Good Times with Country Boys

Is it me or does anyone else feel like getting up and line dancing every time they see the GE Ecomagination commercial on TV?  You know which one I’m talking about. In the ad, people from around the world form one very long line, from the GE factory to the corporate offices, to an airfield where a jet plane is clearly marked with the GE logo, across a city street, through the GE research labs, and finally into the farmlands. And they’re all line dancing, in perfect formation, to the tune of Alan Jackson’s hit, “Good Time.”

Everyone's dancing in the GE Ecomagination Line Dance Commercial.

Well the tune is so darn catchy, and the people in the commercial seem to be having such a good time not working, that it makes me want to put on my cowboy hat, kick up my boots, and join them.  Only I don’t know how to line dance, and I don’t think dancing salsa or putting on my tap shoes and tapping, would have the same effect.  Besides, I don’t own a cowboy hat or Western boots.

Just the same, that 30-second video brings out the country in me. Now, I’ll be the first to admit, there’s not much country in this Latina from Queens.  But just so you know, I had my brush with country once upon a time.  And I still like to listen to country music radio when the mood fits, or when I’m remembering a couple of country boys named Scott and Roy.

The year was 1978. At the time, I was living in Greenbelt, Maryland, with my roommate, Mandy, and we were both attending a nearby university.  I’d been looking for a part-time job to no avail, and then one day Mandy, who’s also from New York, came home and told me she had talked the owner of a brand new Arco mini-mart into hiring us both on the spot.

The mini-mart, just down the street from our apartment complex, was to have its grand opening in a day or so.  Apparently, Mandy had seen the “Now Hiring” sign in the window and had gone right in and got us the jobs.  Just like that. We were to be cashiers, something I’d never done before and somehow it didn’t seem to matter that the new boss and I had not yet met.

Mandy and I ended up working separate shifts, so we never really saw each other at work. Through our jobs, we got to know the locals—and the mostly male regulars who came in every morning for their cup of coffee and pack of cigarettes, before heading to construction jobs or some other work that required them being outdoors and working with their hands.

Two, in particular, Scott and Roy, started hanging around the store whenever Mandy or I were working, just to chat and shoot the breeze.  With their sunburnt faces and ruddy features, they had a distinctive Southern charm. These good ol’ boys seemed to get a kick out of our New York accents and the fact that we’d never been to a country western bar.

So it wasn’t long before they started inviting us to these bars to give us a bit of that down-home experience.  We soon were knee deep in the heart of country—and a long way from midtown Manhattan—dancing the Two-step and listening to the likes of Charley Pride, Loretta Lynn and Willie Nelson.  This was Americana at its best, where Civil War re-enactments took place seemingly everyday and hushpuppies were served with just about every meal.  But while Roy and Scott lived in this world 24/7, Mandy and I were just passing through.  School would eventually end and we’d go back to our more urban lifestyles.

Sure enough, our adventures in country lasted close to a year. In May, after finals, Mandy graduated and moved back to New York. I stayed on another year but quit my job at the mini-mart for a different one I had found–on my own–at the local mall. We never did see Roy and Scott again. But I still see Mandy from time to time, whenever I get back to the city.

Yet, sometimes I find myself wondering, whatever happened to those country boys?  Maybe they’re part of that long line of line dancers in the GE commercial, still enjoying their country western ways.  I’d like to think that. If not, wherever they are, I sure do want to thank them for their Southern hospitality and for introducing a couple of Yankee gals to the best of country. Their country.

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