Friends in Low Places

Blame it all on my roots, I showed up in boots.” – Garth Brooks, “Friends in Low Places”

Ever have a song tweedle around in your brain so long that it seems like a message from God? I mean, not really, but everything that happens seems to have relevance to that song after a while?

One time everything in my life came back to a Billy Ray Cyrus reference – for, like, a week. Now it’s Garth Brooks. And I don’t even listen to County Music. Except Johnny Cash, but let’s face it, The Man in Black transcends genre.

At first I thought, “Aha! I will write a post about Garth Brooks and Goetia. Friends in Low Places, indeed!”

Then the (admittedly precariously placed) Midori fell from the part-of-the-liquor-cabinate-that-I-don’t-drink-but-keep-stocked-for-guests. I rekon the Kim Kardashian demons didn’t like that idea. So rather than being quippy, I thought better of it and decided to jot down all the places where Garth has already interjected himself into my young week.

Something made me look up the lyrics to “Friends in Low Places.” But I don’t remember what. I had made a joke and said, “Well, I do have friends in low places.” That’s how it seems to have started. It turns out that the song isn’t as apt as I originally thought.

You see, in our house, “friends in low places” has nothing to do with poor “social graces”; it means: “friends who will metaphorically shank a bitch for you, metaphorically dispose of the body, and never ask any questions.” That’s pretty absolute. You see, The Bad Husband and I are from a rough neighborhood.[1] The way it was back then, alliances required unconditional loyalty with no trepidations whatsoever. Or somebody got killed. Not metaphorically. Folks from The Neighborhood understood being protected by other’s loyalty. Back in The Neighborhood, everyone knew that loyalty must be unequivocally reciprocal.

Unless they turn out to be Fish from Barney Miller.[2] Or if they take a swing at a made-man. Then it’s just business. If you are lucky, you “spend the rest of [your] life like a schnook” in the Witness Protection Program.[3] If you’re careless, you end up in a toll plaza.

And nobody invited the forfeiture of such protection. My mother retells a story of death-threats against me when I was an infant. Even babies can be marks. It’s like that. Good thing my Daddy had friends in low places. You see, The Bad Daddy was a Teamster from the late 50s until the late 80s. That’s a whole post in and of itself, if I were allowed to discuss it.[4] Yea, yea. The man who spits chaw and says things like, “Well, I rekon you might not oughta done’at,” once had a fine pension plan. Once.

This is just to say that I know a thing or two about the line of fire and offers that cannot be refused. I understand loyalty in terms of non-fiction mafia, not in terms of a pop-culture-based concoction, or otiose solipsistic metaphor for venal allegiances. This isn’t the movies for me. And loyalty is ironclad or it’s nothing at all. I don’t trust easily, but when and if I do, it’s a pretty big deal.

The morning after this protracted conversation with The Bad Husband, I had an old Witchy friend contact me. It seemed out of the blue to me but for her it was a long time coming. She reminded me of a joke we used to have about Moe Green from The Godfather – which, in conversation, connected back to the Brooks song. This wouldn’t be so odd if The Bad Hubby and I had not been discussing both Brooks and the ethics of Wiseguy-friendship just the night before.

Anyway, I must have been line-dancing in my sleep because I woke up with “Friends in Low Places” still tumbling around in my brain. And something my old friend, Dora, said to me hit home delayed but hard: “Ehsha, when you have to dig for the good in people, you are digging, not rising.”

A different case of friends in low places. Well, feck me. 

Ever read Gavin DeBecker’s The Gift of Fear? He wrote that about cases like me. Not in physical encounters, mind you; I react pretty defensively when I feel bad juju from someone’s physical proximity. I’m talking about interpersonal encounters. I am a great judge of character; the instant I meet folks, I know if they are groovy or bunkum. Know what I do? I proceed to ignore my instincts. I may not trust ’em, but I give everybody the benefit of the doubt. I give everybody the chance to suck me dry and toss me overboard. All while I’m looking for the “good” in them.

This is not me trash-talking. This is me admitting that I effed-up in a big way. A marathon eff-up. The good news is, the Olympics are over. The torch is out. But not until after I willfully spent a good long time “digging” for the good in people. I never found it, by the way. And in the meantime I dug myself into a hole instead of rising to my (dare I say it) Higher Self.

Isn’t that the definition of insanity? Digging the same damn hole and expecting to find treasure?

During my morning ritual, I acted on this revelation. There’s more to it then that, of course. But I don’t kiss and tell when it comes to Magic. you know that. I practically heard something I can only describe as the prolonged riiiiiiip of a zip-lock bag being opened. When I came back to the banal world I found that I had seven – yes seven – separate social and spiritual engagements, all with folks who don’t require digging, all within a week, all within five miles from home. There are two more with dates TBD. This flood of instantaneous blessings immediately following my acquiescence to True Will seems to have happened before (See “Kith and Kin”).[5] Will I learn my lesson this time?

If I just stand out of my own best interest’s way . . .

And, as counterintuitive as it seems, quit digging for the good in folks.

Have a shot of Absolut Peppar on The Bad Witch, eh?

B, Q, 93,


P.S. I know I waxed on about the people I love last month; but can I take another minute and thank Aubs, Cin, Pixiecraft, Camylleon, Amy, SB, and Freeman for not making me dig? Ever. At all.

[1] He and I grew up two blocks from each other and went to the same grammar school – but, I moved before high school, so we didn’t meet until we were 18 and 24.

[2] The Bad Husband and one of our pals have an ongoing Facebook joke. The Hubby has a knack for “calling” celebrity deaths. We call him The FB Reaper. She tells him, “You’ll never get Vigoda!”

[3] Henry Hill’s parting thoughts. Goodfellas. Dir. Martin Scorsese. Perfs. Ray Liotta, Robert DiNero, Joe Pesci. 1990.

[4] You thought the O.T.O. was secretive? The O.T.O. never made a family “stay below the windows.”

[5] And, aside from my giving in, there seems to be another common denominator. If it’s been instigated by the same thing as before, this illuminates the “inexplicable” breaking of my fire talisman yesterday.