While the wedding was beautiful and sweet, the barn dance could have gone better for us. My wife showed up in an Anthropologie dress, I showed up in a wool sport coat, shirt, tie, courderoy pants and a silver pocketwatch chain. I realized I would probably be the only person there with a pocketwatch, but I thought, as this was part of a wedding celebration, people might be wearing ties. They weren't. Not even those western bolo ties preferred by used car dealers and Kentucky-fried mayors.
Held as this event was in rural Vermont, I should have expected that our attire would be considered overdone, but not extra-tasty-crispy. It was okay, nobody made us feel out-of-place or ashamed, not even the manish-looking, probably autistic young woman in filthy jeans and a repair-shop sweatshirt who kept fondling our dog throughout the party. Oh, yes-- Finley was there as an invited canine guest. He cowered under the table and chewed vigorously on a goat bone.
Yes, there was shish-ka-goat.
Now that I have experienced my first barn dance, I feel like I should impart some of my accrued wisdom to you, in case you happen to be invited to one and you don't know what to wear or how to act. It is my hope that, if some lost Googler out there types in the boolean phrases "barn dance" and "etiquette" they'll be directed here first. So now, without further ado, y'all, My Masonic Apron presents:
1.) Leave the Anthropologie clothes and sport coats at home.
Trust me, you will be much happier and much more comfortable in a pair of Carharts and a blue denim work shirt. Boots are preferable to shoes, with or without slatherings of animal feces.
2.) If you see a cooler, do NOT open it.
It may not contain cans of soda like you think. It may contain a half-eviscerated goat carcass.
3.) If something is pleasing to you, do NOT clap.
At a barn dance, if a "speech" is made or if you like the band, screaming and howling is the preferred method of approbation. Clapping is a sure-fire way to instantly feel gay.
4.) Gender is NOT to be assumed.
When square-dancing with children of indiscrimate age and gender, do not presume that the "lady swingin' to the left" is actually a lady-- it may just be a beautiful-looking, awkwardly-proportioned boy with mounds of angelic blond curls. To be certain you will not give offense, refer to all guests as "Hey!"
5.) Square-dancing is NOT for novices.
I don't know how one learns how to square-dance, but it isn't at a square-dance. And it especially isn't at a square-dance where the caller is a sixty-year-old drunk woman.
6.) There's always another party going on nearby.
Bored with the festivities inside the barn? Take a walk outside by the cornfield and you'll spot several other tertiary parties going on in full swing-- like the one inside the bed of the tan Chevy Silverado where two or three buds might be sitting in lawn chairs drinkin' cold ones and smokin' cee-gars. Someone might even be getting high inside the port-a-potty. And there's always a game of horse-shoes going on, which is especially engaging to watch because the participants are all very far gone.
7.) Expect the unexpected. Facial hair.
Steel yourself for the very real possibility that you might have to engage in conversation with a young man whose face bears Civil War-era sideburns and a walrus mustache. You may even encouter a gentleman with a beard that doesn't connect to either sideburns or mustache, it sort of just hangs there in liminal space, like a neutron star.
8.) Your hamburger has a name.
People in Vermont are very proud of the food that they grow, kill, cook and serve. Get to know a little bit about the animal which you are about to consume. It had a story, a personality and, yes, a name. So, learn a little-- it makes dining a much more personal experience.
9.) You will want to take the children home.
While most of the adults are dubious-looking at best, the children are beyond adorable, even the ones of indeterminate gender. But remember, you can't take them home with you-- their real parents need them to fetch beers from the fridge and goat bits from the cooler.
And, of course,
10.) It's your first barn dance, and you're going to look like an asshole.
Don't worry about that, though. There's always your second barn dance.