© Cindy Beck, 2009
(Keywords: Cindy Beck, music, jukebox, John Denver, country, suburbs, camping, RV, humor, Latter-day Saints, LDS, yourLDSNeighborhood.com)
They say you can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy. I'm here to tell you it's true for those raised in the suburbs, as well.
It was our first campout, and being raised in suburbia, my husband, Russ, didn’t realize that the sun rose early, and birds started chirping at 4:00a. The man who slept through buses rumbling past the house at all hours of the night, and snoozed through parties happening around him, couldn't sleep past 5:00a because of Mother Nature’s noises.
Russ got up, pulled on jeans and a flannel shirt, unzipped the tent and peeked out the door.
His brother-in-law, Bob—who’d invited us on the campout—peeked back from a nearby tent. So it was, while the rest of the campers slumbered on in innocent bliss, unaware of what was about to transpire, the two of them stepped forth into the chilly morning air and wandered over to the campground’s pavilion.
Sitting in a corner of the pavilion, calling out to them, was a jukebox.
I know, that doesn’t sound like camping … a pavilion with a jukebox sounds more like a 1950’s diner. At any rate, the music called out and they strolled over to it. Looking over the selections, Russ saw one by John Denver, whom he really liked.
Russ searched his pockets and found a quarter. Yup, one quarter was all it called for, because this was back during the age of dinosaurs, when gasoline was fifty cents a gallon, a loaf of bread was … well … I don’t know how much it was, but it was cheap. And milk came from the cow.
Okay, you got me there. Milk still comes from the cow, but now it’s pasteurized, homogenized, specialized, and all manner of “ized.”
The quarter clinked as Russ deposited it, then the jukebox whirred softly, its arm hovering over the 45’s until it found the correct one.
Wait. Maybe I’d better back up. For those of you who grew up with MP3 players and iPods, a jukebox is a flashy machine that sits in fast food joints (and under one camping pavilion, in one forsaken campground, in one corner of the northern hemisphere) so that the customers can purchase tunes, which they listen to while eating.
No, they don’t carry the jukebox around with them, attached to their ears by a little wire.
No, they don’t download anything.
No, the music isn’t in a Window’s media file format. It’s scratched into a vinyl thinga-ma-bobby that’s about six inches in diameter. It’s called a 45. No, not a 45 caliber, just a 45.
Back to Russ and the jukebox. As I said before, the jukebox whirred softly, its arm hovered over the glistening vinyl records and with a clunk, it pulled out John Denver and plopped him onto the turntable.
Well, it didn’t plop John Denver himself onto the turntable, it plopped his recording there.
Russ smiled at Bob in anticipation. Bob smiled back. The arm in the jukebox slowly lowered …
No, no, not a human arm—this is not a Stephen King novel—the mechanical arm slowly lowered, its needle touched the vinyl with a soft scritch and …
“Well, life on the farm is kinda laid back, ain't much an old country boy like me can’t hack.”
The words of the song blared from the speakers, and bounced off tents and camping trailers.
People sprang from their sleeping bags. Some grabbed guns, while others leaped out of their recreational vehicles through screened windows and dashed headfirst into the support poles of their RV awnings.
Russ and Bob looked at each other with wide eyes, and ran for all they were worth, back to our campsite. They arrived huffing and puffing, out of breath, just as John Denver’s last line echoed across the campground.
“Thank God I’m a country boy. Yeeeee ha!”
In the stunned silence that followed, Russ whispered, “Dang, I didn’t expect it would sound so loud.”
If it were me at that jukebox, I’d have played something civilized, like “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” by the Beatles, and I would’ve checked the volume before I dropped in the quarter.
But not Russ.
And it just goes to show you. You can take the boy out of the suburbs, but you can’t take him out in the country … because given the chance, he’ll wake everyone up.
What's playing in my head: Thank God I'm a Country Boy by John Denver.
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