“It’s a good thing I was born a girl, otherwise I’d be a drag queen.” – Dolly Pardon
As some of you may know, I work in a restaurant on the weekend. Last weekend was long, arduous, and a constant source of discouragement. There was a bright spot. Okay, there were several bright spots. There was also an abundance of complaining, crying and tribulation.
The bright spot is that I work with a gay man who can pick up a Dolly Pardon song no matter where I start it off and he will sing a duet with me. I am not kidding. His name is Michael and together we are like something out of a movie, me and this guy.
He is tall and roughly masculine with a scholarly side to him. He has read more books than I have. He has dated more men than I have and possibly most of those boyfriends were better looking than anything I have every brought home to meet my mother. Also, he has attended one yoga class in his entire life and it was mine, which made me richly happy.
When I was a kid one of my favorite movies was anything with Dolly Pardon or a mermaid. I grew up in the eighties; I watched Splash, Nine to Five and The Best Little Whore House in Texas one million times. The same can possibly be said for Michael.
It is The Best Little Whore House in Texas to which I credit discovering me and my singing companion’s talent for duets. Once, while waiting for fresh bread to come out of the oven and into the bin from which we scooped it like hungry wolves on behalf of our tables, I began singing “Nothing Dirty Going On”, the song that introduces Dolly Pardon as the whore house madam and the girls as possible can-can line candidates.
I am not kidding, my fabulous gay man jumps right into line with me. We skip through the restaurant, arm in arm and singing our hearts out; little red and her sexy gay wolf trotting along with their baskets.
I experimented with other songs from that movie and he knows them all. When I sing the songs alone I have to drop my voice and pull my chin down to get nearly as low a baritone as Burt Reynolds when he sang to Dolly. When I am with Michael I only have to practice buxom and bouncy – he brings the bass.
He and I worked together last weekend, yet my sunken constitution didn’t really warrant show tunes.
One of my least favorite things at work is the potential to have a large party. Lemme tell you something; waiting on thirty people all at once isn’t a guarantee that you’re gonna make any more money than if you’re serving five or six people at one time. I’m just saying.
They are nice people at this party, and it’s really only fifteen of them. They are young military and enjoying themselves. At one end of the table is a serious fellow who started with a liquor drink in a rocks glass. He switched to beer after I brought bread. After his second beer I asked his friends if he was driving. Given he wasn’t the designated driver I rang in his beer and went to the bar to wait on my favorite man to serve it up.
Michael isn’t usually in a hurry for anything. It’s another part of his charm. I was in a hurry to get the beer to my table, to be done with the night, to go home to the cats. My bartender is flirting with women who are on their second glass of wine. I want to scratch their eyes out and tell them, “I saw him first, hussies. He is my gay boyfriend!”
Instead, I begin an off-tune song, “Budweiser, you created a monster…..and they call me drinking-stein….” If you’ve ever heard the song the melody will stick with you. So will the vision of Sylvester Stallone in a pair of pointy toed cowboy boots and a wide brimmed hat bouncing stiff-shouldered while he sings it.
I am stunned when Michael begins that same stiff shouldered bounce Stallone rocked with Dolly off camera, coaching him on how to be a real Rhinestone cowboy.
I am not making this up. After the release of Rocky III wherein Balboa demolishes Clubber Lang, played by Mr. T, Stallone teams up with Dolly Pardon to film the very first movie I ever saw in the theater.
I remember going to see it. I was four and a half or so. My little sister Brittany, who was two or so at the time, must have been home with our dad. I don’t know how I got so lucky to have a mom that would take a 4 year old to a PG rated movie on a sunny afternoon, but it’s one of my favorite memories.
I was really intrigued with the lights that line the red aisles in the theater and how dim it got before the large screen was lit with the first flickers of what would be one of my favorite movies. I remember desperately wanting a dress like the one Dolly Pardon wears at the finale. It is pure shine, like platinum spray paint with tassels.
Little did I know that thirty some-odd years later I’d be singing one of those songs to an exclusive member of the Dolly Pardon fan club here in Lil ‘ole Pensacola. How could I have guessed how it would transform a long arduous night? With a spray of sequins everything’s gonna be alright.
I finished serving the party with much success and good server ratings had by all. (There are little computers on the table so guests can report directly to the main office of my performance, whether I cuss or not and if I offer wine). I hugged my special singing partner and bartender most tenderly before I left for the night.
When I got home I wanted to overeat and watch bad television. Have you ever had one of those days when french fries somehow seem more appealing than reasonable food and a healthy mind-body exercise program? But, my friend, I have DVD copy of Rhinestone starring Dolly Pardon and Sylvester Stallone.
I made a pot of coffee, which some might suggest can lead to derangement after midnight, like fried chicken as per Gremlins rules of engagement. I cued up that movie like it was the original debut. I felt all of four years old, set up at my craft table as I was with a large coffee and a cat curled neatly beside me.Some things never change.
I sat there with this fine mojo and I made a mala. It might be the best mojo of any mala I have ever made. But the mala is second to discovering that I still know most of the words to all of the songs and that Dolly Pardon hasn’t changed in thirty years.