Dressed in my black jeans and stomping boots, my belt with the silver studs and my silvery top – out we went. Now ‘N’ is a stunning woman with long dark hair and a definite ‘come-hither’ look to her. Not only did her large breasts catch the eye of every cowboy in the bar – but her laughter and gaiety were infectious. She was obviously out for a good time and to hell with everything else. You couldn’t tell that her private life was a killer and I admired her for that. I tried to play the bump on the wall but she would have none of it. When the men flocked to our table like flies to sugar, she made sure I was included in all conversations. As each drink went down faster than the last one – we got louder and louder.
I didn’t have a clue how to two-step, and I spent my time studying the dancers out on the floor. ‘N’ on the other hand was busy studying every man in the room and was always nudging me in the ribs to check someone out. The place was sheer bedlam. If you didn’t arrive early enough to stake your claim to a table or a place at the bar – you had to stand against the wall with your drink. Cigarette smoke often made it hard to see across the room and the country beat pounded in your guts and escaped out your lower back.
This was just something I was not use to, but ‘N’ and I pounded down our 5 drinks and then pulled out our money for more. ‘N’ was asked to dance again and again while I refused anyone who asked me. I was so afraid of looking like a fool and tripping over my feet and probably stepping on my partner’s. But I was more than happy to watch as they circled round and round the center pillar, the lights strobing and the cowboy boots stomping.
I made ‘N’ teach me how to two-step in the store one day so I would be prepared for our next night out. I could dance – in fact I use to ballroom dance every weekend with a long-forgotten boyfriend who came before The Beater. My parents hated it – but they allowed me to go to the sock hop at the high school with my brother – as long as I was home by 11pm. Music made me want to dance – to fling my arms about and give in to some primal urge to move my body. I would have been a wonderful dancer as long as no one else watched me.
Needless to say our Thursday nights were the topic of conversation the next day at work. Mom thought ‘N’ was a hussy with her ways and that she was corrupting me. I laughed long and hard when she told me this. We had so much fun together and ‘N’ never judged me in any way at all. But Mom sure hated the days following our nights out. Sometimes I would catch her watching ‘N’ as she made her way out to the showroom to make a sale. Her eyes would be small and narrowed and you could just see the thoughts going on behind those glasses. I would shake my head and turn away.
The next time someone asked me to dance I was ready. My low cut boots made a satisfying sound as I stomped my two-stepping way around the dance floor. I was so proud of myself that I could follow my partner and keep up a conversation as well. I was more than delighted when I got a good partner who could steer me around and dip and sway me with the best. But I couldn’t even hold a candle to the regulars who ‘performed’ out on the floor every Thursday night. And I didn’t want to. I just wanted to have fun.
When the ‘ugly’ lights came on – ‘N’ and I were still there – still wanting to dance. Depending on ‘N’s’ night she had a ride home and I drove the 20 minutes back to the barn in our little town. Depending on ‘N’s ride home, I sometimes stayed with her – I had probably had too many drinks to be driving. But sometimes I drove – and I shouldn’t have. The second time I did this scared me so badly that I decided I would never do that again and made sure I had a place to stay in the big city – even if it meant sleeping in the back of the store.