a real soundtrack for an imaginary spy film
Episode Twenty-Six -
LEISURE SUITS AND
Copyright © 2002 - 2005 Arthur Jarvinen
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Contents (all episodes to date)
The Invisible Guy has tailed Mojo Stang to Rednecks Roundup, a restaurant & bar that Stang co-owns and where he has come in order to avail himself of the best ribs outside of Memphis. Having polished off a couple of orders, been hosed down, and divested himself of his goggles, plastic overalls, and hip boots, Stang is just about ready to leave when the announcement is given that the country line dancing is about to start – making him even more ready to leave. But his date for the evening loves country line dancing and suggests that he might prefer to stay for a while – that is, only if he has any interest in doing the horizontal mambo later.
The music is usually canned, but tonight, by sheer coincidence and good fortune, they have the very real pleasure of a live band – Slapp Leatherette and the Achey Breaky Wind Section. It is, of course, Scab & the Boogers, whose van broke down just around the corner. Lance and Melvyn came into the bar to use the phone in hopes of getting Melvyn's mom to wire some money so they can get the van fixed and, seeing an opportunity, Lance convinced the club manager that they're an up-and-coming country pop group, on the rise with a whole new sound and image (their innovation on "the image" being that they not only don't wear cowboy boots, but they don't wear cowboy hats or cowboy shirts either), on their way to an imminent appearance on Catch A Nashville Star and, having just gotten into town with a night off will be willing to play for a fraction of their usual fee – say, ribs and a hundred bucks? – just in order to tighten up their act before the big event. The manager agrees, on condition that they use a different name, like maybe Rowdy Raw and the Rough Riders.
The set goes surprisingly well. Melvyn brought along a fake-book with a few country classics in it, and grew up listening to his dad's Boots Randolph records and can actually play Yackety Sax. They play Rawhide between every other song, which no one seems to mind because it's such fun, and Cattle Call gives Lance a legitimate excuse to yodel, if perhaps a tad boisterously for a ballad. Scab whips out a honky-tonk number on the tack piano, which is in fact his real instrument. He only picked up guitar in order to get girls, not realizing it's the lead singer who gets all the action. In fact, real guitar players barely even notice there are girls on the planet, being obsessed with their instrument and devoting all of their time to the pursuit of that elusive bitch-goddess - "Tone". But we digress…
Anyway, the dancers are having a good enough time even if the band's arrangements sound suspiciously "surfy". At least they recognize most of the songs and are pushing tush quite shamelessly in a spirit of blissful conformity when Lance gets on mike and, winking at Scab, tells the crowd to pay attention; he's going to teach them a brand new line dance. Scab starts up a lively comp on the tack piano as Lance explains that the guys are to watch and copy only what he does with the right half of his body, while the gals should pay attention to and mimic his left side activity exclusively.
As the band gets into the swing of things, Lance, his back to the audience, launches into a series of ambidextrous gyrations and gesticulations, with just enough faux leather slaps and boot scoots to provide a semblance of down-home credibility. He demonstrates the steps sequentially first, to make sure everyone's got them down then says "Now let's put it all together. From the top!"
The band starts up again and the unsuspecting dancers, eyes fixed on Lance, enthusiastically begin their respective boy/girl routines - most of them with their fun quotient expectancy meters already pinning, this promises to be just that entertaining – gleefully following his every move in glorious, symmetrical synchronization until suddenly, at a critical cadence, the reverie is dispelled by discordant outbursts of surprise, consternation, and pain, as guys are tripped up, gals get slugged, and the whole lot of them, as if in a Twister game gone south, find themselves crashing to the floor in an unhappy and confused heap including Mojo Stang who, having been simultaneously kneed in the groin, kicked in the ass, punched in the eye and head-butted, is at the bottom of the pile and not the least bit amused.
During the ensuing confusion, and anticipating the fallout, the Boogers prudently slip into slickers and goggles, then sneak through the kitchen, out the back, and down the alley to their van.
"Nice work, Lance", declares Scab. "Truly inspired. Now look for a high school. We need to find a band room and steal some more gear."
"Um, Scab. The van's still broken, and we split without our hundred."
Back at the restaurant Mojo Stang tells Phez to kill the manager, torch the place for the insurance, and make sure that the band never works again. Then he steps on his date's cowboy boots - real hard - before exiting quickly, without her.
"Damn! I've lost him" bemoans The Invisible Guy,
who is still waiting in line to be hosed down.
Claude, polishing off another bull shot, returns his attention to the display of his cell phone and the description, on their website, of how ribs are done at Corky's, in Memphis.