An unexpected long weekend! Jill rushed back to her apartment, eager to get out of her grey suit and wash the city off her face.
She changed into her velvet sweatpants and put the kettle on. She wanted to read her book, but felt a pang of guilt. She really should go out. Where? Anywhere. Hmm.
She went to her closet, considering. She tossed clothes on her bed and they spilled over onto the floor… oh wow, that dress. She thought she’d gotten rid of it. On a whim, she pulled out her overnight bag. She put the dress in it. Some makeup. Her favorite cowboy boots. The ones with the butterflies on them. She grabbed her purse and dashed out before she could change her mind. She ran back to get her book and her glasses, then turned the deadbolt behind her.
At the Greyhound station, the next bus was leaving for Mason-Dixon. The stars were lining up.
She joined the line at the bar. All that dancing, she should probably check her hair too. As the bartender placed her dirty martini in front of her, a baritone voice beside her said, “I’ve got that.” She handed some bills to the bartender and smiled, “Thanks anyway” to the stranger. The bartender winked, “Your money’s no good here, ma’am.”
“Ma’am, if you’ll allow me to introduce myself,” he tipped his cowboy hat, “I’m Tom….”
“Thanks for the drink, but I’m really here to dance.” She tried not to be rude.
“Well then, we’re both in the right place,” Tom smiled and the corners of his eyes crinkled. The band started up again. The crowd stomped and cheered.
Rollin’ down a backwoods, Tennessee byway, one arm on the wheel…
“May I have this dance?” Tom led her to the floor and held out his hand for hers. She tried not to notice the warmth of his tanned, calloused skin.
Worked hard all week, got a little jingle, on a Tennessee Saturday night
“Sorry,” she said as she stepped on him again.
“Beg your pardon ma’am,” he said, “I thought you knew how to two-step.” She looked like a cowboy’s dream in that flowered cotton dress and butterfly boots.
“I thought I did too. Maybe I used to and forgot.”
“Stand on my boots,” he said.
“I can’t do that. I’ll scuff them.”
“Ma’am,” Tom laughed, “they’re made of sturdier stuff than that.”
Whitetail buck deer, munchin’ on clover, redtail hawk settin’ on a limb
Chubby old groundhog, croakin’ bullfrog, free as the feelin’ in the wind
Her skirt swirled as he danced her through the crowd. He paused, facing her. “Place your boots together. Good. Now hold them there. Keep your legs straight. Hang on.” His hands on her waist, he lifted her above the crowd; she caught her breath, taken by surprise. He swung her back down, around his back, to his other side.
Home grown country girl, gonna give me a whirl
On a Tennessee Saturday night
Her laughter, her perfume, her hair all tumbled around him. Tom felt a pang.
Lucky as a seven, livin’ in Heaven, with my Dixieland delight
Lucky as a seven to have met this girl, Tom thought. Yankee accent or not.
[Lyrics in italics, from “Dixieland Delight,” by Alabama. Written by Ronnie Rogers. Produced by Harold Shedd and Alabama. Original release: The Closer You Get… , 1983.]