Saturday, September 9

A Man's Gotta Know His Place


Five-hundred fifty miles of single-lane highways between business locations. I had driven a little less than half. Yesterday's task had been training a new business manager. Tomorrow's task would be reviewing internal control procedures. Today had no specific task, just traveling over mountain, river, prairie, and forest, sampling rural and wild America. I was thirsty for a beer.

The Silver Dollar was an ugly and humble place. It looked like a place females seldom visited. I parked my rental car and surveyed the tiny main street. As I stood in the road to take a photo, visions of a rough cigarette-burned bar frequented by equally rough cigarette-burned men played rough-and-tumble in my head. My imagination fell short of reality. It took a few moments for my eyes to adjust to the feeble yellow illumination of forty year-old beer signs. The bartender asked if I wanted my beer in a bottle or can. No mention of a glass. It was clear what kind of microcosm I had entered.

I had a two-day growth of stubble on my face, a shameful appearance in my business. Compared to the half dozen or so other patrons, I had never matured beyond puberty. Great cascading beardfalls of brown and grey decorated the flannel and denim chests of my fellow beer drinkers. They looked at me with scorn, a puny and pale city boy clicking pictures of THEIR BAR. I drank from a longneck bottle, fer chrissakes. As long as I didn't challenge the rules of the house, I figured I could guzzle unmolested. Knowing my omega male place, I sat in the shadowy corner of the bar, listening to the conversations with alternating interest and disdain, making sure to guzzle once in a while, and stay out of the way of brusque, husky men crashing through the door to buy their daily $10 twelve-pack.

"Damn, that woman could suck cock."

"Ain't that the truth!"

"Gimme a Stihl. Husqvarna ain't wertha shit."

"...and the spotted owl tasted like bald eagle! Haw haw haw!"

"I'd push a Ford before driving a Chevy."

"pffffffffffaaaaarrrrrt" (no one said a word)

My silent survey convinced me that there was no one in the bar who could pronounce "nuclear" correctly, much less define it. They read a newspaper only to find a used truck. Wet spot? Fuck 'er. Ain't my fault she can't keep it in. There are only six types of booze: Budweiser, Coors, Miller, Jack Daniels, Wild Turkey, and Home Made. Wine is for pussies. When I tipped the bartender, he looked at me like I was Donald Trump, or the biggest asshole he'd ever seen. I wasn't sure which. Probably they were the same thing. I asked how far it was to the next town on my map. "Uh, I dunno. Forty-five minutes maybe?" As it turned out, it was over two hours. Either he wanted to fuck with the Nancyboy, or he had never been within thirty miles of his hometown, population 38.

Every Man Jack of them could drop a transmission, skin a deer, pick out the best pup of the litter, and fence off five acres before bedtime. They were more man that I could ever hope to be in ten lifetimes. I saw them for what they were, not what they should or might be. How they percieved me is irrelevant, because it was obvious that I am irrelevant.

A man's gotta know his place.


Rick said...

I grew up in exactly that kind of town, a little further east. I'm an outsider now, until someone recognizes me as "Harmon's boy."

KOM said...

Man is often defined by his environment. It wouldn't do these guys any better to put up a fence in a city than for Wolfgang Puck to set up a cheese taste in the middle of a cornfield.

Is manliness the ability to beat up another man? Maybe, but we're first and foremost tool-users: boom-sticks equalize us all.

tiff said...

stupid blogger ate my "there there, Kingfisher" comment.....

There There, Kingfisher. You don't have to be like those guys to be a man. I suspect you'd take the wet spot from time to time, which is more manly than they could EVER be.

Wordnerd said...

Great story! Very well put.

Cowboy said...

I love life lessons like that. I love to watch and listen to people, and almost.. almost step into their shoes for just a few moments, to see how life is through their eyes.

Now if it had been a bar full of male ballet dancers, I'd probably have gotten my bottle "to go."