Fern Bar Fridays: Kenny and Dolly, From One Lover to Another

Welcome to Fern Bar Fridays, a lighthearted romp (is there any other kind?) through a decade of cool music and even cooler drinks. The fern bar era, which roughly spanned 1975-1985, was filled with giant lapels and ties (and then later teeny tiny lapels and ties), ridiculous drinks, and sweet sounds. Every Friday we’ll bring you a song and drink pairing emblematic of that delightful time to help you get the weekend started off on the right loafer-sans-sock-shod foot. Today we’re singing in two-part harmony with: "Islands in the Stream" by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton.

What really is there to even be said about "Islands in the Stream" that hasn’t been said before in Tiffany lamp-lit saloons the world ’round? Show me the person who doesn’t like "Islands in the Stream" and I’ll show you a person who has lost all capacity for joy.

Dolly is an angel from heaven; this fact is well established. Everything she’s got is the best: the best voice, the best disposition, the best hair, the best boobs. Oh golly Lady Dolly, how I yearn to snuggle up to your bosom for just one sweet, perfect moment. And that’s not even remotely all of her many charms! Have you ever taken a gander at the list of instruments that Dolly plays? Sweet fiddleheads in broth, she’s a one-woman fern bar band! To wit: vocals, guitar, banjo, autoharp, piano, drums, Appalachian dulcimer, harmonica, pennywhistle, recorder, fiddle, bass guitar, saxophone.

THE APPALACHIAN DULCIMER, YOU GUYS.

As for Kenny Rogers? He can Roger my Roaster any day of the week and twice on Sundays. And the song? The song is sublime. In every possible way. I mean, it was written by the Bee Gees, and when Kenny and Dolly perform it live they do so in formalwear.

I’m utterly enamoured of their formalwear. I’m also, obviously, utterly enamoured of Dolly’s onstage cheek and banter.

The song title is, of course, inspired by the posthumously published Islands in the Stream by Ernest Hemingway. We keep a copy of it at Rita’s, the imaginary fern bar that exists in my head—and also by now don’t you all know what Rita’s is?? Sweet ferny Moses, haven’t you been paying attention? Do I have to repeat myself every week? (No, no, you haven’t. And yes, yes, I do. Because you’re not really supposed to have to pay attention to the things that go down at Rita’s. It’s a fern bar, you’re supposed to get blitzed on amaretto-based cocktails and whatever color pill Bertie is handing out that night.)—on the shelf right next to the bust of Abraham Lincoln and our tattered copy of The New York Times Crossword Puzzle Dictionary.

Now then. In keeping with the new tradition we’ve established at Rita’s, and in a nod to Dolly’s, ahem, ample bounty, I must address the fact that resident sawfly Miles Klee has once again plum ticked me off. And, as such, is back outside shivering in his stupid sweater. What, you may ask, has Miles done this week? Well, I’ll tell you: he’s gone and issued edicts about proper usage of the terms ‘tit’ and ‘boob’:

Compliment your girlfriend on her “boobs,” however, and you may not get to touch them fora while. The bedroom is where “tits” come into play. It’s the dirtier, more intimate word, and as such will turn up in all manner of breathless naked imperatives: “____ my tits,” a woman might say, never “____ my boobs.”

First of all, unlike everything about Kenny and Dolly, this is just WRONG. You may indeed compliment me on my ‘boobs’. (Seriously, go ahead. I’m quite pleased with my boobs and would be delighted to know that you are as well! My boyfriend does it all the time and I hope he never, ever stops, even when my boobs are hovering somewhere around my waistline.)

Second of all, you don’t get to make up rules about what people can and cannot say in the bedroom. Sorry. ‘Tit’ is not part of my sexytime lexicon. ‘Giraffe pussy’ might work its way in there, but never ‘tit.’

And finally, absolutely under no circumstances never ever ever do you get to expound on what a woman may or may not say. Just in general. To put it in Jezebelian terms—OH YES, I’M GOING THERE. You mess with the fern, you get the fronds, Klee—you’re "universalizing about how everyone feels." To put it in JolieKerrian terms: Knock that malarky off and busy yourself with something useful, like bringing me fresh ice for my wine spritzer. Or better yet, get to cracking on making me one of these babies:

Island Affair

1 ¼ oz. melon liqueur
½ oz. Cointreau
1 ½ oz. orange juice
2 oz. mango juice
⅓ oz. blue curacao
1 oz. whipped cream

Shake the melon liqueur, Cointreau, orange juice and mango juice together and strain into a pina colada glass filled a bit more than halfway up with crushed ice. Add the curacao, and then float the whipped cream on top. Garnish with bar fruit and serve with two straws.

Offer your date a sip through your extra straw. No one in between. From one lover to another. Uh-uh.

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