Bob Wills

Mom and Dad hadn't been together very long when their friends, Don and Dorothy, insisted they join them for a evening out, at the Trianon Ballroom in downtown Oklahoma City. Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys were the headliners on that evening's bill and their special brand of Western Swing kept the dance floor packed the whole night long.

Wills managed to find Mom in the crowd, though, and he clearly took a shine to her; from her first turn around the dancefloor, he couldn't take his eyes off of her. He tipped his huge Stetson hat every time she turkey-trotted by and winked whenever he managed to catch her eye.

Wills was, by then, well into his fifties and Mom, a young woman at the peak of her beauty, certainly had no desire to encourage him. In fact, she did her utmost to avoid him altogether but Don and my father, having a good time at Mom's expense, kept swinging her right up stageside and turning Mom so that she was forced to face the winking Wills.

Finally, the band took a break and Mom, Dad, Don and Dorothy stepped out on the terrace for a breath of fresh air and a cigarette. When, after some time, they heard the orchestra strike up the opening strains of "Faded Love," Mom insisted they go back inside. This was her favorite Bob Wills tune and she wanted to dance to it.

It wasn't long before Dad felt a tap-tap-tap upon his shoulder, signifying that someone was seeking to cut in, to take a turn around the floor with Mom. By now you must surely have guessed that it was Wills. Dad graciously stepped aside and Mom found herself firmly in Wills' clutches.

Mom felt there was little she could do but make the best of the situation, grit her teeth, and behave in gracious fashion until song's end. Already the vocalist had begun the song's second verse and Mom held fast to the hope that this number would soon be over, that she could soon excuse herself and return to her table.

Just as the song might normally have wound down, however, Wills got the pianist's attention and gave the signal that they should take it one more time. The pianist communicated with the rest of the musicians and as they took it again, right from the top. Now Mom felt, as he pulled her into an even tighter embrace, Wills' right hand slowly but steadily creeping downward, until it came to rest upon her left...well, let us say her left hip.

Mom fixed upon Wills an angry glare of an intensity that few have experienced and even fewer have survived. Having wilted under this glare not a few times myself, believe me when I tell you, gentle reader, it's enough to make a strong man weep.

Wills was not up to the challenge. He quickly removed his hand, cleared his throat, tipped his hat, said, "Excuse me, ma'am" and hurriedly made his way back on stage, whereupon he immediately called out for "Take Me Back to Tulsa" in double-time.

Throughout the remainder of the evening, whenever Don or my father danced Mom within ten yards of the stage, Wills managed somehow to look busy, sorting through the musical charts on the bandstand, attending to a "out-of-tune" string on his fiddle, conducting the orchestra on a number they'd played hundreds of time.

During the second intermission, the waitress brought a round of beers to Mom and Dad's table and explained that they came compliments of the King of Western Swing himself, Bob Wills.

Copyright © 2000 Brett Leveridge. All Rights Reserved.