Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Honky Tonk Heaven

Christine Wy's post (Stranger in a Strange Bar) brought back a similar "I should NOT be in this bar" memory from my time in college. Luckily, my experience was much less traumatic…

Though a Kentucky Boy, I was far from a redneck, and I viciously avoided any connection to things I perceived as such. Yet, one autumn evening I found myself in a bar that prided itself on its burgers, PBR, and western wear (yes, friends, the bar sold cowboy boots).

It was a dark and creepy place. Old men sat in the shadows, peering from underneath the rims of their cowboy hats. They were not modern cowboys, shot to mainstream by early 90s Pop Twang. These cowboys were not pastel and trimmed. They were ragged and tired and very drunk. They probably had very little in common with Clint Black.

Their eyes followed us three college kids as we walked into their bar. I'm sure I probably ordered something very inappropriate to the scene, something like a scotch and soda.

But, here's the punchline. My view of this place was being filtered through my own sensitivities and preconceptions. I hated country music; I hated everything I saw as "redneck." Beer even fell into that category for me. What can I say? I grew up in a small town where "Bud" was a synonym for "beer." I didn't know any better. (For the record, I still hate Nascar.)

Truly, the judgmental eyes that night were all mine. The bar, a fairly famous place in Nashville, had tons of traffic and was in a touristy part of town. It was a honky-tonk (said so, right on the sign!) but certainly not a dive. As the night went on, my tension eased. The regulars and the bartenders were very friendly. My friend, Camus*, garnered the respect of the crowd by requesting the house band to play an obscure Johnny Cash song. In short, I had completely misjudged the place.

I guess it's all about perspective. Some things look so much worse in hindsight–many of my former apartments, for example. But some things, like Robert's Western World, become a fond memory.

*Pseudonym used to protect his record collection…

1 comment:

Cacties said...

Roberts never lets me down. I'll go in there a few times a month and it's a great place to bring folks from out of town.

The burgers are great, the beer is cold, and you can always skip the line at the front door by going in the back.

Western Wear by Cacties