By Liz Tracy
By David Rolland
By Alex Rendon
By Terrence McCoy
By Natalya Jones
By County Grind
By Liz Tracy
By Chris Joseph
Customers: While we perched at a bar and listened to Jo Dee Messina's "Bye Bye," a single figure separated from the crowds of bobbing hats and clicking boots and stood alone — like a tiny, hunched John Wayne surveying the throngs, a cowboy about to rope him up some cattle. Suddenly, he pointed at a random pretty girl and crudely thrust his pelvis toward her in a jerky humping motion. Vernon Lovejoy wore a red flannel shirt with white fringe running along the back and sleeves and rhinestones glistening from the upper back. His startlingly jet-black hair was slicked back from his receding hairline, and a perfectly manicured moustache sat atop his upper lip. As soon as I got near him, he tried to thrust into me, but Mike shouted sharply from a few feet away, gesturing clearly for Vernon to keep his hands from traveling south.
"So, what brings you out tonight?" I asked.
"I'm an investor, land developer, and multimillionaire," he said. "I don't drink, smoke, gamble, or pay for pussy. I just come out here a couple times a week to have a good time."
"Isn't this crowd a little young for you? How old are you, anyway?"
"I'm 85 years old," he said, fumbling in his wallet and eventually flashing me his driver's license for age confirmation. "I could be the grandfather of any of those young boys over there, but I could kick their asses." He gestured sharply at my friends. Mike squinted and sipped his bourbon, which must have been strong if he was even considering having a showdown with an 85-year-old man.
"When I'm dancing with girls, a lot of times they ask me if I'm taking Viagra," he continued. "But I tell them I don't need it. You know what I'm saying?"
"Uh, yeah," I said.
"I mean, when I'm dancing all close to them, I sometimes—"
"—Yes, I get it!"
"Anyway, I'm not your father or nothin'," he said, "But be careful out here. I don't take advantage of girls, but other guys out here will. Don't let 'em slip anything into your drink." He stole another sideways glance over at my friends. "You don't wanna get raped."
Texas Consensus: There's something about seeing leather boots and big-brimmed hats that puts a Texan right back at home, even in a glam Hollywood-ized cowboy bar with enough half-dressed girls to put the "ho" in hoedown. Yeah, it ain't quite the jukebox saloons out in the tumbleweed towns of deep east Texas or even a big-ass honky-tonk staple like Fort Worth's infamous Billy Bob's. But a stiff drink cures a homesick heart faster than you can say "achy-breaky," and an upbeat atmosphere and a fun crowd don't hurt neither.