Based on her own cultural upbringing, she was not aware that being called a lesbian was the beginning of a conversation, of a mating ritual. You see, she was under the impression that saying no, she wasn’t, in fact, a lesbian would answer the question.
She didn’t know that the mean boy, who had been nothing but rude, all but pulling her hair, actually had a crush on her. She didn’t know that the ugly things he was saying to her weren’t supposed to push her away and say ok, fine, I don’t like you, regardless of your gender. Instead she couldn’t understand why he continued to talk to her and pick fights with her. Of course the 14 bourbons skewed her logic a little, but it also blocked out her memories of kindergarten, when the boy pulling the girls hair meant that he liked her, but even if she remembered it’s unlikely that her cultural differences would have allowed her to make the connection that adult males in this area do the same thing.
She didn’t know the yelling of “You’re a Lesbian” was a Redneck Mating Call.
The appropriate answer to that is, “Dude, I am so not, and I will PROVE it to you.”
She could only hope that on the drive home she’d get a flat tire and be devoured by a wandering mountain lion and wouldn’t have to deal with the memory of this night.