It was nearing winter, the bar was full of jackets and sweaters. The music was loud, the dance floor small, and the music was anything goes. In fact it was Karaoke. Singer after singer lined up awaiting their turn. It was my usual joint, my usual night. This was where I belonged. I had people that expected me to show up, they requested my music. It was almost as if I were famous.
But I had a completely different reason for being here that night. I was going to meet the Cowboy. That’s what he called himself on his profile. He supposedly herded cows, or wrangled pigs, or drove truck. I’m not sure what he was ‘supposed’ to do. I just know that when I got up to sing, the bar grew quiet and listened.
Now I don’t know if any of you have ever sung before a crowd before, but this single feat of silencing a crowd is a blessing… and a curse. It’s as if you know you are doing everything right, but what if you’re not. What if you sound so horrible that everyone shudders at the exact same time.
I was nervous about meeting The Cowboy, I was singing one of my set pieces, and though I never needed the screen I was constantly looking back, half in fear I’d forget something, the other half afraid The Cowboy was already there.
He was. As I finished the song a hefty fellow sidled up to the stage. The upstairs of this bar was modeled after a coffee shop, so the ‘stage’ was only a few feet deep and about twice that wide. I stepped down from the stage’s eight or so inches of height, and was standing face to chest with this burly man.
Hair creeped up his neck behind his collar, and even with the cowboy hat on I was fairly certain The Cowboy was bald.
“Maddy?” He asked, and we’d never gotten to know each other enough for him to call me that. I was Madison until proven otherwise.
“Madison, but yes, and you must be The Cowboy.” He nodded an affirmative, and he pointed me towards a tall table, with bar stools.
“Would you like a drink?” I nodded, and as the waitress came by I asked for a Bud Light. She was back before we’d even began a conversation. He paid for it, and we sat there saddled with silence, or bad singing take your pick.
And bad didn’t quite begin to cover it, the woman thought she sounded like Dolly Parton, but in truth she sounded like a cat in a blender. I leaned closer to The Cowboy, “Wanna go out on the balcony?” He said “sure” or “Yea” or something along those lines, and off we went.
The Balcony wasn’t much better, it was crowded with smokers. I pulled one out and lit it, taking a deep drag off the non-menthol cancer stick. “So, what are you looking for in a partner, doll?” I asked, though my stomach was tied in knots. I kept focusing on that really thick hair that seemed to inch out of his shirt, that indicated body hair, LOTS of body hair.
I didn’t sign up to be a groomer, or take care of the wolf-man… My mind began to wander away as he scanned the crowd. and the Cowboy was busy still not answering my question. For a man on a date he sure wasn’t very talkative. He walked away and began fidgeting with his napkin. Within seconds his fingers had deftly turned a cocktail napkin into a rose. He leaned over the table next to where we stood and handed it to one of the two young skinny, (could use a sandwich) girls that sat there.
Out of the corner of my eye I see my friend The Rock Star step outside. I lean into his ever welcoming hug. “Hey Rock, what’s up.”
“Nothin, just work girl, you?” The conversation with him may be mundane but it flows so much freer.
“Same, you singing?”
“Don’t I always?” And with that answer I smiled for the first time that evening. I had a brilliant plan at that moment. Since The Cowboy didn’t even rate me high enough to tell me he wasn’t interested, I’d pay him no mind, once my cover was in place. I lean in closer and closer until my lips are nearly on Rock’s ear to whisper, “See The Cowboy handing out the roses?”
“The toilet paper flowers?” He was ever the linguist.
“Yes, he met me here for a date, and has said all of two to three words, and now is hitting on everything not nailed down–”
“And some that are.” Rock interjected, pointing that The Cowboy just happened to hand a rose to a very non-single lady, who’s man cared not for having some cad pull moves upon her. (or something).
“That too, wanna be a dear, and help me out? Just snuggle up close anytime he walks by.” Rock Star was an amiable sort, and so he agreed.
It didn’t take too long, Cowboy was shot down by every girl in the bar, and then he returned to me.
“Hey Sugar, you ready to go?”
“I–” But before I could speak Rock spoke up for me.
“No she’s fine where she is, I think it’s time for you to go.” Then recognition dawned on Cowboy’s face. Not the recognition that I was taken, or even spoken for at that moment, but of who he was speaking to.
“Oh my god! You are Rock Star! You did that excellent version of <insert 1 of about 2000 songs this guy does well>!” His eyes said what his voice did not. “why are you here with her.” Then Rock Star and his buddy Dexter both sent him a look of their own, and Rock Star wrapped his arm around my shoulders. Dex Straightened up in his chair, and even sitting his seven foot 2 inch frame came up to Cowboy’s chin.
I guess Cowboy took the hint, or thought it better to leave before the drunks hit the road, but he left about that time.
But the night wasn’t over! A few moments later, a very short very built man walks up to ask to dance. I thought that I might as well, I wasn’t getting any other offers. As we danced his broken English became more and more apparent.
“What you name?”
“What?” The song was Eric Clapton, the singer was a garbage disposal.
“You is beautiful like flower.”
“Th.Thank you.” I was starting to feel a little uncomfortable. Not that I didn’t get compliments often, but well no, I don’t get compliments often.
“You is single.” I’m not sure if this was a question or a statement, not then and not now in retelling. The guy was obviously Russian, and aside from his head being able to lay atop my breasts during slow dances, seemed fairly harmless. We finished the dance, and I went back to my table with Rock and Dex.
But as most Karaoke nights go, someone picks a sad slow number, and I was dancing with the little Russian again. Again it was nice to be asked, however, it was also strange, and I realized something in that moment.
Because in that moment dancing with a man who could keep his ears warm with my tits, I realized I looked ridiculous. I wasn’t going to be able to deal with that. I could hear him prattle on, and I didn’t much pay attention to what I ‘Yessed’ and ‘No-ed’ until the song was over and the Russian leans in close to ask one more question: “Your place or mine?”
I retreated back to Rock Star and Dex, making my apologies to the Russian. Rock stood in as my would be suitor once more that night, and I went home alone, thankfully.
I feel the need to interject, while I was having my shallowest of moments the only words I remember from the Russian’s convo included the words marry and green card. I still hope I had the ability to say no to those, but I’ll never know.
So, in closing, I’d like to say this was one of those times, where I was definitely lucky to have good friends and good beer, because otherwise, a blog post I’d have not.
Up Next: The Name Dropper