Sitting at a diner in the morning and listening to Country-Western songs I’d never have the patience to hear on my own. I was on the road, about to get on with it after spending the night at the motel next door. There was a woman who served the food and she was swooning. The crooner on the radio was a lady as well, and she sang about how she wanted to leave her small-town life and ride off with the cowboy who loved her. He was wild and she would show him just how wild she was and how suited she’d be to his wandering ways. A man sang the next song, ironically, a cowboy tired of the range, ready to settle into a small town with his woman. He didn’t mind if they couldn’t afford a fancy wedding, or that he’d give up his much loved country man-freedom. What mattered is that he was drastically changing his life for the lady he loved.
My waitress lost her concentration by the time that second tune began. I have a feeling she had been let down by a fair share of wandering cowboys, disguised as freight-carrying truck drivers, wrangling products shipped from China onto gigantic chain-stores all across God’s blessed country.
I was sad to find the discrepancy between the two highly gendered and perhaps even reversed lyrical positions. The gap that lived in-between. I would have been sadder if I hadn’t felt selfishly romantic about being where I was, on the road and alone, seated outside of situations like the one spewing out in song from the ceiling-speaker above me, and finding myself as the dinosaur I had become. I turned into one somewhere along the way. A Tyrannosaurus Rex, I think… unless I’m some sort of derivation as of yet unknown to man. I’m smaller than you think I’d be, but I do like to eat meat.
I had been to this diner once, years before with a guy called Joe. We were passing through and into what I would come to know as my Midwestern life. After I broke up with him I realized that I’d changed. It was hard, and in some way I blamed him. Trains and Trucks. Free HBO. We stopped in Flagstaff. I bought Brie and a bottle of cheap red wine that wasn’t so bad. We watched a movie about witchcraft on television and laughed with a little liquor in our veins. There were mountains outside the window. Trees too. I had no idea just how different my landscape and my life would soon become. He was annoying and had quirks meant to be left, which is why I eventually did. It was never about him. But he was there.
Now I am driving alone, leaving the Midwest, and coming back home to settle myself, no longer the sort of woman who would sigh for a savior in a no-wheres-ville town. As well as becoming a dinosaur I have become the embodiment of what lives in-between. I stand outside the country song. I’ve learned to like it out here.
Despite my feelings of separation, everyone has been pretty nice considering what they know about carnivorous dinosaurs. In some sort of karmic return for their kindness I became a vegan. That only lasted a couple of years. I had to reconcile a lot of things. I got rid of my car for a while because I couldn’t bear the guilt of using the remains of my ancestors for the sake of my own travel convenience. Soon it got to be a joke. There comes a time, whether you find yourself transformed into the only known throwback of an extinct species or not, when you have to bend with the proverbial wind and submit to your biology and surroundings.
After a while I could look at the situation with a sense of humor. I’m pretty sure I still think and feel like a human, and in this way being a dinosaur is kind of like wearing a costume. At first I was pretty depressed. I realized that I ended up with Joe simply because he was there. The man I really loved didn’t love me back, and these things in conjunction with my turning into a dinosaur really started to bring me down. Not to mention the lack of protein in light of my physical transformation into an exclusive carnivore was not helping the chemical shifts occurring in my brain, but spiritually I think it was the right way to go.
After breaking up with Joe I found myself in a new city and alone. Here I was, this completely new being, I could do anything I wanted. I was scared but I went back to school, got a sweet scholarship based on my ancestry and became a gynecologist.
I just recently started but financially I’m doing pretty well considering that my arms are a bit short and my head is a good six feet away from them, not to mention the fact that my eyes are seated on opposite sides of my face which makes it pretty much impossible to perform gynecological examinations without a team of expert assistants. It’s really a freak-show sort of vibe that brings in my clientele but there’s a certain sense of humor inherent in the kind of person who wants to say that they’ve gone to see a Dino-Gyno that I appreciate. You use what you’ve been given in this life, and I’ve been given a substantial reduction in brain capacity, green scales, a tail and lots of really sharp teeth.
Sitting at a diner in the morning and listening to Country-Western songs, I think about Joe and the one I really loved who just didn’t love me back. I think of the waitress as I watch her, humming along to the song about the red-blooded cowboy who sweeps his lady onto his horse and into the wild blue sunset. I think and I realize: I don’t like Country Music.
Copyright 2009-2010 Linda Lay All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced without written permission from the artist or author.
Published in the 2009 issue of SPRUNG FORMAL.
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