ARE WE THERE YET

She started lovin’ country today

LORI CLINCH

Avid readers may recall my mentioning that I’m not a country music fan. I’ve spent my entire life shying away from steel guitars and fiddling tunes and have been known to curl into a fetal position upon hearing anything sung by Conway Twitty.

Truth be told, it pained me terribly to watch as our three older boys began to dislike my rock-and-roll ways and went out on their own musical paths that consisted of mud flaps and tractor pulls and got sucked into songs as catchy as “You Can’t Skate in a Buffalo Herd.”

It all started one day when I was rocking out to Janis Joplin and realized that as our Vernon was sweeping the garage, he was stomping to the beat of “If the Phone Don’t Ring, It’s Me.”

There was nothing I could do about it; he had gone over to the other side.

Although I was disappointed, I could still take comfort in the fact that country music hadn’t enticed the other boys into its arena. They would still sing “Piano Man” a cappella with me and respected all of my preset rock channels on the car radio. Then one day Huey pulled into the garage in his beat-up pickup truck, and I’ll be dogged if the unmistakable sound of twang wasn’t emanating from his speakers. He stepped out, rubbed the dog’s ears, and with little or no regard for breaking his mother’s heart, leaned his head back and belted out a song. Although I couldn’t swear to it in a court of law, I think the words were something along the lines of “Her Teeth Was Stained, But Her Heart Was Pure.”

The writing was on the barn wall. I had refused to believe it until it hog-tied my hide and slapped my grandma. Wasn’t long before our Lawrence went the way of his brothers, crooning out twangy tunes and chasing me around with his headphones as he implored, “ ‘You’re the Reason Our KidsAre So Ugly’ is a great song, Mom, just listen to the words!”

Although our Charlie has yet to learn the “Boot Scootin’ Boogie,” I know it’s only a matter of time.

I’ve been fighting to keep my rock and roll intact for the better part of 10 years now. I’ve spent my time turning down the volume on iPod docks, fighting over radio stations, and when push comes to shove, blocking Country Music TV.

I held firm to my way of life right up until last Wednesday. It had been a long and hard day of blistering heat when my beloved spouse of many years walked in the door. “Lori,” he said with big eyes and an apparent case of nerves, “the Burbachs called and invited us to see Toby Keith?”

“The Red Solo Cup guy?” I asked as I swallowed hard.

“I think so.”

I don’t quite know what happened after that. Perhaps the earth stopped rotating on its axis and went with a different direction, could have been someone drugged our Wheaties, or perhaps the heat wave had finally fried our brains. But through some strange twist of fate, Pat and I agreed to go to a country music concert.

Does that not just blow your mind?

“Hey!” I exclaimed to my brother when he answered the phone later that day, “You’ll never guess what Pat and I are going to be doing Saturday night.”

“Snowboarding?” he asked with a chuckle as he surely dabbed the sweat from his brow.

“No, but it’s almost as believable.”

My friend Karen organized an intervention, my mother suspected an alien takeover, and my sister-in-law vowed to buy us cowboy boots, complete with spurs, for Christmas.

To say our boys were flabbergasted would be an understatement.

Although I’m not quite ready to purchase “You Ain’t Much Fun Since I Quit Drinking” on iTunes, I must say that Toby Keith puts on quite a show.

“Yee and haw,” I said when Vernon called yesterday.

“Mother?”

“Yessir.”

“I take it you enjoyed the concert?”

“I reckon.”

“So, can we listen to country music on our next family vacation?”

“Not even if you hog-tied my hide and slapped my grandma.”

Lori Clinch is the mother of four sons and the author of the book “Are We There Yet?” You can reach her at loriclinch2010@gmail.com.