I wasn't planning on going to an open mic in New Braunfels Texas. I just happened to be there with nothing else to do that Sunday while my friend Matt was busy with his laptop at the coffee house. 

I grabbed my guitar from the truck and walked into the Phoenix Saloon. I was barefoot. I didn't mean to make a stir by it. I had some shoe-like things in my pocket but putting them on is a complicated operation. It is best done when there is no guitar in your hand. 

When I set the guitar down where other musicians were awaiting their turn in the limelight and old timer started in on my about my feet. "This is a restaurant!" he informed me. That really doesn't make much of an impression on me to tell the truth. I am often told how my feet are supposedly a "health hazard" even though literally billions of people prepare and consume food in their bare feet every day and, to my knowledge, NO ONE has ever gotten sick by it. You have better odds of getting struck by lightning in a basement on a clear day while holding a winning Power Ball ticket in your hand than getting sick because I am barefoot near where you are having lunch. 

"It's the law!" he insisted.

"I doubt it." I hear about laws and health codes a lot. They don't exist.

"Are you a lawyer?"

I usually get that from the police. Somehow there is an assumption that even in this information age that no one can possibly do legal research without passing the bar exam. I told him no but I can READ.

At this point, I started to get "old manned". This used to happen quite a bit when I was a young man but I was a bit taken aback by it now that I am well into middle age. You might be familiar with being "old manned". It is when you are given that John Wayne style dress down. "You have an attitude problem." "You don't have any respect." "You think you know everything and you don't know shit...." and so on.

I told him, quite simply, that I am just a truth seeker. I believe this to be true. When people tell me things... like say going barefoot spreads disease.... I do some research and find out whether it is true or not.... rather than believe random strangers... who... thanks to my previous research... I have found that they quite often don't know shit... even if they are old men. 

"You're not a truth seeker. You're a rule breaker!" 

I suppose he was half right there. The existence of a stupid rule doesn't motivate me to follow it. 

"Let me ask you... Are you gay?"

Damn. Here I was going on about being a "truth seeker" and, as such, I suppose I needed to be honest in the name of consistency. Still, I was really curious as to where lying and telling him I was gay would take this argument. I am not sure what set off his faulty gay-dar... my bare feet? The fact that I am middle age and still in decent shape? That I was relatively clean and had a nice hat? 

I told him "No." I still regret that.

"I bet you're not married either. You can't keep a girlfriend." I am getting a little pissed here. No, I am not married but, actually, I do pretty well pretty well with the ladies for someone who lives in a truck... just sayin'. 

I really was getting to the point where I had enough of being "old manned"... being told I was arrogant... I was a know-it-all... and such. 

"So what's more arrogant than thinking you know everything about a person you met thirty seconds ago? All this time, I never once supposed that I know anything about you or what your life is about."

We left it that. He got up with a friend and performed. I think his friend was at The Woodzie and knew a little about what I do. Before their last song, the "old man" publicly apologized for giving me a hard time. I accepted. He seemed a little taken aback... like he was expecting some attitude or something but I am not one for grudges or cheap shots. I just play the fucking guitar...

I got up and performed a little set. I was very good and it turned heads a little on that sleepy Sunday afternoon. I was barefoot... as always. That's just how I move through this world. It won't hurt you. 

That's the truth.

 

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