Life's Surreal Vignettes
Many years ago I worked as a bartender. I liked tending bar and I liked the pub in which I worked. It was a Texas roadhouse dance hall in the classic tradition. A large shotgun affair with an elevated stage for live bands at one end, a spacious dance floor, four bar stations and a game room of eight billiard tables. It held 300 people at peak capacity and was called The Texas Spur. But I always referred to it as the Theater of Humanity.
On any given Friday or Saturday night it was packed to the rafters. Hot-blooded young women dressed in their finest country and western attire of jeans, cowboy boots, pearl button Wrangler shirts monogrammed belts with large silver buckles and a healthy lacquering of cosmetics, hairspray and perfume. The young men dressed pretty much the same sans the cosmetics and with the addition of a large white or black cowboy hat.
On stage a country and western band of one sort or another belted out Bob Wills, Willie Nelson, Jerry Jeff Walker and Tex Ritter covers. The overall effect was a mind-numbing kaleidoscopic caricature of western Americana.
Mind you, I didn't care for country and western music and didn't own a stitch of cowboy clothing. Moreover, I found the typical patron more than a bit provincial rustic, although there were the occasional pastoral sages.
No, I was there for the fights.
You see, in that era and region of the United States, the best a young man could think to do in a dance hall packed with drunken, lusty women was to beat some other fellow senseless. Of course the fights never consisted of just two combatants. Mates were honor bound to join the fray followed by a team of bouncers. The typical battle would involve 20-30 young men and perhaps a few wives and girlfriends. It would rage on for perhaps half an hour until 10-15 local sheriff deputies would burst through the front door with large clubs in hand to beat the entire melee into bloody submission before hauling them off to jail for the weekend. country rustic wears for prom party
As I said earlier - Theater of Humanity.
The fights weren't periodic. They were as regular as rain in monsoon season. Every Friday and Saturday night it wasn't a matter of "if" but "when". And when the inevitable happened I'd lock my register, pour myself a drink, and walk out from behind my bar to take a seat at ringside.
Betting was rampant. Would the little fellow in the black hat get the better of the beer-bellied behemoth currently choking the life out of him? And those two women - were those beehive hairdos real or wigs? At the rate they were scratching and pulling each others hair it was only a matter of seconds until we'd be enlightened. How many punches to the head can that young fellow absorb until he's unconscious? Look at that manly bull dyke! How many men will it take to get her under control? I'll wager $50 it'll require no fewer than half-a-dozen.
But of course, like all theaters of the surreal, after several months the novelty began to wear thin and I pointed my vehicle in a northerly direction. As to the Texas Spur, I'm told that all that remains of it is a concrete slab foundation. A few years after my employment business began to falter and the owner burned it to the ground for the insurance settlement.