A Wild, Ill-Tempered, Bowlegged Woman
by Delo White
“All I want is a wild, ill-tempered, bowlegged woman. A shot of tequila and a shot of hope. A little bit of courage to help me cope...”
It was 1980, the height of popularity in country and western, led by Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and the movie *Urban Cowboy*. My band, Billy Bob and the Practitioners, was performing our only single before a packed audience at a country and western bar in Houston. Having failed at rock, disco, and punk, we were finally on the verge of success, led by this lively, humorous, and largely factual song.
After the show this funny-looking man, wearing large Elton John-style glasses, a loud three-piece suit, and chomping on a lit cigar as big as his face, approached us.
“I really liked that song of yours, boys,” he said between puffs. “Real catchy and funny. I think it just might be a hit.”
I readjusted myself in my tight, red, fake diamond-studded cowboy outfit, with accompanying guns and holster.
“Thanks, mister,” I said in a manly voice. “It’s about a girl.”
“Benny Fellers is the name. I’m owner of Crescent Moon, Lights and Optical Record Company. Do you guys have a record contract?”
I laughed and said, “Shoot, we don’t even have a manager.”
Mr. Fellers proudly gave us a condensed version of his success story, which included recording Rex Flitters, the Heaves, and the Obsessive Compulsives, who had the hit, “I Can’t Get Over You, and I Sure As Heck Can’t Let You Go.” We were terribly impressed by the fact that he’d met a fan of the Rolling Stones.
“What I’d like to do, guys, is cut a demo just to see if you’re as good as you sounded tonight. If I like what I hear, we’ll do a record.”
He gave us his business card and arranged an appointment for two weeks later.
Having only one original song, Jessie and Peter, our songwriters, put their heads together and composed six new songs. Two weeks later we played them for Mr. Fellers. Never have I seen such joy than was exhibited on the mug of that little cigar smoker.
“Let’s cut a record,” he announced.
A few months later our debut album, “Roamers On the Range,” was released to critical acclaim. We were now calling ourselves the Roamers. It was my composition, “The Wild, Ill-Tempered, Bowlegged Woman,” that shot to number one on both the country and pop charts.
One reviewer wrote: “Never has there been such phenomenal success in the novelty song category since Rick Dees’ ‘Disco Duck.’ ‘The Wild, Ill-Tempered, Bowlegged Woman’ will most likely be laughed at for the next eight weeks before being vanquished to the dusty scrap heap of novelty songs.”
Shortly the band was traveling the country to increasing audiences, first opening for other bands before becoming the headliner. I’m proud to state that it was my gem that made the album a success.
Let me digress a whole lot and return to the night that we met Mr. Fellers and before our dreams became a reality.
Driving home in my dilapidated Chevy pickup, I safely arrived at my elegant, palatial trailer house, located five miles south of Houston, lumbered in and made myself comfortable by removing my wig, fake beard and eyebrows, and released my three hundred and twenty pound belly from its prison.
I plopped down in my favorite chair and ordered, “Beer me!”
Shortly my lady arrived with a cool one. Spitting the cigarette out of her mouth, she announced, “That’s the last one.”
She plunked herself down on the sofa, burped and scratched herself, then looked at me and said, “What?”
I just smiled at my love. Her hair was shorn to a military-style crew cut, an alternative to its previous bizarreness. It also suited her new line of work: riding mechanical bulls for money.
She truly was a beautiful lady but had unattractive habits. Still, what repulsed others is what I found attractive in a mentally ill sort of way. But I wasn’t one to complain. My lady was married to a fat, bald, speech impaired musician.
“I’ve got some good news, Anna.”
“Oh, let me tell you mine, Brad,” she quickly shot back. “I’ve been accepted to join the North Texas bull riding circuit and leave in three weeks!”
Yes. Anna and her new love. Since going country she had actively ridden mechanical bulls and was now converting to the real thing. I had to commend her on her natural ability. There wasn’t one cowboy out there who could ride and talk bull like Anna.
When I told her the good news about Mr. Fellers’ interest in the band, she seemed as excited for me as she was for herself. We were both achieving our dreams. However, when I mentioned how much he liked her song, I saw the fires of hell come into her eyes.
I was already moving when she jumped to her feet and began chasing me around the house. At the top of her lungs she screamed, “You said you would never play it in public!”
After chasing me back to the starting point, we stopped to recover. I then tried rationalizing with her.
“I know that I promised not to play it, honey, but everyone loves it. I never meant to poke fun at you, seriously. It’s just my tribute to you.”
She was now holding the unopened can of beer, which simultaneously made me thirsty and frightened me. She smiled deceptively and tossed the can into the air.
“But it’s my song, pumpkin. You wrote a love song about me that caused the whole world to laugh and you call it a tribute?”
I saw the can sailing towards my head but was unable to avoid it. I really had to admire the arm on that gal of mine.
“You know how self-conscious I am about my legs. They work for being a bull rider and nobody cares, but to be the laughingstock of the music world hurts.”
I sat holding a cold compress to my forehead and slowly drank the dented can of beer. Just as Anna had accepted her unusual legs I would have to reignite the touchy situation. The one thing you didn’t do was touch Anna’s legs.
