Country Strife.

I never thought this would happen to me. It’s like I’ve been bitten by a radioactive spider, except there are no cool superpower side effects, but instead, I’m just tortured by longing for something I’ve spent most of my life hating. I hate to say it, and really I am so embarrassed to do so, but I think I may love country music.

I know, I know. It’s awful! Of all ailments to take me over this early in life, this one is definitely at the bottom of my list. I cannot believe this is actually happening to me.

I think my disdain for country music stems from a long childhood full of it. Most of my memories as a youngin’ are accompanied by a little country twang singing in the background. My step-dad was an avid country fan and there wasn’t anything any of us kids could do to escape it. Every time we got in the car it was his favorite country CD or his favorite county station. When we would try to protest he would look at us and smile, “My car, my rules. When you get old enough to drive and you have your own car, you can choose what we listen to.”

That smile said it all. It was the smile of a deranged kidnapper who knew every move he made would only torture our souls even more. The pain! The agony!

My mom did everything she could to counteract this deep exposure to country music. She took her parenting very seriously when inundating us with the usual classic rock figureheads. She even created a game we would all play when we got in the car with her. She’d flip on the classic rock radio station and the first person to shout out the name of the artist got a point. Long car rides up the coast turned into battlefields with “the game”. My mom and older brother ruled at it. They even passed on the good game-playing skills to my little sister. It skipped me. I was too busy in the back seat listening to The Backstreet Boys on my CD player.

Between the over-exposure to classic rock and the hammering of old country dudes like John Hiatt and Hal Ketchum in my head, I was adamant about liking crappy tween pop. N*Sync, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, 98 Degrees… I had it all. Not only was I hell-bent on listening to over-produced and over-synthed late 90s pop, I vehemently detested the genres pushed on me as a child.

I have spent 75% of my life cursing the very foundation of every country song I have ever heard. No, I don’t care about the barbecue stain on your white t-shirt or how some girl is “killing you” in a mini-skirt. I don’t wanna hear about your Nascar races, I don’t care about your farm your parents own or the old dirt road you drive down in your rusted Chevrolet while you drink beer (which is illegal to do while driving, don’t forget that) and chew on a long piece of straw. Your ten-gallon hat is not cute, I don’t like your boots and your tobacco chew is grossing me out.

I’ve been singing that tune for a long time.

I am very serious about my distaste for this kind of music. When I visit my aunt and uncle in Texas, I do everything I can to avoid any exposure to it. My uncle loves to blast country tunes on the radio while he does yard work and when he’s inside, the CMT countdown is playing in the middle of the living room for all to hear.  I’d grit my teeth and get by, being thankful they open their home to me while I visit and knowing I have no place to dictate what plays on the radio.

This past summer, however, something strange happened. My uncle Billy and I were lazily lounging on the couch watching the CMT countdown when “Homeboy” by Eric Church came on. I found myself, dare I say it, enjoying the music. And if that wasn’t enough, even worse, and I can barely bring myself to even write the words, I found myself logging onto YouTube later that night to hear the song again… and again. I couldn’t believe myself. Something was coming over me.

The next thing I knew it, I was home in my apartment downloading my favorite country songs I heard while I was spending my week in Texas. I couldn’t believe myself but there was no denying it: I was starting to like country music.

It was all downhill from there.

I saw the movie “Country Strong” and not only did I love it, I downloaded the soundtrack and listened to it on repeat for a week. When it came out on DVD I ran to Target and bought it. The last time I bought a DVD was 2007.

The day after I turned 21, the first place I wanted to go was In Cahoots. I found myself digging through my closet looking for my “most country” outfit and pulling up to the bar at 6 p.m. to make sure I was there early enough for the free line dancing lessons.

I am longing for a pair of cowboy boots. I drove all the way to Temecula just for more line dancing and I even had my friend make me a 50 song playlist with her favorite country jams on it.

It’s not enough that I’m letting country music and line dancing take over my life, it’s the fact that when I listen to country music, or when I’m line dancing, I feel like I’ve been transported into a world of pure bliss. I’m not sure if it’s because it reminds me of my Texas family who I love so much, or what but I can’t kick this country habit.

I’m like a junkie.

Who am I? What have I become?

I don’t know how this happened to be. I don’t know why this is happening. I don’t know how to get rid of it from my brain. But I am embarrassed. I am confused. I am in a constant funk.

And the only thing that could fix this discomfort I’m feeling is a nice tall cold glass of beer, a slide guitar and some really cute boots I found at Boot Barn.


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