Who else remembers Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash, cajoling Reese Witherspoon into agreeing to marry him in front of a mass audience? “June, you’re my best friend. Marry me.” he poignantly drawled, and the crowd cheered, and our hearts skipped a beat, and Southern men were never the same again.
This vision was fresh on my mind when I headed down to Nashville, Tennessee over the Winter Break, joining some friends in the exploration of all things country, cowboys included. Always on the investigative prowl, I made it my mission to talk to as many lads as possible, mainly by forcing them into the popular local activity of playing pool. (The other option would have been the popular local activity of singing karaoke, but I usually reserve that for enemies that I want to leave deaf.) Below is my takeaway, spruced up with some notes from an anonymous southern friend!
They look like real men.
I don’t know what they are feeding them down there (actually, I do know: grits and biscuits and Goo Goo Clusters and arsenic-fed fried chicken) but they should seriously consider sending some those human growth hormones to the malnourished Williamsburg hipster set. While I saw plenty a dirty-haired musician, none of them exuded the starving artist vibe of their Brooklyn counterparts, a refreshing reassurance that there is still balance on earth where men and women wear different jean sizes.
Speaking of jeans..
They rock those Levi’s.
Three days in Nashville gave me a newfound appreciation for denim, denim-on-denim, and what a derrière should look like in Levi’s jeans. What impressed me most was the juxtaposition of these guys’ innate manliness with their organic ability to layer denim and suede with the flair of a Saint Laurent model. Now that Hedi Slimane can’t get away with his emaciated male musicians, I highly recommend scouting his upcoming men’s show in Nashville!
They have great game.
Maybe because they know that every northern girl is coming down to Nashville in pursuit of a “sweet-talking, boot-wearing, sly-smiled southern boy” (my friend’s verbiage, not mine), these guys hit the pickup ground running with some serious charm, oozing lyrical complements and dropping all that “honey, darlin’, sugar, sweet pea” fluff on you. Which is all exotic and and weird and exciting, until you realize that a – you don’t understand anything they are saying and b – nothing is actually being communicated.
Hence, be warned…
They all have agendas.
According to my savvy friend, country boys fall under two categories. The first type will “smooth-talk a girl with their southern charm, then do it again and again – with as many girls as possible” (i.e. PLAYERS!) The second type views dating as a an old-school “wife-selection process”, with the end goal of landing a “dutiful, big-haired, long-lashed” Southern Belle (i.e NOT ME!)
They appreciate femininity.
True to the eponymous ABC show, Nashville ladies are all about sparkles and sequins and curls and curves, the last one entailing every domain. Although my one attempt to curl my hair left me with a 3rd degree burn, I’m still mildly tempted by the idea of moving down South, where my size 4 equals a zero and I never have to attend another Pilates class for the rest my life.
They are walking paradoxes.
To charm country lads, my friend recommends combining “demure, sweet, naive flirtation” with an “interest in guns and beer, basically anything a man should like!” Call me weird, but I am generally not a big proponent of such extremes, making me realize that no amount of chivalry – or cheese grits – can turn me into a demure, Jesus-loving, gun-toting country gal!
Still interested, but guns ain’t your thing either? Try pool! It’s safer and gives you a good view of those Levi’s!