Sunday, November 21, 2004

Fuzzy Memories and Drug-Induced Flashbacks - Part II

The year is 1990, and I'm watching Hee Haw with my dad. (This is before he died, otherwise this would be one truly creepy story.)

My dad was a country-western musician and sort of swung in those Pickin' and Grinnin' social circles. He was buddies with Chet Atkins, and was acquainted with many of the beloved Hee Haw characters, such as Grandpa Jones, Minnie Pearl, Goatfuckin' Ned, Six-Toed Bessie, Cletus Q. Cousinhumper, Hillbilly Jesus, and Roy Clark. Personally, I wasn't much of a Hee Haw fan, but I did frequently ask Dad if he could introduce me to those hot girls in the straw hats and cutoffs. Unfortunately, that never seemed to pan out.

But I digress...

It's the summer of 1990, and I'm visiting my Dad in Texarkana. It's about 9:15 at night, and we're sitting in my grandmother's living room, watching Hee Haw. Or rather, he's watching Hee Haw. I'm reading Foucault's Pendulum and doing my best to ignore the hoedown.

Dad's drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon, because he likes his whiskey expensive but his beer dirt cheap. He's been putting them away since before dinner, so he's pretty buzzed when Buck Owens pops up from the corn field to announce the next performer. It's nobody I've ever heard of before, but my dad gets really excited.

"Chrisco!" he calls to me in a slurred voice.

"Yeah, Dad?"

"I want you to put that goddamn book down for a minute and listen to this next song, 'cause it's got some lyrics that will just... oooh.... tear you up!"

So being the dutiful son that I am, I put down the book and I listen. It's a typical twangy sad country song about a man who marries a woman, and the two of them have a daughter named Candy. Then the man and woman get divorced, and the woman eventually winds up engaged to another man, which means Candy is going to have a new father. And as the song reaches its emotional pinnacle, the singer pleads, "Please, don't give Candy to strangers..."

I'm about to make a sarcastic remark, but I bite it back when my father lets out an emotional sigh. "Oooh!" he exclaims, shaking his head. "Oh, man!" And then, he holds up his forearm and points to it, showing me all of the hairs standing on end.

Suddenly, I feel guilty for not being moved by the song, so I shake my head and say in a voice choked with emotion, "Wow, that's powerful."

Dad nods enthusiastically. "I know! I mean, oooh!" And he proudly displays the raised hairs on his arm again.

It's a bonding moment, and Christ knows we've had precious few of those. So I close my book, and spend the rest of the evening watching back-to-back Hee Haw episodes with him. And even though he falls asleep in his recliner before it's over, I watch all the way to the end.

I figure it's the least I can do. Right?


SJ said...

Yes, it was the least you could do. You were a dutiful and caring son. I am proud of you. Now, aren't you still glad as shit that Hee Haw is gone off the airwaves?

Irb said...

It may be gone for now, but that show is like Jason. It can't be killed. And with the recent craze of retarded redneck TV, I figure it's only a matter of time until we're subjected to Hee Haw: The Next Generation.

SJ said...

So true. I thought about you when I saw promos for "The New Gilligan's Island" and how you broke the news to me that it would, in fact, happen. It won't be long now for HeeHaw's return. It's because we're sinners, isn't it?

James Howard Shott said...

I had a few similar moments with my dad. He liked swing music and, actually, so did I. I became a musician in large part because of the influence of Dad's and Mom's exposing me to "their" music. It also included the Grand Ol' Opry, and all that that entails, and I developed a tolerance, and even a liking for some country music. I even played bass in a country band for a while. And, I once played trumpet in a state fair band that backed Roy Clark! Wow. Say what you will, but that guy could really play the guitar.

Sorry I wondered off the point. But those few moments when Dad and I connected are very fond memories. I regret that I didn't have sense enough to seek out more opportunities. He died three months before his 67th birthday in 1985.

James Shott

Irb said...

Yes, I will admit to enjoying Roy Clark. And Jerry Reed. And Chet Atkins. And especially Merle Travis. Despite my disdain for all things Opry, I'm seriously impressed by anybody that can play good thumb-style.

And I know what you mean, James. I'd give anything for a little more time with Dad. Hell, I'd even watch Hee Haw ;-)

Thanks for posting!

SJ said...

Okay, this is getting ridiculous. I mean, you go out there and put up a blog and then weeks (WEEKS) go by without something new. WEEKS. People are out here worrying about your well being. If I have to read the Hee Haw story one more time, I may be hanging from the ceiling fan tomorrow morning.

Anonymous said...

Am I the only person in the world who can still enjoy good country entertainment? Hee Haw was corny, but if you were a true country fan, you knew it was being corny just to "josh" the yuppies that couldn't really understand it. There will never be another like it. We tend to take ourselves too seriously nowadays.