Date: June 6, 2009
Location: Dally Up Bar, Montpelier, N.D.
Population: 103 (not the bar, the WHOLE town)
In the country, people know your next-door neighbor (five miles away), second cousin and first person you kissed. In some cases, those three are the same person.
So the moment I stepped into the bar at Montpelier, I felt out of place. Not only did I not know anyone, but the size of my belt-buckle just didn’t compare to the stature and sparkle of the other ladies’.
And instead of wearing a camo-colored hat, flannel shirt and denim overalls, I wore dark-wash trousers and a matching scarf-accessory. Fewer eyes hath stared at a Green Bay Packer cheesehead with a neon sign flashing "live nudes." And this is Viking country.
I was so out of place, I couldn’t even relate to the one woman wearing skinny jeans. Sure, skinny jeans were stylish once. But wearing a thong OVER them, as she did, just hasn’t hit the runways yet.
I should have known to expect an unfortunate evening when the BAR’S OWNER approached me.
You’re with Cowboy, right?, he said. I’ve heard a lot about you.
Really? Awesome, because I have no idea who you are. This is so not awkward. PS: What have you heard and who told you, I said, finding a new affection for people deer rifles.
And later, I saw a familiar-looking gent and said, have we met before?
He said: Uh, HELLO, you interviewed MY NEPHEW! How could you forget me?
My bad, I said, kicking my heals, ready to barhop.
In the city, bar-hopping is no problem. Another pub isn't far.
Bar-hopping, in case you didn't know, is the solution to any uncomfortable situation. You see your boss shooting tequila... that's fine. Some creep-o starts hitting on you... no problem. Just bar-hop. Even in Jamestown, all you gotta do is cross the street.
But in the country, what you gotta do is CROSS COUNTY LINES.
I was tense all night... nervous not to confide in Person A that Person B’s socks didn’t match as likely the two have an illegitimate child together and together, would kick my Banana-Republic-ed behind.
And while I was nervous about insulting anyone, my anxiety over making a fool out of myself bordered on neurological. I would likely see (and forget the names of) all of them many, many times, if not with Cowboy then at the grocery store or out to dinner, at the gym or for a work interview.
First impressions were of utmost importance.
So you can imagine my reaction when I TORE THE SEAT OF MY PANTS OPEN and subsequently locked myself in a bathroom stall.
Naturally, I swore, fainted and punched a hole in the wall the shape of Fruit of the Loom.
Once my hand healed, I did what any independent, self-reliant woman would do. I sought the aid of the only girl in the pub I’d met PRIOR TO my voyage to Montpelier Bar.
Steal me a stapler, I beg of you! I cried, wrapping my arms around her ankles, kissing her shoes and promising to stop telling country children their fathers are their uncles.
The only problem was SHE WAS MY CO-WORKER. You know, like someone I work with. Someone who sees me as PROFESSIONAL. I’d rather moon Mother Theresa herself, than let a co-worker see my pink panties.
That’s right. Pink.
Like I couldn’t have at least worn BLACK underwear with BLACK pants and let the two blend. No. THAT WOULDN'T BE OBVIOUS ENOUGH.
And remember what I said about CROSSING COUNTY LINES... It wasn’t like I could just go home, change, and blame it on a spilt beer. THIS IS WHY PEOPLE LIVE IN CITIES.
A few minutes later, co-worker returned armed with scissors and duct tape. Seriously.
They didn’t have a stapler, she said, but the bartender said this would work.
The bartender? I asked. As in, you TOLD HER why you needed them. The bartender knows more names, faces and credit card numbers than Western Union. The whole township will know before I finish my next drink.
It’s OK, my co-worker said. She’s cool.
Great. I might as well grab a microphone and sing karaoke in these bloomers as that IS LESS EMBARRASSING.
Soon, my co-worker had me taped up and tucked in.
You can’t even tell, she said, pretending not the notice the unease in my step and HUGE CREASE in my crotch.
I stepped out of the bathroom, sheepish, shady and willing to sing praises to Ted Kaczynski if only my shorts would stick.
Wanna dance, Cowboy asked?
I'd prefer pouring whiskey in my Cheerios.
No, I do not, I said, giving him the eye that in girl language means: DO AS I SAY AND I WON'T TELL PEOPLE YOU CAN DO THE SPLITS BETTER THAN ME.
Be a man, ya pussy! my new friend the bar-owner said, slapping Cowboy’s behind.
See!! We gotta dance now, he said.
And that’s how men are:
Dude No. 1: You're a pussy. Let me touch your butt.
Dude No. 2: I’m no pussy. Check out my two-step.
So while a slow dance may have been OK or maybe even a do-si-do, this was country dancing... with spins and dips and “turn your partners!”
Seriously, I don’t want to do this, I said, trying to pass it off as dance-floor jitters.
But you told me you like shaking that groove-thang, he said.
Fine. One song.
Three George Straights and a Trisha Yearwood later, the tape was tearing at the skin of my inner thigh. It felt like someone took a tweezers to my legs in search of ingrown hairs or leftover meatloaf.
Let’s get some fresh air, I said.
I wasn’t going to tell him what was going on. I didn’t want the shame of it. Ladies don’t SPLIT THEIR TROUSERS. And even if they do, they don’t mend them with DUCT TAPE.
I was going to wing it in hopes God loved me enough to let the adhesive stick. But it was 8 o’clock. And I haven't been to church since Christmas.
Ok, I really like dancing with you and everything, I said to the Cowboy, wondering if I should save face and conjure up the “I-have-a headache” excuse, but in a town that small, he'd likely find out anyway.
I can’t dance with you anymore, I said, telling him the whole story and willing him NOT TO JUDGE.
He laughed. But not in the mocking way, in the disbelief kind of way.
Why didn’t you say something? he asked.
Because! I said. I’M A LADY. Besides, I told co-worker and she helped me already.
What? You told her and you didn’t tell me?? he said like I'd broken a pinkie swear or John Deere Code of Ethics. You could have told me. We’re allies here.
Yeah, sure, whatever. Next time I need help, you walk into the ladies restroom with a roll full of duct tape... no one will notice, I'm sure.
PS, Cowboy, I said, If you could just keep this between us... and co-worker... and the bartender AND THE INTERNET, I'd appreciate it.
No other bar-hoppers seemed to notice my posterior the rest of the night. Not even when I oh so subtly yelped CO-WORKER! CO-WORKER! Check out my bum!
But if they did, the bar-hoppers were courteous enough to cork their gourds. Maybe that's because they found extras after all the wine they drank.
But for the future, I'll make you all a deal. If anyone feels like teaching me to mend, I'll send some of North Dakota's June snow in exchange.