The Way Things Are



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Where were we?
2006-02-22, 10:15 a.m.

Let’s see. Where were we? I think it’s time to wrap up all the loose ends from the past week or so, and then we will be able to proceed in an orderly manner onto new topics.

First: some good news, which is that my brother-in-law IS COMING HOME NEXT WEEK! EB’s husband, y’all. He’s been in Iraq for 7 months, and it’s about damn time. I didn’t tell EB this when she called me yesterday, but I did tear up when we were talking. I’m sure she couldn’t tell, because it’s normal for me to croak out squeaky little “yay”s when I’m happy.

Can I get a hell yeah?

Dance Dance Revolution: yep, we went to Best Buy on Saturday, and purchased it again, and even found a less expensive (read: cheaper) dance mat than the one I had found at the other other Best Buy. As soon as LG got home Sunday afternoon, he was upstairs setting it up for us, for we are inept, and the three of us spent our Sunday evening sweating (I almost typed “swearing” and it’s true so…) and swearing to some of Japan’s hottest dance mixes. Much fun! I command you all to go out and buy you some DDR IMMEDIATELY.

Reading glasses: luckily, I got these at Lenscrafters, and I have 30 days in which to return their figurative asses and get a full refund. Which I might do because HATE. Hate the new glasses. Hate them.

Thwarted sinus infection: back in the 1990s, I went to the Folk Life Festival and saw these guys, which lead me to finding, and longing for, but never actually going to, this place. The Hangin Tree Saloon has, for the past 7 years, hung out there on my bar horizon, shimmering and beckoning me, but I never found the time or opportunity or appropriate accomplice to go check it out.

Friday night, though, the time, the opp, and the accomplice (DW) all converged, and we ventured out to the wilds of Bracken, Texas, to the Hangin Tree. Whoosits, unfortunately, was not playing that night; instead, it was a C&W cover band that was surprisingly good, and I enjoyed them muchly.

The most interesting thing was the crowd that was there. Sure, you would expect lots of rednecks, trailer- dwellers and bikers to be at this place, but you would be WRONG. It was a crowd of upper-middle class looking cowboys and cowgirls, all in their 50s and 60s, the men all decked out in their gentleman-rancher getups (pressed, starched Wranglers…pressed, starched button-downs…hats, boots ‘n big belts), and the women all decked out in their “I’m single and on an important date” western wear (Rockies or Wranglers…boots…cute tops…freshly showered looking makeup and hairdos) (and yes, these were hairdos)…and I got confused.

Had we stumbled into some kind of “social club”? You know, swingers? Because hardly anybody was wearing a wedding ring, and they all seemed to be switching dance partners, and some of those ladies looked like they might be well on their way to becoming trophy wives, i.e. better looking and younger than the men they were with.

It was just the most unexpected group of people who were clearly all part of the same group, and who were all very clearly trying to impress each other – they had definitely NOT given up, nor gotten comfortable - and quite possibly put all their car keys in a fish bowl and play a game of musical somethingorother at the end of the evening.

Perhaps not so coincidentally, if you Google “Hanging Tree Saloon Bracken”, the first hit is “Single Friends Calendar” that appears to be listing events for November 2005, including dancing at the Hangin Tree. Alas, the website is broken, but I am VINDICATED! Yes! They were a social group of single folks. Maybe they aren’t swingers. But there was quite a bit of swing dancing. Coincidence? I think not.

OK, so I’m being a bit harsh. They did not have one bit of sleaze to them, and in fact, they made me feel more than a little bedraggled and underdressed, as if I were taking my evening at the Hangin Tree not quite seriously enough. Jesus, Laura, take a shower, put on some fresh lipstick, and change out of your casual Friday work clothes, why don’t ya? Shit, nobody asked ME to dance. Not even DW, but he’s forgiven, because my eyeballs and jaw were aching, and we were glued to the bar watching this fascinating scene play out. And frankly, our bad dancing would have stunk the place up far more than the sketchy plumbing situation.

(An interesting tidbit about the Hangin Tree is that it smelled faintly of sewer gas, which made the very clean and seemingly wealthy clientele stand out even more.)

(Another interesting tidbit: there was a Kinky for Governor: Why the Hell NOT? table set up in the back. I went and retrieved my driver’s license out of the car in hopes of signing Kinky’s petition, but I was DENIED. They were just taking donations; the petition doesn’t come until after the primary, and by God, if I can manage it, I WILL sign Kinky’s petition at the Hangin Tree. SWEET.)

It was fascinating to me. It was just not what I expected to find at the Hangin Tree Saloon. Which, by the way, had a list of haircut prices posted above the bar, because there’s a barbershop adjacent (The Best Little Hair House in Texas), and who knows? Maybe you can get there early on a Saturday night, and get your shave and a haircut before the band and your “Single Friends” get there.

OH! And sitting at the bar, I got to hear some of the bartendress gossip, and when she was filling an order for a tiny little bottle of champagne, I said to her “Oh, cool! Somebody ordered champagne?” and she said, “Yes, some of our regulars…that’s all they’ll drink.”

So by doing that bit of detective work, I learned that our crowd of aged upper-crust cowboys and cowgirls are regulars, and I so want to go back there every weekend now and just soak this up.

I told DW that I want to BE them when I grow up. I want to get dressed up in my cute sexy cowgirl finery, and go dancing in a divey little hole in the wall, and drink champagne, and be an excellent dancer and dance with all the gentleman ranchers. I’m going to turn into a “Single Friends” groupie, aren’t I? How very sad.

Anyway, the place was full of smoke, and that’s how I got over my sinus infection before it even started, and ever since, I have been craving a cigarette. I know it’s been 20 years since I was a regular smoker, but you never quite get over it.

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