It’s amazing what you’ll see at a bikini contest in a southern town. Seriously, put some beer together with half-naked women with false hopes of winning some meaningless prize, all in the setting of a semi-small, repressed southern city where it’s illegal to purchase hammers and nails together on a Sunday (true!), and you’ve got a major story brewing.

July 2003. My family and I were back in the town we had lived in for years, visiting relatives and escaping the oppressive Texas heat by retreating to the oppressive South Carolina heat. As it turns out, my very first band was playing a gig the night we arrived. Yeah, I’m a rocker. I aspire to become an incredibly famous and insanely wealthy rock ‘n’ roll musician, all the while maintaining the integrity of the music and forging a path from mediocrity to genius. Send me an email if you believe that line of bullshit, and I’ll tell you some more funny ones. I have a very close bond with my first band…the only reason I quit was because I had to relocate to Texas, and they were naturally unwilling to move with me. Whenever I come back to town, though, they let me play a few songs, which is cool of them.

That night they were playing at a small tavern that was hosting a bikini contest. The contest was sponsored by a local radio station, and the winners got some shitty prize like free turtle wax or a 2 night stay at the Come On Inn. Who the hell knows? All I know is, several women were going to willingly disrobe, and I was not opposed. My boys were playing a set when I arrived, and they were blowing the roof off. The place was packed. I gave my boys mad props, and settled down near the back of the place. The bikini contest started after their first set. The women were HOTNESS! Some were obviously strippers and/or hookers, but man, it didn’t matter, ‘cause they were smokin’ hot. Well, most of them were, that is. There were two stragglers that didn’t fit with the others, and they stood out like a black man in Moscow. Neither was ugly; they were simply outclassed by the other talent present. It’s like watching a midget play hoops with Shaq. It’s not that the midget’s a bad baller, but damn, it’s Shaq! The first girl wasn’t even wearing a bikini. She had on a sleeveless sweater and jeans, and looked kinda like a librarian, even down to the glasses she wore. And then there was Darla.

Darla was in her early forties, and attractive in an I-smoke-3-packs-a-day kinda way. She was there with her boyfriend for the night, who looked at her like she was half-price at the dollar store. She entered the contest because Tequila, her long-time companion, told her to do it, and Tequila never let her down. Darla was from Tennessee (and I know this because she announced it into the microphone that she was wrestling away from the emcee), and proud of it. She was incredible, in a trailer trash, bologna sandwich-eating way.

Each girl got up and danced to the music when their name was called. The first three performed stripperifically – grinding, writhing, and showing off their bodies. Drunken males in the vicinity were going insane with alcohol and testosterone overload. Librarian Girl calmed them down with her less-than-stellar performance, but the best by far was Darla. She jumped and danced around like the people in the electric room in Steven King’s Cat’s Eye (most of you won’t remember that movie, but this is why I’m a damn nerd and you’re not). She spun around, dropped to the floor, did a half split, and jumped up again. Me and my boys were laughing our asses off at her, ‘cause she had zero rhythm, and wouldn’t know what to do with it if she did have it.

The judges announced the winners (she was not among them, surprisingly). The music started up again, and everyone resumed their drinking, but….something was different. I happened to be talking to the sound tech when I heard a loud roar from the crowd. I turned and looked, and there was Darla, standing on top of the table, with her top off. Yep, topless. She had large, D-cup fake boobs covered in freckles, and she was shaking them like they were maracas on Cinco De Mayo. Guys were going NUTS. Not because she was hot…just because she was topless. We men like to celebrate all nudity, regardless of quality. Especially when it’s costing us zilch. By the time my brain had registered what was happening, she had removed her Daisy Dukes, exposing her pink G-string. She was feelin’ it, man! She couldn’t dance in her pants, but she sure could shake it naked. She was having a great time, loving the attention, thriving in the atmosphere. Even her friend was getting into it, clapping and waving dollar bills at her. She danced her way over to his position at the head of the table, gave him her best drunken seductive look, leaned over to tell him all the nasty things she planned to do later, and…

Oh, SHIT!

She fell off the table! She FELL OFF THE TABLE! I don’t know how, but the chick fell face-first off the table, landed on top of her friend, and they both hit the floor. I know they hit the floor because her head made a loud WHACK when it made contact. It looked like something from one of those bad teen movies from the 80s, like “Porky’s” or…”Porky’s Too”. There was dead silence in the bar. People looked concerned, but in a “damn, that was weird” kinda way, rather than a “hey, call 911” kinda way. I was thinking “Oh my God, there’s a half-naked dead chick under the table!!” Neither of the two seemed to be moving, and at the very least, I thought they’d been knocked cold. I eased closer to see what the deal was, and what I saw defied all logic. The two of them were making out under the table. The hillbilly chick fell off the table, bounced her skull off the floor, but didn’t lose her concentration for the task at hand! I had to hand it to her, the woman had some serious dedication. At this point the whole bar began laughing and cheering, and one of the other contestants ran over to cover Darla up. Darla got up, stumbled, swayed, shook her head like a saint bernard, and held her hands up in a V like she’d won American Idol. The band, sensing an opportunity, threw some band merchandise in her general direction. Those guys are straight-up sharks, man.

Postscript

About 10 minutes later, I got on stage to play a few tunes on bass. In between the 1st and 2ndsongs, she asked me to play something she could dance to. Sure, I said, if you take your top off. She was about to comply when another of the contestants stopped her. I don’t know why she was hatin’ on Darla, but it just wasn’t right. Darla then attached a Death Claw Grip on my right forearm, refusing to let go. If you’re not familiar with the DCG, it’s the grip that drunken people put on you when they want to talk to you earnestly. You see, what they have to say is so very important, they have to hold onto you to make sure you receive what they’re sending. The sad thing is, usually what they have to say is stupid, banal, nonsensical, or just plain weird. I don’t even remember what she had to tell me, it was so incoherent. Truthfully, I felt bad for her. She was a little too old for the scene, she was there with a guy who looked at her about half as often as he looked at his beer and at every other woman there, and while she had a lot of balls and chutzpah, she obviously lacked some self-respect and self-esteem. She was only trying to make the best of things, trying to wring some joy from her slate-gray existence filled with broken promises and empty Vienna sausage tins. Perhaps I was the only one who would pay her any real attention. Maybe I was her last chance at intelligent conversation that extended beyond “do that thing you do with your hips”. Could be that I was her last chance at sanity. I’ll never know, because I didn’t bother to listen. All I knew was I had a drunken hillbilly Tennessee woman attached to my arm like a barnacle on a boat hull, and I had songs to play.

I am not a nice man sometimes.

Peace.

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