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The cold Modelo tastes like heaven and I sit spinning my half empty mug on the bar. A big guy approaches me. I see him coming out of the corner of my eye.
"I don't like the way you're a-lookin' at my woman," he says. Now wait a minute, I have been starring into my beer and tripping down Memory Lane for the last hour, at least. I look at him; his hat says his name is John Deere. Then I look at her. She is attractive, in a last-woman-on-earth kind of way... O boy. Here we go again. Now, I'm a pretty good sized dude myself, but this ol' boy has got a couple inches on me, and at least fifty pounds. Careful now Aaron, don't let your alligator mouth get your tweetie-bird ass in trouble again. Must defuse this situation, before it gets out of hand, before somebody gets hurt. And so of course I am going to be conciliatory. You bet I am.
"Don't flatter yourself, fathead, I don't think all that much of your woman."
I hit the floor pretty hard. Or perhaps the floor hit me; I honestly don't remember at the moment. Anyway, here I lay, sniffing the floorboards, lacquered with years of spit and vomit and beer and urine and sawdust and b*******. Slowly I roll myself over and look up. The big man stands over me, fuming mad. I glance around the room. No one in the bar makes move, nor a sound. Too drunk. Or too lazy. Or too stupid. Or all of the above... I try to make my eyes say: "Little help here, fellas. Could use a little assistance here. Miss Dutch, don't you remember me? Help me out here, would you, please?" Nothing doing. No one moves. No one speaks. Chivalry is dead.
"That was a good one," I say aloud to Mr. Deere. "Damn good one. You pack a hell of a punch mister." I drag myself up slowly, careful to show no aggression, no threatening gestures, passive expression on my face, and regain my seat. He watches me with a smirk. "I'll drink to that," I continue with a respectful tone in my voice. "Don't mind if I do. Barmaid, get this man a beer, on me..." He seems to be pacified for the time being, a look of contemptuous pride on his plain oval face. I am safe. In the clear. Home free.
I look at him and he looks at me; we look at each other. And then I say to him:
"Doesn't change anything, fathead, I still don't think all that much of your woman."
I hit the floor again--harder this time. This is getting old; real old, and real fast. Obsolete obsolescence. A bit redundant. A tad monotonous. I no longer feel entirely welcome here. This beer-joint is giving me a headache. I don't have to take this. I'm leaving.
I am swaying back and forth on my hands and knees at the front door. Again, I feel the need to say something, by way of farewell. A parting shot. Something to remember me by. I think hard, there doggy-style on the greasy floor, but all I can think to say is:
"You know, it's guys like you that give stupid drunken rednecks a bad name."
Solemnly I receive the good solid All-American steel-toed kick in the ass. Gratitude. Yes indeed. Mr. Deere is obviously grateful for my parting wisdom. You are quite welcome, old buddy. Any time, amigo. I hear a murmur of laughter behind me in the bar. Good. If the crowd is happy, I am happy. And so, as I am attempting to drag my wounded body into a more generally erect posture, I say with a wave:
"Thank you, one and all, for a wonderful evening. But now I must be going." More laughter. A good crowd... On the road again; I just can't wait to get on the road again. Willie Nelson said that; and it's true. On the way out of town I spot a little sign beside the road:
"Good News, America, God Loves You."
That is good news! Everybody else thinks I'm an a******.