Choctaw Bingo by James McMurtry
Strap them kids in Give 'em a little bit of vodka in a cherry coke We're going to Oklahoma to the family reunion for the first time in years It's up at uncle Slayton's cause he's getting on in years You know he no longer travels but he's still pretty spry He's not much on talking and he's just too mean to die And they'll be comin' down from Kansas and from west Arkansas It'll be one great big old party like you never saw
With the opening line of James McMurtry's "Choctaw Bingo" the listener knows he/she isn't dealing with the Cleaver family. Giving kids a vodka and Coke to calm them down for a road trip isn't a tip you'll find in any parenting book. "Choctaw Bingo" is a 8-plus-minute rambling romp that tells the story of a dysfunctional family gathering for a reunion. This is clan that likes its sex, guns, fireworks, violence, alcohol, and illicit drugs, so it's no wonder the chorus of the song is "We're gonna have us a time." When they gather something's bound to happen that will upset the natural balance of things.
All family trees contain mutant strains where normalcy morphs into deviance. I have days where I feel like I might be that gnarled branch of the family tree. I've embraced the dysfunctional, and in many ways it's much more interesting than hanging with the Cleavers. Isn't life all about making the dysfunctional functional?
Anyway, the song tickles me, and in the middle of song, they introduce a couple of characters from the Great State of Kansas:
Ruth Ann and Lynn come down from Baxter Springs
That's one hell raisin' town way up in Southeastern Kansas
Got a biker bar next to the lingerie store
That's got them Rolling Stones lips up there where everyone can see 'em
And they burn all night you know they burn all night you know they burn all night
I've never been to Baxter Springs, KS, but I'm sure there's no lingerie store downtown. Kansans, after all, are more flannel and cotton than lace and silk. As far as Baxter Springs being a hell raisin' town, McMurtry might be right. Baxter Springs was one of our first cattle towns, and I've heard nefarious stories about that part of the state. Here's one story that has been substantiated:
- A Cherokee County prosecuting attorney from Baxter Springs was sent to prison for extortion at a local strip club. Now this little fact is interesting enough, but as you know, truth is stranger than fiction and things get stranger. The extortion involved "favors" from twins named Birdie Jo and Becky Jo Hoaks who worked at the strip club. In 2004, they were accused of plotting to enroll Birdie Hoaks at Galena Middle School, where she posed as a 13-year-old boy. Dickens couldn't come up with better names.
For the record, Mr. Crankypants felt this drink was too tame for such a raucous song, so if you agree just leave out the juice and drink your whiskey straight.
- 1 Part Whiskey (or 2 parts if you're going to the family reunion)
- 1 Part Triple Sec
- 1 Part Cranberry Juice
- 2 Parts Grapefruit Juice
- Mix all the ingredients.