I’ve noticed that people post a lot of lists these days. Their favorite this and their favorite that.
On Instagram, for instance, Magic Johnson has been posting excessive lists: His Top 60 favorite things of everything in the world. You know, like: “My Top 60 Female R & B Singers” and stuff like that (wherein, I did not even know there were that many female R&B singers, so that was cool).
I am not a list-maker. Lists take time, and contemplation, and consideration. And I think that we all know that, since I basically don’t even have time to think about what I want to eat anymore, I certainly don’t have time to make random lists.
I only make lists when I go to the local dollar store, otherwise I will go in needing important things, like soap, and come out with things like this instead:
And then I go home and, later, I get in the shower and find no soap and think, fuck!!!
So I make those kinds of lists. And I try like heck to remember to look at the fucking list while I’m still in the store, so that I’m not back home in the soap-less shower again, thinking, fuck!!!!
But this morning, I was thinking about Johnny Cash again, and from there, I started thinking about all the female Country & Western singers that I absolutely loved as a little girl and of course I began to consider that pattern, which was so prevalent in female C&W songs back in my wee bonny girlhood, which is that: Men lie like dogs and will just break your heart and fuck you up and they drink too much and will run around on you and leave you and yet you love them to death anyway and cannot live without them, as hard as you might try, so don’t be surprised if you just end up alone in a bar someday, drunk.
And I thought back on all my truly favorite songs by female C & W singers when I was a little girl, and I saw this said pattern in the songs that were indeed my favorites. And I wondered why these songs had appealed to me so much when I was little, and also wondered if those songs had any real impact on how I experienced the opposite sex as I was growing up.
I came to the conclusion this morning that those songs were nothing but absolutely 100% correct. And of course they influenced (or fell completely in line with) how I felt about men.
And by that, I mean, that I always fell for the worst possible guys. The loners who, if they weren’t already in trouble with the law, would be within the next 5 minutes. Guys who drank and smoked and took drugs and worked on cars or worked construction and hung out in the kind of bars that were actually dangerous. And they loved to have sex.
By the time I was in my late teens, I could see a guy like that coming from 5 miles away and I would be boarding that train by the time he arrived in the station, you know?
But the weird twist was that I was just like those guys. I wasn’t some girl who didn’t know any better, or who would try to get them to behave differently or anything like that. I loved going to cheap motels, drinking whisky, having sex. I honestly always loved doing that. But I always had a mind of my own; I always had my own plans, my own dreams. For instance, I knew from age 7 that I wanted to get the hell out of Dodge and go to New York City when I “grew up.” (Which turned out to be at age 20.)
Unlike the C&W songs, I didn’t want to get married and settle down. And from the start, I didn’t trust guys any further than I could throw them. I always just assumed that when they were out of my field of vision, they were up to things I didn’t want to know about so I didn’t ask.
But it didn’t mean that I didn’t actually love them. I sure as hell did. If I fell for a guy, I fell body & soul.
Still, I could not understand why that meant I had to give up my dreams and get married, settle down. (Even guys in trouble with the law want to get married and settle down.) It didn’t make any sense to me.
So regardless of which guy it was, we would always end up fighting like the proverbial cats & dogs because I wouldn’t do what I was expected to do (settle down), and I’d end up leaving, breaking it off because I didn’t want to be owned. Even though it meant I was leaving with a truly broken heart. I really was.
Right before I left for NYC, at age 20, I adopted this sort of personal policy: If ever I saw a guy like that coming my way, ever again, I would walk the other way and let the train ride on past. I wasn’t boarding any more of those trains.
And it was kind of easy to stick to my policy. Because the kind of guy I really went for was usually that “hillbilly mix” — meaning a mixed heritage of German/Irish/Cherokee and decidedly rural. There were guys like that in NYC (usually transplanted musicians from Kentucky or someplace like that), but I would try like heck to steer clear of them.
I wound up going out with really amazing men, from all over the world — marrying a couple of them, too. But I would never allow myself to really fall in love with any of them.
And the one time I did, when I let my guard down when I was 40, and fell absolutely in love, trying like hell not to fall in love; when we finally got together in a cheap motel room in the Bronx, when I finally knew for certain, in my heart, that I had truly fallen in love with a guy, for the first time in over 20 years — you know, we’re in that bed, he’s got on his gold chains, his gold rings, his gold watch, his tattoo, his amazingly beautiful eyes, and he’s lighting a cigarette and he says, “I have something I better tell you right now, honey.”
He was fresh out of Riker’s, awaiting trial, looking at 15 years minimum for attempted murder. “But it wasn’t really like that,” he added. “The other guy had it coming.” He and I lasted about 5 years…until he gambled away all my money.
Yeah, well. It’s sufficient to say I live alone now and have for 15 years.
Here’s my fucking list.
- Stand By Your Man – Tammy Wynette
- Walkin’ After Midnight – Patsy Cline
- Fancy – Bobbie Gentry
- Right or Wrong – Wanda Jackson
- Wings Upon Your Horns – Loretta Lynn
- Release Me – Kitty Wells
- Twice the Loving in Half the Time – Jean Shepard
- I Don’t Wanna Play House – Tammy Wynette
And last but by no means least:
Ever since you left me, I’ve done nothing but wrong
Many nights I’ve laid awake and cried
We were so happy, my heart was in a whirl
But now I’m a honky tonk girl
So turn that jukebox way up high
And fill my glass up while I cry
I’ve lost everything in this world
And now I’m a honky tonk girl
I just can’t make a right with all of my wrongs
Every evening of my life seems so long
I’m sorry and ashamed for all these things you see
But losing him has made a fool of me
So fill my glass up to the rim
To lose my memory of him
I’ve lost everything in this world
And now I’m a Honky Tonk Girl
c – 1960 Loretta Lynn