A song I wish I could play: "Telephone Road" by Steve Earle
Telephone Road is ten miles long
Fifty car lots and a hundred honky-tonks
Jukebox blastin' and the beer bottles ring
Jimmy banging on a pinball machine
Mama never told me about nothin' like this
I guess Houston's 'bout a big as a city can get
Sometimes I get lonesome for Lafeyette
Someday I'm goin' home but I ain't ready yet
Come on come on come on let's go
This ain't Louisiana
Your Mama won't know
Come on come on come on let's go
Everybody's rockin' out on Telephone Road
I went to high school right smack in the middle of grungy Houston, Texas. You probably don't know this Steve Earle song--it really only resonates with folks who have been there.
My junior year, I really wanted to date Casey. Or the baseball coach, whichever got to me first, I guess. Casey I think really did not want to date me. But had not a clue how to let a girl down easy. After baseball games, he would take me home, since we both lived in Pearland (Pear. Land. Not Pearl. Land.) and it just made sense, right? He drove a jeep wrangler jacked up on these huge tires--he kept a step stool for passengers. We'd head home on Mykawa Road, except when the fog rolled in early, and then it was always down Telephone Road. Fifty car lots and a hundred honky-tonks.
The fog had rolled in that night, and we headed home on Telephone. At some crossroads just on the edge of Houston, the wrangler died. Died. Casey's cursing under his breath, trying to get it started. Things didn't work too well for Casey in general, and with this jeep in specific, and he turned and shook his head at me. We were stuck. Too far to walk back (and too completely disgusting), and still too far to make it to the happy little suburb we called home. In the era before cell phones, our choices were few. Our only logical choice was to walk into one of the ice houses (honky-tonks) and hope we wouldn't be raped and killed.
Wrangler by the side of the road, flashers on. He's dressed in a baseball uniform, you know, tight white pants and a shirt that reads "Rebels" across the front in brown. I'm in the hideous uniform skirt and blue oxford cloth button-down. We head over to the nearest ice house and walk through the garage door.
It's. A. Biker. Bar. I'm right behind Casey, and he practically backs up over me trying to get out. But we've already been seen, and the bartender yells at us that nobody under 21 allowed. One of the guys at the bar stands up. It's like being in some "city slicker gets trapped in rural America and terrible things happen" movie. You know the genre.
"Can we use the phone?" Casey's thin little voice yells over to the bar. The standing guy is joined by someone next to him, and an impossibly skinny woman (why do so many Texan women have hair wider than their hips?) makes a trio.
"Y'all lost or somethin?" she asks us.
"Jeep broke down," Casey replies.
"Jerry, why not see what's goin on?" she says to the first guy. Jerry and the other guy follow Casey out to the jeep. They do not rape or kill him. She takes me back to the bathroom hallway, as filthy as you think it'll be, and gives me money for the phone. Casey's mom comes and picks us up. They get the wrangler towed and nobody dies.