Cowboys in California

I was at a wedding once in Modesto, California when a girl from New York City said she hated California. It was her first time visiting the state.

The wedding took place on a gorgeous almond farm in an old barn lit by while candles and strings of twinkling lights. You couldn't have a imagined a more magnificent place to be on a September evening.

I'll admit that no matter how many Starbucks litter the corners of the Lower East Side, NY will always be cooler than CA. After living in both states I'm okay with this. But to "hate" California, to reject it with a mere sneer and a hair toss is infuriating.

I pressed Miss New York on her reasoning and she came back with, "Everyone is so fake and has fake boobs."

This conversation came to mind a few weeks ago when I was at an old bar in Solvang, California, where the fakest thing I came across was the "All-Natural" lavender air freshener in the lavatory.

The bar's ceiling is covered with real dollar bills. The drinks are made with the real stuff and stiffer than the logs the bar is built with. The regulars are the nicest, most genuine folks you could hope to meet. And this is in California.

My favorite, realest moment came with my cowboy dance. The wedding party had infiltrated this local joint and were slightly outnumbered by couples in flannel shirts and cowboy boots. I was sitting with a friend next to a handsome couple in their 50's at one of the picnic tables in the dance hall. My friend leaned over and bravely asked the man to teach us a few steps.

Next thing I knew I was being whirled around on a saw dust dance floor feeling (not dancing) like Ginger Rogers with Fred Astaire.

Everyone associated with the wedding was a long way from our usual California living. Everything around us looked different from what we were used to. But it didn't feel all that different. Maybe that's because we were still in California, a state where fake is only in the eye of the beholder.

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