I think I may have mentioned my profound liking for the state of Utah. But there are bits of it that, well, may need a bit of work. Same as for most places in the world.
We were on a company retreat in the town of St George*. This town is very close to the Nevada border about 300 miles from Salt Lake City, and is a bit more straitlaced than the state capital.
We all went out one night for some entertainment, and fetched up at somewhere called The Frontier or the Borderline, or some other ersatz frontiersman cognomen. Things didn’t look too good from the outset, because it was clearly a converted one-storey warehouse. We sauntered in through the saloon doors. Many, many trestle tables filled with many, many families, and a large central hot table. Fake oil lamps on the tables, wagonwheel chandelier, you’re getting the picture.
After being invited up to the ‘chuck wagon’ by a bloke who referred to himself as the Trail Boss (sic), we got back to our table with tin plates laden with pork’n’beans, a spoon to eat with, chunks of cornbread, and a tin mug. Since as I mentioned St George is worse than SLC, the only drink available was lemon squash. Not even real lemonade. Lemon squash, and since we were deep in Mormon territory it was exceptionally sweet. Things didn’t look good.
Then we got to the entertainment, with the Trail Boss multitasking and being the MC. Bloke in a check shirt whingeing on about how his woman done left him and his dawg done died. You know the score. Then something even more dire, the ‘famous cowboy poet.’ This was all prairies and open skies and being alone, but not accompanied by badly played geetar. It was bad.
Then ‘the highlight of the evening.’ I doubted this somehow, but it did seem to offer something I’d not seen before. The Sixshooter Twirling World Champion. That had to be worth a watch. I’d seen this skill demonstrated in westerns where the baddy shoots up the town, but I had no idea there were world championships. I should have known, shouldn’t I?
Lots of yeeharring from the capacity crowd, and onstage strode a man in chaps and a Stetson. He quickdrew a sixgun from his holster, started to twirl, then just as my boredom threshold came over the horizon he dropped it. The world champ dropped it.
There happened to be in our group a young man called Burke who shared my sense of humour. We had to spend the rest of the night trying not to catch each others eyes. We’d had enough trouble just surveying the surroundings and people. When we did finally get out we corpsed.
‘At least there was no line dancing.’ That was Burke.
*One of its claims to fame is that in the film North by Northwest the airfield from where the cropduster flies to give Cary Grant some grief was what is now St George airport.