Hoedown at the Winery

Last weekend, my friends and I rented a small cabin in Omoro, Wisconsin – a small lake town northeast of Milwaukee. We left our city bubble to be surrounded by nature and fresh air. But also Trump signs and thin blue line flags.

On Saturday, we went to Vines & Rushes Winery where they were advertising live music in the afternoon. After tasting several Wisconsin wines, we sat down for some pizza and blue grass music from the Fox Crossing Stringband. We were the youngest people there, and at one point the band mentioned they were from Chicago and we cheered, alerting the whole room to our outsider status.

Even so, when they played an upbeat tune and the table behind us got up to dance, a woman in a pink cowboy hat coaxed us out to join them. I dragged my friend out there and we danced, not well but we didn’t care. We followed the lead of the lady with the pink cowboy hat until the song was over. Laughing and out of breathe, we collapsed in our seats.

“What does ‘Let’s Go Brandon’ mean?” another friend asked, pointing out the pink cowboy hat lady’s button. A quick Google told us it was some convoluted, right-wing code for “Fuck Joe Biden.”

And there it was again, the division, the anger, the tribalism, the hatred. On one hand, she knew we were Chicagoans, probably liberal, and still asked us to dance. On the other hand, the nastiness follows us every where.

Glennon Doyle likes to joke that she loves humanity, but actual humans are tricky. I think I’m the opposite – humanity really gets me down. Humanity has destroyed our planet and let a deadly pandemic rage on far too long. Humanity has waged wars, built systems of oppression and reinforced class structures. Humanity has engaged in racism, sexism, ableism and all sorts of discrimination.

But individual humans? I’ve found that they are usually just trying their best. I find it healing when I can see people not as their slogans or internet memes, but as humans. Individual humans are just dancing a hoedown at the winery.

I do struggle with what my responsibilities as an individual human in these situations are. I recognize that I can feel safe in that environment because I am a white woman who more or less blends in. Usually, I air on the side of being kind and letting my humanity show. Maybe making sure they see me as a human will help cut down some of that tribalism too. Or maybe I’m just condoning and allowing harmful beliefs and behavior that lead to Q Anon conspiracies and riots at our Capitol.

My friends wrote off the lady with the pink cowboy hat. When the band finished their set and it was time for us to go, we passed their table. I touched her shoulder lightly as I passed, “Have a good rest of your day,” I said.

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s