We sat silently watching the twenty-four hour, all bull riding/rodeo channel. Later I went to bed with a headache. After getting her fix of riding the beast, I felt Anna crawl in beside me.
My first encounter with Anna was during junior year in high school. I’d just moved to the small town of Stinnett and quickly became popular. I was a good looking jock and an honors student. All the guys respected my prowess and girls thought me the stud. If only they knew how insecure I was, what with receding hair and a slight speech impairment that made it difficult pronouncing certain words.
One day a friend said, “You’ve got to meet Anna. She’s the most gorgeous girl but the hardest to get close to. I don’t know one guy who’s ever dated her. It’s as if she hates anyone who’s attracted to her.”
I first saw her during lunch at the Hasty Burger. Sitting at a table with friends, one nudged me, pointed to a corner booth and said, “That’s Anna. The one in black.”
This amazing girl, wearing sunglasses, with long black hair, dressed all in black, sat reading a paperback. She appeared rather Gothic and mysterious.
“What’s with wearing black?”
My friend rolled his eyes and said, “She’s deep. One of those intellectual types who has no time for frivolous things. I think she’s also demonstrating her dark side and how untouchable she is, at least to high school males.”
When I looked back at her, she stared back at me. Though her eyes were hidden behind sunglasses, I knew there was a fire raging within.
“Uh oh,” my friend said with a look of concern. “Here she comes.”
I felt her hovering over me before looking up. Choking on my burger, I was staggered by her venomous beauty.
I smiled and said, “Hi.”
I never saw it coming. She gave me a wicked left hook that connected with my right eye. As I lay on the floor, I couldn’t help but admire her black boots.
Kneeling over me she said, “I don’t like people staring at me!”
The guys really rode me about that for the longest. Stud boy decked by the little lady in black.
During this period I was occupied with school and starting a rock band so I had little contact with Anna.
For two years I’d been playing guitar and was really into Led Zeppelin. I felt that being in a band would add to my coolness and wipe out the embarrassment of getting my butt kicked by a girl.
The first person I recruited for the band was Sherman Parks, who played drums in the school band. He then introduced me to this very cool, long-haired fellow named Jessie Reeds, who was an accomplished bass player. He was also notorious for protesting the school’s hair policy which restricted guys from wearing hair past the middle of the ear and over the collar. It was partially his efforts, being expelled three times, that finally got the policy changed.
The group was complete when this large fellow I recognized from algebra answered our ad for a rhythm guitarist. Peter White turned out not only to be an excellent musician but also a gifted songwriter.
After rehearsing for a couple of months we began performing at small functions, calling ourselves the Scallyhogs (we meant Scallywags). We became good enough to play the VFW, Lodge 50, where we received sixty bucks to be split four ways. Still, we could now call ourselves professionals.
Peter was the one who formally introduced me to Anna. He’d known her since grade school and was her closest male friend.
Since my initial beating she’d beaten me up two more times when I accidentally looked at her. In some sick way I found myself being drawn to her. I hadn’t noticed her legs until the third beating when as she walked down the hall I couldn’t help but be mesmerized by how they slightly arched outwards.
Suddenly she turned and caught my gaze. Before I could flee she was all over me, fists, knees and feet making contact with various body parts.
It was Jason Boggs, quarterback extraordinaire, who explained to me as I held a compress to my battered face, “Don’t ever stare at her legs, Brad. That’s all she thinks people notice. She’s a real nut.”
As Peter and I drove over to her house on that cold November day, he gave me some helpful advice.
“Whatever you do don’t stare at her legs or make fun of her name.”
I was confused for I didn’t think Anna was a funny name.
He said, “No, it’s her last name. Phleugerhosen.”
I couldn’t help but laugh. “Anna Phleugerhosen?”
He shook his head and added seriously, “I’d also recommend avoiding eye contact until I give you the all clear.”
Her father was a cardiologist, which explained the mansion she lived in. As we pulled into the circular driveway, Peter reminded me to behave myself.
I stood out of the line of sight as well as fire as Anna had no idea that I was coming. Peter nervously fidgeted around as he and Anna exchanged pleasantries. Finally he mustered the courage to usher me forward. Though I kept my eyes downturn, I still felt her intense anger and knew that she had a death wish for me.
Peter carefully stood between us, painstakingly trying to keep things civil.
“Look, Anna. Brad’s a really neat fellow and just wants to clear up this apparent misunderstanding between the two of you. Please, just give him a chance.”
She reluctantly allowed me to come in, guiding us to the living room, where Peter and I sat on a sofa with Anna sitting across from us.
“You can look up if you wish,” she said to me.
The girl sitting before me wasn’t the beast in black but instead was this petite thing wearing a blue halter top with white gym shorts. Suddenly I felt my heart beating irregularly. It was impossible that this could be the same girl who’d beaten me to a pulp.
Managing to find my voice, I squeaked out, “I’m truly sorry if I offended you in any way, Anna. I just want you to know that I think you’re an exceptional girl, and I’d like to get to know you.”
She had amazing, sharp, green eyes that pierced my soul and were misleading. Just when I thought I’d won her over she completely disarmed me.
To be continued...
Copyright © 2004 by Delo White